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. JP

    What a ridiculous load of pure crap!

    Why does this silly BS even appear on what's supposed to be a "legitimate" news site?

    Seems to me that religion already causes enough trouble in the world without adding pseudo stories like this to the mix.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Bill

      It's funny. That's why. The guy put himself out there with their big push last spring so he deserves the attention and the ridicule that comes after.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  2. the truth

    Matthew 24:35-37

    New International Version (NIV)

    35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    The Day and Hour Unknown
    36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • White Rabbit

      "Alice in Wonderland":

      "I'm late / I'm late / For a very important date. / No time to say "Hello." / Goodbye. / I'm late, I'm late, I'm late."

      October 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Bob


      October 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  3. ff

    The only person dying on oct 21st is Harold Camping and he cannot go to heaven.....

    October 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  4. Edward

    Tax religion.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  5. angels_were_aliens

    What you religious nuts call "angels" were really misinterpreted extra terrestrials. That is how this whole religious stuff got started in the first place.. misinterpretation of what was seen or witnessed.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bob

      Bible clearly says "No man not even angels know when the end comes" , Next one "And many false prophets will come and deceive many". Harold Camping serves Satan – no question about that. Only Satan lies and deceives. And... nowhere in the Bible it talks about "rapture". No such thing will eveer happen. And we believers will face tribulations. God says "but I will be with you in tribulations" meaning – He will be with us, not we with Him.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  6. Dale

    Waiting for a PC Windows blue screen of death is a certainty...this situation is Linux.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  7. bozo-the-clown

    i am back my subjects, camping has already ruptured in his pants, you are next.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  8. Bill

    I can't believe all the crazies on this board who actually take this guy seriously. Yes, I'm talking about the 99% of you who are using this as a way of putting down religion. Rational people are reducing this guy to a joke. I'm entertained by this Camping guy. I hope someone will pick up his work when he dies. I could use the laugh.

    Camping doesn't represent religion or spiritualism in any way. He's a guy who takes an interesting (to him) mental excercise way too far. If you're foolish enough quit your job over doomsday predictions, then you deserve what you get.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      He is just one of those that put a date of when its going to happen, anyone that believes in this stuff happening ever are no different than this guy.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • RonFromNM

      Actually, Bill, he represents religion to a T. He collected a bunch of money from true believers and promoted some irrational nonsense as absolute truth. This is pretty much the MO of religion, at least as practiced in this country.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • cdgfla

      I love the religious apologists on here that try and distance themselves from Camping. You are one and the same. You both believe that the 1% will be swept up to heaven ushering in the era of the anti-christ as taken from Pauls rantings and drug crazed ramblings as interpreted by a 1600 plus year old text that survived thousands of revisions and rewrites to serve the Catholic church throughout history. The only difference is that Camping thinks he knows when, but others think its a mystery. Still believe the same nonsense, just disagree on the timing. You are truly one in the same.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • fred

      Big difference Ceder
      Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour so I try my best to follow the truth. I may mess up on occassion but there is my hope and my salvation. I just happen to be one that needs a clear moral reference point. History shows us that when we make things up as we go along we follow our own desires. Why not learn from the chosen ones that have been there done that

      October 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  9. Charlie_In_VA

    Foolishness, all of it. Not just this "End of Days" trip, but religion as a whole ... indulgences in fairy tales by the weak minded. I once again question mankind's rightful place as steward of it's own destiny when we're still just squatting in caves worshipping invisible deities of our own creation.

    Foolishness ...

    October 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • fred

      Our country has only known one God and that has been the fondation of our belief for generations. You have a belief that is allowed and protected because our morals founded in the God of Abraham says to love one another and turn the other cheek. I take it you would to conduct an experiment where we all toss 4,000 years of tested biblical truth in the trash and live as who the Greeks? I give up tell me about your solid foundation beacuse I do not know it and need to understand the alternative

      October 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  10. Patrick

    Wow, I am really surprised by the anger out there towards Christianity...My first post was more light-hearted but I was surprised by the responses. Ok, Seriously – why do you hate Christianity so much? If I did not believe in something, I would not even waste my time researching it. For example, I am not on the Pink-Flying Elephant forum trying to stop them from believing in that...who is it hurting? Anyway, why the anger towards something you think is a total fairytale?

