The End, again? If it is, we thank you for your time
This time around, there are no RVs or signs carrying the "awesome news" of the end of the world.
October 21st, 2011
06:00 AM ET

The End, again? If it is, we thank you for your time

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - In case you are reading this, might we suggest you read really fast?

The world may end any minute now, if the latest doomsday prediction is on target.

We realize October 21 didn’t get the shout-out that May 21 did, so our apologies if this comes as a surprise. But if you had heard the complete message the first time, you would have known.

“The warning is out,” Dennis Morrell, 44, of Jacksonville, Florida, reminded us a couple of days ago. “There’s nothing else you can do.”

Earlier this year, and with the backing of the Christian broadcasting network Family Radio, billboards touting May 21 as Judgment Day dotted the landscape. RVs plastered with the fateful date crisscrossed the country as believers wearing T-shirt announcements and waving fliers sounded the alarm.

That was to be the day when a select 2% to 3% of the world’s population, predetermined by God, would be raptured up to heaven. Everyone else, the story went, would endure months-long judgment amid chaos, destruction and unspeakable suffering. A massive earthquake would ravage the land, bodies would be tossed about and terror would reign for the duration.

Five months or exactly 153 days later, it was said, the world would disappear – which brings us to today.

This was the schedule laid out by God’s word in the Bible, the faithful said. It was the plan deciphered and shared by Harold Camping, now 90, the founder of Family Radio, based in Oakland, California.

Camping, who has an engineering degree, had spent more than 50 years combing through his Bible and crunching numbers embedded in scripture. Sure, he’d made a similar end-of-the-world prediction for September 6, 1994, but who hasn’t been tripped up by biblical verses? With additional studying, calculations and new signs that would be revealed later, he said earlier this year that he had no doubts this time around.

“I know it’s absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true,” he told CNN before May 21. “If I were not faithful that would mean that I’m a hypocrite.”

Problem is, May 21 came and went, and the world remained the same. Soon the billboards disappeared. The T-shirts and hats worn by believers got tossed. The RVs were quietly parked, tucked away in storage yards, possibly sold.

Camping came forth, two days later, with an explanation - and his last news conference. October 21 would still be the end, he said, but a “loving and merciful” God had opted to spare humanity the five months of turmoil.

A couple of weeks later, Camping had a stroke. He is said to be recuperating at home after a hospital and rehab stay and has only made a handful of radio addresses in the months since. Family Radio declined our requests to interview him.

Fred Store, a 66-year-old retired electrician and longtime Family Radio listener, dedicated seven months of his life to sharing the “awesome news” that was the May 21 message. He led a caravan of believers, five RVs strong, on a tour of the United States for Family Radio. He was in Boston in May when he expected to be raptured up to heaven.

When nothing happened, “We were caught by surprise. ... But we realize now that it’s very possible that we misunderstood some of the things we thought were true,” Store said this week from his home in Sacramento, California, where he has put up a number of caravan friends.

“I believe that October 21 is the end, and I trust in God. Whatever way he chooses to end things will be perfect.”

On the Family Radio website, the May 21 events, or nonevents, have been clarified.

“What really happened is that God accomplished exactly what he wanted to happen. That was to warn the whole world that on May 21 God’s salvation program would be finished. ... For the next five months, except for the elect (the true believers), the whole world is under God’s final judgment,” the statement reads.

As for that massive, body-flinging earthquake anticipated by believers, well, it turned out to be less literal.

“We always look at the word ‘earthquake’ to mean the earth, or ground, is quaking or shaking violently. However, in the Bible the word ‘earth’ can include people as well as ground. ... Therefore we have learned from our experience of last May 21 what actually happened. All of mankind was shaken with fear. Indeed the Earth (or mankind) did quake in a way it had never before been shaken.”

No one was raptured on May 21, but that’s just because “universal judgment” will come on the last day. “The elect” or “true believers” are still guaranteed their day of rapture, and everyone else will be “annihilated together with the whole physical world.”

For Paul Anatiychuk, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina, the way this played out has been a relief, a blessing. A husband and father of two children, ages 8 and 9, he wasn’t sure if his own family members would be saved. The thought of leaving them behind on May 21, to suffer what would come over the next five months, troubled him.

“God tortures them while we’re hanging in the clouds?” he said this week. “It didn’t completely fit.”

Now, Anatiychuk said, he can take solace knowing that when he’s saved, sinners will simply die.

“Of course (the world) has to be destroyed and burned up by fire,” he said. “But it’s going to be very quiet.”

Finding a way to save faith, and face, is part of the process when a prophecy fails, said Lorenzo DiTommaso, an associate professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, who has been studying apocalyptic worldviews for a dozen years.

