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2011 end times prediction
Main Articles - Disaster Prophecy
May 17, 2011

The 2011 end times prediction is a prediction made by Christian radio host Harold Camping that the Rapture (in Christian belief, the taking up into heaven of God's elect people) will take place on May 21, 2011 and that the end of the world as we know it will take place five months later on October 21, 2011. These predictions were made by Camping, president of the Family Radio Christian network, who claims the Bible as his source and says May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment "beyond the shadow of a doubt". His followers claim that around 200 million people (approximately 3% of the world's population) will be raptured.

Camping's predictions have not been embraced by most other Christian groups; some have explicitly rejected them. Camping previously claimed that the world would end in September, 1994.

Camping has presented several arguments, or biblical "proofs", in favor of the May 21st end time. A civil engineer by training, Camping states he has attempted to work out mathematically-based prophecies in the Bible for decades. In an interview with SFGate he explained "...I was an engineer, I was very interested in the numbers. I'd wonder, 'Why did God put this number in, or that number in?' It was not a question of unbelief, it was a question of, 'There must be a reason for it.' "

Harold Camping being interviewed about his prediction in early 2011.

As early as 1970, Camping dated the Great Flood to 4990 BC. Taking the prediction in Genesis 7:4 ("Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth") to be a prediction of the end of the world, and combining it with 2 Peter 3:8 ("With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day"), Camping concludes that the end of the world will occur in 2011, 7000 years from 4990 BC. Camping takes the 17th day of the second month mentioned in Genesis 7:11 to be the 21st May, and hence predicts the rapture to occur on this date.

Another argument that Camping uses in favor of the May 21st date is as follows:

  1. According to Camping, the number five equals "atonement", the number ten equals "completeness", and the number seventeen equals "heaven".
  2. Christ is said to have hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years.
  3. If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year, not to be confused with the lunar year), the result is 722,449.
  4. The time between April 1 and May 21 is 51 days.
  5. 51 added to 722,449 is 722,500.
  6. (5 × 10 × 17)2 or (atonement × completeness × heaven)2 also equals 722,500.

Thus, Camping concludes that 5 × 10 × 17 is telling us a "story from the time Christ made payment for our sins until we're completely saved."

In Camping's 1992 self-published book 1994? he predicted that the End Times would come in September 1994 (variously reported as September 4 or September 6) When the Rapture failed to occur on the appointed day, Camping said he had made a mathematical error.



Vehicle in San Francisco proclaiming the Harold Camping prediction.

In 2010, Marie Exley of Colorado Springs made news by purchasing advertising space in her locality, promoting the alleged Rapture date on a number of park benches. Since then, 'Judgment Day' billboards have been erected at locations across the world. Some people have adorned their vehicles with the information.[19]

On October 27, 2010, Family Radio launched "Project Caravan". Five RVs arrayed with reflector lettering that declare that Judgment Day begins on May 21, 2011 were sent out from their headquarters in Oakland, California, to Seattle, Washington. Upon arrival, teams are sent out to distribute tracts. The caravan has made stops in Oregon, California, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Utah, Maryland, and other states, as well as Canada.


Camping's rapture prediction, along with some of his other teachings and beliefs, have sparked some controversy in the Christian world. His critics often quote Bible verses (such as Matthew 24:36) which they claim imply the date of the end will never be known by anyone but God until it actually happens. James Kreuger, author of the book Secrets of the Apocalypse - Revealed, has stated that while he believes the rapture is coming, Camping is incorrect in attempting to nail down a date. "For all his learning, Camping makes a classic beginner's mistake when he sets a date for Christ's return," writes Kreuger. "Jesus himself said in Matthew 24:36, 'Of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.' "[13] However, Camping and his followers respond that this principle only applied to the "church age" or "pre-tribulation period" and does not apply to the present day, citing other verses (such as 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5:5) in their rebuttal.

In a 2001 pamphlet, Camping asserted that believers should "flee the church," resigning from any church they belong to, because the "Church Age" is over and the "Great Tribulation" has begun. This assertion was controversial and drew "a flurry of attacks".

Edwin M. Yamauchi critiqued Camping's dating of the Flood when Camping first published his ideas in 1970.

Theology professor Matthew L. Skinner, writing at the Huffington Post, noted the "long history of failed speculation" about the End Times and cautioned that end-of-the-world talk can lead Christians to social passivity instead of "working for the world's redemption".

Evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins dismissed Camping's prediction, writing that "he will inevitably explain, on May 22nd, that there must have been some error in the calculation, the rapture is postponed to . . . and please send more money to pay for updated billboards."


Camping's writings that detail the timing of the end include:

  • Book
    • 1994? (1992 - predicts the End Times for September, 1994)
    • Time Has An End (2005 - discusses Camping's belief that 2011 is in all likelihood the end of the world)
  • Booklet
    • Has the Era of the Church Come to an End? (2001 - advises that the Great Tribulation has begun and that Christians should "flee their churches")
    • We Are Almost There! (2008 - contains all the information on how May 21, 2011 was arrived at)
  • Tracts
    • The End of the World is Almost Here! Holy God Will Bring Judgment on May 21, 2011 (2009)
    • God Gives Another Infallible Proof That Assures the Rapture Will Occur May 21, 2011 (2009)
    • No Man Knows the Day or the Hour? (2009)



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