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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. john

    what would god want with us

    October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • bozo-the-clown

      good question john, go figure...he is still resting since the 7th day..

      October 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • OdysseusV

      What any good parent wants for his children a better future w/o persons that can harm his children AKA Satan!

      October 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • bozo-the-clown

      yes capt. odyssey, satan is waiting for your children, just like he was for you...

      October 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  2. Matt

    Poor Harold. His poopy diaper needs to be changed so he'll do anything for attention.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  3. RJ

    This belongs on the Redicu-list until the end of days...

    October 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Jenna

    In California, a person can be 5150'd, detained for psychiatric evaluation. Harold needs to be on 72 hour hold for his safety and ours.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  5. OdysseusV

    Any " religious leader " that claims to know the day and hour of the time of the end apparently can't read!! The bible clearly states that no one, not even Christ knows the day and the hour of the end of the system of things!! Which is actually why Christ can't be almighty God himself but merely the Word of God , His only begotten son. God gave us signs that would allow us to see the time period of the end of this systems would be marked by WAR, Famine, Pestilence and Earthquakes in one place after another as well as a preaching of the Good News of his coming Kingdom! Actually Good News not doomsday bad news but an ushering in of the paradise that our first human parents gave up to allow the devil to run the earth. So it's the devils time that's about up. Not the Human race! And no where in the Bible does God torture people in some burning Hell. Hell is nothing more than the grave of mankind. Usually cold and dark and very conscious of nothing at all! Therefore in no pain!

    October 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  6. Leah

    Isn't it tomorrow in some parts of the world? It's noon in California and nothing happened yet. I guess I'll go eat my frozen burrito.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  7. J.W

    The atheists are being very judgmental today. More of them have gravitated to here because of this story. The atheist evangelists are trying to convert us now.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • bozo-the-clown

      athiests dont convert and do not have missionaries..you moron...

      October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      How can an atheist be an evangelist if they have no beliefs?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • J.W

      I think you are trying to evangelize to me right now to follow your atheist god.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Chuckles

      CONVERT HEATHEN!!! CONVERT TO THE GOD OF SCIENCE! We have cookies! If you do not convert, when you die, you will become nothingness and not the good nothingness that atheists will become, but the bad nothingness because you angered Science with your devil ways.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • bozo-the-clown

      J.W, you need to get of the pipe and practice rupturing in your pants....

      October 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • J.W

      I do not know if your cookies are heavenly like the ones made by angels.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Just give them a tru (they're spiked with heroine), I know you'll like them......

      October 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • bozo-the-clown

      JW, help me find my cookie...

      October 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • So

      On you on the internet again JW when you should be working? Remember that's stealing.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I think everyone on this blog is on the internet.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  8. justsaying

    No man knows the place or time only God.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • notreallysayinganything

      yeah he's a real ass that way

      October 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  9. bozo-the-clown

    Ii am back my subjects....get ready to rupture in your pants

    October 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  10. SteveB

    Well today is my birthday so I really hope this doesn't happen. But I'm ok if it happens tomorrow, or some other day soon. Just not today, ok?

    October 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  11. okkkkkkkkkkkay

    atleast they got it right for muhamar Qaddafi ?? His world did ended.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Common Sense

      BIG SIGH............... I am SO flippin TIRED of these idiots!!! When, oh WHEN, will they go away? And WHY do we pay any attention to them? How embarrasing to have ANY relation to these people! How about you round yourselves up and drink the cool-aid? Would that account for 2-3% of the population? GO AWAY!

      October 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  12. ART

    Let me call my broker right now, it time to party till the world ends. Oh my prediction is Campings world will end before the end of next year.

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

      This guy is stupid, I dont know why anyone pay attention ...

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

      the pathetic part is that Camping's moron followers will buy into the next date he pulls out of his ass and give him more money.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  13. High Way

    Yes, GOD the extra terrestial alien from outer space will come and select 2-3% of the population for breeding purposes and the rest will be butchered to feed the invading outer space aliens.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  14. dugee

    So long and thanks for all the fish!

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

      huh?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • tyrantduck

      this comment = win.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • ..--:::(

      (click) (click) eeeeeeeeeeeehhhhh (click) eeeeeeehh

      October 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  15. Patrick

    Why all the anger towards Christianity? Christianity is good and teaches people to love one another and take care of each other, not to be greedy and to watch out for one's fellow-human being. The problem is not Christianity but the fact that those who claim to be Christians in America don't actually live it (most at least don't, a very, very small percentage do or actually at least try). They say, "I am a Christian" and then live just like someone who does not claim any religion – that is the problem; there is absolutely no distinction between them and someone who does not believe anything.

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

      The problem with Christianity is that you believe that a magical invisible man lives in the sky and uses magic to create the universe and perform miracles.

      Grow up.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • TraderJoe

      Are they going to take all the Christians? Halleluja..

      October 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Patrick

      How should I grow up? If I become cynical and disdain any metaphysical beliefs will that be a sign that I am "grown-up". Is that what it means to "grow-up" – to become empty and hallow inside and chase after pleasures all the time so I don't feel the emptiness inside? Please tell me what a grown up actually is...

