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. 2bits

    What a joker and what a bunch of gullible people are Americans.

    This country is rampantly overrun by Ponzi schemers and fraudsters like this guy and it's readily apparent the bad guy is winning in America.

    What's worse–is the worse of the bad guys are in Congress!

    June 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • sean burns

      gullible people in America, as a whole? Maybe the few hundred that believed him, but 99.9 % of America thought he was nuts, I would say. Though there are many people more gullible than his followers: birthers. tea party people that don't realize they are corporate stooges, people that mnake under $100,000 a year and think the republicans will do anything good for them, etc. etc. ad nauseum...

      June 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  2. JP

    Turned out not to be the rapture, but a rupture. The timing was pretty close to what might have been the end of HIS world, not ours. The charlatan needs someone to keep an eye on him the rest of his addled days.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  3. steve

    so what?
    he isn't immune to sickness.
    just another religious fantatic trying ti stir people up who will listen to his bag of crap

    June 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  4. driranek

    God has confirmed to me that The Rapture actually did occur on April 23, 2003. Out of a world population in excess of 3 billion people, 9 were called to heaven. All were sufficiently obscure that nobody noticed.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • God

      That wasn't me. That was a hallucination.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  5. ShiningEmber

    He is Henry Cain from POLTERGEIST II ! Lookout!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  6. Loman Totempole

    Darn it I've thought for years that John 3:16 was true. Now I found out that I have to be in the top 3 percent to make it. Thanks Harold for making my day so bright.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  7. That's called karma


    June 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  8. Rose

    "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.

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

    Maybe he was shocked to find out he wasn't in that select 2% to 3%.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  9. Evan

    The Bible give this message quite clearly: worry more about being a good person, here and now, than when the world is going to end.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  10. greeneyez

    This world has enough chaos n pain no no no nobody knows when its the end n when it ends there will b nobody to speak of it

    June 13, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  11. maude

    I am your god. Bow before me and worship me.
    I will come on October 21,2011 AND KICK YOUR SORRY ASS!!!!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • God

      STFU you ho!

      June 14, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  12. The Dude


    June 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Freethinksman

      Look, I don't go for religion either. I agree that it is a silly proposition based on simple peoples' demand to control what they cannot control; to know the unknowable; and their fear of death. But a clunky Xrtanormal cartoon full of vitriol does nothing but stroke your own ego. I get it. You fancy yourself intelligent. Rather than swearing at people and calling them idiots, why not spend some time speaking intelligently to those people you know who who have the capacity to change. As much as it might make you feel good to let a computer render your hatred into a cheesy cartoon, it accomplishes nothing positive. It's more likely to convince religious people that all anti-theists are self-absorbed know-it-alls than anything else. Making non-theism political causes even more problems. Please stop. You certainly don't speak for me.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • The Dude

      They are a threat to our very existence. Christians are Sh!t.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  13. Rob

    Yes, if you look at the world population over the last 100 years, there has been more growth than all of the previous centuries combined. There are not enough resources to handle this rate of growth. Somthing will happen, good or bad. Maybe not in 2012 but it won't be to long. We make a change or nature will force a change. That simple.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  14. heehheehoohoo

    I bet he didn't see that one commin.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Speeeling B Chimp

      Bet you didn't graduate 8th grade.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Kat

      I love this.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  15. Me

    I hope he gets better. I also hope people stop listening to him. God wants us to believe until the end comes, not that the end is coming.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • driranek

      Given the way he's suckered his sheep, the world might be a better place if he doesn't get better.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  16. Artist

    Maybe he really heard god, look at his ears holy cr@p!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  17. Fernt

    too, too easy.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  18. Cindy

    Looks like Camping's world is coming to an end ahead of time...just like the Mayans. Scary...NOT!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  19. The Dimension Machine

    ‎2012 is coming and a lot of folks say “oh it’s the same as all the other false prediction”…I don’t think so. You can feel and smell the fact that we as humans are on the verge of something that needs to change; you do not have to think “doomsday”, you can have a positive out come ..read more about it at TheDimensionMachine dot com

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

      Its called over population and saturation. I suspect we ran this course before.

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

      Never start a sentence with a number.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  20. BunnyT

    About freaking time!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:46 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.