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A Brief History of the Apocalypse

1971 - 1997: Millennial Madness

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But
it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." -- Winston Churchill
The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse by El Greco

Predicted date Commentary
1972 Herbert W. Armstrong's Rapture prediction #3. (Shaw p.99)
1973 David Berg (aka Moses David), guru of the Children of God (aka the Family of Love, or just "The Family"), predicted in his publication The Endtime News! the United States would be destroyed by Comet Kohoutek in 1973. (McIver #2095)
Jan 1974 David Berg predicted in his so-called Mo Letters that Comet Kohoutek would destroy the US during this month. (Kyle p.145)
  • The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Kyle p.93)
  • Herbert W. Armstrong's Rapture prediction #4. (Shaw p.99)
  • The Rapture, as per end-time preacher Charles Taylor. This is the first in a long series of failed predictions. (Abanes p.99)
1976 Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #2. (Abanes p.99)
  • John Wroe (the Southcottian who had himself publicly circumcised in 1823) set 1977 as the date of Armageddon. (Randi p.243)
  • Fundamentalist cult leader William Branham predicted that the Rapture would take place no later than 1977. Just before this, Los Angeles was to fall into the sea after an earthquake, the Vatican would achieve dictatorial powers over the world, and all of Christianity would become unified. (Babinski p.277)
  • Pyramidologist Adam Rutherford expected that the Millennium would begin in 1977. (Source: article by John Baskette)
1978 In his book The Doomsday Globe, John Strong drew on scriptures, pyramidology, pole shift theory, young-earth creationism and other mysticism to conclude that Doomsday would come in 1978. (McIver #3237)
Sometime in the 1980s In his book Armageddon 198? Stephen D. Swihart predicted the End would occur sometime in the 1980s.
1980 Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #3. (Abanes p.99)
Apr 1, 1980 Radio preacher Willie Day Smith of Irving, Texas, claimed that this day would witness the Second Coming. (Source: What About the Second Coming of Christ?)
Apr 29, 1980 Leland Jensen, founder of the Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant -- a small sect that mixes mainstream Bahá'í teachings with pyramidology and Bible prophecy -- predicted that a nuclear holocaust would occur on this day, killing a third of the world's population. After the prophecy failed, Jensen rationalized that this date was merely the beginning of the Tribulation. (Robbins p.73)
  • The establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven, according to Rev. Sun Myung Moon. (Kyle p.148)
  • Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #4. (Abanes p.99)
  • Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, wrote in his book Future Survival, "I'm convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981." Smith arrived at his calculation by adding 40 (one "Biblical generation") to 1948 (the year of Israel's statehood) and subtracting 7 for the Tribulation. When 1981 passed by, the group members experienced a mini version of the Great Disappointment of 1844. (Abanes p.326)
June 28, 1981 Rev. Bill Maupin, leader of a small Tuscon, AZ, sect named Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation, preached that the world would come to an end on this day, which they called "rapture day." Those who were saved would be "spirited aloft like helium balloons." Some 50 people gathered in a Millerite-like fashion, only to have their dreams predictably dashed. (Source: Philosophy and the Scientific Method by Ronald C. Pine)
August 7, 1981 When his June 28 prediction failed, Bill Maupin claimed that doomsday would take place 40 days later. Maupin said that just as Noah's ark was gradually raised to safety over a period of 40 days, the same would happen to the world. (Source: a former member of Maupin's church, who was kind enough to share this information with me.)
  • Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #5. (Abanes p.99)
  • Jesus was to return and rapture Christians away from the Tribulation in 1982, taught Canadian prophet Doug Clark. He used the Jupiter Effect to support his thesis, claiming it would trigger earthquakes and fires that would kill millions. (Abanes p.91)
  • Emil Gaverluk of the Southwest Radio Church suggested that the Jupiter Effect would pull Mars to out of orbit and send it careening into the Earth. (Abanes p.100-101)
Mar 10, 1982 When the planets lined up, their combined gravitational forces were supposed to bring the end of the world. A book called The Jupiter Effect, by John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann, helped to spread these fears. An excellent article on planetary lineups can be found here. (Abanes p.62)
Jun 25, 1982 Benjamin Creme, British artist and founder of Tara Center, on April 25, 1982 took out an ad in the Los Angeles Times proclaiming "THE CHRIST IS NOW HERE", referring to the coming of Maitreya within 2 months. Creme supposedly received the messages from Maitreya through "channeling." Perhaps his ad should have read, "THE CHRIST IS NOWHERE"! (Grosso p.7, Oropeza p.155)
Fall 1982 In the late '70s, Pat Robertson predicted the end of the world would occur in the fall of 1982. "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world," he said in a May, 1980 broadcast of the 700 Club. (Boyer p.138)
  • Apocalyptic war between the US and the Soviet Union was supposed to break out by the end of 1983, said the End Times News Digest. (Shaw p.182)
  • Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #6. (Abanes p.99)
Oct 2, 1984 The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Shermer p.203, Kyle p.91)
  • The end of the world according to Lester Sumrall in his book I Predict 1985. (Abanes p.99, 341)
  • Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #7. (Abanes p.99)
  • The Socialist National Aryan People's Party was convinced that Jesus would return in 1985. (Weber p.209)
Mar 25, 1985 The beginning of World War III, as prophesied by Vern Grimsley of the doomsday cult Family of God Foundation. This cult was a small offshoot of the Urantia Foundation, a loosely organized religious group that uses as its scripture a tedious 2000 page tome called the Urantia Book. (Sources: here and here)
Aug 1985 Date of World War III, according to the 1977 bestseller The Third World War: August 1985 by retired NATO General Sir John Hackett. While not really a prophecy, the book was written as a warning to world leaders about what could realistically happen based on world developments at that time.
1986 Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #8. (Abanes p.99)
Apr 29, 1987 Leland Jensen of the Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant predicted that Halley's Comet would be pulled into Earth's orbit on April 29, 1986, and chunks of the comet would pelt the Earth for a year. The gravitational force of the comet would cause great earthquakes, and on April 29, 1987, the comet itself would crash into the Earth wreaking widespread destruction. When the prophecies failed, Jensen rationalized the failure as follows: "A spiritual stone hit the earth." (Robbins p.73, 78)
1987 Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #9. (Abanes p.99)
Aug 17, 1987 The "Harmonic Convergence." New Age author José Argüelles claimed that Armageddon would take place unless 144,000 people gathered in certain places in the world in order to "resonate in harmony" on this day. Apparently, their resonating succeeded: we're still here. (McIver #2023, Kyle p.156, Wojcik p.207)
  • Hal Lindsey's bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth, suggested that the Rapture would take place in 1988, reasoning that it was 40 years (one Biblical generation) after Israel gained statehood. (Abanes p.85)
  • Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #10. (Abanes p.99)
  • Canadian prophet Doug Clark suggested 1988 as the date of the Rapture, in his book Final Shockwaves to Armageddon. (Abanes p.91)
  • David Webber and Noah Hutchings of the Southwest Radio Church suggested that the Rapture would take place "possibly in 1987 or 1988." (Abanes p.101)
  • The Rapture, according to TV prophet J.R. Church in hiss book Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms. He used a bizarre theory that each of the Psalms referred to a year in the 20th century (i.e. Psalm 1 represents the events in 1901, etc.), to arrive at this conclusion. (Abanes p.103)
  • Colin Deal wrote a book entitled Christ Returns by 1988: 101 Reasons Why. (Oropeza p.175)
Sep 13, 1988 Edgar C. Whisenant lightened the wallets of many a believer with his best-selling book 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988. He predicted the Rapture between September 11 and 13 (Rosh Hashanah). After his prediction failed, he released another book: The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. (Kyle p.121, Abanes p.93)
Sep 15, 1988 After Whisenant's prediction failed, he insisted that the Rapture would take place at 10:55 am on September 15. (Abanes p.94)
Oct 3, 1988 Incredulous that yet another prediction failed, Whisenant pushed the date of the Rapture forward to October 3. (Abanes p.94)
  • Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #11. (Abanes p.99)
  • In his 1968 book Guide to Survival, Salem Kirban used Bishop Ussher's calculations to conclude that 1989 would be the year of the Rapture. (Abanes p.283)
  • In 1978, Oklahoma City's Southwest Radio Church published a pamphlet entitled God's Timetable for the 1980s in which were listed prophecies for each year of the 1980s, culminating with Christ's return and the establishment of his kingdom on Earth in 1989. With the exception of a couple predictable astronomical events, none of the predictions came true.