      October 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Chuckles

      I think you're just upset how easy it is to become a christian because a lot of people don't meet your standards of what a christian is. How about instead of trying to be a "good christian" (what ever that means) and separate yourself from the "bad people" you understand that there are good people and bad people in all religions, countries, communities and so on and no one needs an old book to tell them to be one way or another.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Bill

      Christianity does not recognize the authority of the state, therefore it must be demonized.

      I'm not a christian but I think it teaches real morals. That it's wrong to kill, for one. I used to make fun of religions, but we live in a world now where society really believes it is okay to kill millions of people, just because government tells them those people might kill them first. It's a disgrace.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Ross

      Patrick, you sir, are an idiot.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Chuckles

      P.S. growing up is becoming aware of your surroundings and the reality and consequences on the plane in which we operate in rather than believe an invisible man stalks your daily life and has a vested interest in just about everything you do. Would you feel the need to tell a 28 year old who firmly believes in Santa to grow up?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Patrick

      1. It is not "my standards" – I did not write the Book. Not upset, just stating the facts....
      2. What does it mean to grow-up? I am still waiting for an answer to that since I was admonished by the first reply to "grow-up".

      October 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • J.W

      Christians are all about love and hope and atheists are all about death and destruction.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      As Chuckles indicates, I never said to become hallow or give up on life or trying to be a good person.

      I said to give up your childish beliefs – the fairy tails that a magical man lives in the sky and uses magic to perform miracles! If that doesn't sound like a child's story to you then you're clearly not a rational adult and yes, you need to grow up.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      J.W. – I know right? I mean the Christian Crusades, when they killed all those people and burned their villages to the ground, they were speading love and hope, not death and destruction.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Patrick

      Ok, Ross & Clown man, are Radio Waves invisible? I can't see them so does that mean they do not exist? If you REALLY believe the only thing that exists is what your 5 empirical senses tell you exists, you are really small minded (no offense intended). Honestly, DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT NOTHING EXIST OUTSIDE OF WHAT YOUR SENSES CAN SENSE? Ross, why am I a Moron?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Get Real

      J.W

      Oh yeah, that Book of Revelation is *all* about love, eh?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • That guy

      Maybe because they also teach to hate, despise, discredit and persecute people that do not believe like they do or challenge their ideas??
      Anyone wanna go witch hunting?!?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      Patrick, sure, radio waves exist. And we can measure their existence and confirm it empirically.

      Do you have any empirical evidence for your magic sky daddy? Any empirical evidence at all?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Chuckles

      awwww Pattty, you resorted to the whole "if I can't see it doesn't mean I can't believe it!" argument. You do realize that we can see radiowaves, with our eyes no less, we just need machines to show them to us. same with the wind, etc...

      You should probably get a better definition of small mindedness Pat-pat, tell me, why do you not believe in Allah? If you've got such an open mind (unlike us evil, shallow atheists) then you believe that since god exists, allah has to also right? and I guess we could toss Ra in there, I mean, he's the SUN for crying outloud.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • JoJo

      Right. Here we go again with the I-am-the-real-deal and they-aren't-real-christians. Every single one of you sheep say the same thing about each other.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  16. Harold Camping

    I'm writing this from heaven. I'm sitting at the right toe of Paul, as all the other spots at peoples right hand were taken. Heaven just got it's internet connection which I hear is a T1000 connection and blazing fast. I'm writing to let you guys know that I'll see you in Hell from here while I sip holy water with Jesus and Joseph Smith. He says Hi to all those Mormons down there. I just wanted to let you know....HA I was right SUCKERS!!! BURN BABY BURN!!

    October 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Terminator

      T1000? Yeah, right... sheesh.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  17. MM

    Harold Camping is a false prophet and fulfills a biblical prophecy by doing his thing.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Nonimus

      So false prophecy is part of God's plan?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • justsaying

      Yes. God specifically warn of false profits. Before any of you call Jesus Christ who came to save us from our sins a magical alien, don't you think it would be wise to educate yourself on the subject?

      October 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Nonimus

      So God's plan intends for at least some people to be deceived by false prophets? Seems a bit cruel doesn't it, especially since you can't tell who is false or not, definitively.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  18. wcott

    OK..it's almost 3pm on Friday, Oct. 21.
    If the world has to end...why does it have to end AFTER I spent 8 hours today at work?

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

      yeah answer that...you clowns...

      October 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  19. jj

    I like to read this blog every day, it's so hilarious.

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

      I like reading it too...right after my free thought of the day. Humor always starts the day well.

      October 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  20. Casey

    God will come one day that no one knows. Camping is an old crazy man no one listens to anymore.

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

      god took rest on the 7th day and he is still resting, he aint coming....

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

      I'm amused by people who think an invisible magic man in the sky is coming to take a small percentage of the population to a magical world of paradise – and in his infinite love, is banishing everyone else to eternal torment and pain – and then call CAMPING crazy.

      Bloody amazing.

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

      So Camping is crazy, but only because he claimed to know the exact day.
      Those who believe the same thing will happen, but don't know the exact, are not crazy?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:01 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.