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. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Look at how much money is wasted on religious nuttery. What a shame.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Paul

      His web site is still loiciting donations!

      And I'll bet that all of his believers made their regular mortgage and other payments as scheduled thismonth!

      October 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  2. Micheal

    It's going to happen, just read all the signs before us. Just don't put no date on it. Yet. There first must come one who will perform miracles and wonders of such that the crowds of the "99%" who "Occupy" the world will be astounded, and be happy. For 7 years we will be in peace because of this false prophet, then watch out....You can then count the moment on your watch. So it is written

    October 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • harold camping here

      Father [or Mother] please forgive Michael for he no knows what he says. angels go get the mada...

      October 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Scott - other

      The bible says lots of things. Most of them senseless, many of them contradictory
      1. God is satisfied with his works
      Gen 1:31
      God is dissatisfied with his works.
      Gen 6:6
      2. God dwells in chosen temples
      2 Chron 7:12,16
      God dwells not in temples
      Acts 7:48
      3. God dwells in light
      Tim 6:16
      God dwells in darkness
      1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
      4. God is seen and heard
      Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
      Ex 24:9-11
      God is invisible and cannot be heard
      John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16

      October 22, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • fred

      You are taking a bunch of verses that mean nothing out of context. Is there one you have a quesiton about?

      October 22, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  3. Harvy K. Tell

    Idiot bible bumpers, you can keep spinning it however you like, the earth isn't going to die anytime soon.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  4. Logic

    why stop at jesus? what about zeus, thor, rah? What makes yahweh jesus and allah any different than the other hundreds of gods man created?

    "OUR IS THE ONE TRUE GOD" BS. You have no proof your god is any more real than any of the others.

    They're all fairy tales, they're all made up. Its time to put aside bronze age mythology and accept that when you die, most likely it will be just like before you were born – nonexistence

    there is no soul, your emotions are an aggregate of complex biochemical reacitions in your brain. There is no "good and evil", morality is a combination of socially constructed norms and evolved social norms which protect the species (not killing each other for instance is something as a species we are predisposed to want to not do, those who enjoy killing others for reasons other than perceived self-defense are a minority).

    Stop wasting your life trying to get to a different life. There are so many possible "afterlives" conceived by the hundreds of religions throughout history, the idea that somehow yours is real is just insane.

    Forget the argument "it's worth a shot to try to get into heaven" because many other religions would say you are worshipping a false deity and will end up in their hell (for instance the ancient greek religions would have you bound to wander hades for eternity, if islam is correct you will go to hell for not worsihpping allah, if the jews are correct you will go to seoul (or one of the many spellings of it) since there is no hell in the old testament, and you will not go to heaven because jesus is a false prophet.

    There is no use in trying to predict which is the correct religion, in all likelihood they are all fairy tales, just enjoy your life because most likely this is it. When you die it's just over, so don't waste so much time praying and waiting for the world to end.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • LPBSN

      People like you make me sad; what a depressing outlook on life. I hope you someday realize that there is more than what this dreary world has to offer.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Go Cards!

      LPBSN, people like you make me sad; what a depressing outlook on life. I hope you someday realize that the world is glorious and amazing and you don't need an "afterlife" if you live this life well.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • David

      Well put mate, very well said. *applauds*

      October 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  5. Rob

    I'd sooner believe that Frodo and Sam are about to destroy the ring thus saving us from certain doom.....

    The only part that frightens me are some of these nutbags that are so hell-bent on bringing on a rapture that they would consider lashing out violently in an attempt of being some sort of "Death's messenger" all for the sake of notoriety. "And the Lord called about the plague through his messenger Bob...in accounting...."

    October 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Scott - other

      Didn’t Charles Manson send his followers out to commit some very grisly murders to start a race war that would end this age and bring about a heaven on earth? Sounds like a very Christian thing to do

      October 22, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  6. I'm The Best!

