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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. Liz

    A few people around the world actually killed themselves because of this nutburger's rantings. their blood is on his hands. i wonder if he's capable of undestanding the harm he did.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  2. VegasRage

    Silly people he was predicting his own demise not the worlds

    June 14, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • RAM05

      You took the words right outta my mouth.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  3. richunix

    @Barry and LLM

    I do not mock Religion, I just try to show what it really is. As all religion (including Christianity) are consider Mythos, which are given names and duties based on the culture they represent, like the Greek/ Roman ZEUS, Egyptian RA, the Jewish YAWEH and of course the Christian JESUS and the all encompassing word GOD. The stories are stories taken from earlier religions and changed to fit the current beliefs. The world has grown up from 2000 years ago, when you could state back then: “He walked on water” and parted the “Red Sea” and the authors of these stories wrote them 50-1000 years after the perceived events, along with unverifiable evidence as proof. Hate to wake you up from a dream, no one BAR NONE has ever parted any sea or even a pond or walked on any body of water without the aid of modern equipment. I do not fear death, as I will die. Death is part of life (deal with it) and no one has ever returned back from the grave and after six minutes of being dead…you may not want to come back. I see the beauty and the evil of men (that men do, not attribute to some unknown deity) and I know we will continue, I see this in our children. I’m happy with life and when I pass, I do not fear what death will bring as I will return to the stars from which I came.

    Stoic logic:
    “When you die, you will know then if there is a heaven or a hell. For if there is not, you will not know nor will you care; therefore the fear of death is needless”

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    June 14, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • followTheEvidence

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZhUrKiRGrQ&w=640&h=390]

      June 14, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • queenbee

      Rich: when you die you will return to the "stars from whence you came?" This part the bible got right–from dust you came and to dust you will return–ergo your body will decompose, be eaten by worms and beetles then they will crap you out as new dirt–thus completing the circle of life. In the end, you have your beliefs while others have theirs–yours appear to have something to do with ET and the stars and maybe returning from there when you die–so....no walking on water or parting of seas–but there IS a starman and he is YOU?...heh heh.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • followTheEvidence

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYdzUYyIKMM&w=640&h=390]

      June 14, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • ajburne

      I appreciate your tact and maturity within your comment. The only thought I have is with the first of your two quotes. It only looks at one side: if there is no Heaven. Doesn't seem like there's much stoic logic in it if it only comments on half of a concept. What if there is a Heaven? Just my thoughts.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  4. Jack

    Yes, the world may end someday. It could get hit by a gigantic meteor. It may take several billions years and burn up from the sun's heat. Many possibilities. We live in an unstable universe. But to think that a nordic god (Jesus is often portrayed with light brown hair and blue eyes) will come out of the clouds to end the world is an example of collective narcissism. Our gods have to look like us. God, and one may indeed exist, is incomprehensible. So, forget the Sunday preachers. They will teach you llittle.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • queenbee

      Could the stroke actually mean that for the first time EVER God actually spoke to the man and told him to stop the prediction crap as it was false prophecies? Maybe he "stroked" because his brain could not decipher how another being actually got in his head to talk to him? LOL

      June 14, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • ajburne

      What's with all the blanket absolutes all over the place??? SOME Sunday preachers can teach you much. Not every Christian believes that when Jesus returns he'll have brown hair and blue eyes and high five me as he hops off a cloud.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  5. Thomas

    Heavenly Father is not to blame for this. This could be just happenstance. But I will say that we condem ourselves with our works and the breaking of our covenants with God. I admire him for bringing people to Christ, but the scriptures teach that no one, not even the Lord Himself knows the exact date of His second coming. Only His Fathe in Heaven. He is still a son of God and we should pray for him as we would any other person. Certainly he is deceived by the devil, so he needs our prayers to help him. The Lord said Vengance is mine and I will repay. So be the Christian you are and pray for the man and let the Lord deal with him in the judgement.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  6. theDebateIsOver

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1e4FUhfHiU&w=640&h=390]

    June 14, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • red-eye

      oh, He suffered a Stroke ???? GOOD !