He said those who become disillusioned aren’t quick to talk, and the rest find a new way to spin what has transpired.

When nothing happened on May 21, Camping was left with a choice, said DiTommaso, whose book, “The Architecture of Apocalypticism,” is scheduled for publication next spring.

Camping could have admitted he was wrong. He could have said the calculations were off and needed further analysis. Or he could have spiritualized the apocalypse, which is exactly what he did, DiTommaso said.

That tack, that way of looking at the apocalypse, has a long history, he said, and dates back to early Christian theologians. Tyconius, in the late fourth century, took this approach, as - more notably - did Augustine in the early fifth century.

Augustine “preferred to understand the millennium predicted in the Revelation of John in spiritual and metaphoric rather than literal terms,” DiTommaso said. He “sought to diminish the emphasis on hard calculations.”

The obvious advantage of this sort of interpretation for a man like Camping, who has prided himself on his numbers, is that he can “divorce himself a little bit from the fact that he was so darn wrong.”

What Camping will say - if anything - come Saturday, assuming there is a Saturday, is anyone’s guess.

But DiTommaso said a new explanation, perhaps a new doomsday date, may be on the horizon. It would be just another in a long line of end-time predictions across the ages.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another attempt” by Camping, he said. “If he were an artist, this is his masterpiece, his life work.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Belief • End times

soundoff (2,353 Responses)
  1. Rainer Braendlein

    The truth of the Holy Bible

    Yes, the Bible was written by human beings, but that doesn't contradict it's divine truth.

    Science has proved that the Bible was widespread in the Roman Empire yet in the second century after Christ (ancient papyri). Very many very old copies of the New Testament and parts of the New Testament have survived. It is clear that when the copies of a book are very old the book itself must be very old. Thus, you can prove that the genuine New Testament was written not long after Jesus' Ascension.

    Yet when the people of the Roman Empire were aware of the historical Jesus, the Bible spread. Assumed the people had thought of Jesus or the apostles to be impostors, any refutation of the Bible had been drafted. As far as I know, no contemporary of Jesus or the apostles or someone, who lived some years after them, has drafted a refutation. Obviously, the New Testament was true and the people of the Roman Empire could not reject it, because there was no objective reason.

    Still today, many decades after the Holocaust, nobody can deny it. Somebody could even get punished for that. Of course, in 500 years someone could dare to deny the Holocaust and all the more someone, who lives 1000 years later. But even in 3000 years copies of docu-ments, confirming the Holocaust, will probably be found.

    Thank God, that the old papyri were found in the dry desert of Egypt, where thy did not rot.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Madtown

      Yes, the Bible was written by human beings, but that doesn't contradict it's divine truth.
      LOL!!!!! How so? Very fallible human beings have constructed, written, edited, transcribed, and selected works that formulate an "infallible" Bible? Your statement is incorrect based on the most basic logic.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • MarkinFL

      That is some serious logical gymnastics harnessed in the service of confirming the unconfirmable.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      "As far as I know, no contemporary of Jesus or the apostles or someone, who lived some years after them, has drafted a refutation."
      I have not seen a written refutation Santa Clause ... therefore he is real.

      October 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • ***


      October 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Claus vs Clause
      Got mixed up there.
      The Santa Clause states: " He knows when your sleeping; He knows when you're awake. He knows if you have been bad or good .... so be good for goodness sake"

      October 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Sanity Clause

      Drift-wood: Oh, that? Oh, that's the usual clause that's in every contract. That just says, uh, it says, uh, if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.

      Drift-wood: It's all right. That's, that's in every contract. That's, that's what they call a sanity clause.

      - "A Night at the Opera" ala Groucho Marx

      October 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  2. Haley Wojcik

    It's supposed to be an unpredictable event. So...cool story bro.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  3. pgp

    This Camping mess reveals how ignorant Christians can be. We already know how ignorant non-believers (who judge the Holy Bible without having read it) are. Whether anybody likes it or not, Jesus IS the way, the truth and the life. I've been on the unbelieving side in my life. I know how these folks think. Then I took a leap of faith and chose to believe God. I have NEVER been disappointed. I continue studying His word. I love eschatology. God's prophecies have NEVER missed. Man, unfortunately, misses all the time as evidenced by Mr. Camping. He is right about Jesus coming back. He is not right about the "end of the world". If you are savvy, you know God said the world will never end. However, you must also be aware that the "end of the age (of grace)" is rapidly expiring. The atheists posted a scathing billboard back in May that stated in essence, 'he isn't coming because he doesn't exist, fools'. They were totally unaware that they fulfilled biblical prophecy right before our very eyes. Read 2Peter 3:3-4: 3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4. And saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." All I know from living a 'saved' life, I see end of the age of grace prophecies being fulfilled on a nearly daily basis. And by the way, the tribulation lasts 7 years, not 5 months. 3-1/2 years of relative peace followed by 3-1/2 years of the worst days ever spent on planet earth. God does not send anyone to hell who has made a decision to live for Jesus Christ. People send themselves to hell by the choice they make not to accept Jesus. As for religion, I avoid it. God is not religion. In fact, he couldn't stand the lukewarm pew sitters and self righteous rule keepers. If only one person hears the urgent need to repent of sins and be saved by the loving grace of Jesus Christ, then I have not wasted this post.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Guest

