May 21, 2011: Harold Camping says the end is near

By Elizabeth Tenety In this Dec. 17, 2010 photo in Raleigh, N.C., Allison Warden poses with her car showing a … Continued

By Elizabeth Tenety

In this Dec. 17, 2010 photo in Raleigh, N.C., Allison Warden poses with her car showing a message about the rapture. Warden, of Raleigh, has been helping organize a campaign using billboards, post cards and other media in cities across the U.S. through a website, We Can Know. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (Gerry Broome – AP)

May 21, 2011 is a Saturday –any idea what will you be doing? Prepping for Memorial Day weekend? Attending a baseball game? Holding a backyard barbeque?

Harold Camping, a Christian radio evangelist, believes that on May 21 of this year, the world will begin to end.

Camping and his “loosely organized” followers believe that their reading of the Bible indicates that the Rapture will take place on that date, just under five months from now. From the AP’s report:

Rapture teaches that believers will be taken up to heaven, while everyone else will remain on earth for a period of torment, concluding with the end of time. Camping believes that will happen in October.

Although many Christian denominations have teachings about the end times, few say that they know God’s divine timing. In fact, skeptics of date-naming often cite Matthew’s gospel, in which Jesus says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.”

Want to check Mr. Camping’s calculations? From a January 2010 profile of the evangelist, here’s how he crunched the numbers:

The number 5, . . . equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.” Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011. “Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he began. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.” Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year. Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500. Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500. Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared. “Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved. “I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that,” Camping said.


Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • SilverSpring8

    What’s the number for loony?

  • leenin03

    He made the same prediction about 20 years ago that the world was going to an end. Needless to say…

  • patanthony12

    He’s off by about 4 years on his beginning date. Does that mean the world already ended, and we missed it? The rapture already happened, and we’re all left behind?

  • bob59

    If I claim I had a Revelation from God and discovered 2 + 2 = 4, you have the numbers (constants). No matter how you work them, I’m right.Harold Camping is doing the same. He’s spoon feeding everyone constant numbers he came up with. So no matter how you work it, he’s right…until May 22nd.But, I’m right forever…check it out if you don’t believe me. The, send me money or else God’ll send you to Camping.

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