Is the end of the world coming on Saturday?

9:47 PM, May 18, 2011   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida --  If you believe what a small group of non-denominational Christians are preaching, the end of the world is coming this Saturday.

Mark the calender: May 21, 2011 at 6 p.m. (Eastern time).

For those who believe the prediction, which was calculated by Harold Camping with Family Radio Worldwide, it's a day that will be marked with an earthquake. Camping apparently decoded verses in the Bible and did a little math to come up with the May 21st date. (Note: He miscalculated Judgment Day before.)

Photo Gallery: End of the World on Saturday?

"Most likely, we're figuring it's gonna be a big, giant rolling earthquake that's going to start on the timeline.  Fuji Islands first, New Zealand, Australia, Japan," said John Junstrom, a Tampa businessman who is also a believer in the prediction. "All the graves are going to open up, dead and Christ will rise first and by God's grace, and mercy those that truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will go up to meet Christ in the air."

For others, May 21st will be marked with, well, whatever they had planned for Saturday.

Some people are even finding humor in the event by throwing rapture parties this weekend.

"Biblically, it says nobody knows, nobody.  Even Jesus said I don't even know," said Dan Austin of Tampa, who doubts anything will happen on Saturday.  "The fact they're saying it's going to be the 21st at 6 p.m. tells me this is not the day."

But, believers like Junstrom are convinced rapture will come and they are working to spread the word to as many people as possible.

If you attended Gasparilla this year, you may have spotted a caravan of RV's plastered with Judgment Day warnings.  The group is with Family Radio Worldwide, which is spear heading the nationwide tour.

"Today is still a day of salvation," said Junstrom, who tells 10 News is he is taking a three week vacation to spread the word.  He was in downtown Tampa on Tuesday handing out pamphlets to anyone who would take it.

Only about 1 in 15 people actually agrees to take one, he says.

USF Professor of Religious Studies James Strange says this latest prediction makes up a long list of failed predictions.

"I don't think it has any merit at all.  It's no better than an educated guess," pointed out the professor.

There's no doubt in his mind this Saturday will pass without rapture.  98 percent of Christians surveyed on Monday by the King James Bible Online agree Judgment Day isn't on their weekend agenda.

Strange also points out, if Camping is wrong again, there's little consequence.

"If it holds true to form, they'll say we didn't calculate, we didn't have enough information, we misunderstood one detail, but now we see better," he said.  "I'm sure we'll continue to see this kind of prediction, more or less forever.  It seems to be built into the human being to do this."

By saying "this," he means, "Calculate a date, announce a date, get ready."

The professor also talked about a book he has in his collection entitled "88 Reasons Why the End of History will be in 1988" and it's kind of an interesting artifact to keep around, particularly when students ask me about those things and show them an actual attempt to calculate it, publish a book, sell a million copies and then, the next year, the same author wrote a book called "89 Reasons why 1989 will be the End of History."

He didn't go for 1990.

Still, Junstrom says he's preparing for Judgment Day and plans to spend it with family.

When asked what he'll do if he wakes up to another day on May 22nd, he said, "That's not the question.  There is so much evidence."

So, we had to ask about his three week vacation, which assumes one will be returning at some point.  We also had to ask about a voice message on his work phone line that says he'll be back on Monday, May 23rd.

"Well, OK," he paused and smiled.  "What can I say?"

He added, "I truly believe it's going to happen, but I have the provisions to keep going if it does not."

Those, like Austin, who are pretty sure we'll all still be around on May 22nd say predictions like this do one positive thing...it gets people praying and talking about their faith.

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