Posted on Monday, 23 March, 2015 | 29 comments
Columnist: Tobias Wayland
I was very concerned when I first learned that the world would end on October 7th, 2015. The troubling news came through my earbuds as I sat, stunned, listening to Coast to Coast AM: “There is a very good possibility that October 7th, 2015…will be the last day of this prolonged period of time known in the Bible as 'Judgment Day'. On the last day God will bring about the resurrection of the dead, and the rapture of all those elect living and remaining upon the earth. And then, finally, the literal destruction of this world and universe with all unsaved people along with it.” This was especially bad timing for me, since I had so much more I wanted to do with my life, and to make matters worse, I was almost certainly not among the chosen who would ascend to heaven. The few who had been chosen were picked years ago on May 21st, 2011; when, according to Chris McCann of eBible Fellowship, “upon saving the last one of His elect, God ended the possibility of salvation for the unsaved people of the world by shutting the door of heaven.” So, it seemed, any chance of a last minute conversion and subsequent redemption had been raptured away like a character in a Christian dispensationalist novel. Naturally, as a heathen and occasional blasphemer, this was troubling news—at least until I found out how many times it had happened before.
This wasn’t McCann’s first doomsday. The end of the world for McCann started back in 2010 with a sermon by a man named Harold Camping. Camping was a preacher with Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting company (which has, conveniently, scrubbed its website of any mention of Camping’s theories regarding the end of days). Using what I’m sure was an extremely well-thought-out and carefully balanced method of biblical mathematics, Camping had predicted that the time of tribulations would begin on May 21st, 1988. A fact later verified by McCann, who wrote “May 21, 1988 (the day before Pentecost) the church age ended after 1955 years…On that day God began to evangelize the world a second time. On that day God began to send forth the latter rain and He began to save a great multitude of people from every nation.” But, as everybody knows, all good things must come to an end.
The salvation free-for-all ended precisely twenty-three years later, when in 2011, God slammed the door to paradise in our faces like a Satanist shooing away Mormon missionaries. Back then, before the most recent revisions, May 21st was to mark the beginning of “months of torment” that would finally culminate in the true end of the world some months later. The exact end of this time of trial and terror was originally slated to be October 21st of the same year, but when errors were discovered in their scriptural calculations—a discovery prompted by nothing particularly apocalyptic happening—the date was moved back months; and when even less happened on that date, it was pushed back years. In an exceptionally cruel twist, the exact nature of this event wasn’t known until after followers of Family Radio (and by this time, eBible Fellowship, one of many Christian organizations nationwide to glom on to Camping’s apocalyptic agenda) had donated their personal assets and savings totaling over $18 million dollars in 2010, according to the tax form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) Family Radio submitted to the IRS. A sum that certainly would have been less generous, had they been aware of the underwhelming physical ramifications of this particular apocalypse. The organization still managed to report just over $17 million the following year, but I imagine a sizable portion of that must have come before May 21st.
The Electronic Bible Fellowship showcased similar results. McCann’s group pulled in $291,564 in contributions during the lead up to the apocalypse in 2010, peaked during Armageddon itself at $361,727 in 2011, and then dropped off sharply afterward in 2012, netting only $94,915—not because the world actually ended and there was no need for money, but more likely people had already given everything they could or were too disillusioned to bother. Not that I blame them for their cynicism; it must have been like waking up from a wonderful nightmare, only to find yourself on fire.
Which more or less catches us up to the current end times, with only one other major incident between then and now: at the end of 2013, after the last Armageddon, but before this one, Harold Camping died. He, along with Family Radio, had remained conspicuously silent in the time leading up to his death regarding the angelic algebra that had cost so many followers so much of their still-needed worldly possessions. Perhaps they felt ashamed, or perhaps they simply thought that there wasn’t anything else to gain. A visit to eBible Fellowship’s website, however, will convince you that not everyone feels the same way. One man seems determined to balance the empyrean equation, and return to the halcyon end of days that brought such prosperity. Fifteen months after Camping’s world finally ended, Chris McCann is still trying to get those numbers to add up.
Article Copyright© Tobias Wayland - reproduced with permission.
Tobias Wayland is a passionate Fortean and outspoken agnostic who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’s spent the last eight years investigating the preternatural; which has, at best, served only to illustrate the fact that any answers are still hopelessly outnumbered by questions.
His website can be visited at: http://singularfortean.com/