The rise of gay pride is a sign delivered by God that the end of the world will begin in just a few short days on May 21. At least that is the prophecy of former Coloradan Harold Camping, the 89-year-old founder, president, and general manager of the radio network Family Stations Inc., the network that launched the end-of-world-campaign.
Christian Gay and lesbian groups say they aren’t so sure, and a professor at Iliff School of Theology says the claim that the world will end as the result of God’s wrath on a particular group of people transforms the end of the world prediction from a humorous story to a very dangerous one.
“No sign is as dramatic and clear as the phenomenal world-wide success of the Gay Pride movement,” Camping states in his online essay Gay Pride: Planned by God as a Sign of the End.
Family Stations, Inc., which owns 66 stations across the U.S., launched its campaign posting billboards and sending fleets of trucks across the United States warning of the impending judgment day, May 21, and subsequent end of the world on Oct. 21, 2011.
It is a message that has caught the ear of local and national media organizations that have juiced the end-of-the-world advertising campaign, by bringing their message to the pages of TIME, The Washington Post and numerous other publications across the country.
While publications have reported on Camping’s second end-of-the-world prediction–the first being in 1994 when the sun rose and fell without sight of the Son of Man–most don’t note the underlying signs Camping says show the end is nigh, let alone his message that the rise of gay rights has heralded the oncoming destruction of the world.
“Thus we learn that God has planned today’s situation of Gay Pride and same-sex marriages to show the world that it is on the threshold of Judgment Day. He has shown us that an obviously parallel situation exists between Sodom, when it was on the threshold of destruction, and the world of our day, which is on the threshold of destruction,” Camping’s writings explain.
It is a message that meets with some skepticism within the gay community.
“We do not share this view of the rapture,” Karen Barr, moderator at the Christian organization Gay, Lesbian, & Affirming Disciples Alliance, Inc., said. “It is a modern invention that does not reflect the whole of the teaching of Jesus. We do believe that a world where people of all gender and sexual identities are welcomed, valued, and enjoy the same rights and responsibilities is a reflection of the values held in the heart of God as evidenced by the life and teachings of Jesus.”
Professor Miguel De La Torre, at the Iliff School of Theology, posted an online column discussing Camping’s prediction. He said anyone can go into the Bible and look at various predictions and construct a timeline based on particular quotations, but that they always prove to be wrong.
“If I knew for certainty that I was going to die this weekend, then the mark of a good life is to live the last days of my life like I lived all the other days up to this point. My advice would be to ‘be at peace,’” added De La Torre. “No one knows when the world will end. It could end up May 21 this year, next year, or a hundred or a thousand years from now. We don’t know. What we do know is that people who have taken predictions of the last day of the earth and did all matters of things that could not be undone, that their lives were destroyed. One needs to be careful not to fall into that trap.”
When contacted by The Colorado Independent, De La Torre said his column didn’t address the homosexuality angle because he wasn’t aware of it.
“If that is the case, it changes from a humorous story to a much more dangerous story. To say that the world will end because of God’s wrath with a particular group of people is really a throwback to the darkest part of our culture.”
De La Torre is a professor of social ethics. “I do not see anything in the Bible that condemns loving relationships between same-gender adults. God is not displeased by any loving relationship between two adults. This seems to be based more on cultural biases than any Biblical text.”
Attempts to contact the radio network failed. However, the Family Radio website provides details of both the prediction and Camping’s connection with the station in a press packet.
Though Camping reports that he receives no compensation for his services, the preacher has used the platform to warn of signs he says are in the Bible. According to the packet, the board of directors for the non-commercial network, feeling that God has prepared Family Radio for “this important time in History,” voted unanimously to use all available funds to warn the world of the oncoming judgment day, when an earthquake will jettison the bodies of the wicked to the ground and the faithful into heaven, not to mention the subsequent destruction of the world.
They wrote that unlike Camping’s last prediction that he had said might happen, very salient guideposts put in place by God to warn all mankind of its waning time on earth have become evident. The board of directors are now certain of Christ’s return.
“Jesus warned of several spiritual signs, such as the complete degradation of the Christian church, the devastating moral breakdown of society, the re-establishment of National Israel in 1948, the emergence of the ‘Gay Pride Movement’, and the complete disregard of the Bible in all of society today as direct evidence of His return,” the press packet notes.
Camping used a form of hermeneutic interpretation of the Bible to determine his predicted end date. Noting that Christ’s death occurred on April 1, 33 ADD, Camping used the solar calendar to predict when the the rapture, or judgment day, will occur.
“This conclusion is not offered because it is the opinion of some Bible scholar. It is said because this is what God teaches in the Bible,” Camping wrote. “This dramatic sign which increasingly is in evidence all over the world fits perfectly with the solid Biblical teaching that May 21, 2011 will be the first day of the Day of Judgment.”
Oddly, while the group is promoting that judgment day is to come, along with massive earthquakes lasting till the October end date, Family Radio says it will continue to offer information packets surrounding its predictions through May 23, 2011.
The end of the world has been predicted numerous times over the years, and many are predicting this won’t be the last such prediction.