      Beautifully put.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • MarkinFL

      BTW, many of us have read the bible very thoroughly and that just added to the many reasons to be amazed that anyone actually buys into any of that mess.

      BTW, predicting that someone would scoff at a prediction is not much of a prediction, its really more a foregone conclusion.
      To even think of using that as an example of a fulfilled prophecy shows how low the bar of proof is for you.
      I predict that in 100 years from now there will be people that still believe in angels(if there are still any people). Anyone doubt my prediction?

      October 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Tom

      you are a walking contradiction. A case study in cognative dissonance

      October 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Madtown

      I continue studying His word.
      Whose word? Which author of the many independent works that make up the Bible are you referring to? Continue to believe in God(I do), and study the Bible if you wish, but at least set aside your arrogance and acknowledge that human beings wrote the works that comprise the Bible.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      "I know how these folks think. Then I took a leap of faith and chose to believe God."

      Generalize much? The vast majority of atheists that I know had faith first, then they stepped back, questioned their beliefs, and dropped them.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  4. Guest

    Wouldn't this guy know that Jesus himself said that noone knows except God the Father the hour or time when this will happen? So how can he predict?

    October 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Colin

      But I thought God the son and God the Father were one in the Holy Trinity in your belief – how can it know and not know something at the same time?

      Contradiction number 1,324 in this silly Iron Age faith.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • John

      The Bible also says that you will burn in hell if you work this Sunday. You'd better not do ANY work. GOD IS WATCHING and knows that you are sinning. Why are you not demanding the deaths of all women who were not virgins when they married? God commanded their deaths. It says so in the Bible and you are obviously not faithful to God. Fail.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  5. Jplate0308

    This is a really long article for something so dumb. Isn't there a missing baby somewhere or something?

    October 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  6. rod1148

    This guy is pathetic. An embarrassment to Christians (at least the ones not caught up in dogma and literal miracles) who try to live out the message. But why is this news anyway?

    October 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • MarkinFL

      So what makes him wrong and you right?

      October 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • MarkinFL

      oops, replied to wrong post. Anyone else get the jumping screen syndrome during load?

      October 21, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  7. FollowIAM

    Jesus, isnt coming today, but He is coming very soon, and for those who say He isnt real, im sure that if you ask Him to reveal himself to you He would. Stay blessed.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Tom

      The sad thing is. When you die, you won't even have the cognative capacity to realize just how wrong you are.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • MarkinFL

      So what makes him wrong and you right?

      replied to wrong post before

      October 21, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Tom

      I am of the opinion that it is always better to see the world as it is. Truth > Delusion

      October 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  8. Reality

    From p. 1:

    What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 billion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 billion years?

    October 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  9. Suzy

    Does this guy even own a Bible? If he does, he should read: Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour NO ONE knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,1 but the Father only." It's pretty clear there....no number crunching required. These kind of people ANNOY me and give all of us sane, Bible-believing Christians a bad rep.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Colin

      But suzy, I thought God the son and God the Father were one in the Holy Trinity in your belief – how can it know and not know something at the same time?

      Contradiction number 1,324 in this silly Iron Age faith.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • RAWoD

      Sane AND "Bible-believing" really don't fit in the same sentence.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Reality

      Mark 13:28-32 = Matt 24:32-36 = Luke 21:29-33. (1a) Mark 13:33-37
      (1b) Matt 24:42
      (1c) Matt 25:13
      (2) Luke 12:35-38
      (3) Luke 21:34-36
      (4) Did. 16:1
      Said passages have been analyzed by many contemporary NT scholars. Many of these scholars have concluded that said passages are mostly unhistorical.

      e.g. Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 231-232 and Professor JD Crossan in his book, The Historical Jesus, pp.253-255.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  10. sf dave

    why is there even any time given to this fool....

    October 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  11. Roscoe Chait

    Thank God for the end of the world today. I just cannot endure another U.S. election.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  12. RAWoD

    Why is this crackpot getting any more coverage? He has had his 15 minutes of "fame" and now is is just a pathetic believer in fairy tales. CNN - what were you thinking?

