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. mojobutta

    Well, let's cut the old guy some slack. He's unbalanced and feeble minded. Only fanatics would listen to his dribble anyway. What surprises the bejesus out of me is: Why does the press pay any attention to his rants? That's the real question. People with alzheimers predict the end of the world everyday.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  2. Artist

    I hope his speech is okay, after 10/21 passes we don't want to misunderstand when his knew date is.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Baldrick

      If only you KNEW the difference between *knew* and *new*. I'll bet life would improve for you slightly if you learned.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  3. Dave

    Please please please please let him live until October 22.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  4. Rectidue

    I guess the prophecy was personal ....

    June 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Sutler

      Yet, he still had the wrong date!

      June 14, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  5. VelveteenLady

    Perhaps, Mr. Camping misunderstood God's message about the end being near. What God meant is that Camping's end is near, while the rest of us keep plugging along until our individual end (of life as we know it) takes place. Perhaps this experience will set him straight.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  6. JohnR

    This man's departure will leave a well needed gap in the spiritual community.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • lagtat

      There's a gap in your head where a brain should be.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • R Calling

      Fear not – some other attention seeking nutjob will step right up.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • lagtat

      oops i mean a gap in Camping's head haha

      June 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Oh the irony !
      The FIRST thing his staff and family did, upon seeing some EVIDENCE, that he needed medical care, was to see that he was seen by a SCIENTIST, (neurologist) who used a CT Scanner or MRI machine to find the EVIDENCE of what had happened, and whether he needed IV Heparin or other (scientifically developed) anticoagulants, DEPENDING on what the scan actually SHOWED. Maybe the fact that he had access to care, and that he received skilled, attentive and compassionate care, in spite of his crazy behaviors, might make him pause. Well, maybe not. 😈

      June 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  7. ELS

    Looks like his end of days is near

    June 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • One Eared Puppy on Crack doing the Moonwalk Sideways

      You think...he is as old as dust????

      June 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  8. Creyente

    Did he predict the stroke too?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Cindy

      ha ha

      June 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  9. kavita gunaji

    When will the US grow a brain and understand that just like we elected a 'foreign' president, many people from abroad want to settle down here and the best way to do this is to have people here commit some sort of mass suicide so that they can replace them. Giving up your homes, life savings and jobs is a desperate move when you think the end is coming. It is a hoax designed to take over America. There are about 6.5 billion people in the world who want a chance for American happiness. Believe you me, I was a victim of depression where I contemplated taking my life several times and the result was excessive spending and charity giving when I should have saved and given less generously. However, I lucked out because I was unemployed at that time and also, I was not excessively rich. Imagine giving up everything you have worked for just because some soothsayer is telling you that is the thing to do. Tell the Rajneeshs of the East to turn themselves into the law or else they may suffer a stroke too. No sense in just our crackpots suffering. Amen.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • lagtat

      Hopefully you'll never breed.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Artist

      Remember when you talk or type drunk the ideas seem very clear.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Frogist

      Wow... such a rant has not been heard since Adelina's last post... well done!

      June 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • rjo3491

      You Sir, are a big dummy!

      June 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Adelina

      ellow frogs...doin good? I've been away for quite sometimes. Do you miss me? Anywayz...Thank you for being my loyal patron.

      You do have a small d!ck, it was like a silkworm especially when it cringe.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  10. The Dude2

    Bye bye LOSER! Go take your fake-religion scams to hell where you can peddle them to Sadam Hussein, Hitler, Ronald Reagan, Osama Bin Laden, and other scammers.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Artist

      His wife and kids will be large

      June 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Artist


      His wife and kids will be large

      Meant living large

      June 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Mike

      Sadam? Wow ur smart 😉

      June 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  11. lowell

    WHO CARES WHEN THE WORLD END, ANYWAY? My divorce depression almost kiiled me, so I had to sell my fiirearms.
    I refuse to live in fear. God is love, I try my best, and don't worry. What's the point?
    I didn't kill anyone, even myself. The sin is in the flesh.
    For God so loved the world....He sent a savior for those whom believe
    If it is God's purpose for me to go to Hell, let me go.
    I READ the word for myself.
    Peace be upon your all.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Stroke Man

      Let it go bro

      June 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Heinz Doofenshmirtz

      You won't give in the fear but you'll give into depression.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Destruk

      Actually, Jesus Christ was here on May 21st and he raptured all of his loyal followers. Now the rest of us, including Camping, just weren't 'good enough' to make the cut. Accept it, live your 6 months or so in the world of suffering, brimstone, and fire...

      June 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • SKyle

      Is nut job hyphenated?

      June 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • lagtat

      No wonder your wife divorced you...you whacko. Now she's off getting boned by your best friend.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • rjo3491

      ... I think you still need some help. Getting rid of the guns was a good first step!

      June 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  12. Ray

    Good for him!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • kT

      good for him because he predicted the world was going to end???? There are far worse people out there....... You're a MONSTER for saying such thing.... yeah ok he was wrong & what he did scared a hell of a lot of people but to applause him because he had a stroke is far worse. Guess who's going to hell.... YOU!!! You're one of the reason why this world is better off blown up; it's people like you who make this world a disgusting place to live in...............

      June 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • David Johnson


      If god is all loving, all good and all just as Christians profess, how do you reconcile this with the fact, that there is a place called hell?

      How could an all good, all merciful, all just god, spend His time constructing such a place? Did he whistle while He worked?

      If god is all loving, all good, all merciful and all just...how do you reconcile this with the fact that god would burn humans for all eternity? What crime could justify such a punishment?