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

      2 reasons brutha

      1. You aren't going to find many atheists who haven't done their research, it's in that research that many people become atheists in the first place.

      2. I bet you, if there were enough people believing Pink-Flying Elephant and trying to pass legislation that would affect your life and make you do something or prohibit you from doing something based all around the faith that this Pink Flying Ekephant existed and had these rules, would you really just sit back and say, "well at least they have faith, and thats a good thing and I guess I should just do what they want".... Yeah, I didn't think so.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jim

      I am surprised at it to. Why hate something so boring and unrealistic. Its like hating the author of a math book you will never even touch.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      As Chuckles indicates, the legislation pushed by religious beliefs – specifically legislation against abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research – harms those whose rights it infringes upon. Since this legislation is pushed exclusively for religious reasons, that religion is harming large groups of people.

      Besides, any sufficiently stupid idea deserves ridicule.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Ally

      Because there seem to be quite a few people out there who feel they need to belittle those who don't have the same beliefs they do. Lots of haters. I tend to listen to people who keep the hate out of their comments.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Patrick

      Ok, Chuckles, #2 makes perfect sense to me so I can understand your concern there.

      As far as #1 though, I do not think that is legitimate (and I am not trying to convert you, please understand, I do not care if you believe or don't believe, that is up to you). I would just say that something as simple as quantum physics is already showing us that the material world, at the "invisible" level is much more wild and unpredictable than we knew...I would just say you cannot rule God out because we do not know everything.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • TRIGonometry

      Because it's the damage it's doing to the world! Wars fought over religion. Attacks on reason and scientific merit. People telling others they are second-class citizens because of who they choose to love. Pushing an agenda of non-tolerance, one-way thinking and threatening everyone with eternal damnation if they don't believe the same way. I could go on, but I would be here for hours. Look, I think if people want to be Christian, great. Everyone has the freedom to worship as they please. but there is NO PLACE FOR RELIGION IN POLITICS OR STATE-FUNDED EDUCATION PROGRAMS! There are private Christian schools for that.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      @TRIGonometry I don't think it's that simple. I think raising children under religious teaching before those children are capable of proper rationalization and use of logic is tantamount to child abuse.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Patrick

      Thank you all for your honest and forthright answers. I just wanted to listen, not try and argue with your points. Thank you again!

      October 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • GinCas

      Excellent and concise! If only the religious would just drag themselves down into their wells of ignorance, it would be acceptable. Their insistence on dragging the rest of us down there with them through force of law or any other means is the problem.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Chuckles


      There are some definite outlandish theories out there I will grant you that, and an atheist worth his salt won't necessarily count out god as being real, the same way I won't count out that gravity might fail one day and I'll be able to fly. I find both very highly unlikely, especially the christian god of all the gods we've come up with over the centuries. There very well could be a incomprehensible being that sparked the big bang or the primordial ooze and began life, but that doesn't point to the god of abraham being any more real than zeus.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • tim

      actually i would the only thing i don't agree with that i've any problem with as far as religion goes is when the muslimmmms tried to build a mosque a block away from the twin towers... meanwile a church that USED to be there and got destroyed was told they couldn't rebuild. i also have a problem with atheists or anyone who take symbols from monuments that have stood for years like the one in Nevada. idc what you people in if you believe in anything at all. idc if you worship a stinkbug but stop the equal rights BS cuz soon we're not going to be able to do anything without insulting somebody. who gives a sh!t if i wanna celebrate christmas at work. the musl!ms did i wouldn't care. i would simply walk past and mind my own business.

      this country was built on christian believes. so hundreds of years later when people gradually start thinking hey this isn't my way of life, i have a problem with it. why then do they feel the need to steel and lash out and take our rights away? i'm unable to celebrate christmas at work now without somebody complaining who wasn't even asked to par-take in the event... (just happened last year).

