Midweek Cuckoo: Prophets of the Apocalypse
Here are just some of the examples that can be found at Religioustolerance.com's excellent End of the World collection:
Jesus Christ: literal interpretations of certain verses from the gospels (Matthew 16:28, 24:34 among others) have Jesus Christ predicting that the end of the world would occur in the lifetime of those he preached to. Since this didn't happen, biblical scholars now claim that those verses can't be taken literally.
Paul of Tarsus: similar for literal interpretations of the Epistles of Paul; similar for the failure of the prediction; similar for the church's excuse.
The Old Believers: Russian cult who believed the world would end in 1669. 20,000 burned themselves to death to protect themselves from the antichrist.
Pope Innocent III: predicted the world would end in 1824, a date he computed by adding 666 to the date of the foundation of Islam.
Joseph Smith: founder of Mormonism, predicted the world would end in 1890. He made a separate prediction that it would end by 1891. Neither came true.
William Miller: founder of the Millerites, predicted the world would end in 1843. When it didn't, he changed the date to 1844. Many followers sold their properties and possessions, quit their jobs and sat back to await their ascent to heaven. Nothing happened.
Ellen White: founder of the Seventh Day Adventists, predicted 1850 as the date of Rapture. She later predicted that the world would end within the lifetime of those attending the 1856 SDA conference. All attendees are long since dead.
The Watchtower Society: the premier society of Jehovah's Witnesses predicted the end of the world in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994. They evidently treat Armageddon like the Lotto.
The Branch Dividians: unsuccessfully predicted the world would end in 1952. Their second prediction that the world would end in 1995 lead them to renaming their ranch in Waco, Texas to Ranch Apocalypse. They believed that the apocalyptic end-game would begin at the compound. For 76 members, including their leader David Koresh, it did, two years earlier than they expected. They also predicted that in 1999, Koresh would return with 200 million horsemen and slaughter almost everyone on earth.
Leland Jensen: leader of a Baha'i World Faith group, predicted a nuclear disaster in 1980, followed by the establishment of god's kingdom on earth by 2000.
Sun Yung Moon: head of the Unification Church, also known as the Moonies, predicted the Kingdom of Heaven would be established in 1981.
Pat Robertson: predicted the world would end in 1982. You know Pat, he's the Reverend who agrees with Eric Julien that the world will end tomorrow. Or at least some time this year.
Benny Hinn: Assembly of God pastor, predicted the world would end in 1993. Later predicted that God would destroy all the homosexuals no later than 1995.
Marshall Applewhite: head of the Heaven's Gate cult predicted the world would end in 1997. His deceased wife Bonnie was to arrive in a spaceship disguised by Comet Hale-Bopp to save the believers from the coming apocalypse. 39 members commited suicide in March of that year, as the comet made its closest approach to earth.
Nostradamus: in one of his few prophecies that actually names a year, he predicted that in 1999, "From the sky will come a great King of Terror". Experts interpretted this as everything from a meteor to a nuclear missile.
Michael Drosnin: author of The Bible Code and The Bible Code II. According to his code, the world should have ended this Tuesday past. It pretty obviously didn't, but that's okay because he's now saying it's definitely some time this year.
These are only some of the more prominent figures in the business of predicting armageddon. There have been many, many others, playing off religious fears, superstition, and exciting-looking numbers (June 6 of this year is another big date, 6/6/6). I think we all remember new year's eve 1999 - with the double threat of the millennium (although not even the real one) and Y2K.
The question many people ask is, how is it possible that their followers continue to believe in them after they are proven wrong? In truth, not all of them do. But there is one common excuse that keeps many of the congregation believing - the world did not end when I said it would, because we were saved. God/ the Aliens/ Mother Earth heard our prayers and was merciful. How do you argue with logic like that?
I can't wait to see what Eric Julien's excuse is on Friday.