June 13th, 2011
04:41 PM ET

Leader of May 21 doomsday movement suffers stroke

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Harold Camping, the leader of the apocalyptic movement that predicted the end of the world would begin on May 21, has suffered a stroke, according to a statement on his ministry's web site on Tuesday.

Camping suffered a "mild stroke" last Thursday, according to the statement posted on the website of Family Radio, Camping's California-based broadcast ministry.

"Mr. Camping is receiving excellent care, and the doctors treating him are encouraged with the progress he is making," the statement said. "Mr. Camping's family appreciates everyone's thoughts and prayers."

“This was all we were told to tell everyone,” an operator at Family Radio said Monday, after she read the same statement that later appeared on Family Radio's website.

The operator, who would not give her name, said she and Family Radio’s other operators came to work Monday morning to find the statement from the Camping family on their desks.

For months, Camping predicted that Jesus Christ would return to the earth on May 21 and that a select 2% to 3% of the world’s population would be raptured, or taken to heaven.

Watch as the apocalypse flops and the Rapture leader wonders what went wrong

Those left behind would face months of tribulation before perishing in the Earth's destruction, which Camping said would happen on October 21.

Camping, who is reported to be 89, spread the word through a national billboard campaign and caravans of RVs that toured the country spreading the doomsday message.

When his prediction failed to pan out, Camping took the radio airwaves to say that he had misinterpreted the nature of the rapture but that the world would still end on October 21.

“We've always said October 21 was the day," Camping said. "The only thing we didn't understand was the spirituality of May 21. We're seeing this as a spiritual thing happening rather than a physical thing happening. The timing, the structure, the proofs, none of that has changed at all."

Camping founded Family Radio, a nonprofit Christian radio network with about 65 stations across the country, in 1958. It received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009.

He first inaccurately predicted the world would end in 1994. Despite his poor track record, he has gathered many followers. Some gave up their homes, entire life savings and jobs because they believed the world was ending.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: End times

soundoff (1,171 Responses)
  1. twal

    That's what you get when you start telling lies about God's plan...

    June 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • GOD

      the plan is everything now foff

      June 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • God

      The other god is a fake. I oughta know.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  2. JOHNJ

    God punished him. LOL

    June 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Why did God punish you? Your economy is in depression; your employment prospects are nil; your future is gloomy; your lifestyle must decline; .. AND if you do not believe in God then ALL you can do is gratify your senses until you die. You have no choice about the latter and few choices about the former. So why are you being punished?

      June 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Sean

      Other than the second wasted reading your post, I'm not being punished.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Sean

      Sorry, I meant to post this elsewhere. Apologies.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  3. GOD

    hi im god

    June 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Stan Dupp

      Prove it.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • GOD

      ok 🙂

      June 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • GOD

      here i brought the devil with me

      June 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • DEVIL

      hi >:)

      June 13, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Stan Dupp

      Not seeing anything happening that could constltute proof yet. Did you have something in mind? Your non-existent mind?

      June 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • GOD

      no not really do you have anything in mind?

      June 13, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      None of you can PROVE your existence to me. I do not believe you exist... any of you.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • God


      June 14, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  4. chris

    Wait, is that a "Members Only" jacket? Wow, this guy is hip. His wardrobe and his prognostications are stuck in the 80's.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  5. bluemax77

    Man when I saw this I busted up..And here's me an atheists 'an all...!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Adam

      Maybe he was talking about the end of HIS world this whole time and they just didn't hear him.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • bluemax77

      Never thought of that...You could be right...!!

      June 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  6. Fred

    I think God dont like liars and this man lied big time.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  7. chris

    Apparently it was not a stroke "of genius."

    June 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  8. DS*

    Ha!.. I hope he makes it till october...

    June 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  9. letsgomets2011

    How many millions were donated to this nutbar's enterprise in the past 2 years???

    How about forking some of that money over to your local charities? Lots of foodbanks, local boys and girls clubs, etc can use the money a lot more than this guy needed it. Wonder what he's been doing with all the money?

    June 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  10. kiwilogic

    i wonder if he's praying to save his life from this stroke. if he died im pretty sure the world would probibly be a better place.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  11. Adam

    ...God... just as believable as a zombie Jesus.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Barak Obama

      Charles Darwin's origin of species... just as believable x-men

      June 13, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  12. rik

    Please stop giving this man and his ilk press time.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  13. Rh

    PLEASE DONATE TO ME ....O' thee followers.....as I predicted that Harold Camping would commit a suicide on October 21.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  14. CrowdedPond

    Say what you will, I still think the man's a big ball of pus.

    He's no better than Ted Haggard and the rest of the charlatans that take money away from the poorest and dumbest people of this country. Since I don't believe there is a god who interacts with the world, I'd say his stroke was result of age and bad living choices. It doesn't matter, he didn't deserve the stroke, but he doesn't deserve much pity, either.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  15. rjo3491

    ...well, perhaps he was correct about the end being near!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  16. Wild-eyed Athiest Rant

    Die religious sc-um! Die!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      We will all die. Do you think you are an exception? Why do you think you are an exception? He did not believe you are s**m Why do you say that to him? Why do you think you are different?