      October 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • william

      You're supposed to research. That's generally how you come to rational, thoughtful conclusions.

      Blind faith on the other hand...

      October 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • ialsoagree

      The US was not formed under Christian beliefs. The US was actually formed under the principles of religious freedom, and being beholden to no religion at all. In fact, the term "God" wasn't even on our money or in our pledge of allegiance until the 1900's.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Chuckles


      So you're angry because you aren't allowed to religiously persecute others without tacit government consent anymore? No, calling christmas "christmas" is not persecuting others per say, but when you use it, you are automatically leaving out anyone who does not recognize christmas for any reason. Is it really that important to you that you be allowed to call it Christmas?

      Also for the whole mosque, church thing at ground 0...... well lets just say the mosque got A LOT of sh.it because of the site they wanted to build at, but used legal means based on the government not being allowed to persecute them based on their religion to build there anyways, vs. the church that lost the bid and trusted god would give them a hand. That's nobodies fault but the churches, sorry bra.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • tim

      for all we know there could be more then one God. the bible states and in the commandments it says though shall not put any other gods before me. theres more to it but i don't know it. he's not dismissing any other gods or saying they don't exist. he's saying don't put them before me. because he's the alpha and omega.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Chuckles

      and tim, if you really got your way, your comment right there would have had you labeled a heretic for even considering there are other gods that could rival the big guy, hey, go back far enough and you could even get a nice toasty goodbye at the hands of your fellow christians!

      October 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • fred

      Bottom line Jesus said they will hate you because they first hated me.
      Jesus never said no to gay marriage so stop hating Jesus.
      What legislation about abortion are you talking about? 42 million abortions last year don't blame Jesus, who's stopping you?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • fred

      And would you look at who nailed Jesus to a cross, who mocked and spit on an innocent man, who beat Him and put a crown of thorns on His head. All authorized by a non christian Pilate who said "what is truth".

      October 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Yeah those mean death eaters totally taunted Harry when he first walked into the forbidden forest to face vold-I mean satan, but he like, totally showed them by coming back to life.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • fred

      Yet you do not hate Harry, you do not spend hours seeking his belivers to persecute. Because it is fiction and the evil one in you does not care if you have all the Potter books so long as you dont know the story of the real potter and the clay. That one escapes you yet you can read between the lines of every Harry Potter book. Why? You approached Harry without fear or bias.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Chuckles


      are you stalking me? No matter, it's fun to call you an idiot all the time because you keep giving me so much ammo!

      Me approach harry potter without fear or bias? Hardly, I thought it was going to be the stupidest POS I had ever read and even after book one I was pretty sure I was going to stop and tell the world they made a HUGE mistake with making this book skyrocket in popularity. Then i read it some more and realized it was a GREAT story, full of adventure, magic, mystery, love, coming of age, all tha crap. A great, ficticious hero epic that would make jesus wonder why daddy didn't give him a cool wand like Harry.

      you should also be aware that when I pointed out the fact that our dear timmy here would be labeled a heretic and burned for even the thought that god could have actual rivals in the old days you can't exactly refute this statement yes? Sorry bud, but christian hands aren't exactly clean just because the guy they followed happened to receive the punishment that they now currently dole out in the name of justice.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • fred

      Moses needed a cool wand and did well with it I may add eating all the other wands.
      Jesus did not need a wand He came so we could nail Him to a cross. In doing so He said it is finished. No magic man just Jesus between two criminals. Jesus represents what mankinds sin does to God and what it looks like. At the cross He showed his love and forgiveness. The two types of man hanging on each side show the two choices. One saw God as love and asked for forgiveness the other mocked God.
      No doubt about what this Bible is trying to say and who it speaks to.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Ok freddy, I'm going to try this again. Long story short, I don't give a flying fu.ck what the bible says, try, just try to keep quoting it or tell me what it says. I've read it all before, presumably a lot more than you (which is why I am, in part an atheist in the first place) and secondly by you telling me how obvious the story is supposed to be to show what we do to god with sin just shows that the bible was crafted (like HP) to get you to understand something, though it doesn't necessarily have to be true to prove a point.

