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. Cinman

    God shakes his head thinking "why me?".

    October 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  2. Mark

    Sanility is a cruel master.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  3. Mary

    1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 for you know very well that they day of THE LORD WILL COME LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. 3 While people are saying "Peace and safety", destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape .4 BUT YOU, BROTHERS ARE NOT IN THE DARKNESS SO THAT THIS DAY SHOULD SURPRISE YOU LIKE A THIEF.

    God Bless America!

    October 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  4. hippypoet

    look you dumb people...you are going to die, get over it.... but making stuff up so that dieing is less scarey is a childs game... accecpt your mortality and move on. enough with this play time stuff about god bring only the good christians up to heaven, thats so fuking biased its pukible! WHEN YOU WERE BORN YOU WERE ALITTLE CLOSER TO BEING DEAD, ITS A FACT OF LIFE!

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

    (Christianity) The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie, who was his own father, can make you live forever IF you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your Master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a women made out of a man's rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

    I guess if you can believe that, then Camping's prediction must be much easier to believe...

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

      Old. True, but not original and you shouldn't pretend you just made that up. You are as bad as christians.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Conthemon

      It's still funny as hell and true as ever. You are just mad you didn't type it first.

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

      Hmmm, I don't remember claiming to have originated that passage, however I felt it applicable...

      October 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Mike H.

      Well said 🙂

      October 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Colin

      I like "Christianity is the belief that God impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself so that he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a rule that he himself made."

      October 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  6. roger slovinge

    Some on should end his world. This guy is a joke and a worm

    October 21, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  7. Hey You

    This rapture stuff is silly – Q'uq'umatz told me the world will actually end on Dec 21, 2012.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Fupped Duck

      Exactly, Howard Jablowme said the same thing.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • gayjesus

      Did you mean Haywood Jablowme?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  8. BioHzrd420

    There will be a Saturday, and a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday....

    October 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  9. Fupped Duck

    So Nana,
    "God said anybody who will try to stop me from preaching the good news to the Jewish people, God said, he'll strike He/She dead on the floor". Nice guy. He's no terrorist right? Hypocritical crusaders are full of it.

    Anyway, quadaffi, OBL, and others have died in this time so you may be right. See I can make up fairytales too....Stick to the facts, no ghost or fictional books.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  10. Qularkono

    Mr. Camping should be aware that the book of Deuteronomy says that a person claiming to be a prophet speaking for God must be 100% accurate or they are to be considered a false prophet and not listened to. Mr. Camping has been wrong at least 3 times in the past ... and therefor is a false prophet.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • johann1965

      Does that mean that if anyone who claims they talk to God on a regular basis is really NOT talking to God (just making up things to serve their own purposes), they are screwed? If that's the case, a lot of people are in trouble.

      October 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  11. Darn887

    The earth has been here for 4.6 billion years, and someone actually thinks the world will end within their average 80 year lifespan. Whoever conceives these dates of apocalypse is probably the most narcissistic person on the planet, and should be forced to receive massive doses of lithium to relieve their delusions of grandeur. Now its my turn to be full of grandeur and predict the earth will go on for another billion years. It doesn't seem to carry the same weight as the end of the world does. Oh well!!

    October 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  12. Holy Smokes

    Okay Nana...thanks for that brief comment. Now on to sports.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  13. 10/21/11

    If it ends great sign me up! No more bills, no more having to get up early and work, no more having to listen to my ex wifes stupid A$$. However if it doesn't end.....yey, more beer!

    October 21, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  14. Johnny 5

    I'm an athiest and don't pay any mind to the religious end of the world scenarios BUT I can say that I work for the largest power provider in my state and yesterday we had an outage with plenty of complaints coming in from customers. Many of them complained that their cars even shorted out while in use...This of course sounds like the effects from a large solar flare. It was really strange.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Conthemon

      If you are somehow attributing that to a "God" then you aren't atheist. There isn't a mystery there. If it was indeed caused by a solar flare then that right there is your higher power. We have people on earth who can confirm that. Does that make this solar flare a god? No. You sound more like an agnostic.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  15. erich2112x

    Six o'clock – TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign towers.
    Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn.
    Locking in, uniforming, book burning, blood letting.
    Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
    Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down.
    Watch your heel crush, crushed. Uh-oh, this means no fear cavalier.
    Renegade steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies.
    Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.

    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.
    (I feel fine)

    October 21, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  16. gk84

    only god knows when the world will end and no one else. Bible was not written by God himself, it was written by humans. So there is no way you can predict when the world will end.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • kimsland

      There is no 'god'

      October 21, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Neareau

      but we know that your god will send some more nasty natural disasters and awful diseases to torture us in the mean time.

