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Poor judgment

May 21 Judgement Day Billboard

Noticed any weird outdoor advertising lately? This photo shows a billboard currently looming over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, announcing JUDGEMENT DAY coming May 21, 2011. Here’s the story behind these signs.

A chain of radio stations called Family Radio has been buying outdoor ad space all over the world to spread this message. These folks are serious. Their website includes an article titled “THE END OF THE WORLD IS ALMOST HERE! HOLY GOD WILL BRING JUDGMENT DAY ON MAY 21, 2011.”

So many questions!

Who’s paying for this?

The ad campaign is organized by the Family Radio network, an Oakland, California-based chain of 66 U.S. radio stations headed by an evangelist named Harold Camping. They are not a church. They are a non-profit organization funded mainly by donations.

Family Radio’s web site includes an impressively straightforward page of “Facts” about the May 21 prediction. In a refreshing act of honesty, the page admits that Camping previously predicted the world would end September 4, 1994. He now says his mistake was the result of inexperience.

Why May 21?

Camping pulls a few nuggets of chronology out of Genesis and applies a novel interpretation of 2 Peter 3:8 (“with the Lord one day is like a thousand years”). He calculates that Judgement Day is coming exactly 7,000 years after the Great Flood—and that date will be May 21, 2011.

To spend time disproving this crackpot theory would be a waste of my time and yours.

What else does the Family Radio group believe?

In a pamphlet called Gay Pride: Planned By God as a Sign of the End—which is posted right on the front of the Family Radio site—Camping writes:

“[T]he present day phenomenon of the Gay Pride movement is a result of the fact that God has removed His restraints on sin… Therefore we can know that by means of the continuing worldwide successes of the Gay Pride, same-sex marriage movement, God has given convincing evidence that the world is on the threshold of Judgment Day.”

Why are outdoor advertising companies enabling this?

You’d have to ask them. Next time you see a poster like this, find out who’s renting the space and drop them a line to tell them what you think. The one I saw (at 21st Street in Brooklyn) is rented by Clear Channel Outdoor, 212-812-0000.

* * * *

This campaign is proof that advertising works. Oh sure, it’s not going to convince you that the Rapture is imminent. But if you’d never heard of Family Radio before, suddenly you’re asking questions about who they are. You might visit their site, or tune in to a station for a few minutes. The larger the audience, the more donations the network can collect.

According to their last IRS 990 form, Family Networks Inc. took in $18 million in donations in 2009 and is sitting on assets worth $105 million. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the listeners who make donations to these fire-and-brimstone radio stations are some of our more vulnerable citizens.

Exploiting the weak and confused for money is one of the most un-Christian things I can think of. If Armageddon comes next week, heaven help these people.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Signage


  1. Renee Petrina says:

    This organization has been in D.C. for a while now. Their reps were handing out fliers during the cherry blossom festival, and there have been a bunch of ads in the Metro system. Not sure if Metro has gotten complaints.

  2. rubi perez says:

    i saw an add on 16st by oak in phx

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