Unfortunately for them, nothing happened; a fact that caused much hilarity on Twitter and elsewhere as the 6pm deadline passed in New Zealand, then Australia, Europe and finally America.
"Harold Camping Doomsday prediction fails; No earthquake in New Zealand," read one posting on Twitter. "If this whole end-of-the-world thingy is still going on... it's already past 6.00 in New Zealand and the world hasn't ended," said another. The jokes were global. "Through Croydon; devastation, pestilence, drawn, emaciated faces of the walking dead. No sign of the Rapture though," cracked someone evidently not a fan of the south London town. Another Twitter user suggested people scatter empty pairs of shoes and discarded clothes on their lawns to simulate those lucky few now living with God.
Perhaps not surprisingly, atheists and other non-believers used the opportunity as a way to mock the religious. Various parties were planned across the US. In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the local chapter of the American Humanist Association held a party last night to celebrate the Earth's survival and planned a music concert. The American Atheists held "rapture parties" in places such as Wichita, Kansas, Fort Lauderdale in Florida and even just a few miles from Family Radio itself at a conference centre in Oakland. New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg used a press conference to assure citizens that post-Rapture his administration would not pursue parking tickets or late library books.
But other non-believers and cynics saw an opportunity to make money rather than jokes. There has been a mini-boom in firms and individuals offering to look after the pets of those who believed they were about to be raptured. Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, set up by New Hampshire atheist Bart Centre, has about 250 clients who paid $135 (?83) for insurance policies that guarantee Centre and others will care for their animals when they ascend. Others paid out to sign up with websites that would send out farewell letters to friends and relations left behind.
But there is a serious side. Camping seemed entirely genuine in his beliefs, enough to spend a small fortune promoting them. While others may be making money out of believing in Doomsday, Camping is not one of them. Many experts have worried about the psychological impact on his followers who are suddenly confronted with the collapse of their belief system. Some Christian pastors planned to gather outside Family Radio to counsel any distraught members who showed up wondering why they ? and the world ? were still there.
Camping himself admitted he had pretty much staked everything on his fervently held belief. "There is no plan B," he told Reuters late last week. Which is a shame. As the day progressed in California last night with no global mega-quake in sight, he and his followers needed one.
A pile of clothes is left on a sidewalk on Saturday, May 21, 2011 in Seattle's Wedgewood neighborhood. Some are poking fun at radio minister Harold Camping's doomsday prediction with parties and pranks.
The end of the world is nigh: Oct. 21
On May 21, from what we hear, a small number of Christians will disappear and God will rock the rest of us with earthquakes, plague, asteroids, and all manner of suffering. On Oct. 21, after five months of torture, the universe will cease to exist. This is obviously disconcerting news, and we thought we'd lend a hand.
Seattle Atheists are here to help!
While the world is tortured in this terrible Apocalypse, who better to help the world than atheists? Elite squads of godless heathens, who already live all over the Puget Sound, will help bring people out of the rubble and rebuild their lives. The Post-Apocalyptic Pony Express will help restore communication service by carrying letters across the tattered remains of civilization, giving humanity hope with the sight of the cutest ponies money can buy.
A national poll conducted this week revealed that 80% of Republicans believe they will be saved while only 40% of Republicans think any Democrats will be joining them. The same survey indicated that few Republicans were concerned by their belief that their departure would leave most legislative bodies in the country with Democratic majorities.
?Not so fast,? said Jesus, speaking to theDiscust in a rare telephone interview. ?I?m not saying that I?m coming back this weekend, or in 2012, or even on August 21, 2017 ? and by the way, don?t make plans on that day ? but what I am willing to reveal is that a lot of the folks who are pretty smug in thinking they?re doing my work are in for a rude awakening.?
?You wouldn?t believe the crap that?s been pulled in my name,? continued Christ. ?It?s like people just think you can say ?in Jesus? name? and it makes everything Kosher, and it?s just not the case. I?m not going to go into all the stuff people say about me that?s not true, ?cause frankly a lot of it is stuff I wish I?d done and I don?t want people to think I?m lame. What I really want to do, though, is get through to people that I?m not a Republican or a Democrat and that it annoys me when people assume I?m on their side. The truth is, if I were to choose a political party, it would probably be one in Israel or Palestine. I?m not an American ? never been there ? and honestly with my criminal record I doubt they?d even give me a visa to come for a visit.?
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost