Faith

Doomsday This Saturday? Warning: Media Reports Are Getting Something Very Wrong

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If you have plans for Saturday, you may want to move them up a day. You see, several media outlets are reporting numerologist David Meade’s prediction that this Saturday, September 23, marks the day that the world will end. Meade has predicted that Planet X (Planet Nibiru) will collide with earth on that day. NASA denies that Planet X exists, and the whole Planet Nibiru theory has been debunked several times over.

The problem with almost all of the reporting, though, is that the news reports connect David Meade’s doomsday predictions with a Biblical prophecy ministry named Unsealed. In the issue of full disclosure, I’m not a fan of Biblical prophecy ministries, but I’m also not a fan of shoddy reporting that connects well-meaning Christians with conspiracy nuts.

The news outlets carrying the stories that I’ve read (a sampling: Bustle, HuffPost, Washington Post) link to or include a YouTube video titled “September 23, 2017: You Need to See This.” The problem is that Unsealed produced and posted the video, not David Meade. The best I can tell, David Meade’s name appears nowhere on Unsealed’s website, and they’ve issued a statement disavowing the Planet X theory.

In the just over four-minute YouTube video that’s been viewed over two and a half million times, the viewer is informed that something is going to happen on September 23, 2017. It is mostly devoid of content, purposefully so. The video contains apocalyptic imagery and a few title cards explaining how the constellation Virgo accompanied by some other stars will pass over Jerusalem for the first time in history, all set to very earnest and dramatic music. The video ends with scenes from a movie about the rapture. There’s a link to a website posted for those viewers whose curiosity has been piqued. Mine was.

What Unsealed’s YouTube video lacks in information, their website makes up for in spades. There is way more content than any gainfully employed person could hope to click through in a short amount of time. The first thing that stood out to me was that contrary to almost every news report and op-ed piece that I’ve read about the prediction, they’re not actually predicting that the world will end this Saturday. You see, Unsealed only predicts that the prophesied signs will appear on September 23.

The “Sign” tab of the website explains:

We are now counting down the days to what appears to be the heavenly sign that the Apostle John saw in Revelation 12:1-2.  The counter below shows the countdown to the sign’s fullest extent (in Jerusalem Time). This is not a countdown to the rapture, second coming, or any other end-of-the-world event, but only to the prophesied sign in the heavens, because we do not know for sure the exact day or hour of those events and they might happen many weeks or months after the sign. [Emphasis original]

For the record, I’m a conservative Christian and I don’t believe that Unsealed is correct in their interpretation of Revelation 12:1-2, nor do I agree with the details of their eschatological system. However, what Unsealed is teaching is a far cry from the doomsday prediction that major news outlets and websites are attributing to them.

The article that I originally pitched to my editors and began writing is different than the article I’ve written. As I researched and wrote… and researched some more, I realized that the news media were conflating two different entities while unfairly attributing the most controversial statements to Unsealed. The tone of the articles is mostly derision, and since it’s Unsealed’s video that’s linked to, the wrong people are being mocked. It’s little wonder that many conservative Christians don’t trust the news media.