      Stop being such a sheep freddy, really, it's great.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • fred

      Just want to say thanks ! In the process of attempting to figure out why you and I agree as to the beginning I stumbled accross something I never noticed in the first 2 verses of the Bible. There was already a heaven and earth then darkness covered the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over. That is where we are today with the Spirit of God hovering as His creation is being covered by darkness. We already know verse 3 where the light separates us from the darkness. Now I know why that serpant was in the Garden of Eden.
      You are indeed a blessing Chuckles ! Who knows it may even lead to a better understanding of HP.

      October 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  11. eric

    Harold Camping should be arrested and anyone who believes a word he says should be put in an asylum... It blows my mind that anyone can be so stupid.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • The real john

      I just watched a show where a woman ga e over a million dollars to a psychic. I see people stepping out in front of buses very day. People smoking cigarettes, drinking to puke, etc. stupid people abound..

      October 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  12. tim

    ... people people people.... for those of you who don't believe then that's fine but for those who do.... and actually believe and follow this minister or anyone who says they've calculated the end of times as predicted by the bible need to go to another church as your a puppet out to scam people. and getting scammed yourself. the bible clearly in Matthew somewhere states "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only". clear as day. so your pastor will not know... you're just looking like a fool on TV

    October 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  13. High Way

    GOD loves poor ignorant people, thats why there are so many. It makes them very easy to be exploited by a few of his disciples that are leaders, which always live luxury.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • The real john

      This guy has nothing to do with God

      October 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Yakface

      I wonder what the "Pastafarians" would say about all this....

      October 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  14. annunaki_will_return

    There will be a return, but it will the annunaki returning to force us all to mine for gold again. The REAL end is just a little over 1 year from now. I hope you're all ready to mine for gold

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

    Whoops...sorry. Forgot to carry the 2. Let's see, if I take 666 and turn it upside down and multiply that by the number of times the true Christian leaders have committed adultery and then add in the number of lives destroyed in the name of Christianity then subtract those who have been saved by it's message then multiply those by the number of RVs used to spread the word we end up with...umm...42.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • The real john

      Too much work to make your point

      October 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  16. I'Mnothere

    You never saw me, right?

    October 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  17. russgrant

    My pastor used to say that "we are closer to the end of the world than we have ever been." Well Duh. We're in the next week!

    October 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  18. Mike

    Camping is a fraud. In the Old Testament, if a 'prophet' was wrong JUST ONCE, they proved they were not Gods spokesman and instead a false prophet misleading people -and were to be put to death.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  19. WW

    Scary – this Mr. Anatiychuk has actually procreated. Read between the lines and you can see that his "faith" in being raptured on judgment day is more important than his family's well being. Like the other believers in Mr. Camping's (money stealing) cult, absolute sheep and the embodiment of stupidity.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  20. J

    Jesus said in the Bible that WE WILL NOT KNOW THE TIME, NOR THE HOUR. Only God the Father knows!
    Lets just not worry about it and continue serving God the way He has ordained you to do so.

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

      What makes your "god" any more of an authority about the end of the world than any other person's "god?"

      October 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • bozo-the-clown

      becuase he is still resting after the 7th day..with his angels...

      October 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • The real john

      D.. They are all the same God, custom coated for peoples particular culture. If that God incurs hatd or evil? Simple, its not God. Dont get any easier than that huh?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • J

      Grab any Christian Bible and read Matthew chapter 24. Particularly pay attention to verse 26.
      Simply stated right there is why I say what I do. No arguing God's Word !

      God Bless !

      October 21, 2011 at 5:28 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.