Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the world is about to end soon.

Yes, as legend has it we’re only a short time away before Jesus makes his second grand entrance to the now overly populated and polluted Earth, rallying up the faithful while leaving the heathens to fend for themselves as the sky falls on our collective big heads.

Of course, this kind of talk is nothing new to anyone who’s ever been within five feet of a group of Christians.

I myself was introduced to discussions speculating the time frame of the apocalypse as a child. You see, in between episodes of Goof Troop, Salute Your Shorts and sneaking in screenings of Menace II Society, I was privy (by force) to watch Nostradamus-centered doomsday prediction programs.

As I got older and a bit more lax in church attendance I managed to escape such talk minus the occasional mentally disabled screamer on a sidewalk near you.

Sadly, it’s becoming harder to avoid conversations about the perceived imminent end thanks to a bevy of billboards blindsiding me across the city of Los Angeles and other drivers across the country.

Some of the ads read: “SAVE THE DATE! Return of Christ [is] May 21, 2011.”

Others boldly assert: “JUDGMENT DAY! May 21!”

Each of them point to the website, WeCanKnow.com, for more information.

The man responsible for these billboards is 89-year-old ex-civil engineer turned Christian radio broadcaster, Harold Camping.

The radio evangelist seems a bit perturbed by what he calls the incorrect Mayan prophecies that many believe predicts the very end in 2012, hence the media campaign.

Camping says he has picked the Bible apart for 70 years and is convinced his mathematical system has selected the correct date for the Rapture.

That’s why he along with his followers believes they will all vanish into thin air on that faithful day in May. What about the rest of us? Well, about 200 million souls will be saved while the other 6.5 billion or so are doomed on Oct. 21.

Team Camping is trying to save some of those lost souls, though. There are numerous stories about members of his fold quitting their jobs from companies like Intel or army veterans using their breaks from Iraq to help spread the message.

As Allison Warden, the army vet of two deployments to Iraq, put it to the Associated Press, ”…we’re commanded by God to warn people. I wish I could just be like everybody else, but it’s so much better to know that when the end comes, you’ll be safe.”
Their efforts are rather inclusive as some of the mission groups are traveling in countries from Latin America to Africa to spread news of the doom and gloom awaiting the world.

In fact, the billboard I spotted was hovering over the largely black area of Ladera Heights.

Normally, I’m happy when a message spans race and class but in this instance I wish Debbie and Devin Doomsdayer would opt to keep their wealth of information within their own circle of friends.

Minorities are still more inclined to hold onto their religious beliefs, and thus, arguably more inclined to the paranoia and spectacle the likes of Campings ilk are perpetuating. Call it a hunch, but I’m assuming Team We Can Know! was well aware of this during their launch of their campaign.

The people of Africa and Latin America don’t need a bunch of Americans shouting at them about the end just when a number of respective countries in their regions are enjoying new beginnings.

Conversely, black Americans don’t need mission groups offering them any more bad news. We have the news for that.

While everyone is certainly free to believe whatever they choose to, I worry that Camping and co. are wasting people’s times. Just as Camping did on Sept. 6, 1994 when Christ pulled a no-show at his event promoting his return.

Of course, Camping is merely hopping on a trend that only seems to rise with each new earthquake or random bird falling from the sky. People are fishing for an end date for their own selfish reasons be it ratings or a following.

To those of you who believe that Jesus will soon be saddling up on a white horse to wreck shop, by all means continue to cling to that theory. But, save your money on the billboards. I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t want spoiling the ending anyway.