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. Concerned America

    The Rapture is today! 😀
    Please watch the Rapture Rap for some lighthearted levity about the End of Times!
    Thank you!

    October 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • New Conservative

      This is well done and funny thanks for posting. Only God knows when the Rapture will happen.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • RaptureMan

      Great video. Rock on.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • orcaboy2002

      haha....Katy Perry's Sweet Crotch!! Great Video...I love laughing at believers of the rapture 🙂

      October 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • TheEndisNear

      The Rapture is Near! I enjoyed watching the video. 😀

      October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  2. JB

    Soooo ... no mention of the goobs who sold all their possessions. Wonder if they're a little ticked now? I get it, this is a fun story to write. I'm sure writing about dumb stuff Sarah Palin does is fun, but you're just perpetuating the problem. Please ignore Camping. But I'm having a severely crappy day at work, so I wouldn't mind a rapture. Then I could loot everyone's stuff.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  3. Scooby

    "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,” -you mean like religion?

    October 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • -_-

      uhhhh...... no....... your the one that needs some help understanding things like this, you must not have read the whole article.

      Next time read more than just the headline.......(sigh) you guys are bad at this.....

      October 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Vizion

      Actually, there is no mention of "the Rapture" in the Bible, just resurections, But more modern revelations like, the Oahspe Bible and the Urantia Book and the Christian Spiritualist Zodiac messages, among others, tell us so called "resurections" happen at regular intervals on the lower heavens, (where we go to when we die) not on the earth plane, people who have proved themselves worthy by their deeds on the earth and the lower heavens, can rise to the higher heavens, and have lives on other spheres/planets on a higher level than this one, just thought I would mention it as most people don't seem to realize these works even exist, other people worth investigating are E. Swedenborg, Allan Kardec and Edgar Case. Get googling !

      October 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  4. Jamie K

    “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.” Uh.... I don't recall anyone I know shaking with fear last May. Do you?

    October 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • reasonabledoubt

      yeah camping ruptured in his pants...

      October 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Darryl B.

      I don't know anyone who was quaking with fear, but maybe quaking with laughter counts?

      October 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • eric

      just my 9 year old daughter. Seeing billboards that say the world is going to end on a specific date terrified her. She still isn't the same as she used to be. it's almost as if she has PTSD from it. She knows it's over and it isn't true, but the stress of it all is still there. i can't wait until you are burning in hell, harold camping. At 90, it surely cannot be long

      October 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  5. ted

    How come the word God comes up every time the world is predicted to end , kinda makes me think of joining the Devil since he never get the credit for anything but what Hustler puts in there magazines.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Kari D.


      October 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • JB

      Not to mention all the killer heavy metal music.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • reasonabledoubt

      LOL JB, I love it, keep it coming..

      October 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • afaiqzk

      1a159D lnpyrxbiotdi

      January 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • bjqoyxz

      F4etlf fisopvblbmwx

      January 28, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  6. Question?

    Rapture or rupture? I just had a rupture in my pants & my seat turned all brown... Was I ruptured? Is this what Camoing was talking about?

    October 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  7. Higher Being

    I don't where a watch.

    Thanks.... God

    October 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Higher being

      Apparently. I also don't know the difference between the word 'where' and 'wear'

      October 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Kari D.

      Hey God, we are willing to let that one slide (can I be one of people taken straight to heaven please?).

      October 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Lower Wasing

      So, I thought the creator of time would just *know* what time it is.

      Oh... I see what you did, God doesn't follow man's time. Clever!

      Wait... didn't he supposedly write the Bible, with 7 days, 1 day is a thousand years, Noah at x years old begat so-and-so, etc.?

      October 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Versace29

      I believe in god, but what i also believe is there will be an end to the world as we know it but it will be a cosmic distruction don't forget we live on a planet in a universe full of life and matter we are nothing but a spek and eventually we will get hit buy something or be visited by some life form i am no Scientology nut or Tom Cruises best friend but think about it.
      as long as there are good hearted people in the world there will lalways be a part of god in all of us so in reallity he is already here everyday with us.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  8. Phideauxe

    The only think Camping is doing successfully is further proving to all of us how silly Christianity is. Guess what? No one is coming to get you. You are not better than us. You are gullible, small minded lemmings. Unfortunately for the rest of us, you won't be leaving.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Pete

      Don't generalize like that. Just because he is a nut doesn't mean all Christians are nuts. Just like not all atheists are nuts just because you are one...

      October 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Flynnie

      Why is it that Christians assume if one is not a Christian, or if one doesn't subcribe to a particular religion, that one must be an atheist? For example, I am not a Christian, and I believe that organized religion is generally, for the weak minded, but I am most emphatically, not an atheist. (That was really in response to Pete.)

      October 22, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  9. Cecile

    Sending a vampire to bite him in the behind....that will make him believe in Today!....Fruit Loop

    Note: Just in case anyone here can have my 1988 Toyota Van LOL

    October 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  10. Shaun

    Matthew 24:36

    But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    I believe the Bible wins. Go away Camping

    October 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • reasonabledoubt

      how do we proceed after cain and able...

