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The end is today

Published May 21. 2011 09:01AM

The last thing I want to do is upset the readers of this column.

But in case you haven't heard or read about it, today is Doomsday.

Yep! At 6 p.m. today the world's going to end. We're finished, gone.

So don't cut the grass. Don't make any dinner reservations for this evening. Don't plant that camping trip. It's no use.

We're finished, done for, toast, call it what you want. No use planning a column for next week. There's not going to be anyone around to read it.

But before you get all hysterical at this information, realize it's some preacher from Oakland, California named Harold Camping who's making this bold prediction.

Apparantly Preacher Camping has some inside information that isn't available to the rest of us.

Either that or he's a nut case.

We'll find out at 6 p.m.

Camping is confidently predicting the Second Coming of the Lord. At about 6 p.m., he predicts that 2 per cent of the world's population will be immediately "raptured" to Heaven; the rest of us are headed south to the fire and brimstone. It's kind of depressing learning that only two out of every 100 people have lived a life good enough to warrant a trip to heaven. They aren't good odds at all. I'm hoping everyone I know is in the two percent.

According to an email I received (sorry, I don't know the source), but the topic caught my attention before I hit the delete button. Here's the dope on Mr. Camping.

Every day the 89-year-old former civil engineer, speaks to his followers via the Family Radio Network, a religious broadcasting organization funded entirely by donations from listeners. Such is their generosity (assets total $120 million) that his network now owns 66 stations in the U.S. alone.

Those deep pockets were raided to allow Family Radio to launch a high-profile advertising campaign, proclaiming the approaching Day of Judgement. More than 2,000 billboards across the US are adorned with its slogans, which include "Blow the trumpet, warn the people!". A fleet of logoed camper vans is touring every state in the nation. "It's getting real close. It's really getting pretty awesome, when you think about it," Mr Camping told the British newspaper, The Independent recently. "We're not talking about a ball game, or a marriage, or graduating from college. We're talking about the end of the world, a matter of being eternally dead, or being eternally alive, and it's all coming to a head right now."

Mr Camping, who makes programs in 48 languages, according to the Independent, boasts tens of thousands of followers across the globe, with radio stations in South Africa, Russia and Turkey. After 70 years of studying the Bible, he claims to have developed a system that uses mathematics to interpret prophesies hidden in it. He says the world will end on 21 May, because that will be 722,500 days from 1 April AD33, which he believes was the day of the Crucifixion. The figure of 722,500 is important because you get it by multiplying three holy numbers (five, 10 and 17) together twice. "When I found this out, I tell you, it blew my mind," he said.

Recent events, such as earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand and Haiti, are harbingers of impending doom, he says, as are changing social values. "All the stealing, and the lying, and the wickedness and the sexual perversion that is going on in society is telling us something," he says. "So too is the gay pride movement. It was sent by God as a sign of the end."

Mr Camping, who founded Family Radio in the 1950s, grew up a Baptist. Many of his strongly held views he does not believe in evolution and thinks all abortion should be banned are relatively commonplace among America's religious right.

Critics point out that this isn't the first time Mr Camping has predicted the second coming. On 6 September 1994, hundreds of his listeners gathered at an auditorium in Alameda looking forward to Christ's return.

"At that time there was a lot of the Bible I had not really researched very carefully," he said recently. "But now, we've had the chance to do just an enormous amount of additional study and God has given us outstanding proofs that it really is going to happen."

Camping's argument has convinced Adam Larsen, 32, from Kansas. He is among scores of "ambassadors" who have quit their jobs to drive around America in Family Radio vehicles warning of the impending apocalypse. "My favorite pastime is raccoon hunting," Mr Larsen told CNN. "I've had to give that up. But this task is far more important."

On second thought, maybe I will cut the grass today, just to be safe.

See you next week, I hope. Say a prayer that Mr. Camping's numbers don't add up.

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