Area religious leaders are not happy about billboards on local roads, warning about judgment day on May 21. A national organization is paying thousands to erect the billboards to warn the public about what they fear is the end of the world. Edward Lea

The world is going to end sooner than you think.

That's what a California-based radio company wants you to believe, anyway. So Family Radio launched a worldwide billboard campaign advertising "Judgment Day" - May 21.

"The Bible guarantees it," the billboards read.

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About 75 of the billboards grace state roadways, including one in Stafford Township, at the intersection of East Bay Avenue and Hilliard Boulevard. A handful of the billboards are located across southern New Jersey, including main roadways in Cumberland County.

Michael Garcia, Family Radio's special projects coordinator, oversaw the billboard project. Garcia pulled from Bible verses that God is going to destroy the world through an earthquake, which will start in New Zealand at 6 a.m. on May 21, and from there the earthquake will follow the Sun and go from nation to nation.

According to Family Radio, a five-month torment on earth will follow, with God destroying the world on Oct. 21.

"I think people should grab a King James Bible and be pleading for mercy from God. Our job is that this information is found in the Bible and we are watchmen and we're supposed to... blow the trumpet... warn the people, and that's from Ezekiel 33:3," Garcia said.

"That God is returning on May 21, that's not crazy. The Bible says that the world is going to end but everyone is just arguing about the date."

Area religious leaders take exception with the message.

"What this organization is doing is a gross representation of the word of God," said Joe Faraldi, assistant pastor of Bayside Chapel in Barnegat Township.

The company has spread its doomsday message throughout the state, country and world. Garcia said Family Radio paid to erect over 50 billboards across the state. Supporters paid to build 25 additional billboards.

"New Jersey is pretty saturated with the message," he said.

About 1,200 billboards have been erected across the United States, and more than 2,000 have appeared overseas in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Dubai, Russia, Egypt, Ireland, Australia, France and Italy.

Family Radio is headed up by President Harold Camping, who has authored 30 books and booklets, including the doomsday prognosticator "We are Almost There!"

Faraldi disagrees. He said Camping has tried to spread this message before, once in 1994, but Jesus Christ didn't return to earth. Faraldi said Camping and Family Radio have had a history of false predictions and statements that misrepresent the scriptures.

In a statement read to Bayside Chapel's congregation this past Sunday, Faraldi said, "Camping and Family Radio have engaged in cult-like statements saying that they alone know the truth and that if you want to know the truth you must listen to Family Radio and specifically Mr. Camping's teaching."

In the statement, Faraldi stated that Camping has been teaching that anyone going to a church like Bayside is really worshipping Satan.

"Camping is another self-proclaimed teacher who has a corner on truth and engages the scripture in such a way that it's a perversion. We are willing to dismiss all of this because anyone who knows anything about the organization knows they should dismiss this," Faraldi.

Pastor Dan Stott, of Grace Calvary Church in Ship Bottom, said the billboards were obviously erected for shock value - and discredit the integrity of people who follow the Bible.

"He's coming across as a lunatic at this point. I really believe he's a cult figure, he's a David Koresh. The thing that offends me the most about the billboard is the little gold seal of approval that says something to the effect of that the Bible guarantees it," Stott said.

Garcia said Family Radio is simply an alarm - and people are getting upset about it.

"My suggestion is people should at least have the attitude that maybe we check this out in case it is true. But people have to go into the Bible to see this and understand it," Garcia said.

Garcia projected from Bible verses that God is going to destroy the world through an earthquake. From May 21 to October 21, there will be a five-month torment on earth.

"The Bible says it will be an earthquake so great and mighty that graves will open and throw bodies will be thrown from the ground. Yes, it's horrifying," he said.

The science community isn't so certain. Paul Caruso, geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey, said it's impossible to predict the time, location and magnitude of earthquakes - and whenever anybody tries to do so, there's often money attached to it.

"Fault lines don't continue all the way around the world, and the earth's material will not transmit the energy necessary for an earthquake that large," Caruso said.

"It's impossible to predict earthquakes. The best we can do is to be prepared."

Contact Donna Weaver:



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