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Harold Camping

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Harold Camping, not the cryptkeeper.
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Devil's in the details
We concur with others that his teaching can be compared to cow dung. But cow dung does not destroy anything. It is a fertilizer causing plants to grow. The teaching of Harold Camping is worse than cow dung: it is poison that kills people and sends them to hell.
—Members of the Grace Valley Christian Center of Davis[1]

Harold Egbert Camping (1921–2013) was a former civil engineer turned false prophet, radio evangelist, and crackpot who famously predicted that the return of Jesus would be 6 September 1994.[2] When Jesus didn't return, he modified his "prophecy" to claim that September 6 was the day that God removed his Holy Spirit from the earth and that nobody could be saved after this date and that God was calling all those already saved to exit the organized churches. He then changed his predicted date for Jesus to return to 21 May 2011[3] and then to 21 October 2011 after that prediction failed to similar results.

21 May 2011[edit]

The end is was nigh1111!!!oneoneelventy11one!!111one!!!11!!

In 2010, Camping got the bright idea that the world was going to end on 21 May 2011, using Numerology bullshit from the Bible.[4] This pointless digging in the Bible, that even the most bored people in the world wouldn't waste their time doing, was apparently so convincing to Camping that he immediately set sail on his epic quest to warn the entire world about the coming doom.

Thousands of billboards were erected around the world while some unemployed person in (drumroll...) Colorado Springs bought out park bench advertising space to promote the rapture.[5] A caravan of vehicles promoting the rapture nonsense was dispatched out of Oakland California and quickly infested various cities throughout the US and Canada.[6]

In total, Family Radio amassed an impressive $100 million in advertising costs,[7] money that could have been better used for far better things, like toilet paper... no literally, like, actual toilet paper.

21 October 2011[edit]

The Rapture failed to happen on 21 May 2011.[citation NOT needed] Camping disappeared for a couple of days or at least tried to. He was confronted at his house on the afternoon of May 22nd, where he claimed he was "flabbergasted" that the rapture did not occur. "Give me a day, no interviews today ... I've got to live with it, I've got to think it out".[8]

He resurfaced on Monday, 23 May,[9] and claimed that 21st had actually been a spiritual apocalypse not a literal one. Damage was done, though. One woman attempted to kill her own children in preparation for the rapture,[10] while a 14-year-old from Russia had committed suicide on 21 May to avoid judgment.[11] Countless followers were fleeced of their money, including Robert Fitzpatrick who had spent $140,000 of his life savings publicizing Camping's bullshit.[12]

This didn't stop Camping, however, as he then claimed that newer calculations put the end of the world on 21 October 2011, saying that May 21 was a day when God’s judgment came on the world "spiritually". But Family Radio still stuck to the assertion that the world would literally come to a fiery end on 21 October 2011.[13] Presumably, nobody would be allowed to change their mind after 21 May, as God's judgment had already occurred (this is why Camping vowed not to put up any updated billboards for his revised prediction). In other words, there was no hope for the unrepented during this 5-month time frame: they had no choice but to either commit suicide or beef it out and live life to the fullest for 5 months while awaiting their inevitable doom.

As October 21 got closer, Camping again went into hiding[14] but occasionally even made up a bunch of lame excuses for his failures by announcing that there would be "No big display of any kind"[15]. It seemed this was his very indirect/beating around the bush way of finally admitting that he had no clue of what he was talking about.

Big surprise, 21 October 2011 passed and absolutely nothing happened[citation NOT needed]. Sure enough, it was indeed revealed later that Camping had actually admitted on the 16th that he did not know when the end would come.[16] Of course Camping admitting this before the 21st was too much for him.

For his miserable failure to try and predict the future, he shared the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for Mathematics with some other prophetic losers: Dorothy Martin, Pat Robertson, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Lee Jang Rim, and Credonia Mwerinde.[17]

Camping the fraudster[edit]

One of the things Camping openly stated with his message of rapture on 21 May was that Christians would no longer need their money. He asked for donations for the ministry and help in spreading the word of the impending rapture. With no refunds after he was proven wrong, people were led to believe it was just a large scam (one of the largest religious scams in history) to get followers' money.[18]

This seems to be backed up by reports from his own ministry that it retained all of its cash and assets at normal levels before the rapture, and workers still planned business as usual the next week.[19]


Harold Camping was originally a Calvinist and founder of the Family Radio network which was heard on the shortwave radio bands over WYFR and on several AM and FM radio stations mostly located in California. Ever since he fell off the deep end trying to predict the date of Jesus' return, nobody is quite sure what he is anymore (except dead), especially since his "revised" date, 21 May 2011, turned out to be 1994 all over again.[note 1]

In 1942, Camping received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.[20] He has used his knowledge of engineering mathematics to develop a mathematical system that he claims can interpret biblical prophecies.[21] Camping's engineering background also allows certain commentators to credit him as a "former civil engineer" while ignoring the fact that he was little more than a D-list Pat Robertson.[22] Camping denied the assurance of salvation doctrine common to Calvinism.[23]

Harold Camping escaped the death sentence commanded in the Old Testament for prophets whose predictions fail (see Deuteronomy 18:20-22). The United States is not a theocracy so God had to do it himself.

