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. mrlgh

    All I know is that this BETTER NOT screw up my weekend!

    October 21, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  2. End All Religion

    Wow, I have something in common with these buffoons- I agree the earth will burn and will end. However, it will not happen for another 5 BILLION years; once the sun becomes a red giant and engulfs the inner solar system.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • kimsland

      Except if we continue to allow religion all that time then we'll never be able to populate another planet, since religos feel we are all going to heaven why bother with science?
      Religious people are bad for our humanity.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Dante

      Just mean ppl on here

      October 24, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  3. CFRoonan

    After articles like this, it boggles my mind to think that people can believe in such non-sense. Your "God" is just a story passed from generation to generation for many thousands of years in order to make sense of a changing world and to make yourself feel less alone. It's like believing in Santa Claus, except with Santa Claus you eventually grow up and join the real world.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Mirosal

      Actually, when you grow up and have children of your own, you BECOME Santa Claus ... the Mormons think that eveentually you'll become a GOD with your own planet ... I'll take being Santa ANY day over the Momron b.s.

      October 24, 2011 at 6:54 am |
  4. v_mag

    Harold Camping believes he can figure out when the world will end. Mitt Romney believes Jesus drifted over to North America and mated with the Indians, and that spiritual underwear will protect him from bullets. Which of these geniuses would you rather have for president? Harold Camping or Mitt Romney?

    October 21, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Bill

      Jesus did not "drift" over to North America.
      He did not mate with the Indians.
      No Mormon believes "magic underwear" will stop a bullet.
      If you think Mormons believe those things, you are deceived worse than Harold Camping. Try being honest and and discovering what Mormons really believe before passing judgment. Mitt Romney is a good man and would make a great president.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    The only time, which matters, is the current day, because it can be the last day of your life. After death Judgement Day approaches with light speed. Assumed, you would die today, subjectively you would experience Judgement Day today, because after death you lose every awareness of time. Even when your body would physically rest 500 years or more, subjectively it would be like a second for you. Are you aware of that fact?

    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 36:

    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 10:22 am |
    • filthburger

      take it easy on the "blood" of Christ this morning. It's a bit early.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • CFRoonan

      Those references from the bible are just things that men wrote down to control other people right? I mean come on, how can you devote your life to a book that is obviously fiction?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Daniel

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster sayeth to the crowd: "Beware! For unto thee a new son will be chosen. And he will soon be the light that ye seek. For no man can know the timing of the chosen one, and neither should yee seek to knoweth."

      – The Book of FSM 21:2

      October 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  6. JJ

    Does this mean I can forgo sending out the mortgage payment today?

    October 21, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  7. David J

    Silly Christians and your bible.....

    October 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  8. mcineri

    so if i pray for the world to not end, could i spin that to prove that prayer works if the world doesnt end?

    October 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Common Sense

      Isn't it already "tomorrow" in Australia? Yep they're +14 from EST. Guess it didn't end huh?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  9. Kachoto

    Im border line atheist and I say that if it´s not at least 2000 years old, it is not a religion. Sorry America, all of your so called evangelicals are nothing but a way to scam your ignorance.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • hippypoet

      so if it needs to be at least 2000 years old, how about the true monotheistist god before the christian one... Zoroastrinism... or how about shinto-ism... these are far better in merrit then christianity as these preach nothing about hate!

      October 21, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Kachoto

      Then they are religions, monetheistic or otherwise....people have the right to beleive but beleive in something beleivable that dates to the beginnings of humanity.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • hippypoet

      ah, now we have an issue see humanity began when... when the first spien walked or when we started to live in walled cities.... or how about when we first domesticated certain seeds and animals... how about when we first started to write... which one is your start to humanity?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • tkk451

      that's pretty arbitrary – keep thinking about it, and maybe you will see religion as a by-product of our cognitive evolution and ultimately (like all biological functions) the result of chemistry and physics

      October 21, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  10. Glenn

    Mr. Camping is obviously a very clever scam artist and the people that follow him are INCREDIBLY simple-minded, which they'd have to be in order to believe anything he says. Unbelievable how gullible and/or ignorant some people are.

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

      Actually, I take that back. He's not very clever. He's simply just another in a long line of scam artists who take advantage of the weak-minded.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  11. Eddie

    The End of the world is already upon us... can't you tell when you turn on the news?

