BREAKING: Alameda man who predicted world's end dies

BREAKING: Alameda man who predicted world's end dies

Michele Ellson

Photo courtesy of Family Radio.

Harold Camping, the preacher and radio host who convinced thousands of followers that the world would come to an end in 2011, has died. He was 92.

Camping had been in ill health for the past few years following a stroke; in a statement, Family Radio Network said he sustained a fall in his Alameda home on November 30 from which he was unable to recover.

Camping, a civil engineering graduate of the University at California, Berkeley who earned a living from a self-started construction business, co-founded Family Radio in 1958; the company ultimately grew from one channel based in San Francisco into a multi-million dollar enterprise that included more than 140 stations. He hosted a weeknight call-in show on the radio network, Open Forum, for 50 years.

He gained notoriety with his claim that the Rapture would begin on May 21, 2011, taking about 200 million believers up to Heaven, and that the world would end five torment-filled months later, in October, a claim that led believers to sell their possessions and others to stage protests and parties mocking it. The events, broadcast via the radio network and advertised via billboards at at estimated cost of about $5 million, didn’t come to pass. Camping later apologized.

Camping and his family were members of the Christian Reformed Church until 1988; four years later he claimed that the Bible held a hidden calendar that detailed the end of the world. He had earlier claimed that the world would end in 1994.

The claims drew the ire of other Christians who derided Camping, who never had any formal theological training, as a heretic for suggesting the date of Jesus's return could be known.

Camping is survived by his wife of 71 years, Shirley, and his daughter, Susan Espinoza.

More details on Camping’s life and legacy are available in this story from the Religion News Service.