So what happens in the minds of the deluded when they wake up on Sunday morning, May 22, and have not been raptured? They won’t talk about it now. They say to even think of the possibility that they might be wrong is an insult to God. That is how they keep themselves focused. It is how they tell themselves not to listen to the naysayers or nonbelievers.
Some of them are more deluded than others. Some have quit their jobs and are living on their savings, budgeting their money to run out on May 21. Others are hedging their bets. They say they believe whole-heartedly that the Rapture is coming on May 21, but they continue working their jobs or going to school. They continue putting money into their savings accounts and 401(k)s. Down deep they have doubts.
I don’t know how many people actually believe that the Rapture will be here as Harold Camping, minister of Family Radio, has predicted. I don’t know how many who say they believe it really, really believe it. But I am kind of worried about them.
When May 22 gets here and they are still around, like the rest of us nonbelievers, what will they think? There are only two possible reasons they will still be here: One is that they will understand that they were wrong after all, and the other is that they will believe that they were right but have been left behind, unraptured.
To believe something whole-heartedly and then find out it is totally wrong and that you have been misled is traumatic enough. But to believe that the Rapture has actually come and that you have been left behind, especially since you believed with all your heart that you would be one of the elect, would seem to me to be an insurmountable problem.
So what will they do? Some of them will be so distraught that they will consider suicide, and some might go through with it. Those who have given up all for the belief that this world will end on May 21 will be left in poverty, with families to raise. Others, believing they have been left behind, will decide to end it now rather than wait until the end of the world in October.
Camping, himself, might even be one of them. He is 89 years old, so he may decide to go out with a bang if he is proved wrong yet again. He predicted the end in 1994, but now he claims his calculations were off and that he has them right this time.
In the 19th century William Miller made a similar prediction of the Second Coming. It was supposed to take place on October 22, 1844. As now, there were then a great number of people who had given up all to gather and wait for the Rapture, which of course, didn’t happen. That led to what is historically referred to as the Great Disappointment.
But after it became clear that Miller had been wrong, instead of committing mass suicide, the people simply formed a new religion, the Seventh-Day Adventists. Psychologically, it is known as cognitive dissonance, a means of rationalizing a new belief to rectify what someone believes must be true with what they perceive as reality.
So maybe there won’t be mass suicide after all come May 22. But there may be something even worse coming, another new religion populated by those we already know are highly deluded.