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May 23rd, 2011
05:04 PM ET

Preacher now says end of the world will happen in 5 months

By Kim Hutcherson and Dan Gilgoff, CNN

(CNN) – Harold Camping is sticking to his apocalyptic guns.

In his first radio broadcast since his doomsday prediction failed to pan out in a spectacularly public fashion, the California preacher insisted his was an error of interpretation, not fact.

What's more, he has another calculation for the day the world will end - October 21, 2011.

Camping had kept a low-profile since Saturday, the day he had forecast for the return of Jesus Christ to Earth. He and his devoted followers have been warning for months that on May 21, a select 2% to 3% of the world's population would be taken to heaven. Those left behind would face months of tribulation before perishing in the Earth's destruction, which Camping said would happen on October 21.

This is the basis for his new prediction, which Camping claims is not new at all. He told listeners on his Family Radio broadcast Monday that God is "loving and merciful," and had decided not to punish the humanity with five months of destruction.

But he maintains that the end of the world is still coming.

"We've always said October 21 was the day," Camping said during his show. "The only thing we didn't understand was the spirituality of May 21. We're seeing this as a spiritual thing happening rather than a physical thing happening. The timing, the structure, the proofs, none of that has changed at all."

However, Camping said his group would not be mounting another advertising push. In the months leading up to May 21, Family Radio billboards popped up across the country, warning that the end was near.

"We're not going to be passing out tracts," Camping said. "We're not going to put up any more billboards. We're not going to be advertising in any way. The world has been warned. We did our little share and the media picked it up. But now the world has been told, it's under judgment."

Fred Store, who led one of four RV caravans that toured the country in recent months to spread the word about judgment day, said he and other followers heard Camping's broadcast "and we were quite happy - it will be interesting to see what the next couple of months will bring."

"It appears as though this whole [rapture] thing happened in a spiritual, rather than a physical way," said Store, 66. The retired electrician said that he and the other nine members of his five-RV caravan were still at an RV park where they waited for the rapture to arrive on Saturday.

He said the park was within 100 miles of Boston, Massachusetts, but didn't want to disclose the specific location. He said the caravan was waiting for word from Camping's ministry, Family Radio, about arranging the return of the vehicles to the broadcaster's Oakland, California, headquarters.

Store said he and the others in his caravan were not disappointed that the dramatic events associated with the rapture had not come to pass.

"We think that judgment day did happen," he said. "It didn’t result in an earthquake, and there were a number of things that weren't exactly the way we said they would be, but we were only reading from the Bible.  We’ve been humbled by the whole experience."

Camping founded Family Radio, a nonprofit Christian radio network with about 65 stations across the country, in 1958. It received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009.

He first inaccurately predicted the world would end in 1994. Despite his poor track record, he has gathered many followers. Some gave up their homes, entire life savings and jobs because they believed the world was ending.

Reporters who were allowed to ask questions during the broadcast Monday pressed Camping on this issue, but he would not admit that he bore any blame for his followers' predicaments.

"I don't have any responsibility," Camping said. "I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says. I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household."

Experts in apocalyptic movements said that reinterpretations like Camping's are not uncommon in the wake of failed doomsday predictions.

“Historically, failed prophecies tend to result in disillusionment, with members deserting the group, or, more typically, a faith-saving (and face-saving) statement to the effect that while divine revelation remains infallible, human calculation is not,” said Lorenzo DiTommaso, author of the forthcoming book “The Architecture of Apocalypticism” and an associate professor of religion at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. 

“In short: The math was off, and it’s back to the drawing board,” he said. “If the logic seems a bit self-serving, recall that in the apocalyptic mindset, faith precedes theory, and theory informs the evidence."

–CNN's Jessica Ravitz contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • End times

soundoff (4,998 Responses)
  1. ppp man

    One thing for sure Camping couldn't find in his bible is the Biblicle's Covenant Date of the Doomsday, why? B'coz he is just another NUTS.
    To answer all your doubts kindly refer to The Almighty Allah's Final Revelation i.e The Holy Al-Quran. (Yusuf Ali English Translation of The Holy Quran – Maryland U.S.A)

    November 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  2. Kory Chehebar

    Gambling is also a major international commercial activity, with the legal gambling market totaling an estimated $335 billion in 2009.In other forms, gambling can be conducted with materials which have a value, but are not real money. For example, players of marbles games might wager marbles, and likewise games of Pogs or Magic: The Gathering can be played with the collectible game pieces (respectively, small discs and trading cards) as stakes, resulting in a meta-game regarding the value of a player's collection of pieces.:'

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    May 7, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  3. Harley Elsmore

    Some people vacation in permanent camps with cabins and other facilities (such as hunting camps or children's summer camps), but a stay at such a camp is usually not considered camping. The term camping (or camping out) may also be applied to those who live outdoors, out of necessity (as in the case of the homeless), or for people waiting overnight in queues.:

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  5. Earl

    Good day,
    In the Bible, we can read:
    “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.”
    Ecclesiastes 1:4 (NIV)
    It is written-the earth remains forever which means the world will not end
    If we also read Jesus’ statement in Luke 21:5-11 we will understand that these series of conflicts, calamities and earthquakes happening around the world today are NOT signs of a “coming end of the world” but as signs of the nearing FALL of the temples who taught that “he (jesus) is the christ” and that “the time of the end is near”. Know why these temples are to fall through the following links:
    http://www.thename.ph/thename/testimony/jes02-en.html
    http://www.thename.ph/thename/revelations/greatestdeception-en.htm.
    May you read the said links with your Bible and with an open mind.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  6. Not this again...

    Wait, did I miss something? Or has the End Of The World been rescheduled again?

    November 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
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  13. hippypoet

    I hope the world doesnt end cuz that could mean the end of the doo doo.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  14. JamesDane

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    December 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  15. myklds

    The Great Flood

    1.)The objective(s)- cleanse and replenish
    2.)The Way(s) – water/flood
    3.)The representative(s)- Noah
    4.)The Ones who have the exact knowledge- Father, Son and Noah

    The end of days

    1.)The objective(s)- destroy and transport (rapture)
    2.)The Way(s) – fire/burning
    3.)The representative(s)- Christ Himself
    4.)The Ones who have the exact knowledge- The Father & Son ONLY

    To elaborate:

    The objective of our Heavenly father of the great flood was only to cleanse the earth form evil and replinish it with good. This might be the reason behind that He only chose one of his middlemen (prophet Noah) to proclaim about it.

    On the other hand, the End of Days must be brought to pass to ultimately destroy the earth and save the chosen fews through rapture to another place called paradise/heaven. That must be the reason why Heavenly Father only confide the exact time ONLY to His only Beggoten Son, NOT to any of His Moses, Noah, Jeremiah, Isiah and...DEFINITELY NOT TO HAROLD CAMPING.

    Harold's predictions of End of Days more is more likely NO other than HIS OWN.

    October 21, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • Jimtanker

      And your predictions mean nothing to anyone but you. Quit reading your fairy tales and live in the real world.

      October 21, 2011 at 6:34 am |
    • moshe

      welcome to post October 21

      what's the new date?

      October 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Jennifer Rodgers

      No one knows the day by which Jesus is coming back. Not even Jesus himself, only God knows and this guy is so full of it!!

      October 29, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  16. Margie Collier

    Mr. Camping is certainly not alone in his doomsday predictions – it seems as if every time I turn around I hear of another one! So many of us give credence to the Mayan Calendar instead of realizing that the calendar had to end sometime! (Note: my calendar ends on December 31st; I will have to buy a new one!)
    Egoism can be defined as the use of my own desire to receive pleasure only for myself. More and more of us are realizing that this is impossible to fulfill, let alone maintain. “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we will die”. Our eating, drinking, and merry-making no longer give us satisfaction.
    We seem to be attracted to death and catastrophes as if we want to watch this old world disappear—in short, anything to stop our feelings of hopelessness. “End of the world” themes in entertainment are box office gold. Why fix today’s problems when we will be gone tomorrow?
    Can we fix today’s problems? I can’t, but we can. By acknowledging our interdepence and begin to think—and act—in “we” terms, we just might make it past 2012.