      June 14, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  7. theDebateIsOver

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maoGItxwTTA&w=640&h=390]

    June 14, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  8. Guest3

    "Despite a poor track record".... hahaha. How do you have a track record, much less a poor one, when talking about world coming to an end? If the world ends, there's no one left to say – "hey, he's got a good track record!". If it doesn't end, you simply can't predict. There should be no "track record".

    June 14, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  9. bush limbush

    I'm sure if he had died from the stroke his believers would rationalize it by saying that god decided to take him before the rapture and blah blah blah. It is all BS.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  10. rob

    Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  11. lindalionel

    All I half to say is Stop Playing With God.........

    June 14, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  12. WrshipWarior

    Judgement Day actually may have come on May 19th when President Obama revealed his radical shift in US policy with Israel. He is going against our established policies and our longterm relationship with Israel. If his divisive agenda with the UN succeeds and Jerusalem is divided in order to establish a Palestinian State, then yes, Judgement Day did come to America. Our current government cannot agree on any key issues at the moment. Mark 3:24 says clearly, "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand".

    June 14, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Clyde

      When you start quoting from fairy tales, no one takes you seriously. You just wind up sounding like another nutbag.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • WrshipWarior

      Fairy tales? Then explain how history has already validated and proven the Scriptures over and over again.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • richunix

      Outside of the cultural events, the scripture have NOT been proven period…save that argument for end of world parties on May 21st…. of what year.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Jim

      Scripture can be "interpreted" to fit any scenario. It's time we realize that the Bible is not filled with absolutes, but rather, it's a guide on how to live a worthwhile life. No one, not even the Pope, is free from sin. And the greatest sin? Hypocrisy. That we sit in judgement of one another, where it is clearly stated in the Bible that only God shall be the judge, means that all you so-called Christians who attack others are going to face the judgement of God and you will see then what he does with hypocrites.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  13. AthCliath

    'won't be long now' !

    June 14, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  14. Neil

    I heard he's predicting a full and speedy recovery for himself.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • GDI

      That just sealed his doom...

      June 14, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  15. justin

    How can he have a health issue if he was raptured up to heaven last month?...Oh, wait

    June 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  16. Jay

    Camping is a good example of why the USA is doomed. Too much stupid.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  17. maurice

    Their are none so blind as those that will not see. Don't you think it's time for you to consider that this fool was convinced of his very special place with God. It was all based on his vast ego and self-delusion. All of us here on this earth are very insignificate, some of us can't deal with it.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  18. toneloc

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpEyqRtJw_E&w=640&h=390] 😀

    June 14, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • jenny

      right on!

      June 14, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  19. tootmonkey

    I'm gonna stick with "if you can't say something nice."

    June 14, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  20. Barry

    Mr. Camping did succeed in doing something quite important. He made many pause and think about their own mortality.

    To get people today to pause and consider that life is short and that it has an end is quite an accomplishment. And surely this was the purpose of Jesus’ teaching about death, the end of time, and the Judgment Day.

    I believe that only God knows when the world will end, and unless the world ends in our lifetime, each of us must face the awesome reality of death and the grave.

    For this reason I put my trust in the promises of God and his son Jesus, who was crucified for my sins. I also plan to use my time wisely, by helping others and by enjoying the life God has given to me.

    Many will, no doubt, scoff and mock about Mr. Camping, and many will, no doubt, scoff and mock about God and religion. It’s always been that way.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • LisaMM

      My thoughts exactly, Barry. Couldn't have said it any better myself. I just hate it that this man time and time again makes Christians look like idiots. Only God knows when the time will come.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Neil

      He also succeeded in having many of those who believed in him give away their life savings, quit their jobs and otherwise ruin their lives. God save us from religion!

      June 14, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • ronna

      People I have said this many times. The end of the world comes to each person thas dies that's.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • queenbee

      This man fulfilled prophecy. It is said that in the last days there will be false prophets who will proclaim that the end has come and many will be fooled, God will allow this to happen to trap the unwary and the complacent, then He will come as he said to take away the vigilant who held fast and believed in HIM instead of in a man.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:44 am |
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About this blog

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.