      Take your silly god supersti-tions and shove them up your aft end. Sideways.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • hippypoet

      you are stating that because the bible was written by men it should be used as a soucre of info or insight...well then how do you even know therre is a god and why do you follow what is only known of because of the book written by FELLOW men!!!!! backwards moronic sight is always the best poistion to take as a believer in a man made idol worshipped as a god who does nothing because he supposedly gave us free will, and so by this anything written about god is bs due to the free willingness of man to write what they want right? oh no backwards moronic sight again! maybe you should just read books based on facts and make your judgements thru them, you will be better off!

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

      sry i meant – you are stating that because the bible was written by men it shouldn't be used as a soucre of info or insight..

      October 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • RealityCheck

      Absolutely correct.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • johann1965

      kimsland...how do you know there is no "God"?

      October 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  17. angryoldguy

    My response to dejavux2 is: Well said! Most religious teaching relies too much on god doing everything for us, and not nearly enough on personal responsibility! We are responsible for how we act, treat others & our world, NOT some "outside" force acting upon us. We need to pick up the yoke of personal responsibility, to care for ourselves, for our families, friends, society, and our world today, while we are here, alive and have the freedom to make the best choices we can make, because we as individuals, will not live forever. Our legacy must be the life we have led and the affect we have had on our world. If all who know me in this life remember me well after I have left it, that's the best that I can do for everyone I touch! 'nuff said!

    October 21, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  18. here we go again

    dejavux2 I agree with you, i grew up in a baptist family, from all the teachings of christianity I started to hate myself for who i am, did i stop believing? no. now, i believe in myself.... because god lives in me....., and god only loves, so i started to love myself and thats the greatest love of all.

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

      Semi mixed up comment
      Just believe in yourself, there's no 'god' watching over any of us.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  19. David

    If this man is used to represent all Chrisians by the atheists posting here then Lenin represents what all atheists are. This man is a con artist posing as a Christian.

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

      They do that often here
      Thankfully the replies set most right.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post is No True Scotsman fallacy.


      October 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  20. Nana

    Good Morning!!

    October 21st 2011

    This message is from God Almighty who created the heaven and the earth to all Gentiles/Jewish people around the world and in Jerusalem.

    This is a message to the Jewish people, God said the fullness of the gentiles ended yesterday at October 21st 2011 at 12:00 midnight.
    God said starting today this friday morning October 21st 2011 at 12:01 am its time for you to accept Jesus as your saviour.
    God said the Jewish people should read Romans Chapter 10 the whole chapter in the New Testament and their blindness will come off. God said I should tell the Jewish people he really Love them, and care about them. God said I should the them I have the same spirit like Elijah, So it means I'm Elijah. God said its the Jewish people Job to sort after me, and its not my job to sort after them. God said anybody who will try to stop me from preaching the good news to the Jewish people, God said, he'll strike He/She dead on the floor.

    Romans 10
    1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my supplication to God is for them, that they may be saved.2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.3 For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.4 For Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth.5 For Moses writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby.6 But the righteousness which is of faith saith thus, Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down:)7 or, Who shall descend into the abyss? (That is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach:9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame.12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him:13 for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?15 and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!16 But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?17 So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.18 But I say, Did they not hear? Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, And their words unto the ends of the world.
    19 But I say, Did Israel not know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation, With a nation void of understanding will I anger you.
    20 And Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I became manifest unto them that asked not of me.
    21 But as to Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

    P.S The gentleman I said he's a prophet of God preaching in New York City subway, yesterday, God open my ears and I heard people giving him money and he was saying thank you, thank you.

    My guess is MR. Herold Camping was 100% right about his predictions...Peace...

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

      What a joke, have fun being wrong for the final time, ut you retards just fall back on "faith". Some people say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, what is the difference between faith?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • SDF

      God said none of that. I suggest you re-read your bible and stop inserting things that aren't in there.

      You know, I happen to remember a certain story about a man who got extremely mad at preachers who were using the word of God to exploit people. What was his name? Oh yeah, Jesus Christ. If I remember correctly, he referred to it as the greatest sin of all.

      But hey, you will be raptured. It won't be the countless poor or those who suffer under oppression that will be saved. No. The rapture will happen to people who live in relative comfort at the center of an empire that is exploiting the entire world. Sorry 7 year olds working in a Nike factory in a third world country, no rapture for you.

      In other words, there are a ton of injustices in this world that you could be spending your time on trying to fix. Instead you are leaving everything in Gods hands and expecting to be given everything. Why should he? What did you do to deserve it? You should try to leave this world a better place than you left it instead of wishing for its destruction.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Jamon

      God said!!! Good, you people talk directly to him... Do you the difference between being a good Christian, Catholic, Muslim, or Jew and being a fanatic from any religion??? Fanatism paves the way to all the mounstrous things we humans really do, and that really takes us really close to ending the world every now and then. Please, use your commons sense, THINK dont FOLLOW!!!

      October 21, 2011 at 10:41 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.