Doomsday countdown, day one: The many apocalyptic predictions of Harold Camping

If the world had a nickel for every time the world was supposed to end, let's just say the world would have a whole boatload of nickels -- but as not-at-all-unusual as it may be for the various pseudo-prophets and charlatans of history to predict the endtimes, it is somewhat unusual for any of them to get as much mileage out of their predictions as Harold Camping has.

Last time around, the native-Boulderite and biblical number-cruncher predicted the the end for May 21, 2011 -- the same day that the messianic Bono was in Denver, a coincidence (or not) that filmmakers Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Engle did not fail to note in their just-finished documentary Jesus vs. Bono. And Camping is giving it another go: Now he's saying the world is definitely going to end Friday. And this is not a coincidence: That's the day Jesus vs. Bono premieres.

Let's give the world a little credit for not being quite as quick to buy Camping's prediction this time. But earlier this year, he really had people fired up about Christ's return. As early as January, a legion of devoted followers of Camping's "Biblical math" were amassing to spread the word and buy billboard space with which to creep out the rest of the world (not really because everybody was afraid of the message, but more because that shit's crazy, and it just makes people uncomfortable). Camping, however, was "certain beyond a shadow of a doubt" that May 21 would be the date of the Rapture, that Christian end-of-the-world scenario in which true believers get spontaneously lifted up to heaven, leaving everyone else to enjoy a little fucking peace and quiet for once. The actual end of the world, Camping theorized at the time, would take place exactly six months later, on October 21.

And he was intent on getting the word out: Over the course of this campaign, his organization spent nearly $100 million on billboards, pamphlets and books (translated into 75 languages), as well as programming on Camping's own Family Radio network. As the May 21 date approached, even Al-Jazeera had picked up the story.

It came to pass that either the Rapture didn't happen or very few people got Raptured, and Camping was not one of them. But that's not stopping Camping from sticking to his guns: He's still standing steadfast behind his prediction that the world will end for real on Friday -- and while it's true that far fewer people are paying attention this time, we always like to help out charlatans when we can, so we're spreading the word.

Plus, we have a good reason for doing so, because even though Jesus didn't end up coming to town as promised back in May, Bono did, and that was enough for Jesus vs. Bono. And now, after six long months of production, it's ready for the masses: The mock-umentary makes its world premiere at 7 p.m. October 21 at the new Voodoo Comedy Playhouse.

In the meantime, we'll be counting down, one apocalyptic prediction at a time.

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte

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