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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. Kevin

    he better be wrong again... the Irish play USC on the 22nd and I have tickets!!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Carol

    Wow! Maybe if this "preacher" actually READ the Bible instead of talking about reading it he would know that NO MAN will know; not even the angels in heaven. What an idiot!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Josh

      Its far beyond that. His theories are full of inaccurasies all over. Its his personal interpretation of the Bible. Which he is simply categorized as a False Prophet. And as far as I can remember once God reveals a False Prophet he doesn't turn around 5 months later and turn them into a Prophet of God.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  3. Rooster Cogburn

    His calculations were off??? He probably used a scientific calculator... And no, don't use a financial calculator this time, use a religious calculator, the King James version...

    May 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  4. tintun

    Well....89 yrs old.....doomsday is for him soon.. not for the world....don't ya think so....

    May 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  5. CGriff

    So when the next prediction proves to be another false prophecy, does Camping start handing out refunds on the $80 million to help his followers rebuild their lives in the aftermath? Surely he couldn't have flushed ALL of it away on that misguided advertising campaign. Oh that's right, he doesn't have any responsibility.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  6. Bill

    What a shame that religion has come to this – a false prophet who profits (play on words not intended) at the expense of the emotionally crippled. How amazing that people still listen to this fraud who has done this all before, and who has the gall to put out yet another date for the hopeless to grab onto. I'm not sure who is worse: this snake oil salesman Camper or the wounded birds who have flocked to his cult with blind, unconditional belief in the words of a con artist. He's merely a crook but many of these people have irresponsibly quit their jobs, stopped saving for their kids' educations and otherwise placed themselves and their families in peril. Who do they think is going to bail them out of this mess?

    If you wish to belive in God and the teachings of the bible, that's fine. Just stop being an embarrassment and abomination while you're doint it.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  7. Toby

    Really? Are we STILL talking about this wacko? What have we NOT learned about this whole ordeal? Have we learned NOT to follow those that claim to have the "Answers"? Have we learned that if we believe strong enough, faithfully enough and stay vigilant for the end to arrive, we STILL won't have a clue to the date and time, as it states in the Bible (if you subscribe to it's "truths")? Have we learned ANYTHING from false prophets? I have learned several things, all in my own opinion of course...1. God has HIS own timing, NOT the timing of a HUMAN, but GOD. 2. HE created HUMANS, WE created Religion that promises relief from life and it's many issues we encounter. 3. Harold Camping is FLAWED, just like the rest of us, he just happens to have a direct line to God (no sarcasm at all in that statement) LMAO! AND Camping apparantly has insight to what the rest of the religious scholars, philosophers, theologians have failed to interpret in the thousands of years since the inception of the Bible. 4. Those folks/sheeple, that chose to be LED by the rings in their noses, by a false shepherd, should not look to him for apologies, but answers as to why he insisted he was right, this time, as he tried to sweep the truth under the rug of his mathematical expertise as a civil engineer. The fact that he was mistaken, yet again.......see what we've learned? Any more lessons that need learning, you should attempt to learn on your own, not by following a NUTCASE.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  8. Arrogant Btard in Oak Barrel

    I certainly believe Camping this time! There is NO WAY he can be wrong twice – uh, I mean three times! The world is ending for sure on 10/21/11 and this time there is NO REPRIEVE. We are doomed! Thank goodness Camping is putting his pocket where his mouth is and refusing all donations between now and the end of the world. He is, right? He is refusing all donations right?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • JZEE

      Just keep praying until he win black jack deal at the casino. I would believe if he pick any day beside 21. To me, this guy smoking too much crack pot and playing black jack. That's how he got his day, 21.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  9. UncleJesse

    As an Atheist, I find stories like this to be comical. As a responsible member of a semi-functioning civil society, I find this story to be sad. It is amazing what crooks get away with in the name of "God." I feel sorry for the ignorant followers of this terrible man who has stolen everything from them. Shame.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • cecilia

      well crap he made enough money on his last predictions – what a load

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

    Stop with the Jesus talk. Just because the evil Roman Empire proclaimed his death a sacrifice for the sake of controlling the population doesn't mean you need to follow Constantine's ranting. Remember that the Roman's were the most viscious and evil murderers to grace this earth.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Toby

