When you fail this often, may as well quit while you’re ahead. $75 Mil ahead.

Harold Camping has retired as head of FamilyRadio.com, and the radio website has pulled all mention of the failed apocalyptic predictions, according to the Christian Post.

The move comes soon after Brandon Tauszik, a documentarian who has been attending Camping’s Oakland, Calif., church for eight months, confirmed with The Christian Post in an exclusive interview that the Bible preacher has informed those close to him that he will effectively retire.

Additionally, Tauszik told CP that Camping has changed his views about the possibility that one can know the exact date of the end of the world, a notion that Camping has maintained for at least 20 years; the doomsday prophet made his first public end of the world prediction in 1992, claiming the world would end in 1994.


The man’s net worth, after having bilked a number of people out of their life savings with his apocalyptic predictions and requests for donations, is $75 million USD. So, he’s definitely quitting while he’s ahead — WAY ahead.

Since he’s failed in his predictions of the apocalypse so often, and since the Bible explicitly says that one cannot know in advance when Judgment Day is coming, one could be inclined to suggest that Camping does not know the Bible very well. The fact that he’s failed in his predictions a dozen or so times since he started making them, and it’s taken this many to change his mind about the possibility that the Rapture could be predicted, is quite telling as to his own biblical knowledge. Otherwise, he might know that unless he gives up his worldly possessions (and gets a sword), he’s going to hell. In fact, he must give up ALL his possessions to the poor. Everything. Every last cent. And given that he’s about 90 years old now, and he had a stroke shortly after his failed prediction in May, this dog’s not going to be in the hunt for much longer.

But you know what? I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in the Bible, and I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe in the Rapture. I suspect none of these things are true, absent any corroborating evidence (and in almost two thousand years, none is forthcoming). And since no evidence has been presented that any of these things are true, there’s no reason, in my mind, why he should give up his hard-”earned” cash.

Excepting, of course, the fact that taking people’s money under false pretenses is fraud, and illegal. And since there’s probably no afterlife, this man is very close to escaping this mortal coil having perpetrated an obscene series of frauds without ever being brought to justice. I move that Harold Camping give every last cent of his net worth back to Family Radio, then Family Radio, worth $122 million itself, give every last cent back to every donor that has contributed funds. Then, when everyone’s donations are covered and people are able to resume living their lives as they had before Camping came along, Family Radio should be shuttered, liquidated, and every cent of the liquidation be given to any number of charities. They can even be religious charities for all I care. Remember, if this doesn’t happen, Camping is going to hell according to the very book he used to win all that money from all those duped religious folk.

And to make our secular wrath complete, charge Camping with reckless endangerment. A very sick woman almost killed her daughters and herself because Camping put the idea in her head that they’d suffer the tribulation. That blood is on Camping’s hands, as far as I’m concerned.

Comments

  1. Brownian says

    Am I a terrible person because I have no sympathy for those he bilked? They got their moment in the sun, their fifteen minutes. That money bought them days, months, years of feelings of smarmy superiority. They got the value they were looking for.

    Answer: no, I’m a terrible person for many reasons, but this instance of Schadenfreude isn’t one of them.

  2. says

    @Brownian

    The same could be said for every case of fraud. This is a situation of a man setting himself up as a person in authority with special information. He should be held accountable.

  3. The Lorax says

    peicurmudgeon,

    Yes, he is a fraud and yes, he should be held accountable. But as the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I agree with Brownian; I have no sympathy for the people he duped. There is simply no way to reconcile this. This is very much like if someone told you that the acceleration of gravity on Earth is 5.2 m/s^2, and told you that they got that answer from a physics book, a physics book which not only do you own several copies of, not only one that you claim you have read in it’s entirety, and understood, but one that you swear to live your life by. And you believed them of this claim and gave them money because of it.

    Camping is wrong because of what is in the Bible, and anyone who is not a liar when they say that they understand the Bible, would know, therefore, that Camping is wrong, and would not have given him any money. Therefore, those who were duped are either liars, hypocrites, or willfully ignorant of their own claims. You cannot say these people were tricked; these people claim to know Camping’s source. I have no sympathy for them.

  4. says

    Eh, when almost everything about our society tells people to believe in the face of evidence, I don’t have any trouble feeling sympathy for Camping’s victims. We give so much time and space to this crap, and they’re doing exactly what they’ve been trained to do.

  5. Brownian says

    The same could be said for every case of fraud.

    Every case? Like you sell me a house or a car you don’t own?

    There are some frauds that play on the victim’s pride and greed, and others that involve simply screwing over people who’ve negotiated in good faith.

    As I said, they got a value for their money: they got to run around braying how they were going to be saved and the rest of us were going to suffer torment, and they reveled in it.

    This is a situation of a man setting himself up as a person in authority with special information. He should be held accountable.

    I’m not suggesting that Camping not be held accountable, just that, like the perpetrators of a 419 scams, his victims are also self-absorbed greedy assholes.

