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. icufoolish1s

    See all you fools on the 22nd! Then we'll get our new date.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • harold camping here

      am working on the new date, but cannot get any silence or peace to focus on my calculations with all the crap going on this forum...

      October 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • J.W

      I still think it will be 3025 but I have not figured out the day.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Michael P

      I love you Camping. You are teaching Christians a harsh, but much needed lesson in critical thinking.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  2. John K

    So what time zone is the end of the world tied to? Or is this a rolling end of the world sort of thing, one time zone at a time?

    October 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • DarklyDivine

      I was just wondering the same thing, I have stuff I need to do before the world ends. Or maybe I can just put it off, since you know .. we won't be here tomorrow. XD

      October 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  3. David Johnson

    Be at peace my brothers. The Christian god is no more likely than Santa. There is no proof Jesus never actually existed.

    Jesus won't come today or any other day.


    October 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • chris

      Its a known fact that he existed, whether you believe he was/is god is up to you.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Michael P

      Amen. You are truly a great prophet of the sacred book of logic.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • chris

      f uck no, sir, im only a kid. so shut up.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Scott - other

      @chris: To claim something is a known fact implies that you have evidence to support that claim. Please present it.

      October 22, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • fred

      Dont let David Johnson pull your chain. He knows Jesus existed and agreed with reality (after reality provided much evidence -thank you reality!) and all reputable scholars that Jesus was a preacher had a following and was killed by Pilate for being a rabel rouser.

      October 22, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  4. Michael P

    I am "praying" that before dying, Camping will be like "Haha, you idiots, God doesn't exist. But thanks for the many years of donations. Now I hope you will all go out and get a 'God damn' education and stop plaguing the earth with stupidity." If he did that, it would be a wonderful step towards the eradication of religion, and give us all the hope for a brighter future based on logic and reason. Logic and reason, that is the true key to salvation.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  5. Laughing with u not at u

    This might be one of the funniest forums I have ever seen, thank you all for the banter, it is quite entertaining. As for doomsday's, why do we listen to the most senile person for hope or uhhh doom??!?

    October 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  6. God

    *sings* he was a one eyed one horned fly purple people eater

    October 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  7. Jim

    Unbelievers have always looked upon believers as weak-minded. Truth is, God doesn't respect your wealth, your popularity, or your IQ. Belief is God requires faith. Those without faith are lost. Unbelievers are blinded by lies. God is truth and the Truth will set you free. Look around yourself. Do you honestly believe that the whole world and humanity just happened by chance? If you do, all I can say is wow! Now that is a leap of faith! Harold Camping does a disservice. I think he means well.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Daffy Duck

      ah SHADDUP already!

      October 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • DarklyDivine

      I have a little problem with your statement. Believers are blinded by lies, created by other believers. Example ... this whole Harold Camping thing. It is "believers" like him that take advantage of other believers saying "the end is near" or "Fear God" blah blah blah and collect all their money and still, for his own greediness, say the end is near and all that BS when he knows that's not the truth at all.

      So in actuality he's contradicting ... as most of your "believers" out there are.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Unbelievers have always looked upon believers as weak-minded.

      No, I look upon believers as deluded and deprived of rational thinking in regards to their beliefs.

      > Truth is, God doesn't respect your wealth, your popularity, or your IQ. Belief is God requires faith.

      Which is stupid. God requires you to believe based on the say so of people? How are you to determine what is true or not true. An omnsicient God would understand that there is no way to tell what is correct and incorret on the basis of faith and therefore not rely upon it.

      > Those without faith are lost.

      Those with faith are lost too. You think the muslims are wrong right? They're lost to hell. The buddists? Lost to hell. The druids? Lost to hell. So it appears that those with faith can be lost as well. So the real question is how do you know your faith is correct? The answer is you don't, except that you want to believe it's true so you accept it.

      > Unbelievers are blinded by lies.

      What lies would those be?

      > God is truth and the Truth will set you free.

      Set you free to be bound by idiotic and petty rules that relate to an improbably and silly methodology imposed by a supposedly omnipotent God. I have a question If God's all powerful, couldn't he have just saved everyone? Why does he need to put a human through torture to save everyone? It doesn't make any sense.

      > Look around yourself. Do you honestly believe that the whole world and humanity just happened by chance?

      The world and the conditions for life, yes, completley chance. As for the evolution of humans, no, that's evolution and not chance based.

      > If you do, all I can say is wow! Now that is a leap of faith!

      So it's a leap of faith to conclude that we exist, so therefore the natural laws allow life to exist? You are a moron.

      > Harold Camping does a disservice. I think he means well.

      He does an excellent service. He shows what nonsense religion is when it' s put to the test. Which is why you complain about faith and other such things because they can't be tested. 🙂

      October 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • John K

      Believing the evidence that is all around us that nature happens is far more comforting than looking around and saying "gesh maybe some invisible sky fairy waved it's mystical supernatural hand and poof it all suddenly existed". Sorry if you believe that you really need to get to the library or something.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Mae

      "Believers are blinded by lies, created by other believers." *cough*bias*cough* Christians aren't believers any more than other people. Everyone believes in something. I believe in a God that has always existed, you might believe in a universe that has always existed – or appeared out of nowhere. But I have to agree, that this whole "Oh no! The end is coming on Such and Such a Date" is b.s. Even if the universe is going to end soon, there's no way they could know when. LOL.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  8. Gary

    I love that his prophecy is that the world ends today, yet his book is scheduled for publication this coming spring lol – guess you've gotta lock up those book deals juuuuust in case!

    October 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • James

      It didn't say Camping had a book coming out, it was "Lorenzo DiTommaso, an associate professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, who has been studying apocalyptic worldviews for a dozen years."............

      October 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  9. Sarah

    Why does Camping still have assets? If he believed his own prophecy, he would have given them all away as many of his followers have. Perhaps he is really just forecasting the end of his own life. In any event, he is an idiot who has made his money off of even bigger idiots.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm |

      hes not an idiot....now the people who believe him????????

      October 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  10. theendisnear

    The US will only end if the republicans convince the US to elect them again. Then the US will end in bankruptcy and go to a war again with some country to send our freedom thoughts and views.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Amen, brother! Vote for the Dems is 2012.


      October 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • db

      Well said, well said.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  11. DarklyDivine

    Harold Camping was a dumb@$$ and so were those that blindly followed him. No one knows when "the end" is. The bible was strictly written to control the weak minded and it's people like Camping that twist it around in order to squeeze every penny out of those weak minded people. Put you Faith IN God, not a damn book that supposedly tells you the human history and future. Don't follow blindly or you'll be lead right off a cliff.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  12. FSM


    October 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Scott - other


      October 22, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  13. Joe

    I don't care what you nut jobs think I will still have to get up and go to work the next day anyway so put your tin foil hats back on and stop watching fox news already. One more thing Get A Life and stop wasting your time with DOOM & GLOOM.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • DarklyDivine

      I second that. But it gets to the point where you just have to laugh, because strangling them gets you into trouble.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

      fox news????

      October 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  14. Senor Ed

    Time to party like it's October 21st.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  15. Marc

    I know when the end of the world is going to end and it wont be from some mythical creature but from the sun. In five billion years the sun will run out of hydrogen in its core and will begin to burn helium. This nuclear fusion will cause the outer layers of the sun to expand and as a result will consume the earth in a ball of liquid hot magma (dr. evil impression) but its actually plasma not magma. I just told you how the earth will die and you didn't even need to donate any money to me

    October 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Samantha

      Thank you Mr. Science Man. An Who is it that will cause this to happen? God.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Marc

      Samantha- No its actually a natural process in the death of stars, no mythical sky daddy needed

      October 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  16. gaylord fokker

    Peace to all...

    October 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • straightlady fokkee

      All to pieces...

      October 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  17. jec0199

    NOO!!! The world can't end before the Rangers win the world series!!!

    October 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • NotWordSeries

      It is not a "World Series" if there is just one damn country playing...

      October 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  18. becca

    Um, no one knows the day or hour but we do see end time events happening faster and inceasing in intensity.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm approaching 60 years of age, and I've been hearing this "end time events are increasing in intensity" argument all my life. Excuse me for being unimpressed with all this intensity.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • harold camping here

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

      October 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • a

      Why do these curious people claim to more than the Holy Bible? Matthew 24:35-16 Common English Bible "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows." These curious people need to be called out for contradicting the Holy Bible, ask to retract their dubious proclamations, and refund all donations they have received.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Leslie

      What is it with religion and spreading fear?

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

      To be fair, it's your perception that these "events" are increasing. I don't know that anyone has been able to sit down and prove that they are or aren't.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • csiepel

      I am sure the good Christians who witnessed the civil war, the dust bowl, WWII, the cold war and every other sad event in our history said the same thing. Get a grip.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Nonimus

      The Bible can be interpreted in many ways. In fact reading your quote, it could mean that no one *at that time* knew the exact day and time, which wouldn't exclude anyone *today* knowing it.
      The Bible is not a reliable source.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

      a your spot on....

      October 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Answer

      Religion = "Give me your money."

      October 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

      nonomus...you realize you just said yhat the bible is not a reliable source of the bible????????

      October 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Scott - other

      @Leslie: “What is it with religion and spreading fear?” They spread the disease (fear) so they can sell the cure (faith). It’s like when Madison Avenue started spreading “the heart break of psoriasis”

      October 22, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  19. Yakub bin Isa

    To "A1Retouching" This is an important question and issue. I wonder also why no one ever addresses this. I cannot give all details here, but you all can investigate for yourselves, and some will brush it off anyway, which is fine, NP.

    We are in a second phase or age of the earth. There was a "world that then was" (age) before this one (Epistle of Peter). It was "destroyed", and we are in a "regeneration". It says for example in Genises "replenish the earth" to Adam and Eve. So the Bible does speak about an ancient pre-Adamite age and race.

    The common time frame used for the "world" is about 6000 years, which only accounts for the generations since Adam. Even at that, there was a pre-flood civilization (ante-deluvian"). I do not know whos agenda this omission serves.

    I wish I could go into more detail, and I already know I have opened myself to a world of hurt even at this little response. I cannot imagine why this is not taught when all evidence points to the antiquity of the whole Cosmos, including this planet. Why do they keep their heads in the sand, and worse teach that the Cosmos was created appx 6000 years ago in 6 days? The 6 days record the "re-creation".

    I cannot blame people for rejecting established religions or even the Bible. But this is not Theology class. Religion is the opiate of the people, and the divider of the same.

    Modern science and archeology clearly show the great antiquity of the entire Cosmos, including this little blue planet. All I can say for now with all due respect to believers and skeptics alike, is that in the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Chaldean, Aramaic, Koine Greek) it reads in an entirely different way than we have been taught by established religionists. Why they persist in foisting their ideoligies upon us is way beyond me. FYI: I was one of them. The TRUTH has set me free. So I have become a pariah (not a martyr) in my own faith community.

    In any event, go ahead, fire away at me. Just one thing I ask: PLEASE, do not ridicule Jesus of Nazareth. He has nothing to do with all this, He has been slandered enough by His own so called followers. Even if you do not believe in Him as a Prophet or Saviour or King or Deity (as do I), don't hurl mud and worse at Him because of the failure of those to claim to be His people/representatives. At the very least in humanistic terms, He was a good man sadly very much mis-understood. Thank you!

    October 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Is Jesus that same guy who said we should abandon our families, our parents, our children, and all our possessions and follow him or else we would go to hell?

      What a sweet guy. Where do I sign up?

      October 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • uyter dah bin lala

      Your joke is not very funny

      October 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • TheTruth72


      It's your lack of knowledge that makes this funny to you. Think for a second and come out from the mainstream junk you've heard. Let's say there is a loving God and He put His spirit into a man and called Him Son. This man's name is Jesus. So now you know that Jesus is in essence God in man form. If you had to give up everything to follow your creator that loves you so much, would you? His love far exceeds anyone's on this planet, even your family. You don't know that as of yet because you haven't sought to know Him. Go to a quiet place tonight and give it a chance. Ask God or Jesus to reveal Himself to you and do it with an open mind and He will. If your stubborn about it, He won't show you anything because He can see your heart.

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

      "You don't know that as of yet because you haven't sought to know Him. Go to a quiet place tonight and give it a chance. Ask God or Jesus to reveal Himself to you and do it with an open mind and He will."

      Why is it that believers never seem the recognize that most of us who don't believe did at one point and have already done this. And why don't they also recognize that people of other faiths have also done this for their respective deities and received the same "positive" response that they have? Think outside the box here people!

      October 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Get Real

      TheTruth72, "Ask God or Jesus to reveal Himself to you and do it with an open mind and He will. If your stubborn about it, He won't show you anything because He can see your heart."

      How dare you blame EnjaySea, or any of us other non-believers. Paul of Tarsus supposedly didn't have an "open mind", nor did doubting Thomas, nor our old pals @fred, @steveinmo, @herbert juarez, @PRISM, and a couple of other tall tale tellers around here. They received the "gift" just cuz they were so "Special"... huh?

      October 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Answer

      "We are in a second phase or age of the earth."

      Prove it. Plastering this line and all the little babbling that follow along means nothing. You have no clear idea of what anything you've said is even relevant except that you are hoping to paint yourself as learned. You want to be seen as a scholar – a person to come to for knowledge. You clearly are not, you are just pandering for your faith.

      If I said the earth is approaching it fifth age I will be regarded as such. I have no other set of proof other than the words I spout. You have spouted just words. Face it – talking about yourself and hiding beneath a veneer of superiority will not get your point across. Religion is useless and hiding behind your faith – appealing for others to not attack it will inevitably do the reverse. Come out of your hiding and say what you really feel.

      You are clearly saying "I am a believer. Please do not attack me."
      I will attack beside you are stupid to ponder and spout this age crap of which you know nothing about. Get some straight facts and don't just wade in from the short end of the pool.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Answer

      @Yakub bin Isa

      i really hate fools like yourself who do this age defining crap. We are still living and not in your fantasy land!
      You have no concept of this ridiculous labeling reflects upon or refers to the definite time line that has gone by. We humans try only to fit such range in dates like "from 3300BC to 1200BC" and give it a label such "bronze Age".. to access the past. We then teach this label down to our kids and they can go and check it out to find the real story of what it means.

      Your stupid "second phase" is f-u-c-k-i-n-g crap. You may want to define this "whatever age" to your liking but it isn't real.. so don't spread your crap out like it is accepted fact.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  20. JJ

    Religion, the killer of man.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Alain

      Amen, friend...

      October 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • TheTruth72

      Exactly, it's about the relationship we have with Jesus that counts. Thanks for clearing that up friend.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:58 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.