Each weeknight, Camping would transmit his own biblical interpretations in a quivery monotone, clutching a worn Bible as he took listeners’ calls. He first predicted the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994 and when it did not, Camping said it was off because of a mathematical error. Followers later said he was referring to the end of “the church age,” a time when human beings in Christian churches could be saved.
After his billboards warning of pending doom popped up across the country in 2010 and 2011, Christian leaders from across the spectrum widely dismissed his prophecies while atheists and revelers poked fun at his prediction. Some also criticized Camping’s use of millions of dollars in followers’ donations to advertise Judgment Day.
“We’re not in the business of financial advice,” he said shortly after the failed May 2011 prediction. “We’re in the business of telling people there’s someone who you can maybe talk to, maybe pray to, and that’s God.”
Camping also offered a measured apology, adding that he felt so terrible when his prophecy did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.
“If people want me to apologize, I can apologize,” he said in response to questions about some listeners’ decision to give away their possessions in anticipation of the Rapture. “I pray all the time for wisdom.”
Camping wrote about 30 books and booklets over the years, many from his modest brick home in Alameda, a leafy Oakland suburb. Family Radio Network said in its statement that he is survived by a wife of 71 years.
“We know that each of us remain in God’s hand, and God is the One who knows our appointed time to leave our earthly body behind,” the statement said.