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End of the World – May 21, 2023

End of the World Day on May 21, commemorates the day when the apocalypse was to happen in 2011. An American radio host and then President of the Family Radio Christian network, Harold Camping, warned the world of the approaching apocalypse, as per the Bible. He claimed that the rapture and the Judgment Day would occur on May 21, 2011, the day Christians would ascend to Heaven. He also declared that the end of the world would take place five months after that, on October 21. Camping said May 21 would be the date of the rapture “beyond the shadow of a doubt” and the event was to unfold at 6 p.m. local time.

History of End of the World

Harold Camping’s predictions were rejected by most Christian groups. Some churches cited the verse in ‘Matthew 24:36’ where Christ says that “about that day or hour no one knows.” Church officials continued their business and scheduled their church services as usual for Sunday, May 22. To support his arguments for the May 21 doomsday, Camping stated that he had mathematically calculated the prophecies in the Bible for decades.

As a result of his predictions, many of his followers gave up their jobs, stopped investing in their children’s education, sold their properties, and even spent huge amounts promoting his apocalyptic claims. In 2011, around 7000 ethnic Hmong Christians gathered in a desolate town in Vietnam’s Điện Biên province in early May. They had planned to wait for Christ to arrive. The Vietnamese government dispersed the gathering. Many were arrested for extremism, while hundreds were shot dead by the Vietnamese forces. The massacre was linked to false predictions by Camping.

On May 23, Camping refused to apologize for his earlier interpretations. He stated that his predictions had already been fulfilled: on May 21, 1988, the churches were judged; on September 7, 1994, judgment continued on the churches; and on May 21, 2011, the entire world was judged. After the prediction failed, media attention shifted to Camping and his followers for their responses. On May 23, Camping said that May 21 had been the Day of Judgment, and following the physical rapture on October 21, 2011, the whole universe would be destroyed by God. On October 16, however, Camping admitted to an interviewer that he was not sure when the end would come. He declined to comment publicly after October 21, when his predicted apocalypse did not occur.

End of the World timeline

1998
Doomsday Literature

Camping’s book “We Are Almost There!” published by Family Stations Inc., details the timing of the end.

May 19, 2011
The Internet Goes Wild

The search term “end of the world May 21st,” becomes the second top search term on Google in the U.S.

March 2012
A Change of Heart

In a letter to Family Radio listeners, Camping admits to having been mistaken about the end-of-the-world date.

December 15, 2013
Camping Passes Away

Camping dies at the age of 92 as a result of complications from a two-week-old fall at home.

End of the World FAQs

How big was Camping’s campaign?

Camping used about 5,000 billboards, posters, flyers, and digital bus displays across the U.S. to spread his message.

How much did the campaign cost?

Family Radio spent over $100 million on the information campaign, financed by sales and swaps of broadcast outlets.

What was Camping’s education?

Camping graduated with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

End of the World Activities

  1. Evaluate your life

    If you knew for sure that the world would end tomorrow, what would you want from your life? This day is excellent for reflecting on this point.

  2. Put your affairs in order

    People who leave the world without writing a will, create a slew of problems for their families. End of the World Day is a good opportunity to write your will.

  3. Party like never before

    The world had been predicted to end at the start of 2000, so some people chose to go out in style — by wild partying. Even though the world might not end this May, it’s still a fitting chance to party!

5 Interesting Facts About Harold Camping And Predictions

  1. Dutch Roots

    Camping’s parents were Dutch immigrants who met each other in the United States.

  2. Hiding from the public

    After his predictions flopped, Camping remained indoors, drew his curtains, and didn’t answer the door until the following day.

  3. Spectacular failure

    “Time” magazine's website listed Camping's end of the world prediction as one of “Time's” ‘Top 10 Failed Predictions.’

  4. The Ig Nobel prize

    Camping and several other people who incorrectly predicted the apocalypse were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics in 2011, for teaching the world to be cautious when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.

  5. Predictions as old as time

    One of the earliest recorded mentions of doomsday goes back to 2800 B.C. on an Assyrian clay tablet with warnings of the end.

Why We Love End of the World

  1. Reminds us to be thoughtful

    Camping misled hundreds of people with his absurd warnings and fake predictions about the end times. This day reminds us to be careful about spreading the word on such sensitive issues.

  2. Records a significant event

    The End of the World Day keeps a record of the predictions of a preacher who was completely convinced of the certainty of his claims. It also documents the different responses to the prophecy.

  3. Helps us think ahead

    For those inclined, this day makes us reflect on what we’d like to achieve by the end of our lives. It keeps us grounded on what’s important.

End of the World dates

YearDateDay
2023May 21Sunday
2024May 21Tuesday
2025May 21Wednesday
2026May 21Thursday
2027May 21Friday

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