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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. Cathy the christian

    I am updating my calender planner with the new end of the world date.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  2. newkev

    i bet he predicated his donations would shoot way up with his "followers" giving him all their money.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  3. Tom

    Suppose he was right and we (including him) are part of the group left behind?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  4. Cathy the christian

    Oops anyone can make a error... I am updating my planning the real end of the world.

    I am on my knees everyday praying that I am saved from this California preacher predictions...

    May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  5. Stuart

    I think this guy needs to be hung and gutted alive!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • louise jackson

      Not so harsh..... I think the media needs to ignor this dude!!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • john

      thats a pretty disgusting thing to say about any human being.. seriously

      May 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  6. Skeletor

    I wonder what date he will have ready to go when October 22nd 2011 comes??

    May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  7. SS

    Is God a christian???? Then it is bloddy unfair to good people of other faiths like Hindus, buddhists to rot in hell while only good christians can have the virgins in Heaven. GOD is a bloody racist

    May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • john

      christians dont believe virgins await them in heaven

      May 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • SS

      I knew that dude..I don't see much difference between christians and the muslims except they are a bit more civilized and less violent.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • SS

      I knew that dude..I do not see much difference between christians and the muslims except they are a bit more civilized and less violent.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  8. D

    So when are people going to find out about this looks-to-be Ponzi scheme?
    Tbh, we can order a doomsday on ourselves at anytime.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • john

      he should be investigated by the government

      May 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  9. Mark

    wonder how much money this guy made off with in his pyrmaid scheme

    May 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  10. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    Jeff Foxworthy can do a whole bit on this.
    Everyone that believes in this end of the world stuff: here's your sign!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Bill Engvall

      Hey, watch it... the signs were my gig, not Foxwothy's...

      May 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Duh

      That's Bill Engvall, not Jeff Foxworthy. Here's your sign 1nd3p3nd3nt.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • GDoug

      Or maybe Bill Engvall could. It's his bit, after all...

      May 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • T&W

      That would be Bill Engvall, but good try.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  11. newkev

    if it doesn't end in Oct, can we never run a story on this man again?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  12. Mark

    maybe this time he will be really off and he will have his own cable talk show

    May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  13. Chris

    There's a nice jail cell next to Bernie Madoff....

    May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  14. Pastafarian

    bunch of morons. the only difference between this nutjob and the rest of the people who believe the fabrications in the bible is the date.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • john

      your thought pattern is what lead to the holocaust

      May 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • louise jackson

      There's one more nutjob... you!!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      John: please explain this beyond-ignorant response!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      Louise: you'll have to be more specific. Try to support your argument with some sort of lucid thinking. Thank you.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  15. Mark

    yea just form looking at this guy and he looks like a nut

    May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  16. NearingTheEnd

    Though I will turn 40 on October 21st, I really don't expect it to be the end of the world. It's not that bad :-) .... It takes all kinds to make this world go round. Sadly, the ratio of crazies to non-crazies does seem a bit off.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Bruce

      Camping: Oh, did I say the end of the world? I meant the end of your thirties! Sorry about the inconvenience.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  17. absurDitty

    what never ends is stupidity

    May 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  18. Mark

    if this guy can predict the end of the world how come i didnt read anything else about him before predicting anything else bad maybe he is an alien

    May 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  19. Illuminati

    http://www.wecanknow.com Harold Campings website. Good humor! Pass it on....

    May 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  20. Antoinette

    His predictions are not from the Bible. The Bible states " But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

    May 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bruce

      I just called Camping and read him that verse you just quoted. He said it was the first time he had ever heard of it, and then immediately recanted all of his predictions. Yay!

      Who thought it would be that easy?

      May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • buck

      how will one know if the prophet is false?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Mike

      i think it's funny how christians like yourself try to separate yourself from this man. you are no less crazy. you worship a god and religion that says there will indeed be a day at some point in the future where you will be whisked away to fairyland and everyone else here will suffer. this god is watching all of us from space. he also wrote a bible 2,000 years ago which is tens of thousands of years after humans first appeared on the earth. it all makes no sense. it's akin to a mental illness. so, don't sit there and feel content by separating yourself from this man because you are equally crazy.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
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About this blog

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.