      Man lives a finite number of years. Only a finite number of "sins" could be committed in this finite time. How is it just to punish a finite number of sins with eternal agony?

      Christians also claim their god is all knowing (omniscient). If this is true, then He would know who will be saved and who will be damned, even before they are born. Yet, god lets them be born knowing their ultimate fate is eternal punishment. Seems wrong somehow.

      Christians often prattle on about having a choice of accepting Christ or spending eternity in hell. This is not a choice. This is Vito Corleone making an offer that cannot be refused. Pfui!

      If a puppy peed on the floor, would you hold it over a burner, even for a second? I couldn't. Not a puppy and certainly not a human. Most humans are more moral than your vile god.

      Like many of your fellow Christians, you seem to like the idea that people who do not agree with you, will be horribly punished. Do you fantasize about you and Jesus, holding hands, watching the damned writhe in pain. Their flesh making a sweet aroma in your nostrils?


      June 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • kiwilogic

      @ david good reply @ Kt what exactly is ment to scare people about going to hell i mean your body doesnt go there so you cant physically do anything, is this soul thing just our mental existence, is the difference between heaven and hell the same as a bad mushroom trip and a good one (if you havn't had shrooms then you should try a small dose of one of the most spiritual experiences know to man and used in a lot of ancient religions to connect or speak to god)

      June 13, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  13. zoundsman

    I entertained the thought long ago: Why should I worry about the end of the world in a year, 2 years, etc.
    I could die in a car wreck tomorrow. I'd miss the whole mega drama anyway.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  14. Frogist

    I'm so sorry to hear that. I wish him and his family and friends well.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Artist

      F that, let the 80 million that was scammed give his family comfort.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Raider

      I think this man should be arrested for fraud. How many people are now suffering due to what he has fooled them into believing?

      June 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Artist: A stroke is a horrible thing, and I don't wish that suffering on anyone. I prefer to offer my best wishes rather than gloat or take joy at another human being's pain. Certainly some will look at his affliction as retribution from on high, but since I refuse to worship/acknowledge a cruel god anyway, that has no place for me.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Aristocat

      How curious to "wish" someone well. Maybe it's one of those social interaction things where we state our non-hostile intentions and imply that we want to help them. Surely you are not making a "wish", eh?
      I "wish" everyone would become sane and healthy in all possible ways so we could stop having insane people do insane and harmful things.
      But where's a genie when you need one? In a bottle? Wearing skimpy clothes? Where are they?

      June 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  15. roger

    I don'tnbeleive what this man says the bible states that no man, not the angels in heaven nor the son will know only the father when the end will be, that being said I don;t his him or than body that follow him an harm may god show him the erros of his ways and be mercful and loving to him. I would like to remind peoplle he is a false pophet but jessus tells us judge not yet we will be judge by the same measure as we judge.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • beelzabarber

      Maybe he meant the end of HIS days, in which case, he is pretty accurate.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "the bible states that no man, not the angels in heaven nor the son will know only the father when the end will be"

      Jesus did not know the exact day and hour of His return, but He did predict a 1st century return.

      Jesus speaking:
      Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” – Matthew 24:34

      Jesus promised, that He would return within that generation, but He did not. Since He was wrong, He could not have been God incarnate. The Christian faith is based on error. In all of the other places in the Gospels where Jesus used the term “this generation,” he was referring to people living at that time.

      Evangelicals will try to spin this, but Jesus said what He said. It is what it is.


      June 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mesopotatomush

      David Johnson, I am shocked to see you playing "interpretation tag" when you already know there is no god.
      But those are good points, anyway. The sun is over the yardarm...so "cheers"!

      June 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      A statement that is always correct is referred to as a Barnum statement. It is mostly used by psychics to always seem correct. Camping said (I'm paraphrasing of course), 'there is a high probability that the world would end in may.' This statement is always true: If it did end, he would have been right. If it didn't end (which is what happened), he is still right cause he said high probability! a good Barnum statement from Mr. Camping.
      Sadly, the bible verse u r referring to is the best barnum statement of all time! it goes something like, 'No one knows but the father when Jesus will return.' Hmm...lets see, so if he does return, that statement is right. If he never returns (the most likely case) that statement is still right cause his followers will wait forever! WOW what a great barnum statement! Moral of the story: don't believe statements that are always true.

      June 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  16. Steve

    Personally, I think he took the stroke years ago, and has been mentally unbalanced ever since.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Heinz Doofenshmirtz

      And he's been stroking his followers ever since.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Artist

      lol true

      June 13, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  17. Heinz Doofenshmirtz

    Yes. The world is going to end on October 21st 2011. And by October 21st 2011 I really mean I have no freaking idea when the world will end.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • EspyLaCopa

      I don't believe the world will end before Halloween.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  18. Word of Reason

    Common sense is anything but common, apparently. One man says what he believed to be the "doomsday" and people sell thier homes- quit their jobs and donate their savings?! C'mon people! Stop the fanatics and worry about living rightious- so when "the rapture" really happens you'll be ready. God announced He's coming, but He never said when. Read the Word so that no man can fool you!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Heinz Doofenshmirtz

      Wouldn't common sense also dictate not believing in the invisible man.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • LetsThink123


      God lied too. Jesus is not coming back.

      June 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  19. Carol

    Guess he shouldn't be playing God now should he?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  20. Edwardo

    Just you people wait 'til 10/21 !! It'll be just as significant as 5/21 was !!! I know I'm scare...NOT !

    June 13, 2011 at 5:28 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.