NZ Skeptics slam Apocalypse warning

05:29, May 21 2011
Harold Camping
PROPHET MOTIVE: Harold Camping speaks while holding the Bible.

The end is not nigh, according to the New Zealand Skeptics, despite an American religious leader declaring Judgement Day will arrive first in New Zealand at 6pm today.

Evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping has predicted a massive earthquake will strike the earth, unleashing the Apocalypse, first upon New Zealand, then around the world.

The 89-year-old had previously incorrectly predicted the end of the world in 1994.

But the head of the Christian radio network Family Stations Inc now says he is sure an earthquake will shake the planet today, sweeping true believers to heaven and leaving others behind to be engulfed in the world's destruction over a few months.

''We know without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen,'' said Camping, whose Family Radio broadcasts in more than 30 languages and on US and international stations.

His supporters have posted about 2200 billboards around the United States about the coming Apocalypse, and dozens of followers are driving across the country to spread the news.

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Volunteers also handed out pamphlets warning about May 21 as far away as the Philippines, telling people God had left clear signs the world was coming to an end.

However, New Zealand Skeptic Society media spokeswoman Vicky Hyde told NZPA she was confident of waking up tomorrow with the world unchanged.

''These kind of predictions come up particularly in times of economic or social uncertainty - which is pretty much almost every year actually, you can track them, whether it's commentary impacts or the rapture or giant space aliens or something. And the only thing they have in common is they are all wrong.''

The most serious repercussions behind predictions of the world ending was there was often a jump in murders and suicides, Ms Hyde said.

Website, What's The Harm, has reported more than 1800 cases of murder and suicide associated with people believing the end of the world is coming.

Hyde said she was ''confident'' Camping's prediction was completely wrong.

''I've lived through so many ends of the world even in my relatively short lifetime.''

Auckland Catholic Church spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer told NZPA church attendance had not increased at all since Camping's warnings.

She described his prediction as ''scaremongering nonsense'', that had nothing to do with scripture.

''We're not superstitious here.''

There was no indication in the Bible for when the Apocalypse would strike, she said.

Camping, a civil engineer who ran his own construction business before turning to evangelism, told Reuters he planned to spend May 21 with his wife and watch the doomsday unfold.

''I'll probably try to be very near a TV or a radio or something,'' he said. ''I'll be interested in what's happening on the other side of the world as this begins.''

Like his last prediction, Camping's doomsday date is based on his reading of the Bible and a timeline dating back to ancient events including the Biblical flood survived by Noah.

NZPA