    October 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  13. tony

    All religious belief, no matter what religion, is 99.9999999999. . . . 9999999% fantasy, because there is no evidence of any god-like being ever altering anything within the universe all the way back 13 Billion years. All the supposed prayed for "miracles" are just people having faith in their own subconscious., after things turned out OK. And they just make excuses for the just as many times when things don't turn out so well

    October 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • G-D

      The complete "HARMONY" of this world's Bio-genetics in that it takes all manner of Life to sustain all LIFE is not sheer coincidence but to me is of intellectual conditioning of a supreme desire.

      Anti-theists close their eyes in not seeing the bio-genetic rhythms of superlative designation that life needs all LIFE regardless of the smaller or greater in life needs and Life needfulness. To thumb one's noses in an uppity fashion is vulgar prudence plain and simple. For all the factors of which Life began and became cannot be based on sheer luck. A steadied rhythmic sequence of thought-measured consideration in the building up of LIFE out of life needs goes without saying. Let the Anti-theists think life is but a random chance thing. We who know it took an intelligent designer to bring all mannerisms of LIFE stand apart from 'anti-theists'.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Bestow us with your wisdom, oh great G-D. If we are in such harmony, then we do we have an organ that has little-to-no value, is entirely unnecessary, and occasionally kills? There's about as much harmony there as a seven year old playing the violin for the first time.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  14. nancy

    I'm a Christian–but this guy is a nutjob! I personally think he got bitten by the Herpes monkey from Ohio and it caused the old guy to relapse...

    October 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Colin

      "I'm a Christian–but this guy is a nutjob!" What, apart from setting a date, is different between what he believes and most Christians believe?

      October 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Tom

      nancy, I really want you to think objectively about this question: Why do your beliefs have any more credibilty than this guy?

      October 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • steven harnack

      Look up irony, then pot vs kettle.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • JoJo

      LOL That's what you ALL say about other Christians. You're the 'real' Christian and the other guy is the nutjob! Wake up! Enough already!

      October 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  15. gregg

    As long as the money keeps filling the offering plate he and others like him will keep doing this. If I could charge for a product then not deliver it, ever! I would be retired and having lunch with Bill gates and warren Buffet.

    With 300 million Americans and I am sure a few around the world, there are lots of idiots out there who "want" to believe in something. It only takes a fraction of idiots in this pool of people to provide these religious snake oil salesmen the funds to keep going.

    Humans are animals and from what I can see, not the brightest animals on the planet.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  16. JoJo

    Remember the kids who were scared to death that were involved with this cult the last time this crap was written about?

    When are people of faith going to stop brainwashing/indoctrinating children with their beliefs? Isn't it time you acknowledge that what you are doing is taking their choice away from them?? YOU are taking away their CHOICE. Shouldn't it be up to them about what they believe? Wouldn't it be much more responsible to let these kids grow up and get their heads together a bit before they decide whether they want to believe in YOUR truth? But that will never happen, ever! Because this is how cults are spread... they indoctrinate children before they are able to think for themselves. Vile! Sickening! Disgusting! I know you Christians are shaking your head right now... but the truth of the matter is, if you were born in most of the middle east you would be a MUSLIM. Why? Because that's what they brainwash their children into believing practically from birth.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Colin

      Indeed JoJo, can you imagine if they first tried to teach kids the supernatural garbage of religion as 21 year olds!!!

      October 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • JoJo

      Does God want sheep who follow blindly or does he want people to find him and follow him their own way in their own heart? Stop brainwashing children with YOUR truth!

      October 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  17. jblah

    you would think that if it was something so important as the END OF THE WORLD, God in all his wisdom would have set an exact date written in stone or in the bible so people would not have to quibble of when it really "should" be.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  18. wetwillie

    My bumper sticker reads , If I'm a rapture recipiant . Please return this car to it's rightful owner .

    October 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  19. G-D

    Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

    Mat 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

    Telescopes and microscopes are seeking out the Kingdom of God. Join in and buy one's self a microscope and seek.....

    god, built by God and forever inside the body of GOD
    😐 🙁 🙂

    October 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • G-D

      I say buy a microscope due, Luk 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is inside/within you."

      god, built by God forever inside the body of GOD

      October 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Tom

      Is it warm inside god? Is it wet?

      October 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • RAWoD

      Quoting from a comic book is silly. I think you should treat your religion as you would your manhood. Be proud of it if you want but please don't pull it out in public.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  20. Moron

    What an idiot...Everyone knows Aliens created us....Duh!

    October 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • pmn

      LMOA..Yeah really!? Lol.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:18 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.