The advertisements were arranged by fans of Family Radio Inc., and the date is the one worked out by the Christian network's founder, Harold Camping, The (Nashville) Tennessean reports. They say "He Is Coming Again" and warn there is less than six months to get into a state of grace.
Allison Warden, 29, of Raleigh, N.C., who was in charge of the billboard campaign in Nashville, would not say who supplied the funding. Other cities include Louisville, St. Louis, Detroit, Little Rock, Omaha, Kansas City, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Bridgeport, Conn.
Camping calculated his date based on the belief there would be 7,000 years between Noah's Flood, dated at May 21, 4990 B.C., and the Rapture, when faithful Christians are taken up into heaven.
There have been numerous predictions of the Second Coming. William Miller, founder of the Seventh-Day Adventists, predicted it would take place in 1843, an event that became known as the Great Disappointment.
The Adventists have become more cautious.
"The Bible says no one knows the day or the hour," said the Rev. Fred Fuller of Madison Campus Seventh-day Adventist Church near Nashville. "I don't believe that date-setting or the scare tactic of an immediate date is a biblical approach."