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Harold Camping's failed prediction of the rapture

Part 1: Overview; basis for his
prediction; the publicity campaign

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Overview (repeated):

Christians have predicted several events that many believe are related: the second coming of Jesus, the war of Armageddon, the arrival on earth of the Antichrist, the Tribulation, the Rapture, some horrendous natural disasters, etc. Jewish, Islamic, psychic, occult and other predictions have been offered as well.

We have listed many dozens of predictions that the end of the world would happen in our past. They all have one factor in common: none ever came true. There is every likelihood that most (perhaps all) of these future predictions will not materialize either.

We have been criticized by some of our readers for whipping up hysteria about the end of the world. Our intent is the exact opposite: we want to dampen the level of panic. We hope that by listing many dozens of predictions of disasters on past dates -- all of which have failed -- that people will realize that some very intelligent, respected, dedicated individuals have been totally wrong when they made their prophecies.

Rapture and end of the world predictions have been common throughout Christianity and other religions for almost 2000 years. Like other dates in our It is almost certain that the following prediction of the date of the end of the world will not come true. We will be very surprised if it did.

Prediction of the rapture on 2011-MAY-21 by Harold Camping:

Harold Camping, President of Family Stations Inc -- a.k.a. Family Radio -- predicted that "we can know from the Bible alone that the date of the rapture of believers would take place on 2011-MAY-21.

His previous estimate was 1994-SEP-06 which appears to have failed. If it had succeeded, it would have been obvious to us all. At that time, some of his followers gathered around dressed in their Sunday best and carrying their Bibles open to the sky, but were disappointed when Jesus, as usual, was a no-show.

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The bases for Camping's latest prediction:

His reasoning for this new date is as follows:

  • "The number 5 ... equals "atonement." 10 is "completeness." 17 means "heaven." 5 x 10 x 17 = 850.

  • (850) x (850) = 722,500. This can be interpreted as: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.

  • Camping believes that Christ was executed on 33-APR-01. The interval from that date to 2011-APR-01 is exactly 1,978 years.

  • 1,978 multiplied by 365.2422 days (the average number of days in each solar year) = 722,449 days.

  • Adding 51 days brings the total days since Jesus' execution to: 722,500. This will occur on 2011-MAY-21.

Unfortunately, there is no consensus on the date of Jesus' execution by the Roman occupation army during the first century CE. Dates range from the year 29 to 33. However, if Camping's computational process is correct but is based on the wrong year, then the date for the rapture might have already passed.

Camping said: "Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story. It's the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you're completely saved." 1

We have been unable to uncover any reason why multiplying the three numbers together, instead of adding or performing some other arithmetic function, is meaningful. We are also at a loss to understand why he would square the resultant number.

He has a second line of reasoning that is based on Noah's flood. Camping quotes two biblical verses:

  • Genesis 7:4: "Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth" and

  • 2 Peter 3:8: "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day"

He concluded that 2011-MAY-21 is the 7,000th anniversary of Noah's Flood which he believes happened in 4990 BCE. 6

He also beleives that 2011-MAY-21 is the end of a 33 year interval of Tribulation during which Satan has ruled over the churches. As proof of the latter, he points to the increasing acceptance of lesbian and gay clergy, and the increase in the number of charismatic and Pentecostal congregations. He also teaches that baptism and confession rituals are worthless. 2

A summary of the prophecy was posted by ITNNews on You Tube:


"Panatiychuck74" posted many You Tube videos, one of which is:


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The publicity campaign:

According to a posting by Andrew Stuttaford on the Skeptical Conservatives web site, Camping is 89 years-of-age, a former civil engineer, and owner of a network of 60 stations in the U.S. as well as additional stations in Russia, South Africa, and Turkey. Assets allegedly total 120 million. Stuttaford wrote:

"Those deep pockets were raided to allow Family Radio to launch a high-profile advertising campaign, proclaiming the approaching Day of Judgment. More than 2,000 billboards across the US are adorned with its slogans, which include 'Blow the trumpet, warn the people!'. A fleet of logoed camper vans is touring every state in the nation. 'Its getting real close. Its really getting pretty awesome, when you think about it,' Mr Camping told The Independent on Sunday. 'Were not talking about a ball game, or a marriage, or graduating from college. Were talking about the end of the world, a matter of being eternally dead, or being eternally alive, and its all coming to a head right now'." 5

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Justin Berton,, 2010-JAN-01, at:
  2. Jaweed Kaleem, "Harold Camping: The man behind Judgment Day...," Huffington Post, 2011-MAY-19, at:
  3. "The world will end on May 21 says Christian group," itnnews, at:
  4. Panatiychuck74, "May 21st Rolling earthquake!!! JUDGMENT DAY 111," You Tube at:
  5. Andrew Stuttaford, "Forget 2012, The End is Even More Nigh" Skeptical Conservatives, 2011-MAR-11, at:
  6. "Harold Camping is a false Doomsday prophet, NO earthquake in New Zealand, IBTimes San Francisco, 2011-MAY-21, at:

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Copyright 1997 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-MAY-21, Judgment day
Author: B.A. Robinson

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