"My mom was more in on it religiously," says Powell, "so this huge event that would save us didn't happen. There's this emptiness and sadness and anger my mom went through. She was always out there, and I'll always love her, but she was never the same after that. That 110 percent she always put into Camping and church in general was gone. She still went to church, but that was it. It happened with everyone who followed him."
It even happened to Camping. He bowed out after the secondary October 2011 date failed to end the world, severely crippling Family Radio along the way. Historically, that's about the best possible outcome for people who do this kind of s**t.
It's Shocking How The Belief Sticks Around
"The craziest thing about this is that it never truly leaves you," says Powell. "If you ever see a documentary where former cult members still talk fondly about a cult leader [like Rajneeshis], it's easy to say 'They're crazy,' but it's not that. Or not completely. I get why they're like that. Because this happened. I'm still tied to it a bit ..."
Even with what looks to the rest of the world like the most hilarious failure possible, there's still a part of Powell that believes. His parents actually divorced over it. Powell's father got custody thanks to his mother's, uh, leanings. "She said in front of the judge that she still believed the rapture was imminent, and I know today she still thinks it. Right now, she thinks the world will end in the next few years." (Yes, she found another Bible expert who claims to have discovered a secret truth.) And remember the hardcore friend of his mother? Powell says she wound up a Mayan apocalypse believer a few months after the Camping prediction, her car littered with "12.21.12 -- Repent" stickers.
Ultimately, people believe what they need to.
As for Powell, Camping's prediction instilled an interest in how the world was going to end, which led to him reading up on ways it could happen that involved real data and science that could be tested. This led to an interest in climate change, and thanks to that, when he starts college in the fall, he'll be going into atmospheric and oceanic studies.
"My mom isn't happy about that."
Evan V. Symon is a writer, interview finder, and journalist for the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. Have an awesome job/experience you'd like to see up here? Then hit us up in the forums.
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