Make My Bed? But You Say the World’s Ending
By ASHLEY PARKER - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Added: Fri, 20 May 2011 13:36:13 UTC
Abby Haddad Carson and Robert Carson say Saturday is Judgment Day; the children, Joseph, Faith and Grace, do not
The Haddad children of Middletown, Md., have a lot on their minds: school projects, SATs, weekend parties. And parents who believe the earth will begin to self-destruct on Saturday.
The three teenagers have been struggling to make sense of their shifting world, which started changing nearly two years ago when their mother, Abby Haddad Carson, left her job as a nurse to “sound the trumpet” on mission trips with her husband, Robert, handing out tracts. They stopped working on their house and saving for college.
Last weekend, the family traveled to New York, the parents dragging their reluctant children through a Manhattan street fair in a final effort to spread the word.
“My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven,” Grace Haddad, 16, said. “At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes.”
Thousands of people around the country have spent the last few days taking to the streets and saying final goodbyes before Saturday, Judgment Day, when they expect to be absorbed into heaven in a process known as the rapture. Nonbelievers, they hold, will be left behind to perish along with the world over the next five months.
With their doomsday T-shirts, placards and leaflets, followers — often clutching Bibles — are typically viewed as harmless proselytizers from outside mainstream religion. But their convictions have frequently created the most tension within their own families, particularly with relatives whose main concern about the weekend is whether it will rain.
Kino Douglas, 31, a self-described agnostic, said it was hard to be with his sister Stacey, 33, who “doesn’t want to talk about anything else.”
“I’ll say, ‘Oh, what are we going to do this summer?’ She’s going to say, ‘The world is going to end on May 21, so I don’t know why you’re planning for summer,’ and then everyone goes, ‘Oh, boy,’ ” he said.
The Douglas siblings live near each other in Brooklyn, and Mr. Douglas said he could not wait until Sunday — “I’m going to show up at her house so we can have that conversation that’s been years in coming.”
Ms. Douglas, who has a 7-year-old, said that while her family did not see the future the way she did, her mother did allow her to put a Judgment Day sign up on her house. “I never thought I’d be doing this,” said Ms. Douglas, who took vacation from her nanny job this week but did not quit. “I was in an abusive relationship. One day, my son was playing with the remote and Mr. Camping was on TV. I thought, This guy is crazy. But I kept thinking about it and something told me to go back.”
Ms. Douglas and other believers subscribe to the prophesy of Harold Camping, a civil engineer turned self-taught biblical scholar whose doomsday scenario — broadcast on his Family Radio network — predicts a May 21, 2011, Judgment Day. On that day, arrived at through a series of Bible-based calculations that assume the world will end exactly 7,000 years after Noah’s flood, believers are to be transported up to heaven as a worldwide earthquake strikes. Nonbelievers will endure five months of plagues, quakes, wars, famine and general torment before the planet’s total destruction in October. In 1992 Mr. Camping said the rapture would probably be in 1994, but he now says newer evidence makes the prophesy for this year certain.
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It is a noble calling worthy of a little tolerance.
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