May 21, 2011 Rapture

May 21, 2011 Rapture

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Updated May 21, 2013 at 02:12PM EDT by Brad.

Added May 20, 2011 at 01:35PM EDT by Don.

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May 21st, 2011 Rapture Prediction was an unfulfilled prophecy made by Harold Camping, who had claimed that May 21st, 2011 will bring the “Rapture” -- the day when those who follow the Christian faith will be taken to live eternally in a place called “heaven”, leaving the rest of the non-believers behind. As with previous apocalyptic prophecies, Camping’s prediction became a popular discussion topic and the subject of several image macros, leading to various rapture-related hashtags like “iftheworldendsonsaturday and #findelmundo on Twitter.


Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster, has preached to followers about the end of the world for several years. He published a book in 1992 titled 1994? in which he makes the claim that the world would end in September 1994. After it turned out to be wrong, he revised the dates to be a May 21st, 2011 Rapture, followed by an October 21st, 2011 annihilation of the world.

Notable Developments

Operation Rapture

A thread titled “Operation Rapture” was posted to Reddit on May 19th, 2011 that included an image with "instructions to wake up early on May 21st, and throw clothes on to the street to make it appear as if a mass amount of people were teleported to the after life.[1]


Beginning May 20th, Twitter users began sharing what they would do if the world ends on May 21st using the hashtag #iftheworldendsonsaturday:

In Spanish-speaking regions, people tweeted about May 21st rapture using the hashtag #findelmundo:

eBay Auction

A eBay user put up an auction[3] for $100,000 post-Rapture life insurance at a starting bid of $19.99:

Don’t be caught off guard and leave your family high and dry without a way to survive when you are taken to Heaven. You know YOU are going to Heaven, but maybe you aren’t sure about your wife/husband/kids. Prepare for this magical day and take care of your family. I am offering $100,000 of insurance for $19.99. I will email a copy of your plan to the family member of your choice. Please leave the email of a family member that you know for a fact won’t be Raptured with your Paypal payment. .

-No refunds if Rapture is postpones/cancelled by Mr. Camping.

Blog Coverage

Buzzfeed[5] set out to document all the important information from around the Web dealing with “The Rapture” by setting up a special Rapture Feed. FAILBlog[8] posted a compilation of image macros showing Family Radio’s billboards with seal of FAIL. The Oatmeal author Matthew Inman’s cartoon titled “How is God Handling the Rapture” (shown below, far left) depicts how god might use a computer to orchestrate the rapture with a less than stellar outcome.[7]

Facebook Events

Two separate events were set up for Post Rapture happenings. One was “Post Rapture Looting.” “When everyone is gone and god’s not looking, we need to pick up some sweet stereo equipment and maybe some new furniture for the mansion we’re going to squat in.”[6] The second event was titled “Being alive-May 22, 2011-Day after doomsday” because “Harold Camping says the worlds gonna end May 21st, 2011. I say it’s not going to end, because nobody knows when itll end… so if you plan on being alive on may 22, then join the event and invite your friends.”[6]

Post-Rapture Pet Care Service

The worst part of being raptured is leaving behind your beloved pets. Services on the web offed care for these pets once the rapture took place. “After the Rapture Pet Care”[9] & “Eternal Earth-Bound Pets U.S.”[10] asked the question: “If The Rapture Happened Right Now, What Would Happen To Your Pets?” They were there to help with the answer. Caring Atheist offered to care for Christian’s beloved pets that were left behind.[11]

Rapture Bombing

The Rapture Bombing flash mob campaign was further boosted by participation from celebrities like comedian David Copperfield and pro-skater Tony Hawk. Gizmodo’s follow-up post “Best Rapture Prank Pictures” was published on May 21st, 2011 and received over 5 million views in the first 72 hours.

Camping’s Response

After May 21st came and went, Harold Camping said that May 21st was an “invisible judgment day” of a spiritual nature.

“We had all of our dates correct,” Camping insisted, clarifying that he now understands that Christ’s May 21 arrival was “a spiritual coming” ushering in the last five months before the final judgment and destruction.[12]

On October 10th, 2011, the International Business Times[13] reported that Camping had revised the doomsday date to October 21, 2011.

“Thus we can be sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011, on the last day of the present five months period,”

The following day, The Christian Post[14] published an article questioning whether Camping was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

After his May 21 flub, Camping suffered a stroke in June, which many believe was a result of the immense amount of stress and pressure he endured due to the public reaction to his misjudgment.

“After a stroke, it is known that there is an increase in the production of the toxic amyloid beta peptides that are believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease,” wrote ScienceDaily.

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