May 21st has come and gone, yet we are all still here. Are you as shocked as I am? OK, maybe I’m not really surprised that another “Judgment day,” prophesied by a kooky religious leader, has come and gone with little interruption to my usual Saturday morning routine of Looney Tunes and Captain Crunch. What does seem a mystery, however, is why on earth Harold Camping, the self proclaimed professor of Bible truth, head of Family Radio, a multimillion-dollar Christian organization, and author of this nonsense is sticking to his story that last Saturday truly was the beginning of the end.
“Judgment Day on May 21 did come, “ but in a more spiritual sense, Camping proclaimed in a recent article published on christianpost.com.
Camping further stated that his previous end-times prophecies where also correct, but again it was in a spiritual sense. The newest new deal is that, according to Camping, Judgment Day is more like five months of Judgment days. Apparently, there are so many of us in need of judgment, his god won’t be able to finish the trials until October 21st, the day Camping now predicts for the rapture, when the chosen go with Jesus, and the rest of us, and the world, will make like John Edwards and cross over, but in a fiery blaze of pain and anguish.
In light of the work of Festinger and his infiltration of a doomsday-cult back in the 50s, as was eloquently discussed by Dr. Duke in his resent post, there is most definitely a case for cognitive dissonance at work in the wake of this failed prophecy. While the dissonance might not lie with Camping per se, his new prophecy is likely intended to combat the growing dissonance among his flock. It would seem that the observation made by Prus (1976) who noted that religious groups, and especially ones who make wild claims about end times, must come up with cleaver ways to ease their followers dissonance if they are to maintain and expand their ranks.
In the end, we can be sure that there is nothing shocking about an old quack distracting his followers with smoke, mirrors and promises. And those followers will likely eat it up. They simply have too much of their time, money and selves invested to turn back now.