  6. says

    There are undoubtedly some people who bought into Camping’s BS with a sense of gain, but I am sure there were many others who paid out of fear. Con men are called that because they excell at convincing people.

    If you give me a good enough reason to believe that you own that house or car, I may buy it. Is it fraud? Yes. Am I a victim? Yes. Perhaps though I am also too trusting. Does that remove your responsibility for selling something you don;t own? No.

    With religion, we have people who have been conditioned their entire lives to believe what their pstor says. Blaming people for this just excuses people like Camping.

  7. Brownian says

    If you give me a good enough reason to believe that you own that house or car, I may buy it. Is it fraud? Yes. Am I a victim? Yes. Perhaps though I am also too trusting. Does that remove your responsibility for selling something you don;t own? No.

    Guilt isn’t a zero-sum situation though. If I wilfully and knowingly defraud you, I’m guilty, and more so because I did so with intent to defraud. Intent is considered under the law, and for good reason, IMO. There’re reasons why we want to punish cheaters (thanks Stephanie), and ‘cheating’ implies intent to circumvent social conventions aimed at increasing cooperation.

    But, regardless of how much blame is due me in this instance, it is not lessened by the fact that my victim may have acted in a way that assisted my commission of the crime.

    And I’m trying to be very careful now (in contrast to my first, rather flippant comment on this thread) not to engage in the type of victim blaming that goes on in the case of violent or sexual assaults. If I still am but can’t see why, I hope someone here will let me know.

    Let’s again put me in the guise of a con man who runs a Ponzi scheme. I victimise two people:

    The first is a well-connected and less-than-scrupulous restauranteer. A business owner savvy enough to see that what I’m doing isn’t above-board, but I convince him he’s in on the ground floor. He’ll thinks he’ll be my partner as I scam others on his behalf.

    The second is a poorly-educated individual with lousy language skills in a low-paying job, who thinks he’s being offered an opportunity at honest business investment, and isn’t able to discern that the promised returns are a bit too high to be legitimate.

    One of my victims is clearly more complicit in my crime than the other, but that does in no way diminish my crime in either case. It just means that one victim was a bit of a douchebag himself, and it’s harder to sympathise with that guy. I don’t see how that means he should be denied the same justice as the other fellow.

    As is the case with Camping’s followers. Some of them were clearly acting out of desperate fear, and some were looking for gain at the expense of others. It’s terrible that there are some individuals so terrified by religious beliefs that they’re easy prey for situations like this, and I am sympathetic towards those individuals.

    But they should all have what they were bilked out of returned to them, as Camping is equally guilty of the fraud in all cases (leaving aside victim’s differences in damages): as far as his guilt in each case is concerned, there isn’t a difference among them.

    With religion, we have people who have been conditioned their entire lives to believe what their pstor says. Blaming people for this just excuses people like Camping.

    I’m not intending to excuse Camping, at least not by blaming his victims, but as far as I understand he’s also been conditioned in that same way.

    I was raised religiously; I know the effects of defending sunk costs, and how it’s very easy to be incredibly certain and incredibly uncertain about what you know at the same time. How big was the part of him that believed his own bullshit, because religion trains one to do just that? Very few of his followers were absolute sheep: once they believed, for whatever reason, it became their own bullshit to defend from themselves. And then they went and pushed it on others. They didn’t camp out on a mountaintop by themselves to wait for God’s tractor beam: they tried to spread the terror to others.

    As far as remuneration is concerned, Camping should return what he scammed, and the victims should be refunded what they were scammed out of (though some would clearly benefit more from effective counselling than a cash settlement). Family Radio disbanded and all that. What Jason proposes sounds about right.

    But I’m not so sure about demonising him while canonising his victims. There was plenty of monstrosity to go around.

  8. Aliasalpha says

    I know its selfish to say it but I for one am sorry to lose the convenient excuse for the end of the world debauchery that his ‘predictions’ provided

  9. cmv says

    Brownian @10, well put.

    One minor quibble: he kept the money, which means demonising him is just fine. His victims believed they were giving money in order to save as many as possible; he kept the money. They should not be canonised, they should be pitied.

    Camping, and any others in his organisation who profited from this little scam, should be charged with fraud, their money taken, and reparations paid to their victims. Sell all the assets and make them pay.

  10. BCskeptic says

    I wonder how long it is going to take the christians to realize that their magic man saviour ain’t coming back either. Another 10 yrs, 100 yrs, 1000 yrs, 10,000 yrs? I’ll bet the last answer…that is if the religious wing-nuts haven’t caused our species to self-destruct by then.

    I hope this “lack of rapture” has maybe caused some of the gulible to wake up and question their crazy beliefs. If so, maybe it will have some useful impact after all. One can only hope.

  11. Brownian says

    That’s not a minor quibble, cmv: good point.

    Brownian – I appreciate your more detailed nuanced answer. That is much closer to my own views.

    Well, thanks for pressing me to explain myself.

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