    There is no he.ll, just a place where christians go and a place where everyone else goes.
    The Christians like it because everyone is the same,
    Everyone else likes it because there aren't any christians.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  7. vadim

    You are all crackheads if you believe in god.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  8. John Zurich

    Up a few posts, someone please tell God that He spelled "heed" wrong. "Head my word....?"

    October 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  9. Hello it's me

    DiTommaso, whose book, “The Architecture of Apocalypticism,” is scheduled for publication next spring. Ok so he doen't believe you either, if he did who is he gonna sell the book to. If you say Oct 21, today is going to be the day, then in the spring: A, everyone is going to be running for their lives, or B, the world will be already burned up.

    Repeat: Marina

    The biggest problem with this nonsense? The Bible is very clear: Mark 13:32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    So if you are a non-believer, you don't care anyway; if you are a believer, who you gonna believe, the Word of God, or a false prophet?

    October 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  10. NIck

    Another TEABAGGER !!!!!! Obama 2012 !!!!

    October 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  11. Jim

    It is apparent that judgement day is not far off. So many people don't believe in God anymore. Just as the Bible says it would be in the last days. People don't really understand what they are saying. There are posts here outright challenging God. Just as the Bible says would be the norm in the last days. Will you continue to laugh, scoff and deny while cities burn? The Bible says many will. Hope it's not you.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Human who was created by GOD and not from a monkey

      Good one...

      October 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • harold camping here

      dude, it takes 10 minutes to burn the body, after that your ass needs to start burning..

      October 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • vadim

      yep i'll be laughing no matter what, especially that there is no god or Santa...

      October 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      So the bible predicts that people won't believe in the bible, and it turns out to be right, therefore the bible is true. Did I get that right?

      October 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • harold camping here

      enjaysea stop playing mind games with my subjects

      October 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • reality

      Not the login name Reality, actual reality.

      Jim, where've you been. We need you to come back.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Haha, it also says that the end should have already happened. Guess what you are not important and in a few 1,000 days (if you are lucky) you will be rotting in the ground... no more, no less

      October 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Harold! You're still here? Shouldn't you be packing some things. Don't forget your toothbrush.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • ApocalypseNotNow

      Unfortunately Jim, actions like those of Harold Camping will only further drive people away from God. He is a false prophet, whether he intends to be or not.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • RevBlaze

      Fewer people believe in God because we have this thing now called education and Science. Hes not real exept to those who prefer to live lives in fear because they are afraid of the fact that man kind is responsible for his own destany

      October 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • GodPot

      "It is apparent that judgement day is not far off."

      Question, how is it apparent? Is this the first time in history that people felt things were as bad as they could get so it must be the end? Is it not true that even during the time of your Christ there were prophets of doom saying "the end is at hand!!" And the correct response is not "Well duh, I mean look around man, like, things are so bad right now, this must be it..." because that is the same response every doomsday moron in history has spouted when challenged.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  12. sasquatch

    God = Aliens

    October 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • K

      Demons = Aliens

      October 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • JoshK

      RIGHT ON!

      October 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  13. Dan Bednarik

    Just think of how peaceful the Earth would be if we never had religion.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • gt4play

      AGREED! Or maybe if we were all Buddhists. 😉

      October 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  14. JustPlainJoe

    Psychosis comes in many different forms. Sometime it even masquerades as religion.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  15. Mike in SA


    October 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  16. liones7777

    There is a sucker born every minute! Put your faith in God not Men.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Al

      You were saying...?

      October 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  17. Huma who was created by GOD and not from a monkey

    Here's some facts for y'all:
    1. No one know the day of the rapture – not even CHRIST, except it be revealed to Him by the Father on that day.
    2. The Biblical prophecies about the end times are clearly un-folding, so its a FACT that we are in end times.
    3. Its very clear in the Bible that very FEW people will make it, so if 9 out of 10 in this forum dont believe in all this, it does not surprise me a tiny bit.
    4. God loves all of you – all you need to do is let him in.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Chazbo

      Well I just contacted Zeus and he isn't pleased at all about this christ guy. He told me christ is a phony and a charlatan. I mean I heard from zeus personally and he assured me the world is not going to end until 2093. He's not quite sure of the exact day yet, but he promised to get back to me in the near future.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Nice list of beliefs, but calling them facts is a bit overly generous. These are things you believe. You can't use your beliefs to win an argument. You must demonstrate that your beliefs are true first. Then your points will be more compelling, and you are guaranteed to go home with first place in the debating contest.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • meandyou

      And here is one fact for you, you delusional, brainwashed moron.

