Prediction of rapture is met with skepticism

Either the end is near, or it will be a normal Saturday.

That means, while some people are preparing to be lifted up to heaven for Saturday’s predicted rapture, others will be eating ice cream because there just isn’t any in hell.

All of this is in response to a prediction that Jesus Christ will return to Earth and lead true believers to heaven.

That prediction came from Harold Camping, an 89-year-old syndicated radio evangelist and president of Family Radio, an Oakland, Calif.-based religious broadcasting network. As proof, Camping lists the “degradation” of the Christian church, the gay pride movement and the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Camping, who predicted the rapture before, on Sept. 4, 1994, has sent his message around the world, including through a billboard in Grand Junction warning people of the end.

Local pastor Mike Burr has a different theory. “I think this is wacko,” said Burr, pastor of Koinonia Church, 730 25 Road, in Grand Junction. “I’m a Christian, but I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, I don’t believe in Santa Claus, and I don’t believe that Jesus is going to come riding in on a white charger at the end of time like the Lone Ranger. It’s biblical nonsense.”

Burr said Camping’s prediction is fear-based and has more to do with numerology than true Christian beliefs.

He also is dismayed to hearsome of Camping’s followers are selling their homes, clearing out their bank accounts and giving the money to the radio network.

“You look at his billboard. It strikes me more as advertisement for his program than for anything,” Burr said. “The bottom line is it’s antithetical to a whole life’s spirituality. It’s easy to make fun of it, but in many ways, it’s sad. It’s such a 16th Century kind of mind view.”

A Grand Junction group called the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, however, is planning to mark the event. For them, it’s an ice-cream social from 3 to 4 p.m. at Eagle Rim Park.

“People are always looking for answers, and there’s always going to be charlatans out there,” said Jude Sirota, president of the group. “It’s happened many, many times in the past, and it’s going to keep continuing.”


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