A loosely organized Christian movement has spread the word around the globe that Jesus Christ will return to earth Saturday to gather the faithful into heaven.
The prediction originates with Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer from Oakland, Calif., who founded Family Radio Worldwide, an independent ministry that has broadcast his prediction around the world.
The Rapture — the belief that Christ will bring the faithful into paradise before a period of tribulation on Earth that precedes the end of time — is a relatively new notion compared with Christianity itself, and most Christians don’t believe in it. And even believers rarely attempt to set a date for the event.
Camping’s prophecy comes from numerological calculations based on his reading of the Bible, and he says global events such as the 1948 founding of Israel confirm his math.
But even some Christians who believe the Rapture will occur think he’s wrong.
The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the “Left Behind” series of Christian prophecy novels, said Camping “trivializes the very serious study of Bible prophecy by ignoring Jesus’ statement that everyone seems to know except him, and that is that no man knows the day nor the hour” that Jesus will return.
Census: Divorces decline but 7-year itch persists
WASHINGTON — After decades of increases, U.S. divorces are leveling off with couples now slightly more likely to reach their 10-year wedding anniversary. But the “seven-year itch” among couples persists, with nearly 1 out of 2 first marriages estimated to end in divorce.
Roughly 75 percent of those who married since 1990 reported they had reached their 10-year anniversary. That’s up about 3 percentage points for both men and women who married a decade earlier in the 1980s, when divorce rates in the U.S. had peaked, according to census figures released Wednesday.
The census report partly attributed the small declines in divorce to a recent jump in couples cohabitating as well as rising median ages before marriage as people wait longer before making long-term commitments. Increases in educational attainment and job opportunity might also be a factor.
Divorces climbed mostly sharply in the late 1960s and 1970s, amid the passage of laws that made dissolving marriages quicker and easier.
Bloody day that claims 28 lives shows range of Afghan violence
KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 28 people died in Afghanistan on Wednesday in three separate explosions of violence that illustrate the wide array of mayhem that wracks this country and the anger that surrounds U.S. actions here.
The first four died during a disputed night raid by U.S.-led troops who stormed a house shortly after midnight in the city of Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, in Afghanistan’s northwest.
The next 11 died in the riot that followed when 2,000 demonstrators gathered to protest that those killed, including two women, had been civilians.
The last 13 died when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a bus that was carrying police academy trainers in the eastern province of Nangarhar, one of the most violent regions of the country. It was the latest in a series of suspected Taliban attacks on Afghan security forces.
Rebels: Gadhafi fighters shell western mountains
TRIPOLI, Libya — Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces intensified their campaign to take strategic heights in a western mountain range and targeted a road that many people have used to flee the fighting in Libya, forcing the temporary closure of a border crossing to Tunisia.
Much of the fighting centered around the town of Yafrin, and residents and rebel fighters said Wednesday that Gadhafi forces were using Grad missiles and rockets in their nearly monthlong siege. Residents, trapped in their homes, were cut off from food and medical supplies, they said.
In nearby Zintan, however, rebels repelled an advance by Gadhafi’s forces, killing eight and taking one prisoner, a local activist said.
To the west of the contested Nafusa mountain range, which is home to ethnic Berbers, Libyan shelling forced the closure late Tuesday of the so-called Wazen passage, which is a route people fleeing Libya have used to get to neighboring Tunisia. Jaber Naluti, a volunteer who has been trying to assist people in the area, said seven rebels were killed.