    October 20, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • David Prosser

      We just went through this! This reminds me of Back to the Future II. Sequels never measure up! (although that hoverboard was pretty cool). Prediction: Doomsday doesn't come and he pulls the same stunt again, saying, "Well, this time it's a comin'! Yes, death come's unexpectedly!"

      Well if we listened to this guy we'd all live to be over 100.

      But to be serious for a second, and only a second because this guy missed his true calling as a comedian, Margie is right. Although it pains me to say anyone else is right cause of my ego. And that's the problem, we're all interconnected now because of globalization but that massive ego we all have brings about the huge crises we all see: economics, ecology, education, etc.

      The saying, "Why can't we all just get along," sounds fantastic. But it also sounds like something somebody says in a fairy tale soon followed by, "And they lived happily ever after." It takes real internal investigation to get along with people in today's day and age.

      And because, like Margie says, I can't do it on my own (and hey, I get lonely that way) – it's gonna then take everyone working together on this problem. Not some preacher every six months yelling that the sky is falling.

      How about a global education initiative? That's a great idea! (yes, I can call my ideas great if I want. And it makes my ego do a little dance). If we were all educated about this new globalized and interconnected world we all live in we would be able to rise above all these global crises.

      And hey, the preacher can come along too cause it must be pretty hectic thinking the world is ending all the time.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  17. Jewish guy

    Wow... Really? Come on. Honestly. I thought people were a tad smarter than this.

    October 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  18. JACK

    END OF THE WORLD ((((((((((((( IT WILL HAPPEN ))))))))))))))))

    October 18, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Derrick

      Yes the world will end in about several billion years. Anyone that follows this nut job Camping should disappear. It would make the world a better place without these idiots in it.

      October 24, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  19. Ashamed

    Its people like this that give Christian's a bad name. If they spent half as much time studying their word and letting the lord instruct them than putting man's word to it this world might be better off. Never has Christ ever preached fire and damnation. He preached love, acceptance, and forgiveness. The issue put forth by this article is clearly ignorance. Any student of the bible knows that it clearly states that no man knows when the father cometh accept him and him alone. That's why it also states that christ warned that he would come like a thief in the night, so why would he allow man to know when he is coming.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  20. Gamino

    we are just like in the days of Noah having good time eating, drinking marrying.(unbelieving) business as usual all of a sudden the flood came..and they all perish away..this time mighty great earthquake tsunami fire heat will will come to destroy us..2nd peter 3:7....10 to 13 rev 16:18 to 20...it is unfair...if the thieft on the cross went to heaven...we can do it too..right?...by only God mercy of course......

    October 1, 2011 at 5:06 am |
    • myklds

      "we are just like in the days of Noah having good time eating, drinking marrying.(unbelieving) business as usual all of a sudden the flood came"

      There are huge differences between The Great Flood compared to the End of Days, allow to enumerate some of them:

      The Great Flood End of Days
      1.)The objective cleanse & replinish destroy & transport(rapture)
      2.)Procedure water/flood fire/burning
      3.)The representative Noah The Saviour Himself
      4.)The Divines Father, Son & Noah Father & Son ONLY

      To elaborate:

      The objective of our Heavenly father of the great flood was only to cleanse the earth form evil and replinish it with good. This might be the reason behind that He only chose one of his middlemen (prophet Noah) to proclaim about it.

      On the other hand, the End of Days must be brought to pass to ultimately destroy the earth and save the chosen fews through rapture to another place called paradise/heaven. That must be the reason why Heavenly Father only confide the exact time ONLY to His only Beggoten Son, NOT to any of His Moses, Noah, Jeremiah, Isiah and...DEFINITELY NOT TO HAROLD CAMPING.

      Harold predictions of End of Days more is more likely NO other than HIS OWN.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:47 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.