      So, Romans, Americans, Catholics, Jesuits....all those that followed a supposed "truth" were not vicious or murderers? What history have you ingested? Regurgitate it and piece it together the right way, without Conquering nations writing their version.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  11. Stuart

    He is far from right he is 80 something years old and doesnt know a damn thing... him and everyone who decicded to believe in him are sorry and cant even call themselves christians. they are nothing but radicals wanting to predict the future. Its sorry, and pethatic....they all deserve to but ashamed hurt and ridiculed.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  12. The Truth

    The fact is that no one is debating that the end of this "World" is coming to an end. Instead of paying attention of WHEN is going to happen we should be concerned if WE are ready for this if it happens in our lifetime.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Josh

      Are you ready for it? Because I doubt you can vouch for others in Heaven. If they don't read for themselves then its a loss cause. But if you have some kids or work with kids at your Church teach them to read for themselves. It opens up a lot of room for questions but its actually healthy to question your faith than blindly following it. Because if you don't question what you believe or why you believe it then you just being brainwashed.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Horus

      This is a fact? Biblical kind of fact, or like scienceee kinda fact?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Arrogant Btard in Oak Barrel

      Yes and if I were Harold Camping on 10/22 I would say "The world is ending TOMORROW!" and say that every day for the next 6 billion years or whenever our sun does finally supernova. As a good Christian I am sure God will allow Profit Camping to live long enough to be the chose one to deliver the message. I mean, come on, Camping is an ENGINEER!! He knows his math.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  13. Danilo Deocampo

    I'm 57 yrs. old, and during my lifetime, the world was predicted to have ended three times. We're living with very funny people. See you all in the after-life . . . if there is one.
    Good Luck.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Arrogant Btard in Oak Barrel

      Remember "Harmonic Convergence"?? Oh, the planets were going to align and begin a new age of peace.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  14. ijreilly

    I literally laughed out loud when I read God was "loving and merciful" and decided not to punish us with destruction. What God actually decided to do was put all that in the bible anyway, knowing he wasn't going to actually do it. He just wanted us to think he was. This is their logic. For all I know he probably doesn't send people to hell then. I mean, if he's just throwin stuff in there for us to fear, but doesn't actually go through with it, how do I know he just doesn't actually forgive everyone for their sins and not send them to hell?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  15. mike

    this guy needs to shut the hell up and find somthing else to do.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  16. Robert S. Lancaster

    The scriptural backflips this man goes through in an attempt to explain why the Bible doesn't REALLY mean that "no man can know the hour or the day" reminds me of the great saying: "The Bible is like a person. If you torture it long enough you can get it to say anything."

    May 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  17. Neal

    I can find some nut to say anything but does that make it news.? This guy's 15 minutes of fame should be up.

    Or maybe I can get famous by claiming it's my belief that donuts will become extinct in two months from now. Think that would get me some attention? Then why is this clown getting so much?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  18. J.

    Take the money and run!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  19. Josh

    What interest me is that fact that Mr. Camping preached of this for a few years and people blindly follow his everyword. Instead of just living they live to die. There is alot more of the prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled. But what makes this sad is the fact that NONE of these people went to go read the word for themselves. NOT A SINGLE ONE!!!

    This is the reason Christians have a hard time with being a Christian. I have no problem with people degrading or persecuting me for my belief, simply because those same people are just wishing for failure in my beliefs. But numbskulls like Mr. Camping and his followers (AND IF YOUR ARE ONE PLEASE I BEG YOU TO REPLY) make those failures easy to avoid yet hard to spread. I am not a Bible Thumper nor do I believe in pushing my belief down anyone's throat only to demean and tell them they will be going to hell...yet Mr. Camping is doing this not once, not twice, but three times and has not earthly idea of what the Bible has inside. Instead he reads a childrens book on Noah's Ark and decided to do some math. Please Mr. Camping I beg of you to just shut your mouth please!!! You honestly look like the Village Idiot and it seems you embrass it as well.

    Hagee, Camping, and other doomsday preachers need to stop Christianity has never been about the end of the world. Christianity is about the seed you sow while this world is still spinning. Treating your fellow man like family and not like a stranger. Helping others in need or just in a bind. Christianity isn't about telling people you are a Christian but living like one day to day. Dollar, Long, and all the other Prosperity preachers should join them as well. But aslong as we have lost brothers and sisters they will always have a voice.

