Judgment Day'ers: Millions will die Saturday

BOSTON (RNN) - Like Andrew Velasquez, you may have heard that Judgment Day is upon us.

"It's hard to miss," Velasquez said.

The 22-year-old Bostonian said public transportation vehicles over the last few months have been covered with advertisements saying the end of the world will begin May 21.

It was on one of his commutes from North Cambridge to work in Boston that Velasquez first learned the ends-and-outs of the end of days, after a bus driver handed him a pamphlet.

"He asked me if I believed it, and I said, 'No,'" Velasquez recalled. "But I was willing to read the pamphlet he gave me."

According to the faithful few, Velasquez should be concerned. He has ignored God's message, they would say, and a painful death is upon him.

"We are literally now hours away," said Bob Hansen, a Maryland-based listener of Family Radio, whose president, Harold Camping, propagates the message.

For the Bible tells us so

There is no one religion that preaches the May 21 message. Instead, it is loosely organized through broadcasts such as Family Radio and websites.

According to Hansen, the churches themselves are preaching contrary to the Bible, which is the holder of truth.

"There is no church," Hansen said. "All of this information comes directly from the Bible."

Most of these believers, such as Hansen, have taken their cues from Camping, who believes the Bible is a celestial calendar with clues that reveal the timeline to the world.

Camping is no longer giving interviews about Judgment Day, a representative from Family Radio told the Raycom News Network. Instead, Hansen spoke in his place.

While there are several calculations that led to May 21, one stands out, Hansen said.

In Genesis, the great flood occurs on the second month and 17th day of the 600th year of Noah's life.

In 2 Peter 3:8, scripture reads, "With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

On the old Hebrew calendar, the 17th day of the second month is actually May 21. The flood is linked to May 21, 4990 BC. Fast-forward 6,000 years, and you arrive at May 21, 2011.

The Great Rapture

Hansen says he sees some poetic coincidences in current events and his beliefs in the end-times. A former Naval officer, Hansen says his sister ship was the USS Tuscaloosa. He compared the damage from the monster tornado that hit an Alabama city by the same name to the destruction that will be seen Saturday.

Picture a new stone age, he said.

"Death will be everywhere," Hansen said. "Millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, will die tomorrow."

Saturday is known as the day of Rapture, and it will be marked by a rolling earthquake with a force 1,000 times greater than the March 11 earthquake in Japan, Hansen said.

The quake will begin in New Zealand at 6 p.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) and move west until the entire world feels its effects.

However, the world will not actually end until Oct. 21.

According to the Bible, Hansen said, the torment will last five months. At the end of that time, the world will be destroyed by God, and a heaven with no death, pain, or recollection of the former world will be created.

Friday is the last day believers can be changed to a glorified body and be saved by God.

Wrong again?

Many who believe in the May 21 apocalypse have felt that way for more than a decade. Camping first predicted it in 1994.

Heeding the call of the prophet Ezekiel, believers have crisscrossed the globe, proclaiming the message aloud in hopes of saving lost souls.

Chris McCann, director of eBible, said his organization has placed 400 billboards in India, 49 in Nepal and eight in Cambodia. The family eventually partnered with Family Radio.

They also have run an extensive campaign in Latin America. More than 100 billboards are in place in Brazil, five to 10 are in each Central American nation, and mobile billboards have been driven around South America.

"Almost the whole world has been covered," McCann said, estimating the existence of at least 1,500 billboards in the U.S. alone.

But the 49-year-old can't be certain how many billboards actually exist, as many listeners of Family Radio get out the message on their own, a sign of Camping's power.

McCann spoke of one family in New Castle County, DE, who with Family Radio's help advertised the apocalypse in newspapers and magazines. The circulations of those publications reach 98 percent of the state, he said.

McCann is well aware of past doomsday predictions that never materialized, such as Y2K and the Great Disappointment, which led to the foundation of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Some predictions, including the forthcoming Mayan 2012 teachings, have nothing to do with the Bible, McCann said, and those that did were based on careless readings instead of Camping's diligent, careful study.

"Well, since no one has ever discovered a cure for cancer in the past, should we stop the research now?" he asked, insisting the believers in May 21 were not fear-mongers.

Marking the end

Hansen was spending his last day before Judgment Day in prayer. He knows people will scoff, he said, like those who scoffed at God during the great flood.

The Bible's account of the story of Noah's ark reads, "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth."

Valesquez is one of those scoffing now; he has made plans for Saturday despite all the dire predictions.

"My plans are to take in the apocalypse at a birthday party," he said. "And then tomorrow, in exchange for my impending doom, I'm going to go to a beer festival."

Velasquez said if the world's going to end, it's going to end.

"I don't need to know about it beforehand," he said.

Copyright 2011 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.