    October 21, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  12. cincinatheist

    Every day is judgement day. Use yours today. Use reason.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  13. doug mazell


    Help fund the feature film that could give humanity a new course to follow instead of the same old crap decade after decade.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  14. Silly

    Can I believe in God and Evolution? Cuz I kinda think I believe in Both.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Mike

      Why not. God, the great creator, used the science of evolution to create his wonderful beings. God is everything and for that matter then nothing. There is nothing that is not god. 🙂

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

      You can try to mold science to fit the answer of "how" and not the answer of "why". You can believe in both on smaller topics such as evolution, or the world being much older that a few thousand years. Where that breaks down is when you look big picture at quantum physics and the origin of the universe. However, those all mearly theories at this point. All we can do is make use of the time we have.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Of couse you can.
      Evolutionary biology makes no claims as to abiogensis.
      Pope John Paul II said:
      "New findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—consti.tutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”

      On the flip side, Dr. Greg Graffin's PhD thesis found that the majority of evolutionary biologists see no conflict between religion and evolution – so long as religion is recognized solely as a sociological adaptation.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  15. Zach

    If this fool really knew his Bible, he would know that the world is not going to end for at least 1,007 years. The first seven years begin when the rapture happens and the last thousand years will be after God has beaten the Antichrist and there is a thousand years of peace before the final judgements and the end of the world

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

      If this fool really knew his bible, he would know that it's a collection of myths dreamed up by ancient goat herders and not literal truth, history, or prophecy. Christianity and the end of the world: 2,000 years of "any day now."

      October 21, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • hippypoet

      WELL zach, your wrong, the story goes – satan wins, and he rules the earthly realm for the next 1000 years, then god comes down and takes him out completely, no more satan... and then god rules the earthly realm from then to the hereafter.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • tonelok

      This sounds like a new harry potter book. If Satan defeats God and reigns for 1000 years, and the bible says this, someone should show it to God so he can work on his magic to beat satan when the day comes. This kind of stuff is pure fantasy.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • asrael

      Which book and verse of the Bible mentions "the rapture"?...

      October 21, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Zach

      The rapture is spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

      October 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • asrael

      Thanks for the reference;I see the text, but no mention of "rapture" as such...

      October 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Zach

      I'll admit, the word "rapture" is not in the Bible but that is the description of it

      October 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  16. hippypoet

    HERES A QUESTION TO ALL OF YOU....not just the christians or other believers, not just for the non believers....


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

      Not saying it applies to anyone here, but I will say this. No matter what, no matter when, so long as there is electricity, there will be p0rn on the internet, and there will be somebody looking at it.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • fred

      Those of us looking were not raptured. Now we spend eternity with CNN and her demons

      October 21, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • magruber

      I was just saying this, if this is the end of days, then why am I at work? lol.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  17. bo-peep

    It's nuts like this that give religion a bad name. He causes more harm than good. Yes today will be the last day for some. Some people will die for many reasons but for all mankind give me a break. Christians are to be loving,caring and forgiving people.Someday the end will come but no one knows not even the angels in Heaven know the hour . So just live today as it were your last because we're not promised tomorrow.

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

      Agreed. Except don't empty out your savings account, just in case the sun does come up tomorrow.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  18. Ironic

    The people on this blog that keep saying there is not God, "You are crazy," "You need help for believing in a God," etc sound just as crazy as the heavy bible thumpers. You keep spreading YOUR "religion" (if you will) of being athesist just as strongly as those who believe in a God. I find it very ironic.

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

      At least they are consistant. Kinda hypocritical to go around saying 'don't believe in any of those gods, well, except for this one specific one, and only this one specific version of it, but all those others you should ignore!'

      While I disapprove of atheists trying to convert people, at least they are not hypocritical about it.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • EXACTLY!!!

      Belief in "no God" is belief too – atheism is a religious system as well and their zealots are JUST as dedicated. The even have countries that have their government based on their religion: People's Republic of China, North Korea, etc. which believe "Religion is the opiate of the masses". That is probably one big dogmas of the Atheist religion – and one of their own personal opiates for their masses – for some reason "Human microphone" comes to mind when I think of Athiest religious services....

      October 21, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • HellBent

      "Belief in "no God" is belief too"
      Precisely, Just like belief in no zeus is a belief. And a belief in no pixies is a belief. And a belief in no invisible purple polka dotted unicorns in a belief. I guess we all have an infinite number of beliefs! Yay!

      October 21, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • tonelok

      The world has to get rid of the "isms" in our lives. "catholicism", "atheism", etc. Whatever your poison, keep it to yourself.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • MnTaxpayer

      Where's the irony? Both believers and non-believers are simply arguing their positions.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • asrael

      Ya gotta love the irony-inducing "atheisist"...

      October 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  19. Crazy Eddie

    All of these prophets – Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, turn up in the 'Holy land', and cause nothing but death and destruction in their name for thousands of years. You must seek salvation for your eternal soul. Give me a break. There are thousands of planets in the universe, and this one has existed for billions of years. Why do we think that any voices in the sky have just taken up an interest in saving souls on this one, and only in the last few thousand years.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Chris

      Because we have bacon,lol

      October 21, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • tonelok

      For you to use the number "Thousands" is the understatement of the year, lol. There are millions of planets just in our galaxy, maybe more.
      Does that make pigs 'divine' creatures :] I totally agree.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  20. ChristoInferno

    Whatever goes on in these people's minds on a daily basis is undoubtedly worse than any hell I could imagine.

    I say that with no malice. If I thought any of them were reading this article, I wouldn't even say it at all. But honestly and sincerely, I'm sad for their families, because living with someone who has a psychosis is very difficult.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:07 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
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.