Robert N. Lee

What’ll happen from here with the May 21 folks…

…if history holds true.

At some point, soon, Harold Camping will release a statement: he meant the Jewish calendar year. Or he got the date off by a year or so. Or the whole thing starts October 21, and the schedule slides accordingly. Or something like that. It’s still on, wait for it.

Maybe he already has. I should set up a Google News alert for it, I guess.

And while there will be some dropoff in believers, it’ll be less significant than you might imagine. Most followers of the Camping prophecy will double down because they’ve invested so much already. They’ve embarrassed their siblings and scared their kids and gotten in fights with coworkers and lost their jobs and driven around in a ridiculous car with great big signs on the side for two years. They gave all their money away. They got caught planning to kill their pets.

It would cost them too much to admit they were wrong, at this point. They will actually become more fervent in their belief and proselytizing.

The second prophecy will also prove a bust, and then Camping’s movement will see some real conflict and people bailing, but it won’t matter all that much, because the increased proselytizing on the part of the hardcore faithful is bringing in so many new members. That’ll then crash in fairly quick order in a frenzy of new date-setting and disappointments whose number and frequency will finally drive the early adopters away. And without that volunteer labor pool driving everything, the movement will fall apart and nobody will write news stories about them anymore, because nobody cares.

Something like that, anyway. It’s sort of the revivalist version of a Ponzi scheme, except you never have to reward any of the early “investors,” they just keep getting nothing and investing more and bringing in new investors, anyway. For a little while.

And then it’ll be a “remember that…?” joke for most people. Like the rest of them.

Ah, faith.


  1. Nice job, you nailed it! Days after you wrote this, the old fool said “I made a mistake… I meant OCTOBER 21st 2011!” 

    FTR, I am not an Atheist, but I am also not fool enough to believe all this Apocalyptic crap. I have an MA in Literature, so I understand the Book of Revelations was a prediction of the fall of the Roman Empire (which, ironically, actually did happen, just not as John dreamed it would). It is unfortunate that people must see things so black or white instead of attempting to figure things out for themselves.

    Thank you for the interesting read–I do hope at least one Camping follower reads this and wakes up. He will do nothing but ruin their lives again if they continue to trust him.

  2. Author

    Oh, thanks, not really a big feat on my part, though: I’ve just watched a few of these things play out in my life, and I’ve read this book, mostly.

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