      June 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Stan Dupp

      I think you are being trolled by someone who cannot spell "Atheist". But if that's how religious people look at atheists, I'm not surprised.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  17. RightturnClyde

    It's just a normal aging process (not a God thing). I do not blame that guy for thinking what he thinks (about end times) and I do not blame anybody else for believing him (if the choose). I don't think anyone lost their inheritance if the giver changed their mind (it's not yours until you get it)(lawyers get the first $50,000 or any inheritance .. and sometimes $100,000) The great thing about being FREE is you can believe in bears, lions, reefs, mustang horses, penny stocks. sports teams, Loch Ness, Scouting, the Rose Bowl.. and you can give your money, participate, write books about it .. or just veg. It nobody's business if you do.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Stan Dupp

      It's our business if you can't keep it to yourself, punk.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  18. peacppl

    OHHHH the irony of it all!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  19. DanA

    Watching how sperm unites with an egg is possibly the worst argument I've ever heard for the existence of God.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Stan Dupp

      You must be new to the internet. Welcome.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Maybe you can explain HOW life got started in the first place? Was there a mess of chemicals laying around in a puddle of water and the accidentally became a cell? Why do some cells become sperm and others become thumbs? If the thumb already *there* in the sperm? How did a jelly fish turn into an ape (did it get tired of being a jelly fish?) How did an ape turn into a man? And why do we not see apes in the woods who are half and half? How is it that horses never have fingers? Weren't they also a sperm and egg? Maybe you can explain these to me.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Todd

      lol welcome indeed =)

      June 13, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Barak Obama

      Stating the fact that the universe is huge or one of the most subjective branches of science, biology, is 100% correct in it's theories is a poor reason to deny that God exists.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Fred

      Oh ye Brethren of Little Faith

      June 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Josh

      Hey Clyde...

      You don't know much about science then do you? Because science has kind of proven or talked about all those things you were just asking....maybe pick up a book other than a work of fiction and learn something that's real and tangible. Wow the ignorance...

      June 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Barak Obama

      @josh – have you read the actual peer reviewed studies? Reading a book written by an atheist doesn't count. Quit reading bias books written by other people and just look at the data yourself. Or are peer reviewed article to hard for you to read?

      June 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • dogparkdave

      @ RightturnClyde – origin in the primordial ooze is the best idea so far with initial reactions producing the building blocks and not cells themselves (no one was there and we can never be absolutely sure which organic molecules formed first). With regard to the the rest of your issues, genetic diversity and selection are well understood and supported both by the fossil record and experimentally. If you really want to know more about development and differentiation of cells and tissue...do some reading, it's pretty straight forward stuff that is well described in the literature.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • dogparkdave

      and yes Barak, I have read a portion of the peer reviewed literature in the field and written a few articles myself.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      @dogparkdave ... so actually that is something you believe .. when you say it is the "best idea so far." And you are just saying your belief satisfied your individual metaphor more than any other. You really have no idea .. no evidence . you cannot explain actually WHAT life is. .. (nobody else can either) ... so you really do not know much about the origin of lie, WHAT life actually is or why you can receive and understand communication and reply to it. You have no idea (actually) what it IS that makes you exist (as a living being). You just ACCEPT some idea (and then you call it the BEST idea). .. and then you give it no more thought.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      You see you can all speak authoritively and condescendingly (as you do no doubt on campus and in some ivy tower) but actually you have no idea HOW life began .. primordial ooze? building blocks? Nobody can ever know? (yes that is right - nobody can ... ever) So they can merely BELIEVE .. welcome to the club. All you can do it BELIEVE. So to support a belief you can posit a metaphor. Well, actually MOST of what humans posit are metaphor (myth). It is all MYTH. Oh I know you hate the idea of myth.. but metaphor is myth predicated to explain what cannot be known (let alone proved). That IS the ultimate answer.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • John Richardson

      So, why do you reject the clay theories, RightTurnClyde?

      June 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Tokra


      You have a grave misunderstanding of science, biology and especially natural selection and evolution. I won't write a book here, but these theories have been proven over and over. This is a slow process, many of the "decisions" made by evolution (random mutations) are actually not good and are selected out by natural selection.

      Everything you are saying is wrong. Before you repost your inane comments, please take a Biology Class. Junior high biology would answer all your questions.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tokra

      Actually, one of the most intriguing ideas for the origin of life on Earth is called Panspermia. This is the "sharing" of carbon-like material from world to world. We find meteorites from Mars on Earth fairly often, this could be a way. However, how did life start there in the first place? It is still a mystery...but I know that science can answer this question in time. Just giving up and saying it was "God" is a cop-out.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  20. Follower

    Was that a partial rapture?
    Maybe an aborted rapture?
    Maybe he just didn't believe quite enough to qualify for a full rapture?

    June 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.