Harold Camping: Rapture fails to arrive in Europe; atheist party to begin in Oakland
The rapture has so far failed to materialize as predicted by an Oakland-based evangelical broadcaster, who warned that each time zone would experience cataclysmic events Saturday at 6 p.m.
In London, the dreaded hour came and went without incident, the British media gamely reported.
"Cheer up, the end of the world isn't nigh … it looks like Heaven must wait for the Rapture believers," the Daily Mail of London trumpeted. "Apocalypse not right now," quipped the Telegraph newspaper. The New Zealand Herald said, "Armageddon proves a squib," and the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia said, "World still here."
"A rather quiet sort of rapture if you ask me," the Morning Herald quoted Melbourne, Australia, resident Jon Gall saying via tweeting.
In California, a group of about 250 gathered at an American Atheists conference that is doubling as a "Rapture that Wasn't" party later Saturday night. The gathering is being held not far from the Oakland studio of Harold Camping, the doomsday predictor. Speakers were encouraging "critical thought in the face of outlandish religious predictions," tweeted Amy Davis Roth of Hollywood.
"The [actual] party happens tonight. You haven't partied until you party with the godless!" Roth tweeted to The Times. At one point, a man dressed as Jesus spoke to the crowd.
Chatter about the end of the world dominated online conversations Saturday, with Camping's doomsday-related searches making up six of the top 10 searches on Google. At noon Saturday, the top Twitter trending item in the United States was #endoftheworldconfessions, followed by #myraptureplaylist.
The apocalypse predicted for May 21, 2011, has gained unprecedented publicity because of a worldwide $100-million campaign of caravans and billboards, financed by the sale and swap of TV and radio stations, The Times' Christopher Goffard reported Saturday.
Among those people who said they refused to get caught up in the hysteria was Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has generated controversy by burning, and threatening to burn, the Koran at public demonstrations. Jones, who appeared outside the Egyptian consulate in Los Angeles Saturday to protest violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt, said nobody can predict when Judgment Day will arrive. Those who do are irresponsible, he said.
"I think it's misfortunate," he said. "I've been a pastor for some 30 odd years and this has happened what some half-dozen times. People twist it and turn it to make it look like Christians are kind of nutty."
In Taiwan, Next Media Animation assembled a video primer called "Apocalypse WOW!" complete with images of earthquakes and floods terrorizing a city, a giant foot crushing fleeing non-believers, aliens musing on Earth's destruction and a figure of Jesus giving a high-five to Camping.
Camping is a former engineer who reaches millions of listeners and viewers on 66 stations across the country, and many more worldwide. Camping has said that the apocalypse was to have begun Saturday whenever it was 6 p.m. He said that when the time came in New Zealand –- Friday night in America -- "super terrible" earthquakes would begin, and roll on, time zone by time zone. The saved would be whisked to God, while those left behind would be obliterated in what he called "a super horror story."
No significant earthquakes have occurred across the world Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II and Robert Faturechi
Video: In Taiwan, Next Media Animation assembled a video primer called "Apocalypse WOW!"
Photo: In Eugene, Ore., a billboard proclaiming May 21 as Judgment Day. Credit: Chris Pietsch / The Register-Guard
Photo: Harold Camping. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times