The world did not end on May 21 as Harold Camping, an Oakland evangelist, predicted. But some would still like to see Armageddon — for Camping’s radio empire.
Several people have filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission demanding that the licenses of dozens of AM and FM radio stations owned by Family Radio, Camping’s broadcast ministry, be revoked. Copies of the complaints were obtained by The Bay Citizen using a federal Freedom of Information Act request.
The FCC, as per its usual policy, redacted the names of those who filed the complaints — seven were filed between Jan. 11 and May 25. They originated from across the nation in communities where Family Radio has stations, including California, Maryland, New York and Wisconsin.
The complaints said Family Radio had created a public panic and deceived listeners into sending the ministry money; the ministry has said it raised and spent “tens of millions of dollars” promoting the May 21 prediction. At least two grim incidents have been linked to Camping’s doomsday message.
Referring to Camping, a complainant from Redwood City, Calif., said: “He has created untold financial catastrophe and abrogated his responsibility as a broadcaster of public airwaves. His licenses should be revoked.”
A complaint from Stevensville, Md., said, “They are distributing hateful and homophobic messages on-air including ‘Gay Pride is a sign of the end of the world.’”
Another complaint, from Valley Cottage, N.Y., took the FCC to task for not halting the May 21 campaign while it was happening, and said, “If it causes one casualty or tragedy when it could have been prevented well then shame on you.”
Family Radio is on 216 AM, FM and low-power radio stations in the United States. Tom Evans, a ministry spokesman, said in an email that there was no formal investigation, and, “The FCC has not contacted us, so I have no interest in commenting.”
So far the FCC has taken no action against Family Radio — and it is unlikely to do so.
Officials from the agency would not comment on the record, but commission employees and industry experts said that the federal government does not intervene when religious beliefs are involved, citing the First Amendment and separation of church and state.