Retirement for doomsday predictor Harold Camping?
At least that's according to The Christian Post, which reports that controversial Christian leader Harold Camping has retired after three failed doomsday predictions.
The self-styled Biblical scholar based in Oakland has thrice predicted the world's end. First, in 1994. Then, on May 21 of this year. And again on Oct. 21. It is estimated by Camping's own staff that more than $100 million has been spent trying to wake the world up to his Biblical predictions.
But, clearly, the world did not end. And Camping and his followers -- including many who reportedly sold all their belongings and turned their savings accounts over to the church -- have faced international ridicule and scorn.
There was so much attention given to the May 21 doomsday prediction -- end-of-the-world parties and so forth -- that when the Oct. 21 prediction date rolled around last month, the world responded largely with a "been-there, done-that" shrug.
And Camping, who had rarely missed an opportunity to take the spotlight in the past, remained oddly quiet.
The Post is now reporting that Camping, 90, who suffered a stroke earlier this year, is relinquishing his position. The Post's story quotes a documentarian who said he spoke with Camping and that Camping was both saddened and surprised at the turn of events, and indicated that he could no longer lead his ministry.
Camping recently posted an audio message on the homepage of his Family Radio site in which he acknowledged that all the attention on the failed predictions "seems embarrassing for Family Radio." He insisted that he had studied the Bible "more carefully than ever" for his predictions but noted that ultimately "God is in charge of this whole business and we are not."
We reached out to Family Radio for details about Camping's future plans, but that call was not returned Wednesday. We will update our story if and when we hear back from them.
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Photo: Harold Camping, shown earlier this year as he prepared for a taping of his "Open Forum" show in Oakland, Calif. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press