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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. Barry

    I would advise against mocking God’s servants, regardless of their flaws.

    Consider God’s promise to his servant Abraham in Genesis 12: 1-f:

    The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
    “I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
    I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
    I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
    and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

    This applies, of course, applies to Christians, who are the fulfillment of this promise.

    June 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Headless Chocolate Rabbit Hanging on a Cross with splinters in his...

      Noted and now flushed down the toilet. You ever heard the joke, there is a rabbi, priest and jesus hanging on the crosses. The rabbi and priest turn to jesus and say, "The view isn't so bad up here". Jesus says, "Told you"

      June 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Me

      Hardly relevant to this story.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  2. TheWiz71

    This guy is looped. I hope he recovers and sees the errors of his ways, and refunds those who gave him money based on this exceptionally misguided message.
    That being said, I just gotta love all the angry atheists on here. And they like to accuse people who have faith of being self-righteous, bigoted, and unthinking. Oh, the irony.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  3. JPM

    This IDIOT needs to send back all the money he STOLE from all those people that believed his nonsense. Do any of believe that we are going to all DIE in October??? If so you need your head checked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOD is the only one who knows when, where & how and until then we all need to worry about what's REALITY & what's going on in our world RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET A LIFE PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Me

      That some people are dumb enough to believe in this man's fantasy is not surprising. To say this man "stole" money from these fools however is inaccurate. From what I have seen, these people chose to spend their money to try to get into heaven. They are victims only of their own poor choices.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  4. Reality

    Camping "stroked" when he read the following on this blog:

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:

    THERE WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY

    June 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      Umm...what you are stating is a matter of belief, not fact. If I have to choose between two beliefs, one which says that this world is all there is, and another belief which says that life in this world is important, but must be lived in the context of the greater destiny which awaits us, I know which one I pick. If you decide differently, that's your business. But please don't confuse your beliefs with scientific, objective reality. It only makes you look small if you feel you have to belittle those who do decide to believe.
      That being said, from a main-stream Christian perspective, this "May 21" guy is more than a bit touched, or something. Even the Bible says no person can or will know what God will bring this current age to an end. What is more, there sure as anything is no such thing as "the Rapture" in the Bible. So, I don't know where these people get these things.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      Oh, and turn the caps off (except to maybe emphasize one or two words). They make you look like a raving lunatic more than anything.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Reality

      Summarizing the saving of 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
      There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam

      Summarizing the saving of 2 billion lost Christians:
      There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity

      Summarizing the saving of 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
      Abraham and Moses probably never existed.

      Added details upon request.

      Put said summaries in all caps and then post on all the doors of mosques, churches and synagogues.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  5. Barry

    When Voltaire felt the stroke that he realized must terminate in death, he was overpowered with remorse. He at once sent for the priest, and wanted to be “reconciled with the church.” His infidel flatterers hastened to his chamber to prevent his recantation; but it was only to witness his ignominy and their own. He cursed them to their faces; and, as his distress was increased by their presence, he repeatedly and loudly exclaimed:

    “Begone! It is you that have brought me to my present condition. Leave me, I say; begone! What a wretched glory is this which you have produced to me!”

    Hoping to allay his anguish by a written recantation, he had it prepared, signed it, and saw it witnessed. But it was all unavailing. For two months he was tortured with such an agony as led him at times to gnash his teeth in impotent rage against God and man. At other times, in plaintive accents, he would plead, “O Christ! O Lord Jesus!” Then, turning his face, he would cry out, “I must die — abandoned of God and of men!”

    As his end drew near, his condition became so frightful that his infidel associates were afraid to approach his bedside. Still they guarded the door, that others may not know how awfully an infidel was compelled to die. Even his nurse repeatedly said, “For all the wealth of Europe she would never see another infidel die.” It was a scene of horror that lies beyond all exaggeration. Such is the well-attested end of the one who had a natural sovereignty of intellect, excellent education, great wealth, and much earthly honor. We may all well exclaim with Balsam, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.

    — The Contrast Between Infidelity and Christianity

    June 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  6. watch

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzbK2A5BN1I&w=640&h=390]

    June 14, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  7. The Jackdaw

    I truly hope he comes back from his near death experience with some profoundly inventive BS "directly from Jesus" that will amuse me even more than his previous $h77ty predictions. YAY JESUS!

    June 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  8. The Jackdaw

    I hope he comes back from his near death experience with some profoundly inventive BS "directly from Jesus" that will amuse me even more than his previous $hi77y predictions.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  9. The Jackdaw

    Religion is a joke. If the example of this man does not drive my point home, you deserve to be misled and leached of all your money.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  10. Marie Kidman

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSvqMBj-ig

    June 14, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  11. Brad

    Camping attempted to do, and successfully.. well, chose to manipulate the thought process of a lot of insecure people; telling them "there's still time to change" and the like. The confidence level of people that bought into his prediction and thought they needed to "be saved" obviously was not enough on their own, and figured "hey, the world might end, and this guy is saying we still have time. I don't want to burn for eternity." The ploy here was to convert people to Christianity and it worked. Suckers.

    If the world ends, the world ends. Nothing can be done. If you lived your life as a dishonest thief, then asking God's forgiveness a few weeks before he descends upon the earth to end everything isn't going to get you a golden ticket to this place called Heaven.

    Also, @Ronna. Thank you. I have no idea what you just said.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  12. redeemedgangsters

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opch9wMjocY&w=640&h=390] (:

    June 14, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  13. redeemedgangsters

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms2ajqlNHeI&w=640&h=390]

    June 14, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  14. Matt

    The end of the world began on May 21st in the form of a blood clot that lead to Mr. Nutbag's stroke.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  15. nathan

    that is terrible of you to be happy this guy had a stroke...honestly dude...really?

    June 14, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      What’s wrong with being glad that a false prophet, a man that stuffed his bank account with righteous dollar bills, a man who preyed on weak minded people for his own financial benefit and the chance to stroke his own ego, was nearly killed? The fewer of these kinds of people that there are the better.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      He is still a human being. You might disagree with a person's views but to be happy about his ill health or death is crazy wrong.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Huhu

      If he is 89, a POS fraudster, a liar, a religious whacko, and one of the mentally insane, I have no problem with wishing him to die as soon as possible. Perhaps Mark could join him.
      We can't heal these people. All we can do is be glad when they die.
      It's "crazy wrong" to defraud people out of their life savings. In the old days a lynching party would have fixed him right up.
      Would it be any different if he were convicted of his crimes and got the death penalty? Many people have been treated horribly by this man. We are glad Hitler is dead, too.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  16. llcoolj

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

    June 14, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  17. xyz

    Oh no, another mis-calculation. Doom was to be his and not the world.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  18. Mabus

    I was raptured but they didn't have cable so I came back

    June 14, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  19. Todd G

    Guess God didn't take too kindly to the guy after all...

    June 14, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Athiest and Correct

      God. Yeah, thats it. HE was angry.....sure.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • There is no God

      God did this. Sure. God can't even take the time to demmonstrate his own existence, I duobt he takes the time to kill people who upset him.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Headless Chocolate Rabbit Hanging on a Cross with splinters in his...

      His time is coming soon. He will be "servicing" his jesus

      June 14, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  20. Bill

    What a stroke of luck for the rest of us.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Headless Chocolate Rabbit Hanging on a Cross

      Any update on the sc um bag's condition?

      June 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
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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.