Sep 30, 1989
  • After his 1988 Rapture prediction failed, Edgar C. Whisenant pointed to Rosh Hashanah 1989 as a possible date for the Rapture. (Abanes p.94)
  • Hart Armstrong, president of Christian Communications of Wichita, repeatedly suggested that the Feast of Trumpets 1989 would be the date of the Rapture. (Abanes p.93)
  • Baptist preacher Peter Ruckman predicted that the Rapture would come round about the year 1990. (Source: article by Thomas Williamson)
  • Singaporean prophecy writer Kai Lok Chan foresaw Jesus Christ returning sometime between 1986 and 1990. Armageddon (a war between the US and USSR) would take place between 1984 and 1988. He argued that the Jupiter Effect corroborated his claims. (McIver #2195)
Apr 23, 1990 Elizabeth Clare Prophet, leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant, foresaw nuclear devastation and the end of most of the human race on this day, and convinced her followers to sell their property and move with her to a ranch in Montana. (Kyle p.156, Grosso p.7)
  • The Rapture, according to fundamentalist author Reginald Dunlop. (Shaw p.180)
  • Louis Farrakhan declared that the Gulf War would be the "War of Armageddon which is the final war." (Abanes p.307)
Mar 31, 1991 An Australian cult looked forward to the Second Coming at 9:00 am on this day. They believed that Jesus would return through Sydney Harbour! (Source: Knowing the Day and the Hour)
1992 Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #12. (Abanes p.99)
Apr 26, 1992 On April 26, 1989, prophecy nutcase Doug Clark announced on Trinity Broadcasting Network's show Praise the Lord that World War III would begin within 3 years. (Abanes p.92)
Apr 29, 1992 When the LA riots broke out in response to the verdict of the Rodney King trial, members of white-supremacist group Aryan Nations thought it was the final apocalyptic race war they had been waiting for. (20/20, NBC, Dec 12, 1999)
Sep 28, 1992
  • Christian author Dorothy A. Miller in her book Watch & Be Ready! 1992 Millions Disappear? predicted the "last trumpet" would sound on Rosh Hashanah, heralding the Second Coming. (McIver #2923)
  • "Rockin'" Rollen Stewart, a born-again Christian who made himself famous by holding up "John 3:16" signs at sporting events, thought the Rapture would take place on this day. Stewart went insane, setting off stink bombs in churches and bookstores and writing apocalyptic letters in a mission to make people get right with God. He is now serving a life sentence for kidnapping. (Adams p.18-20)
Oct 28, 1992 Lee Jang Rim, leader of the Korean doomsday cult Mission for the Coming Days (also known as the Tami Church), predicted that the Rapture would occur on this date. Lee was convicted of fraud after the prophecy failed. Lee's cult was part of the larger Hyoo-Go (Rapture) movement, which took Korea by storm in 1992. (Thompson p.227-228, McIver #2747)
1993 David Berg of the Children of God claimed in The Endtime News! that the Second Coming would take place in 1993. The Tribulation was to start in 1989. (McIver #2095, Kyle p.145)
Nov 14, 1993 Judgement Day, according to self-proclaimed messiah Maria Devi Khrystos (neé Marina Tsvigun), leader of the cult Great White Brotherhood. Members of the cult planned to congregate in Kiev on that day to celebrate God's coming to Earth, but their plan was thwarted by the arrest of many of the cultists. (Alnor p.93)
Dec 9, 1993 James T. Harmon added 51.57 years to May 15, 1949 (the date the UN recognized Israel) and subtracted 7 to arrive at the date of the Rapture, approximately December 9, 1993. He also suggested 1996, 2012 and 2022 as alternative rapture dates. (Oropeza p.89)
  • R.M. Riley, in his book 1994: The Year of Destiny, wrote that 1994 would be the year of the Rapture. (McIver #3098)
  • Charles Taylor's Rapture prediction #13. (Abanes p.99)
  • Om Saleem, an Arab Christian, prophesied that the Rapture would take place in 1994, after the Antichrist was to reveal himself. (Oropeza p.148)
  • Dutch authors Aad Verbeek, Jan Westein and Pier Westein predicted the Second Coming in 1994 in their book Time for His Coming. (McIver #3348)
May 2, 1994 Armageddon. Neal Chase of the Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant predicted that New York would be destroyed by a nuclear bomb on March 23, 1994, and the Battle of Armageddon would take place 40 days later. (Robbins p.79)
June 9, 1994 Pastor John Hinkle claimed that God told him the Apocalypse would take place on this day. In a cataclysmic event, God was supposed to "rip the evil out of this world." When the prophecy failed, he claimed that it's only the beginning and it's taking place invisibly. (Oropeza p.167-168)
Jul 25, 1994 On July 19, 1993, Sister Marie Gabriel Paprocski announced to the world her prophecy that a comet would hit Jupiter on or before July 25, 1994, causing the "biggest cosmic explosion in the history of mankind" and bringing on the end of the world. Indeed, a comet did hit Jupiter on July 16, 1994. However, it is important to note that her announcement was made nearly two months after astronomer Brian Marsden discovered that Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 would hit Jupiter. (Skinner p.116, Levy p.207)
