Harold Camping (1921-present) is an American Christian radio broadcaster, author and evangelist. Since 1958, he has served as president of Family Radio, a California-based radio station group that broadcasts to more than 150 markets in the United States. In October 2011, he retired from active broadcasting following a stroke, but still maintains a role at Family Radio. Camping is notable for issuing multiple failed predictions of dates for the End Times, which temporarily gained him a global following and millions of dollars of donations.
Camping predicted that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on May 21, 2011, whereupon the righteous would fly up to heaven, and that there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011, with the final destruction of the world. He had previously predicted that Judgment Day would occur on or about September 6, 1994.
His prediction for May 21, 2011, was widely reported, in part because of a large-scale publicity campaign by Family Radio, and it prompted rebuttals from both atheist and Christian organizations. After May 21 passed without the predicted incidents, Camping said he believed that a "spiritual" judgment had occurred on that date, and that the physical Rapture would occur on October 21, 2011, simultaneously with the final destruction of the universe by God.
Except for one press appearance on May 23, 2011, Camping largely avoided press interviews after May 21, particularly after he suffered a stroke in June 2011. October 21, 2011, passed without the predicted apocalypse, leading to comments that Camping's ministry would collapse after the false prophecy.
Camping was reported to have retired from his position at Family Radio on October 16, 2011, only days before his last predicted date for the end of the world. However, his daughter later clarified that he had not retired outright, but was maintaining a role at Family Radio while working from home.
Camping admitted in a private interview that he no longer believed that anybody could know the time of the Rapture or the end of the world, in stark contrast to his previously staunch position on the subject. In March 2012, he stated that his attempt to predict a date was "sinful", and that his critics had been right in emphasizing the words of Matthew 24:36: "of that day and hour knoweth no man".
He added that he was now searching the Bible "even more fervently...not to find dates, but to be more faithful in [his] understanding." Since the failure of Camping's prophecies, Family Radio has suffered from a significant loss of assets, staff and revenue.