On October 22, 1844, followers of the Millerite Christian sect gathered to await the end of the world, which they believed had been foretold in the Bible. When the world didn’t end that day, the non-event became known as the Great Disappointment. At least one Millerite was sick with dejection for days afterward. Others endured widespread mockery for their beliefs. Many Millerites abandoned their faith while others formed splinter movements, one of which became the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
I am telling you this because for the last month or so, Family Radio, a network of Christian radio stations, has been advertising that the Rapture will occur on May 21. It purports to know these dates through mathematical formulas based off of certain Bible passages (even though the Bible states that the end of times cannot be specifically predicted). If you are reading this editorial and you are not also reading about people having mysteriously vanished here, there and everywhere, then it is safe to assume that Family Radio got it wrong, too, and is having its own Great Disappointment.
While Family Radio’s stated aim is to warn people that the end is nigh, cynics (such as myself) suspect it might just be a ploy to get folks to surrender their life’s savings to Family Radio, which has something like $122 million in assets and is the 19th largest radio network in the country. That is an awful lot of resources for people who won’t need them after a certain date.
Advertisements running on Family Radio just a few days before May 21 included spots for home pest control, optometrists and Biblical marriage counseling. I don’t know about you, but if the world is going to end in a few days, termites and nearsightedness will be the least of my concerns. As for marriage counseling, if the impending apocalypse isn’t enough to get me to make peace with my wife, then nothing else will. I don’t know…maybe Family Radio’s supporters figure there will be markets to serve for those left behind.