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Harold Camping's failed prediction of the rapture

Part 4: What actually did happen on
2011-MAY-21. Reactions by Christian leaders

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What actually did happen on MAY-21?

Nothing much, in terms of Harold Camping's predictions. A tragedy in terms of loss of at least one life by suicide.

  • Earth quakes: Harold Camping predicted that a massive earthquake would occur precisely on 2011-MAY-21 at 6 PM local time, on or near the international date line -- perhaps in Fiji and/or New Zealand. It was to "make Japan's earthquake look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison." 1 It didn't happen. Another quake of similar intensity was supposed to occur, perhaps in Australia, an hour later at 6 PM local time. It didn't happen either. Subsequent earthquakes were to occur at hourly intervals at 6 PM local time moving in a westerly direction around the world, until the entire surface of the earth will have been shaken severely. None materialized. 2 If they had, they would have violated many laws of nature. Jesus did not return in the sky. Graves did not open. The bodies of the dead "in Christ" did not reconstitute themselves, convert to spiritual bodies, and rise through the air. Living born-again Christians did not follow the zombies by rising into the sky to meet Jesus.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a small earthquake measuring 4.9 on the open-ended Richter scale did happen about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from New Zealand at 6:31 PM local time. Several thousand earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 or greater occur yearly and are strong enough to register on seismographs all around the world. Just by comparison, the Japan earthquake earlier in 2011 registered 8.9 on the Richter scale and released 10,000 times more energy than this mini-quake. 3

  • An unknown number of Camping's supporters are in desperate finanacial straights because they had earlier cashed in their assetts and gave them to Family Radio to publicize Camping's predictions to the world.

  • At least one suicide is known to have happened. The family of Nastya Zachinova, 14, who lived in the Republic of Mari El in Central Russia, told the Russian media that she sincerely believed in Camping's predictions and committed suidide to avoid being among the people left on earth to suffer terrible devestations. She had felt that she was not among the "righteous" people who would be raptured to Heaven, but would be left behind and suffer. Her last diary entry read:
    "Whales are trying to beach themselves and birds are dying – it is just the beginning of the end. ... We are not righteous people, only they will go to heaven, the others will stay here on Earth to go through terrible sufferings. I don’t want to die like the others. That’s why I’ll die now."
    She hanged herself, thus probably snuffing out seven decades of potential life, because she believed in Harold Camping.

Laughing face image After the failure of Camping's prophecy, some readers,' listeners,' and viewer,'comments to various media were a little nasty:

  • Alex Falkenberg tweeted: "This whole rapture thing, so far, is entirely underwhelming."

  • Tameka Raymond tweeted: "Breaking News: An Earthquake of 0.0 Magnitude has hit New Zealand." 1

  • E.N. tweeted: "We’ll its past 7pm MAY- 21st in New Zealand and so far no earthquakes." 4

  • "ProBrianCox" tweeted: "I think we should all pretend the rapture is happening so that when Harold Camping gets left behind later today he'll be livid." 5

  • The Huffington Press offered a live blog. They posted a picture that was sent to them, and showed clothing laid out on grass. They commented: "Is this shirt, pants, and shovel the remains of someone Raptured? Or are these items just left out on the grass for some other reason? If you see any naked devout Christians floating into the sky, please contact us immediately." 5

  • A day earlier, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg had prophecized: "The world cannot end tomorrow. You know why? It can't end at least until the Knicks win a championship again. We've got a long time to go. ... If the world ends tomorrow I don't think you have to worry about returning library books, parking tickets. ... Think about it. If the world were to end tomorrow it would fix our traffic problems." 6

  • The local American Humanist Association group organized a two-day anti-Rapture extravaganza in Fayetteville, NC. It included a party on Saturday and a concert on Sunday. However, they suggest that the concert might possibly have to be cancelled in the event of a natural catastrophe of some sort. 6

  • A group of Atheists in Tacoma, WA sponsored a party on the evening of MAY-21. The topic is "Countdown to backpedaling." Sam Mulvey, producer of a weekly Atheist radio show, said: "If the world still exists the next day, Family Radio is going to have to say something and most of the time they backpedal, and that's what we're counting down to." 6

  • "Aldonoir" posted a question at asking whether the rapture failed because, with the obesity epidemic, many Christians are simply too heavy for God to lift into the air. 7

On a positive note, Howard Camping and Family Radio will probably get to keep some of the funds that they raised to publicize the rapture. Multimillionaire Harold Camping had told Contra Costa Times: "'If we have any money left, and we will because we have to pay bills up to the very end. ... it will all be destroyed because the world will be in a day of judgment. The money is not important at all. It's a vehicle to spread the judgment and a vehicle of the Lord."

