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. Devin

    Luckily he can pay those hospital bills with all the money he stole from his sheep.

    June 13, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  2. Jessica castaneda

    To all the scoffers out there. If you guys don't believe in god, why are you guys reading this? I have one thing to say to you scoffers out there. You do believe in god you just don't want to admit. The lord loves you and wants you to repent from your sins. The gift of god is free. It does not cost a thing. Anyone that believes does not have to quit their job or give any money or sell their. The gift of eternal life is totally free. The debt has been paid already by the precious blood of jesus Christ. It is free for anyone that believes.

    June 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Free? Oh how wrong you are.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Wrong, Jessica

      " I have one thing to say to you scoffers out there. You do believe in god you just don't want to admit. "
      Provide absolute proof of this, or admit that you're lying. Those are your only possible choices.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Scott Wilson

      In Luke 14:28-35 Jesus says that it will cost someone who follows Him everything. In Mat 10:39 Jesus said that those who will save their life will lose it and those who will lose their life will save it. Yes, it is true that we cannot earn salvation on our own merit but it is also true that God's undeserved mercy is absolutely conditional on authentic repentance and faith. 2Cor 7:10 says that Godly sorrow worketh repentance that leadeth to salvation. Remember that the straight gate and narrow way leadeth to life and is not life itself and that few will be able to enter in although many will try. The modern Gospel of say a prayer and accept Jesus and hey presto you are saved is a lie of Satan because it completely contradicts the Scriptures.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Keith

      Lady, you must be one of the dumbest members of the dumbest group of people I have ever come across. Contrary to your idiotic assertion I DO NOT BELIEVE IN YOUR DIRT BAG GOD. It is NOT a matter of belief I KNOW THAT YOUR GOD DOES NOT EXIST. Science is the ONLY truth and HUMANITY trumps blind belief every time.
      You have been well and truly brain washed and the really sad thing is that you had no idea it was happening. Mr. Camping should be put on trial for crimes against humanity, he is right up there with Osama Bin Laden, Hitler and Stalin and he deserves the same fate.
      The world will NOT end when Camping says it will but you are so LOST that you will probably still not see the light. You and your ilk should go away, find a mountain top and stay there and just SHUT UP.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • FSM4LIFE

      Jessica = Moron. Do you believe in unicorns, fairies, dragons, Santa Claus, etc? If not, why? Possibly because there's no proof of their existence? Kind of like your "God?" Here's some free advice: don't try to speak for a group of people you can't possibly understand. We don't give a sh!t about your pathetic, fairy tale "God."

      June 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • donna

      i'm not going to comment on how ignorant you are, maybe you'll figure that one out. but i will say this; WE ARE READING THE NEWS, NOT THE BIBLE!

      June 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Scott

      No, I really don't believe in your god or any god; but, if you have new and compelling evidence please share it. I'd be interested to hear about it

      June 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  3. tldixon

    CNN should have a "Who Cares?" section for this rubbish

    June 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  4. Heinz M

    Now it all makes sense. He was talking about HIS end of the world. Since he gave himself until October, he should have enough time to plan his funeral. Good for him, and even better for the rest of the world.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  5. LONG


    June 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  6. donna Lewis

    guess only HIS doomsday was coming! seriously, that guy is a nut!

    June 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • steve

      a nut that scammed a load of idiots out of $80 million, not bad. i really need to start my own cult.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • donna lewis

      he sure did. as did L.Ron Hubbard. it's amazing how ignorant some people are.

      June 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  7. FU

    A stroke of good luck for the rest of us...

    June 13, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Thomas


      June 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • Keith

      Brilliant play on words, I wish I had thought of it.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  8. Religion is for the weak of mind

    LOL, I should be selling signs. The ones that say... "Here's your sign!"

    June 13, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Thomas

      Good one! Please send your check for $1 to Bill Engvall.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  9. razzi

    After 2,000 years and the fact He said not one person will know when he will return, I can promise you one thing...Christ is NOT coming back on any day this guys says He will.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Breese

      Good job razzi....the Bible clearly states that no one will know when the end will come......not even Jesus Christ himself. I have always said that whenever someone says that the end will come on a certain day, I am positive in my belief that will absolutely NOT be the day.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • mark

      The only lesson this teaches is to be ready for the day that Gods will be done

      June 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  10. brian burke

    who really cares. He'll be forgotten about in a few weeks.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • 12-21-12

      Less than a month later, I forgot about this guy. In less than one more month, I'll forget about him again!