Sep 23, 1994 Reginald Dunlop claimed this was the last date encoded in the Great Pyramid of Giza, meaning that the world would not last beyond this date. (Oropeza p.128)
Sep 27, 1994 Harold Camping, head of Oakland's Family Radio and host of the station's Biblical discussion talk show Open Forum, predicted the end in his book 1994? He calculated that the Tribulation would end on September 6, followed by the Last Day and the Second Coming of Christ between Sep. 15 and Sep. 27. (Camping p.526-7, p.531)
Sep 29, 1994 Harold Camping's doomsday prediction #2. (Abanes p.95)
Oct 2, 1994 Harold Camping's doomsday prediction #3. (Abanes p.95)
  • Armageddon, according to Henry Kresyler, head of the doomsday group Watchers in the Wilderness. (Shaw p.181)
  • The Second Coming of Christ, as foreseen by J.R. Church, using his Psalms theory (see 1988 above). The Battle of Armageddon would take place in 1994. (Abanes p. 103)
Mar 31, 1995 Harold Camping's doomsday prediction #4. He gave up setting dates afterwards. (Well, until 2011, that is.) (Abanes p.95)
1996 James T. Harmon's Rapture prediction #2. (Oropeza p.89)
Sep 1996 The Second Coming of Christ, according to Guatemalan preacher Marvin Byers. (Oropeza p.29)
Nov 1996 The Second Coming of Christ, as foreseen in doomsday author Salty Dok's book Blessed Hope, 1996. (Oropeza p.48)
Dec 13, 1996 The resurrection of David Koresh, according to the surviving Branch Davidian cult members. Koresh, of course, never showed up. (Jordan p.113)
Dec 17, 1996 Famed psychic Sheldon Nidle predicted that the world would end on this date, with the arrival of millions of space ships. (Abanes p.341)
  • Mary Stewart Relfe, claiming that God communicated with her in her dreams, predicted the Second Coming in 1997, right after the battle of Armageddon. "America will burn" and be totally destroyed in 1993 or 1994, she claimed. (Kyle p.120, Oropeza p.104)
  • The end of the world, as per a tongue-in-cheek numerological calculation by Superdave the Wonderchemist.
Mar 23, 1997 Richard Michael Schiller, posting under the name Eliyehowa and a host of other pseudonyms, flooded various Usenet newsgroups with his prediction that an asteroid trailing behind Comet Hale-Bopp would bring destruction to the Earth on this date. As the date drew near, be began backpedalling, claiming the world would be destroyed 9 months later when the Earth supposedly would pass through the comet's tail, and anyway there was no way the world would survive beyond 1997. You can see a characteristic post of his on Google.
Mar 26, 1997 Heaven's Gate suicides. The suicides occurred between March 24 and March 26, during a window of time that the cultists had predicted a UFO trailing behind Comet Hale-Bopp would pick up their souls and save them from the imminent Apocalypse. Notice the similarity between their prophecy and Schiller's one above? Both claim that an object is following the comet. This rumor started when amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek mistook a star for what he thought was a "Saturn-like object" following the comet. With the help of the Internet and the Art Bell show, the false rumor that a UFO or asteroid was trailing the comet spread like wildfire. And we all know how hard such urban legends are to quash! (Alnor p.13, 38)
May 5, 1997 On this date, the solar system was supposed to enter the Photon Belt, a mystical energy field floating through space. Once we enter the Photon Belt, something unusual is supposed to occur. Depending on the source, the world will end, aliens will land, mankind will be enlightened or achieve super powers, electrical equipment will get the picture. Nothing happened, but that hasn't stopped people from thinking we're still going to enter the Photon Belt SOON! Perhaps in 2011. (Sources: The Straight Dope, The Photon Belt Page)
Oct 1997 The Rapture, according to Brother Kenneth Hagin.
Oct 11, 1997 Internet prophet posted in various Usenet newsgroups that this date would be Judgement Day. His post can be seen on Google.
Oct 23, 1997 6000th anniversary of Creation according to the calculations of 17th Century Irish Archbishop James Ussher. This date was a popular candidate date for the end of the world. (Gould p.98)
Nov 27, 1997 According to the Sacerdotal Knights of National Security, "A space alien captured at a UFO landing site in eastern Missouri cracked under interrogation by the CIA and admitted that an extraterrestrial army will attack Earth on November 27 with the express purpose of stripping our planet of every natural resource they can find a use for -- and making slaves of every man, woman and child in the world!" (Source: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance)

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