At noon on MAY-21, we were unable to view the Family Radio website's home page at It returned an error message: "The connection has timed out." This is most likely caused by overload of their servers. However, the Judgment Day URL at was accessible. Meanwhile, the Family Radio network aired "recorded church music, devotionals and life advice unrelated to the apocalypse during the day." 8

Camping's Oakland, CA office was closed with a sign on the door reading "This office is closed. Sorry we missed you." On MAY-21, partiers gathered in front of the offices. One held a green sign saying: "THIS IS A SIGN." Another held an orange sign saying (upside down): "UPSIDE DOWN SIGN." Another sign appeared to say: "Harold Camping, MAY-21st. False Prophet." Still another said: "COME SEE US MAY-22. SUNDAY - 10 AM." Some Atheists simulated the rapture. They used helium to inflate balloons in human form, and released them into the sky just after 6 PM.

Harold Camping allegedly told his daughter Sue Expinoza on the evening of Judgment Day that: "I'm a little bewildered that it didn't happen, but it's still MAY-21 (in the United States)." His neighbors said he was at home in Alemeda CA, but nobody answered the door. 9

The newscast on CNN that normally terminates at 6 PM Eastern Time extended its program a few seconds after the hour, into Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room program's time allocation, just in case Judgment Day started. It didn't.

Richard Ascough, an associate professor at Queen’s University at Kingston ON, Canada teaches a course on apocalyptic literature. He said that what is distinctive about Camping's prophecy is that:

"... he’s able to do the kind of media blitz that many of the earlier groups couldn’t because of mass communication. He’s really done a media blitz bigger than any I’m familiar with." 10

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Reaction(s) by Christian leaders:

Ed Stetzer, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s missiologist in residence composed a series of tweets on MAY-21, noting that the prophecy of a series of earthquakes was not materializing.

One stated:

"Harold Camping, pls update w/your repentance statement & instructions to your now-broke followers."

The next tweet said:

"6pm here in Turkey. I’m standing at the Temple of Athena waiting for the Rapture. Nothing happened. ;-)" 11

Dr. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the bestselling "Left Behind" series of end-time prophetic novels commented on Camping's claim:

"... that Jesus Christ will come to rapture believers on May 21, 2011 -- this is not only wrong but dangerous. They also claim that God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011-- this is not only bizarre but 100% wrong!" 12

"Our Lord Jesus Himself said of the time when He will return to rapture His church to Heaven…that no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but my Father only (Matthew 24:36). These words were preceded with verse 35, when He also said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

We expect that many other religious leaders will criticize Camping's prophecies. Some may even ask for his formal apology, and perhaps that he develop a plan to return some of the donations to his followers so that they can begin to rebuild their lives.

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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. Harold Camping is a false Doomsday prophet, NO earthquake in New Zealand, IBTimes, San Francisco, 2011-MAY-21, at:
  2. Jaweed Kaleem, "Harold Camping: The man behind Judgment Day...," Huffington Post, 2011-MAY-19, at:
  3. "Japan Earthquake (8.9 RichterScale!!!) Makes it # 5 Ever Recorded Magnitude 8 and Greater Earthquakes Since 1900 Sorted by Magnitude," Scribd, at:
  4. "Harold Camping’s 21st May Doomsday prediction fails; No earthquake in New Zealand ," Demo Fitness, 2011-MAY-21, at:
  5. "Rapture 2011: Apocalypse Now ... No, Now," Huffington Post, 2011-MAY-21, at:
  6. David Gardner & Mark Duell, "Meet the family who truly believe it is their last moment on Earth... but, so far, nothing's happened on the 'day of rapture'," Daily Mail (UK), 2011-MAY-21, at:
  7. Aldonoir, "Could be many Christians 'too heavy' to be raptured?," Answer Bag, 2011-MAY-21, at:
  8. "Harold Camping's Family Radio Goes Quiet With May 21 Actually Here," Huffington Post, 2011-MAY-21, at:
  9. Jayme Poisson, "Pure rapture," Toronto Star, 2011-MAY-22, Page A6.
  10. Bradley Bouzand & Keith Bonnell, "No signs of panic as predicted doomsday arrives," Vancouver Sun, 2011-MAY-21, at:
  11. Michelle A. Vu, "Harold Camping Should Publicly Repent, Says Faith Expert," Christian Post, 2011-MAY-21, at:
  12. Tim LaHaye, "Is Harold Camping right this time?," Left Behind website, 2011-MAY, at: This comment is on the site's home page and thus may be a temporary listing.

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Copyright © 1997 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-MAY-29 (Judgment Day + 8, and all is well)
Author: B.A. Robinson

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