Apocalypse Not Now: The Rapture Fails to Materialize
"I guess on Sunday when the #Rapture people feel really upset, we can't console them by saying 'Cheer up, it's not the end of the world.'"
Christian doomsday prophet Harold Camping looks likely to be less than rapturous after his prediction that the world would end on Saturday failed to materialize.
The 89-year-old Californian preacher had prophesied that the Rapture would begin at 6pm in each of the world's time zones, with those "saved" by Jesus ascending to heaven and the non-believers being wiped out by an earthquake rolling from city to city across the planet.
But as the deadline for the Apocalypse passed in the Pacific islands, New Zealand and Australia, it became apparent that Camping's prediction of the end of the world was to end not with a bang but with a whimper.
Only on Twitter did the supposed Armageddon sweep the world, with users expressing their mock disappointment at the lack of dead people rising from their graves.
New Zealander Daniel Boerman tweeted: "I'm from New Zealand, it is 6:06PM, the world has NOT ended. No earthquakes here, all waiting for the rapture can relax for now. #Rapture"
In Australia, Jon Gall of Melbourne was unimpressed by the lack of fire and brimstone. He tweeted: "#Rapture time here in Melbourne. A rather quiet sort of rapture if you ask me.
"Well we have had the #Rapture going for 50 minutes now. So far it hasn't interrupted my fish & chips and glass of stout."
In Brisbane, KillaJeules, was similarly disappointed by the lack of a Hollywood blockbuster ending: "So it's 6:37pm here in Brisbane, Australia. No earthquakes. No beaming up of Christians. No zombie apocalypse. No surprises haha."
Camping, a retired civil engineer, has built a multimillion-dollar, non-profit ministry based on his apocalyptic predictions. He previously predicted that the world would end in 1994. It is difficult to know how many of his followers took his latest prophecy seriously, though his Family Radio Worldwide reaches millions of listeners in the US and around the world.
Some have reportedly sold all their possessions and taken to the streets to warn people to prepare for the second coming of Jesus. In recent weeks, callers to Christian radio stations in the US have debated what to do about non-believing friends and neighbors who will be left behind to endure the wrath of God.
But it looks like it will be atheists and other skeptics celebrating this weekend, with tongue-in-cheek doomsday parties planned across the US.
TV scientist Professor Brian Cox summed up the mood of the non-believers. He tweeted: "I think we should all pretend the #rapture is happening so that when Harold Camping gets left behind later today he'll be livid."
But Kieran Healy had a slightly more comforting message for those disappointed at not joining Jesus: "I guess on Sunday when the #Rapture people feel really upset, we can't console them by saying 'Cheer up, it's not the end of the world.'"