As May 21 gets closer, followers of a group known as Family Radio are purchasing newspaper and billboard advertising proclaiming the world will be ending between May 21 and Oct. 21.
Believers loaded in five vans distributed brochures and talked with people for a few hours in Downtown Lodi on Dec. 9, 2010 to spread what they believe is Biblical truth. Mainstream religious leaders say that no one — not even Jesus — knows when the world will end.
But people who believe in the Oakland-based Family Radio ministry say that God wants them to spread the word about what they say will be a joyous occasion when life on earth comes to an end.
Acampo resident Larry Gribaudo is one such follower who is purchasing advertising. One of his ads — in bright yellow — can be found online in the Lodinews.com Classifieds and in Saturday's print edition of the News-Sentinel. Gribaudo is also purchasing advertising in newspapers in Galt, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Jackson and other locations.
The advertisement in the News-Sentinel reads, "Humbly plead for God's mercy," and to "definitely not" attend church because mainstream churches deny that there is any set date for Jesus' return to earth and the end of life on this planet.
"We're getting (the word) out because it needs to be out," Gribaudo said, minutes after placing his ad in the News-Sentinel.
Gribaudo and other followers are also distributing pocket calendars, but the only dates on the calendar are from Jan. 1 to May 21.
Family Radio representatives maintain that the May 21, 2011 date comes from the fact that May 21 comes 7,000 years to the day of the flooding that destroyed every living being not rescued in Noah's Ark. That came in 4990 B.C., according to Family Radio. The mathematical formula is as follows: 4990 B.C. plus 2011 A.D. minus 1 equals 7,000 years.
The reason you subtract one year, according to Family Radio literature, is because the calendar doesn't have a year "zero."
The May 21 date that Family Radio uses is not based on today's calendar. On the calendar used 7,000 years ago. Each day constitutes 153 of the days we use in today's world, Family Radio says that means that Judgment Day will continue until Oct. 21, according to Family Radio.
"We're pretty well taught in the scriptures that nobody knows when Judgment Day is," said Pastor David Hill, of Grace Presbyterian Church.
While Family Radio followers say that God has told them to spread the world about the world ending this year, Hill said that God would be more pleased with people feeding the hungry, giving clothes to those who need it and spreading the gospel about Jesus Christ.
Mark Price, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lodi, disagrees with Family Radio's interpretation about what the Bible says about the world ending.
"My larger concern is the fear that is being perpetuated," Price said. "They've taken Christ and misinterpreted him. They've turned Jesus into the greatest mass killer that man will ever know."
People who are influenced by Family Radio's statements about the world ending in 2011 could cause people to not take care of themselves, Price said. Others, he said, may want to "hasten the end," through suicide or murder.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.