California doomsday prophet Harold Camping dead at 92

Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:24pm EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping, who rallied thousands of followers and stirred an international media frenzy with a failed doomsday prophecy two years ago, has died at his home near San Francisco, a spokeswoman for his radio outlet said on Tuesday.

Camping, who was 92, died peacefully in Alameda, California, on Sunday surrounded by members of his family, said Nina Romero, marketing manager for the Oakland-based Family Radio network.

Camping drew international followers and headlines in 2011 with broadcasts predicting the biblical Judgment Day would occur on May 21 of that year, launching an end-of-the-world countdown that prompted some believers to spend their life's savings in anticipation of being swept into heaven.

To publicize his forecast, Family Radio posted more than 2,000 billboards around the country declaring that Judgment was at hand, and believers carried the message on placards in shopping malls and street corners.

As far away as the Philippines, volunteers donned neon-colored T-shirts and walked the main thoroughfares of Manila, handing out pamphlets to passersby.

Some atheists observed Camping's forecast in their own way, with one group organizing a party under the banner of "countdown to backpedaling," on the assumption that Camping and Family Radio would end up altering their prediction.

Days after the apocalypse conspicuously failed to materialize, Camping emerged from a brief seclusion to say he had merely miscalculated, and he pronounced a new Judgment date for October 21.

RECALCULATING   Continued...

Harold Camping, 89, the California evangelical broadcaster who predicts that Judgment Day will come on May 21, 2011, is seen in this still image from video during an interview at Family Stations Inc. offices in Oakland, California from May 16, 2011. REUTERS/Reuters Television/Files