      October 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Phideauxe

      Nothing connected with the bible or christians wins in this case. He's just dragging your silly religion further down the drain.....

      October 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  11. reasonabledoubt

    If God created the world, where was he before the creation? If you say he was transcendent then and needed no support, where is he now?
    How could God have made this world without any raw material? If you say that he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression.
    If you declare that this raw material arose naturally you fall into another fallacy, For the whole universe might thus have been its own creator, and have arisen quite naturally.
    If God created the world by an act of his own will, without any raw material, then it is just his will and nothing else — and who will believe this silly nonsense?
    If he is ever perfect and complete, how could the will to create have arisen in him? If, on the other hand, he is not perfect, he could no more create the universe than a potter could.
    If he is form-less, action-less and all-embracing, how could he have created the world? Such a soul, devoid of all modality, would have no desire to create anything.
    If he is perfect, he does not strive for the three aims of man, so what advantage would he gain by creating the universe?
    If you say that he created to no purpose because it was his nature to do so, then God is pointless. If he created in some kind of sport, it was the sport of a foolish child, leading to trouble.
    If he created because of the karma of embodied beings [acquired in a previous creation] He is not the Almighty Lord, but subordinate to something else
    If out of love for living beings and need of them he made the world, why did he not make creation wholly blissful free from misfortune?
    If he were transcendent he would not create, for he would be free: Nor if involved in transmigration, for then he would not be almighty. Thus the doctrine that the world was created by God makes no sense at all,
    And God commits great sin in slaying the children whom he himself created. If you say that he slays only to destroy evil beings, why did he create such beings in the first place

    October 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • David M

      I think you're trying to put God on the same plane as humans, and that's where your arguement falls apart. We have a hard time grasping something that is beyond ourselves. God didn't create man to be robots. He gave us a will, and that's where we went wrong. Your questions are valid but until you have a right understanding of God, you can't get beyond those questions and see things differently.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • atheistic

      How can we not grasp something that we ourselves invented? "God" is a concept created by man to explain what was unexplainable in ancient times. Nowadays, we have science which can actually come up with factual explanations instead of some story whipped up out of the blue. Plus, no more massacres and wars fought over which imaginary friend is the best. I'm happy that religion is starting to fade away in the developed world; we don't need that kind of backwards trash polluting our minds.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  12. Kari D.

    Man, God is like the cable guy...I have been waiting ALL day.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • HamsterDancer


      October 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  13. Mary Cook

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

    They don't trust in God, they are in serious need of validation from a mere man made of flesh and lies. The world ends everyday for somebody...so who's making money on this? Rather than spending their time and money on this crap, why don't they donate all that they have and own to further a better cause like helping the poor and providing food to the hungry?

    October 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  14. coder

    this is religion – showing its true nature
    look at what it makes a person think, believe, say and act
    faith is a very powerful, and a very necessary part of life
    but religion is a waste, religion creates hatred, greed and separation

    October 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Pete

      Mankind creates hatered, greed, and seperation. But why take the blame yourself when you can point a finger at religion.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • atheistic

      Pete – Man created religion. *rimshot*

      October 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  15. !!! WE HAVE BEEN !!!

    Is it just me???? It feels like 5pm is never going to happen!!! THATS BECAUSE IT ISNT!! We are going to be sitting here forever!! Dont you feel it? Doesnt it feel like you have been sitting there forever?? Its been 6 years since the rapture!!! We have been sitting here reading this for 6 years!!!!!! The rapture has already happend!! I guess this is heII

    October 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • vic

      Man, I hope this doesn't happen today. I am leaving on a cruise tomorrow (I hope).

      October 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  16. God

    Just for the record, I am not really a Tea Party Republican...there too mean-spirited, bigoted and self-rigtheous for my taste!

    October 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  17. reasonabledoubt

    god rested on the 7th day and is still resting...PBUHim

    October 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Now that's a retirement plan. 6 days working, eons of resting.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  18. Mike V

    Remember, the crazy part of this prediction is the "Rapture" part, not the October 21 part. It's funny how many people will quickly write this guy off as delusional while still believing that the Rapture is a real thing that will happen some day.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  19. Guffawing

    It's amazing how even on a story like this where most believers and nonbelievers can agree, its HOW we agree that's an issue. Christians want to disassociate with this guy using the No True Scotsman fallacy at every turn but fail to understand its not that this guy says the end of the world is supposed to happen today, but that's its supposed to happen at all. It's not that this guy got the date wrong, it's that he thinks there's an actual, specific and chosen date to begin with. And finally, it's really that this guy has taken the bible so literally and convinced others to actually follow him.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Mike V

      Hey, you copied me! 😉

      October 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Guffawing

      We'll call it a draw

      October 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  20. Concerned America

    still waiting...folks, remember, the end of times is reality, but is happening so slowly, we cannot see it....but from the start of the universe, decay and death is the ultimate destination for the entire universe

    October 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Americaneeds realists

      Correct me if I am wrong but the universe is still expanding last I heard.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:46 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.