May 21 'Judgment Day' Believers React To Being Alive On May 22
'Judgment Day' came and went on Saturday, and John Ramsey hasn't been able to sleep.
The 25-year-old Harrison, N.J. resident had rearranged his life in recent months to devote himself to spreading a fringe California preacher's prediction that May 21 would bring worldwide earthquakes and usher in a five-month period of misery before the world's destruction.
Like many of those convinced of the Rapture was pending, Ramsey quit his job, donated "a couple thousand" to Harold Camping's Family Radio network and convinced family members to join him to spread news of the Rapture on Manhattan streets.
His family nervously huddled in their apartment living room Saturday, holding their Bibles open, switching between CNN, Facebook and Google for news of quakes in the Pacific.
They cried. They hugged. They argued. But mostly, they waited. Nothing happened.
On Sunday, a dejected Ramsey said he faces a "mixed bag."
He has to find a new job. So does his mother. His 19-year-old brother, who had quit high school the year prior ("It's pointless to graduate," the brother had said), is thinking of re-enrolling or finding employment.
His wife, Marcia Paladines, had come to accept that she might never meet her unborn baby, whom she and Ramsey had named John Moses. Now, she's praying for a healthy birth. The child is due as early as Friday.
"Life goes on," Ramsey said Sunday. "I get to live. I get to be a dad."
The May 21 prediction came from the Biblical numerology of Harold Camping, an 89-year-old televangelist who owns the Oakland, Calif.-based Christian Family Radio network. Camping had previously predicted a similar end-times scenario in 1994.
Several Camping followers previously interviewed by The Huffington Post did not return phone calls and emails Sunday. But a few did publicly declare their reactions.
"I guess no man knows the day or the hour," said Peter Lombardi, a 44-year-old from Jersey City, N.J. who had had taken an "indefinite break" from his job in April to preach about May 21.
He had fitted his Dodge minivan with stickers proclaiming the "awesome news" of Judgment Day and paraded with neon green Caravans through Manhattan's business districts to hand hundreds of fliers about the date. On Sunday, he was peeling the stickers off.
Lombardi said he is going back to work -- he owns a construction business -- and said he has "no regrets." He added, "I'm not disappointed. I'm still living today." He believes Camping and others must have read the Bible incorrectly.
Lombardi had donated $1,100 to Family Radio in recent months to help the organization purchase thousands of billboards and other ads throughout the country, but said he doesn't expect any of his money back.
"What can you do?" he said. "I don't think they were scamming me, but I am definitely waiting to see what they say Monday on the radio show."
"It's not [Camping's] fault," said Ramsey, who added he also won't ask for his money back. "Nobody held a gun to my head. I read the Bible. The math added up. I don't think anybody would do something like this without meaning it."
Camping was mostly silent over the weekend, but he spoke briefly outside his Alameda, Calif. home on Sunday with a San Francisco Chronicle Reporter.
"It has been a really tough weekend," he said, adding he was "flabbergasted" and "looking for answers." Camping said he would make a detailed announcement on Monday.
The Family Radio web site has not been updated. A countdown on the site says there are zero days left to 'Judgment Day' and an image shows the numbers "2012" crossed out.
"Mr. Camping certainly won't shy away from this," Family Radio spokesman Tom Evans told The Huffington Post on Sunday, adding "how that will happen will be forthcoming."
Evans, who had spent 'Judgment Day' with his wife and kids, said he was happy that he gets more time to be with his family, but added that "a believer's highest hope is to be with the Lord forever." As for his belief in the second coming, "nothing has changed other than the ramifications for Family Radio and Mr. Camping's credibility in the world."
After Camping's failed Rapture prediction in 1994, Evans stayed with Family Radio, but he declined to say whether he would stay on the job this time.
Camping, who told The Huffington Post last week that May 21 was "no laughing matter," had refused to discuss what he would do with donations if the day passed without event. In recent months, followers have given generously to his company, which runs 66 radio stations in the U.S. and is worth at least $120 million.
On Sunday, Evans said Family Radio's assets "far outweigh its liabilities," and that it will "certainly do everything it can to take care of people." But he said that there has been no decision on giving money back to donors.
In 2009, the last year Family Radio publicly released a tax return, the group reported $18.4 million in income from contributions and $1 million from investments and other income. It spent $36.7 million and employed 348 people paid a total of more than $9 million in wages and benefits. Camping has said he has worked without pay for several years.
Followers like Ramsey and Lombardi said they had few hard feelings toward Camping and still agreed with some of the self-taught preacher's views, such as one that says all churches and denominations have been corrupted.
"I have learned to study the Bible really well. This guy has opened my eyes to a lot of truths," said Lombardi.
"If he makes another prediction, I can't tell you what I am going to do," said Ramsey. "But I've really taken an interest in the Bible. I know it's the word of God. And I've been reading into more parts today."
He quoted Mark 13:22: "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall [show] signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect."