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. Attila

    Isn't it illogical that Christian believers in the Bible like this pastor and his followers would even try to predict the end of the world? NBC's Today show, talking about Camping's prediction, quoted the Bible as saying that "neither the day nor the hour of the end shall be known" (paraphrased by me). So how can any Christian presume to know or try to predict the end? Isn't that "unchristian"? To say nothing of scientific knowledge which has advanced SOMEWHAT since ancient times. But there are also a few flat earthers still extant in this world in spite of all evidence to the contrary. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • BethTX

      The same Christians presume to know the mind of God. It's ludicrous.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Frankie

      Everything makes so much sense to believers, you know, creation, prophecies, etc., that they all interpret "god's shtick" differently and start their own church branches to "prove it". Wait, their "faith is too strong. They will not allow the "devils" to shake their foundation. Bla bla bla...

      October 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  2. Silly

    Internet people are fun 🙂 It makes my work day much more enjoyable 🙂

    October 21, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • BethTX

      Before the internet I actually had to do my job all day. Technology has made my life so much better.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Ed

      So let me get this straight, your on the internet at work? so your not really working? so If I was your boss I'd say, would you like a verbal warning, write up, or me to fire you? then I'd promote you to unemployment.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  3. JoJo

    And yes, that gem 'Faith'. In other words, don't trust your intellect, your rationality, your gut feelings... just have FAITH (magical music playing) that a book some men with a certain agenda wrote is the truth. It's that simple, huh?

    October 21, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  4. Jeffrey

    Another thing..doesn't the Bible say that it'll happen when you least expect it? So if millions are expecting it.... hmm

    October 21, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  5. Barbara

    to all the naysayers. THAT'S why it's CALLED FAITH!

    October 21, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • pastmorm

      No, it's called stupidity. Give one example where blind faith has ever helped anyone.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Frankie

      Barb, seriously, please wake up and smell the REASON. Your "faith" is just a delusion. Very common in humans like you who allow their environment to dictate their beliefs. I can care less about people like you except that your kind is always trying to influence public policy. Hence, your delusion becomes my problem.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Christopher

      Faith in not virtue it is a vulnerability. There is no logical reason to believe in something without having any evidence of it at all. There is no evidence of God, or else you wouldnt have to use faith.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  6. Imbacile Zealot

    “I know it’s absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true,” he told CNN

    what a dilldough.

    where is America in a rut? because people like this can't think for themselves and are afraid of the dark.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Frankie

      Many speak of productivity wasted sitting in traffic jams but not the hours and hours every week during ""bible studies" and daily sermons. You want to help the poor, there are many more efficient secular organizations that do the job without a promise of an after life full of happiness and nirvana.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  7. robert dole

    Weak minded sheeple following a charlatan. Religion is an empty promise to cling to because you fear your own mortality. This life is the only one you have – now do something with it.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  8. Rainer Braendlein

    Why are so-called atheists interested in Belief-Blogs?

    October 21, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • pastmorm

      Because we like to point out how stupid christians are.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Christopher

      we always enjoy a good laugh

      October 21, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein


      Actually, people, telling any nonsense, get ignored and don't gain any interest of other people. Christians appeal to atheists. Why?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • JoJo

      Why? Because for hundreds of years noone could speak out against religion or they were tortured and killed! It's still happening all over the world today in many countries. Now we live in a somewhat free society where we can tell you exactly how we feel about how you brainwash children, continually try and consolidate power over other people.. etc, and of course, you feel threatened by that, don't you? Keep living a lie that was given to you by men as a means of control, that's your choice, but when you try to indoctrinate other people with your koolaid we are going to speak out! Finally people are waking up!

      October 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  9. Jeffrey

    Makin' love during the May end of the world prediction was kinda fun. Looking forward to round 2.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  10. Tyggo

    This is why all religions are dangerous, it's brainwashing...plain and simple. I don't care what religion you belong to, they're all cults.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Kachoto


      October 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  11. BethTX

    Is anyone actually braindead enough to believe this? Study history: doomsday predictions have been going on for centuries.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  12. pastmorm

    Isn't is AWESOME that there are so many stupid people that mindlessly follow their christian leaders?

    October 21, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • JoJo

      Actually, it's downright scary. These people try (and succeed) to get in politics and control other people's way of lives. They want God taught in school because it's the easiest way to brainwash/indoctrinate children with their agenda. It wasn't too long ago if you spoke out against religion you were tortured and killed. Not awesome by any stretch of the imagination.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • rob

      It has nothing to do with religion. 99% of people are born ready to follow anything that makes them feel like they are a part of something. Even though they don't follow the rules. So basically, the entire world is made up of this species that latch on to the closest group, but don't support that group's cause. Like the citizens of the US.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  13. I'm Right....Get Used to It.

    IT"S STARTING!!!! I FEEL THE WORLD SHAKING!!!!!!!! OH GOD PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!!!!!!!!!! Oh wait........I just farted....sorry. False alarm. False alarm! Too much Frank's Red Sauce last night. Pretty embarrassed right now. Forget I posted this.....

    October 21, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • BethTX

      The Doomsday Fart. Didn't the Mayans predict this?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Ed

      nope, chuck testa predicted this.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  14. Buzz Aldrin

    There is no god. What god creates a moral society to test ourselves where babies suffer and die? What god creates a world he will then punish? Animals are not sentient to understand morality yet they suffer because of us?


    Like Hawking said it is a fairy tale made up by people afraid of the dark. It is easier for you to explain the unknown away with your "bearded guy in the sky" stories so you aren't afraid, then to accept that we really don't have a lot of answers.

    If morality is FORCED because of a god then there is no morality. Morality comes from freedom and choice. The CHOICE to do the kind thing. The CHOICE to live a good live and be helpful of others. Not the FEAR that religion would have you believe.

    Religion is AMORAL

    October 21, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Ed

      nope, its chuck testa.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Reason & Logic

      There is a "God" it's just that he is an extraterrestrial and this Earth was his vast biological experiment in behavior modification.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • JoJo

      It just boggles the mind that the Christian God isn't human, isn't physical, is all, is everything, is power...

      But He is a Man.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  15. Ed

    Its the end of the world? nope.avi , its chuck testa.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Engineer


      October 21, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  16. Chris

    A couple of nuts who don't know how to read the Bible doesn't mean all religions are bad or wrong..... just these people. One bad noodle doesn't ruin a pot... just take that noodle out.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • pastmorm

      The downside to your thinking is that you have to taste every noodle to find out which ones are bad and which ones aren't. Better to throw the whole pot out.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Crazy Eddie

      Start with the 'guys' in the red and white dresses in Rome, that should save a few choir boys.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Christopher

      No dude, that is what the bible says. Your kind is Christians that have to reinterpret the bible over and over again to make it fit with modern times and science. http://www.scribd.com/doc/7854960/Jesus-predicted-a-firstcentury-return

      October 21, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  17. George

    Everyone knows the real end is Dec. 21, 2012 because the History channel has been drumming it into our heads for the last three years. So, everyone is invited to my house on Dec. 20, 2012 for a No-years eve party.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  18. There are no gods!

    So I guess when nothing happens today it will be another day named in the future due to recalculations and further study of the "all knowing and seeing bible!" Give me a break! It is hard to believe in the 21st century those doomsayers still exist! I find it hard to believe that anyone still believes in gods or religions for that matter. There are no gods, we are not going to self destruct based on a forecast brought to you buy some nutty old man. Wake up!

    October 21, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  19. Rainer Braendlein

    Jesus once told his disciples that points of time and periods of time would not be their concern, but God's concern.

    First evidence, Gospel of Matthew 24: Verses 3 and 34:

    3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    Second evidence, Acts 1: Verses 6 and 7:

    6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

    This verses terminate every discussion about the time of the end of the world. God simply doesn't want reveal us this time. We cannot explore, what God doesn't want to reveal. End of story.

    Only one thing matters: That we have true faith today. Do we live as faithful Christians currently, right now? If not, we should pray urgently that God, the Almighty, restores us by the Holy Spirit or, if we never had any faith, leads us to the knowlegde of his eternal Son Jesus Christ.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • There are no gods!

      You need to seek therapy. You are insane. There are no gods. jesus never existed. The bible was written by men. Religion is a farce. Wake up crazy!

      October 21, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • joe

      Was that Jesus who works down at the food processing plant or Jesus who runs that landscaping business?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Bob

      "evidence" – are you serious? Thats like saying that Little Red Riding Hood is evidence that wolves eat people. Please give me a break with all the "Holy Bible" garbage

      October 21, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • notadream

      So many things that "Jesus said..." are taken out of context by everyone, christians and non-believers alike. It's hard to respect a book that up until 200 years ago not everyone could read or even own a copy of. Read a history of the book that you revere so highly and then re-examine your faith. For the first 500 years of the christian faith were without a bible...

      Live you life like the Jesus of the new testament says...Love your neighbor as yourself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But if you really thought for yourself, you would realize that you didn't need a book to tell you that...

      October 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • notadream

      Wow! Sorry for the typo's! I hate laptops.... 🙁

      October 21, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  20. dejavux2

    When I was younger, back when I use to go to a Baptist Church (actually made to go by my family), our Sunday school class was asked to write short stories. I wrote a story about a flower in a field, to keep it short.....the flower was doing great until there was no rain, then the flower died. Three weeks after I wrote the story, it was being used by the paster in his surmon. He had taken my story and interpereted it into a story about Christians and Faith....without Faith, the Christians would wither away.....near the end of his surmon, he called me up to let everyone know that I was the one who wrote the story. He asked me, in front of everyone, what my 'Powerful Christian Story' meant to me.....and I replied "It's just a story about a flower in a field".
    What's my point? Everything is left to interpretation. If the Bible did have a 'powerful story' to tell, it has been lost throughout the many, many years of interpretation. I once sat down with three different versions of the bible, and read the first book of each one. They did not coinside with each other. How could there be different versions of this 'all telling' book? If the bible was that powerful, how could different versions exist? It is because of interpretation.
    I am now 38 years old, and I now look at the bible as a collection of stories that have been passed down for many generations, and with many interpretations.
    I am not knocking religion by any means, but some of the religeons do not even follow their own beliefs. The biggest thing that I have found that is not followed in most religions is, "Judge not, yet ye be judged". The Baptist Church that I use to go to when I was younger was very hateful towards others that did not share their beliefs. Not all Baptist Churches are like that, I know. So if these Harold Camping followers were bible readers, why are they all ignoring the fact that the bible states that no one will know when the return is. It also states (in many versions) that those who proclaim to know the time of the return are "false prophets".
    Another thing that I don't get: When something new or different is discovered by science, 99.9% of the time there is proof. Then there will be religions that harp and howl about this new scientific discovery, saying that there is no proof, science is a crock. But ask a religion to show proof of 99.9% of the bible, and the answer will most likely be, "We have faith". I'm sorry, but faith is not proof, it is a state of mind and a feeling, not proof.
    I know I will get a lot of slack for this, but I've had religion shoved down my throat for too many years, and there are too many things about it that rubbed me the wrong way..... Not following your own bible, disrespecting others, forcing religion on to others, false prophets, and far too many interpretations.....
    Ok, let the comments fly...... I can take it....

    October 21, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • BRC

      Unfortuantely your post is logical, respectful of others, presents a concept that the polarized opposition won't have an answer for, and (this is the big one) long enough to actually cover all your bases, so it's not real likely to draw a lot of comments. A well made point though.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • notadream

      I have exactly the same view of the bible (I was raised Catholic, but am an atheist now). The old testament of the bible is a collection of stories, not unlike Greek, Roman or Norse mythology. It explained the natural world to the Jewish people in ways they could understand, and be taught lessons at the same time, like Aesop's Fables. It's not a bad book in the same way that Greek and Roman mythology isn't bad, and what Jesus of Nazareth taught in the new testament isn't a bad way to live your life, but unfortunately, most christians don't follow that path. Peace... 🙂

      October 21, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • kimsland

      Lengthy, but I read it.

      Its in my opinion that these books of good 'morals' were intended for children as a guide to be 'good'.
      It certainly was not meant to be a religion that people follow and then think they are going to heaven one day (although Allahs idea of virgins awaiting me was tempting!)

      The christian religion came about because the 'children' got older and no one decided to tell them the truth (ie It was just a nice book or story on good morals for those children that ALWAYS get out of hand in all societies past and present)
      The old people that made up these stories eventually died off, leaving the new adults to think it was true (of which it obviously wasn't) BUT they died leaving these false stories because everyone acted 'morally' nice and friendly.

      If they knew that churches would be built and people would kill and die in the name of religion they would have put a disclaimer in the book.
      Once you reach 16yo, this book and stories are obsolete.
      THEN it would have been a good book, to an extent. But the way it is now is ludicrous.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • n311a3d

      Well said!

      October 21, 2011 at 10:39 am |
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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.