      June 13, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  11. Richard Cheese

    God didn't create Man. Man created God.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • 12-21-12

      Correct...if you're referring to religion!

      June 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • john

      man does not wear shoes. shoes wear men

      June 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • girlnparadise

      enough said! you hit the nail on the head

      June 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • dug

      "I think if the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness." – Dostoevsky

      June 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • john

      if the glove does not fit, then we must aquit

      June 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • john

      an elephant never forgets!

      June 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  12. IslandAtheist

    There will still be plenty of crazy nutjob Christians left when Camping is gone.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • john

      i guess you forgot about the athiests that spent good money on billboards instead of feeding the hungry. id call that a nutjob move. especially since they believe in nothing, and have wasted money on proclaiming nothing.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Those billboards were a truly great idea. Encourage others to cast off the shackles.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • rafael

      @John: well, they believe in reason, and evidence, and human compassion. And, they believe that people would make better decisions and treat each other more kindly if they believed the same things. So, I'd say they believe in many things and have good reasons to promote them.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Keith

      This is a message to John, your post just shows how out of touch you are, Atheists believe in TRUTH not fantasy they believe in reality not Holy Ghosts (whatever that is). Atheists believe in living their own lives NOT living lives dictated by mythical creatures that DO NOT EXIST. Do you pray to Santa Claus or the Eater Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, there is about as much evidence for their existence as for the existence of god.
      What an awful, shallow and fearful life you must live, you have to be so vigilant so that you do not run afoul of your god who will surely punish you with some terrible affliction. I have NO such fears and have challenged your god many times to come and face me man to god however your god cowers in abject terror at the prospect of facing me he is a craven coward.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  13. Jamie

    he probably should have saw this coming I guess.....

    June 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • BoboS

      "he probably should have saw this coming I guess....."
      US English still comes off like a foreign language!

      It's "...should have SEEN this coming..."

      June 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  14. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Although I think this guy is off his gourd, I am sorry about his stroke; I wish him and his family peace and comfort.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • runymede

      I agree with you.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • rafael

      You mean, unlike the peace and comfort that elude people because they gave away their worldly possessions based on his fraud?

      June 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  15. mt

    equating God to a thief is really screwed up. All these posters praising God hoping to get an extra gold star and they can feel good about themselves being good little devout Christians – eek, creepy.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Northern2011

      Their just being good little Jesus slaves.

      No evidence at all to suggest Religion has anything correct.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • john

      northern. you shouldnt talk about things that you dont understand. the moon isnt made out of cheese no matter how sarcastic you are.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • db

      If the moon were made of cheese, I'd eat it.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • rafael

      @John: I think you'd be on the moon cheese promoter side of the argument.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  16. BENJI

    God don't like false prophets.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  17. Northern2011

    Silly old ignorant 7th century rumor spreading fool.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  18. Texan

    Has this decrepit old nutcase not already reached his "15-minutes of fame" quota?

    June 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • specter

      Not till october

      June 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  19. The Dude


    Save Humanity, stop worshiping figments of someone elses imagination.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • MCA

      DUDE: Awesome Post!!!! Love It! Ganja Out!

      June 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  20. Jessica castaneda

    God is alive and he loves everyone on this earth. Even the scoffers. But please pay attention to the word of god. It is more powerful than any two edged sword. It pierces even the dividens of hearts. Do not be decieved by false prophets. Behold! The lamb of god is coming soon. He will come back like a thief in the night. May the lord richly bless those that wait for our savior

    June 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Northern2011

      Yawn !

      June 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • brian burke

      jessica,you are a very suick individual. get off the pulpit and get on with your life.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • MCA

      Sob, Sob, sniff, sniff, Sob, say what? Booooooooorrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnggggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • MCA

      Jessica: Tu tienes un papi rico contigo esta noche?

      June 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • The Dude

      Not one word of that was your own thoughts.... You are completely brainwashed you poor, poor creature.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:06 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.