In June 2011, Camping suffered a stroke and ended up with slurred speech.[24] This made it harder for him to spread more bullshit, although at least the cash he raked in from the rapture should have bought him some pretty good medical treatment. Or was it punishment from God?[25] Camping had since the latest October 2011 failure retired from radio broadcasting; he publicly recanted his views on doomsday and declared that he would not make any more money prophecies (he stayed true to his word.) Camping did not believe in the 2012 apocalypse or the Mayan Calendar, [26] but then Camping wasn't much of an expert at telling when the world will end; it's pure stopped clock.

Two years after the doomsday fiasco, Family Radio announced that Camping had died in his home at the age of 92, mostly due to complications from the stroke.[27] The end had finally come (for him at least).

His radio stations[edit]

Family Radio[edit]

Family Radio is a radio network founded by Harold Camping in 1959.[28] Though considerably diminished since Camping's multiple failed apocalypse predictions,[29] the network claims to run about a hundred radio stations.[30] Family Radio airs a lot of old time religious hymns and the occasional creationist propaganda show. After Camping's death, his droning Bible study programs aired regularly until they were given the boot in 2018.[31]

WYFR shortwave[edit]

In 1973, Camping bought the equipment from closed shortwave station WNYW ("Radio New York Worldwide"), and set up station WYFR ("We're Your Family Radio") in Okeechobee, Florida. WYFR closed on 30 June 2013, and in December of that same year, re-opened under new ownership as WRMI ("Radio Miami International").[32] The new station's programming includes The Overcomer Ministry, hosted by another self-proclaimed "End-Times Prophet of God", Ralph Gorden "Brother" Stair.

In a nutshell[edit]

External links[edit]

  • We Can't Know — a rebuttal to Camping's We Can Know campaign by the radio show Ask an Atheist, complete with some information about the "prediction" and a countdown timer referred to as "A Countdown to Backpedaling." After the date passed, it started displaying a negative number for the day(s) left due to the timer using bad JavaScript programming, but the timer has since been replaced. It was replaced AGAIN to reflect the new Oct 21 'Rapture'. Since that has passed, there are now several timers, one of which counts down to the heat death of the universe.
  • Lest we forgetdprjones summarises many of Camping's speeches and interviews over the course of the 21 May non-event, and the people who suffered because of it.

See also[edit]


  1. Unsurprisingly.


  1. Grace Valley Christian Center, 15 March 2011.
  3. A claim widely advertised on buses in Chicago, no less. See
  9. The Backpedaling is Here: No, Really, It Happened!, 23 May 2011.
  10. California mother, Lyn Benedetto, tries to kill kids before the tribulation, deputies say., 22 May 2011.
  12. World will end on May 21 says ex-MTA worker Robert Fitzpatrick, who's putting money where mouth is. New York Daily News, 12 May 2011.
  13. Judgement Day Still Coming
  17. Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize
  18. How Harold Camping pulled off the Biggest money scam in Christian History
  19. Doomsday church: Still open for business
  20. See the Wikipedia article on Harold Camping.
  21. Berton, Justin. "Biblical scholar's date for rapture: May 21, 2011", San Francisco Chronicle ( website), 1 January 2011.
  22. Thier, Dave. "May 21 Is Judgment Day? Harold Camping's Latest Doomsday Prediction",, 3 January 2011.
  24. Rapture predictor Camping reportedly suffers stroke
  25. Was stroke punishment? (probably not)
  26. 'Doomsday' minister quiet on 2012 forecast
  27. Controversial preacher Harold Camping dies at 92
  28. Family Radio, About us.
  29. The network was forced to sell off WYFR and most of its major market FM stations after Camping's last failed prediction. See this article on the sale of WKDN Philadelphia and WFME New York.
  30. Family Radio station finder. "Family Radio Network broadcasts over 51 stations and 45 translatorsWikipedia throughout the United States." (As of July, 2019. This is severely diminished from 2018, when they reported 56 stations and 86 translators.)
  31. Harold Camping Programs Canceled by Family Radio, Says Teachings 'Not Scriptural', 27 September 2018.
  32. WRMI Radio Miami International.