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. Davis Todd

    Jesus left the false prophets behind, then he didst smote them.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Darwin

    If 80 million Germans could be duped into adoring their Adolf and Aryan supremacy, then obviously it's not very difficult to befuddle the average human brain with supernatural fantasies – and get their money too! I'll have to ask the tree spirit and the leprachaun who lives in the shed in the backyard what they think of this Camping guy and his rapture prediction. I bet they don't buy it.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  3. TC

    Even though he is a, "False Prophet." Christ would want us to pray for him, so I will.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • wilson

      The blind leading the blind.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      You're right, we should. I disagree with everything Camping says and does. But that doesn't mean I have the right to condemn the man anymore than I have the right to kill my neighbor. Most non-religious people posting on CNN don't seem to have any clue what forgiveness or compassion means. So much for humanism.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • TC

      Yes Wilson I am blind. And some day my eyes will be opened.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • che-3

      Pray for him? Not me!
      He has destroyed the Christian Faith as we know it. That's more than what Judas did to Jesus ……. Betrayal! These are people amongst us that Christians should stand up and have them exposed as FAKE prophets that Jesus talked about in the Bible during his last days. Instead, you wish to bless him with prays of someone who is a $multi-millionaire? Question: what does the Bible tells you to do? You pray for weak and poor amongst us FIRST not some rich white $multi-millionaire? This fake white prophet has more money in the Bank than the State of California.
      The son of the Living God said when he was questioned by his disciples, quote: "No one knoweth the hour" unquote.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      "You pray for weak and poor amongst us FIRST not some rich white $multi-millionaire?"
      Che-3, I understand your anger, but it's misplaced. No man can destroy the Christian faith. If we are to believe the Christ rose from the dead to set us free from sin then neither you, nor I, nor Camping can destroy anything that is His. Also, I can condemn what Camping has done, but pray for the man while he is still alive in hopes that he will find real truth. Why? Because if Camping ends up in hell then he will be in a far far worse place than any weak and poor living on the face of the Earth.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • God

      Anyone who drinks cactus juice is just going to get massive cramps and diarrhea.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:50 am |
  4. Freethinksman

    I don't wish anyone ill, though if the stroke caused him to be quiet, I wouldn't mind a bit. This is a world full of problems that need solving. For him to suggest that people (any people) are best served by ignoring those problems is evil. I hope he will consider the harm he and all eschatologists cause.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • naustradamus

      Carma caught on,but then again he is 89 years old. Maybe he was using his senial predictions but then agian question is? What is he doing still working at the age of 89 when he made over 80 million dollars on donations. ppl are such suckers to donate there life savings to a bunch of fraud artists. Dont you think the feds should of shut him down? Then agian they took have in taxes lol so basically WE sheeple are the suckers. Good luck and see you after dec.21st 2012

      June 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • naustradamus

      I guess its no worse then bin laden's terrorists brain washing them into life after death with 30 virgins lol

      June 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      "though if the stroke caused him to be quiet, I wouldn't mind a bit."
      Sounds to me like you wish him plenty ill. Hmmm. That's a pretty self-righteous thing to say, for a non-eschatologist, that is.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Gene

      In fact, "Naustradamus", the stated promise was seventy-two virgins. But that rested on a mistranslation of the Koran.

      The actual reward for martyrdom was " a seventy-two year old virgin."

      June 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  5. pkfops

    Heaven Bound.........LOL.......

    June 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  6. Limbaugh is a liberal

    The rapture DID happen on May 21st... we were just left behind.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  7. naustradamus

    I believe naustradamus and the mayans predictions for 90% of world disaster is dec.21st 2012

    June 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Freethinksman

      Who the heck is Naustradamus? Another cheap chinese knockoff of the real thing?

      June 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • naustradamus

      fire in the sky was there prediction which could be solar flare/meteorite or ww3 a nuke festival party. IF the globe spins quickly from magnetic field the pole shift will create world disaster.
      And if that dont happen by that prediction then god is a scheme to make profits from the ppl who believe. There is no god as the mayans stated' ufo's were the gods who came down on them. The mayans were like ants they work there lives away to believe in something that is not around. Nature creates ...not a god.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • chris

      I think you mean Nostradamus....

      June 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  8. GAW

    Sad when a stroke happens to anyone but maybe adding all of those numbers to reach the date for the rapture finally got to him.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  9. Kman821

    I'm praying for his swift and complete recovery ... NOT!

    June 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      Actually I hope he does recover and live to see his false prophecies be unfulfilled. After which I'd be very curious to see what, if any, response he has to say about it all. I'm sure it would be far too much to hope for a complete and humble apology and his admission that he has been wrong. But one can still hope..

      June 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • D

      He's already lived through that, in 1994. Didn't seem to phase him much (as is the case with most delusional people).

      June 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      Like I said, one can always hope he'll finally get it and learn his lesson and repent. Unlikely, though it may seem. Anyway, that's my $0.02.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  10. Frank Mondana

    Then on the next date, he will produce some formula that says he was off by 6 more months. It is what I call the "Keep Soaking the Gullible for Money" algorithm.
    It's the same formula used by many religions to enable the leaders to live in luxury while awaiting the end and lets the little people do the suffering as they lose their homes and possessions.
    Gee, what would the world be like without religion? Probably the same without all the rituals.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      "Gee, what would the world be like without religion? Probably the same without all the rituals."
      Probably. Not that God would miss all those rituals much anyway since they're mostly a human contrivance. I for one don't have much faith in rituals, and neither does God apparently, not if one really looks at the message of the New Testament.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  11. Blaqb0x

    I sincerely doubt that he will be the last of his kind.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  12. D

    He may be a raving lunatic, but I hope he survives till at least 2012 🙂

    June 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  13. The Chikin

    Maybe he was predicting the end of HIS days not everyone else??
    I know... you don't have to tell me: **shuts-up**

    June 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  14. estaban wan

    Just another religious nut job folks. Nothing to get alarmed about. Go back to your normal daily routine. Ignore the dipsticks peddling religious snake oil. When will the human race learn. Religion has been the scurge of mankind.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      If that's true then what do you care, except to go out of your way to throw insults at those who have faith. Your plate must be very empty today.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • D

      Someone's a little touchy today. What happened to 'turn the other cheek'?

      June 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • He Who Juices Cactus

      Hi D. That's cute. Unfortunately I only drop my drawers and expose my cheeks to my girl, turned or otherwise. Sorry.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  15. David Descotesux

    Maybe the end of the world is true, and God is starting with this whack job 🙂

    June 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  16. itsjustme

    80M in contributions? And volunteer efforts for other much more worthwhile endeavors are hardly making it, thanks to most of us being financially strapped for cash.:(

    June 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  17. Darwin

    Camping is just one of many current religious "leaders" who claim to be prophets. For example, the President of the Mormon church claims to be a "seer and revelator". If this is really true, then he must have been able to forsee the 9/11 attack and DID NOTHING TO STOP IT! What a great guy! Of course, the more logical explanation is that he can see into the future about as well as Newt Gingrich (and it's obvious he can't, or else he would get OUT of the presidential race right now)

    June 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  18. Joel Franco


    June 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  19. JCR

    Just a "mild Stroke"??AWWW! first he was supposed to be one of the chosen few that was going to go to heaven... it almost seems as if God doesn't really want him up there with him...

    June 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  20. The all potent one

    Sorry folks but the selected 2-3% are already gone. If you're still here you might as well start sinning because you all goin south come J day.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Freethinksman

      J day? I'm going south on Thursday. Hope my flight doesn't get cancelled!

      June 13, 2011 at 6:14 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.