A short list of dire predictions

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 28, 1999

This new millennium thing isn't the first time some people thought the world was going to end. History is littered with failed prophecies and false alarms.

Here's a short list from the past 1,000 years:

999: Christians aware of the calendar count that began with the birth of Jesus believe the Second Coming will occur at the end of the first millennium.

March 21, 1843, to March 21, 1844: Led by William Miller, the Millerites, a sect of more than 50,000 based mostly in Massachusetts and New York, abandon their material possessions and take to the hills, where they wait for the world to end.

1844: Again the Millerites wait for Armageddon. Miller sets the date as Oct. 22. The apocalpytic no-show is dubbed "The Great Disappointment."

1891: In 1835, Mormon leader Joseph Smith predicted the Coming of the Lord 56 years later.

1914: Jehovah's Witnesses (an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventists, who are an offshoot of the Millerites) await the Second Coming. They believe Christ returned in 1884 but chose to remain invisible.

April 22, 1959: In Texas, the Branch Davidians believe they will be killed and resurrected.

1975: Word of the impending apocalypse spreads through the Jehovah's Witness membership, though the church never confirms the prediction.

1984: The Jehovah's Witnesses suffer another unfulfilled prophecy of doom. Oct. 2, 1985: The Jesus of Burien (a k a William E. Peterson) claims Armageddon came on this day and he is already well into his reign as Christ returned.

April 19, 1993: The Branch Davidians, now led by David Koresh, think the world will end this year. The cult's standoff with government agents ends in a fiery tragedy, resulting in 80 deaths.

March 26, 1997: The Heaven's Gate cult carries out a mass suicide. The 39 members believe that hidden in the tail of comet Hale-Bopp is some sort of self-aware life form coming to prepare us for what they call a "galactic evolution."

Oct. 23, 1997: Archbishop Ussher, a 17th-century archbishop of Armagh in Ireland, calculated that God created the world on Oct. 23, 4004 B.C., and that the end of the world would come on this date 6,000 years later.

March 31, 1998: A Taiwanese UFO cult, Chen Tao, anticipates God's return -- in human form -- in Garland, Texas. The leader, Hon-Ming Chen, claims the Lord's return will set off a series of events leading to the world's end in August 1999.

September 1999: Nostradamus' prophecies include a meteor hitting the Earth sometime this month, -- according to those who translated his predictions to our current calendar -- setting off a chain of disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, famine, etc.) leading to the end of the world.

September 1999: Shoko Asahara, leader of the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult, predicts the world's end this month.

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