      1. You need to to be hospitalized for psychosis.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • vadim

      you are a crackhead

      October 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Jason K

      The apostles all thought they were in the end times, Nero was antichrist, and that John would live to see the Kingdom. They were all wrong.

      Also, "Jesus" does not love everyone, he loves his flock, gifted to him by his father in heaven. Read the gospels and Romans 9 sometime.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Good Stuff

      The Earth is over four billion years old. I think we've still got plenty of time, if the sun doesn't explode on us anytime soon.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Thor

      My personal hell would be to spend an eternity in heaven with all you nut jobs. Where's my hammer?!?

      October 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Yeah this is far worse then when the plague almost erased mankind or WWII. You are not important (or at least the only importance you have will be earned through your work), get over it.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Human who was created by GOD and not from a monkey

      Those are fatcs because they are...I have experienced God and its no something I can prove it to you, because it requires YOU to believe it firsthand. When Christ was on the cross and peopkle mocked him and spat on Him and challenged on Him to come down, He did not because He knew that they knew not the truth.

      And FYI, God does not go around proving himself to make you believe – He is a kind and loving God who will let you make that first step to Him. And so many people have experienced it. Being a Christian is an experience, not some fantasy.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Get Real

      @Huma who was created by GOD and not from a monkey

      Your truncated sense of humor (huma) is odd... and your beliefs are without verified evidence.

      (Looks like she's at it again, FP)

      October 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • So what was your mother doing in labor then?

      . . .

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

      " He is a kind and loving God"

      Then your god is the god of the bible. Someone who is kind and loving doesn't hide, tell people in a contradi.ctory-filled book composed at various times by multiple by anonymous authors to worship him or be forever tortured. That would better describe a narcissistic, sadistic, abusive father. If it were an human father, society would lock him up.

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

      Okay Huma, so you believe in god because of some sensation you experienced in your own head. Problem is, if I experienced something in my own head I wouldn't run around proclaiming to the world that I have proof of a deity. I have proof of a sensation, and nothing more.

      And about your assertion that god doesn't run around proving himself to be true. You've got that right! But if he wanted people to believe in him he would. Therefore either he doesn't exist or he doesn't care if anyone believes. I have no further questions your honor.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Human who was created by GOD and not from a monkey

      Sad to see so many do not know Him. May I challenge all those who do not believe in God:

      –In your heart, jusy say – "Jesus, if you are real, then show me that you are". If you meant it, your life will be changed. That will be your evidence-

      P.S: Beware, you may not be able to mock at Christians anymore... 😉

      October 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      @Human – you realize that most atheists were believers at some point, right? And we asked that question? And we heard crickets?

      October 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • TJ

      @Huma- God Bless you. My advice to my bothers/sisters in Christ is continue to pray. All the people in this forum have heard the truth and what they shoose to do with the truth is totally up to them period. They will live and die with that fact and will be faced with the consequence of their choice...right/ or wrong.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  18. GOD

    Quote: "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." Unquote.

    I have given you your sign to stop this false prophecy. Head my word for I am the only one true God! Repent your sins and stop proclaiming judgement day false prophet!

    October 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  19. random

    no one knows judgment day just read matthew 24:36. If his own angels dont know how is an imperfect person going to know

    October 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • harold camping here

      random, i welcome you to my kingdom...angels take care of the mada...

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

      And you are just as moronic to believe that.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  20. Patrik

    Come on!..That's so stupid idea....I do not believe it..

    October 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Gayland

      You will believe one day and it will be too late. Do not have a hardened heart.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:20 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.