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

      Correction "But numbskulls like Mr. Camping and his followers (AND IF YOUR ARE ONE PLEASE I BEG YOU TO REPLY) make those failures easy to avoid yet hard to spread the word."

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

      "But what makes this sad is the fact that NONE of these people went to go read the word for themselves. NOT A SINGLE ONE!!! "

      Josh, what makes you say that? Camping's #1 mantra was always "don't take my word for it, read the bible for yourself and you will see that I am right." His followers, every single one of them, tell us that they studied the bible for themselves and saw that what Camping said was true. That they had read the bible themselves and discovered these truths themselves was the reason that they had such strong convictions that Camping's predictions were accurate.

      Seriously, now. Why hasn't the "read the bible for yourselves" technique, after being shown so obviously full of problems by the example of Camping and his followers, served as a warning to Christians like yourself? Instead of taking stock of your own hermeneutical problems, you insist that the keys to the Kingdom are available to anybody with a bible who is willing to "read it for themselves."

      Theology isn't easy. Not everybody can do it. After this fiasco with Camping, we should all be very familiar with this fact.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Josh

      Ok maybe I should have said study. You are right they did read. But I can guarentee Mr. Camping nit picked verses as well as spun into his own personal interpration. And honestly, if they did read it they would have ran across Jesus telling his people that nobody knows the day or time. And then they skipped over about half of revelations. So I really and truly think yes they read it. Do you know when they read it? When Mr. Camping was speaking. Anybody with a strong enough faith knows this would never happen?

      I studied Mr. Camping's claims when I first heard about May 21, 2011 and it was so inaccurate I could only laugh. If you google May 21, 2011 and search through the links you will find them too. I believe this people are lost and are looking for something maybe a way out of a world that's just to tough for them, maybe a way out of work, maybe they are looking for Jesus for answers. Nevertheless, they are looking because they are lost. Nobody said being a Christian is easy but what makes it harder is when you don't study the word for yourself. You right Christians need to stop saying "Read the Bible for yourself and say study the Bible for yourself" because only blind can't see what directly in front of their eyes.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Bruce

      "if they did read it they would have ran across Jesus telling his people that nobody knows the day or time"

      They did run across these verses. Camping addresses them head-on in his writings. These verses were not ignored. He does have a reasonable explanation for them, and backs everything up with bible verses, just like you do.

      If you have read scripture, and have actually done some serious theology in the process, you will understand that your faith does not come from studying scripture, that you are really not required to understand serious theology in order to be saved. Even after you are saved, you are not required to study theology, not required to dive into the scriptures. Seriously.

      There's a part in Acts where Paul converts a crowd of Greek pagans who had a tribute to an "unknown" god by using their own mythologies as a guide, and he doesn't whip out the scriptures once before they are converted.

      No, it is not about scripture. Your faith, your Church, is not bible-based. The bible came from the Church, not the other way around.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • ralphinator

      Well said! Unfortunately as the end times approaches (nobody knows when, could be 10 yrs, could be 200), more false gospels will be prevalent (prosperity gospel, end times predictions, rapture, etc) and the True Word becomes more and more diluted.

      People like Camping also drive away people from Jesus because he looks and acts like a clown. I can't blame people who think "why would I ever want to follow what that man believes,' however I do wish they would look at the true Christianity and not what Camping says.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Josh

      @Bruce..

      I don't think you are understanding what I am trying to say. I am saying following a Preacher Blindly is in the same league as persecuting Christians. Now don't look at the surface of that comparison take a step back and think. First, I couldn't quote the Bible from Front to Back but I have a great understanding of the contents and understand that when a FALSE Prophet appears they show it. Like I have said I have studied Mr. Camping's claim as well as doing my due dilligence on the messenger.
      Mr. Camping encourages his followers to step away from the Church and create a relationship with God on their own. That would be ok for someone that has some sort of Spiritual Foundation ( A Strong One), understanding the fundamental's of Christianity (which Mr. Camping broke the second commandment

      "4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. "

      As much as he denies any involvement in these lost souls following his "Hypothesis" he is as much to blame for spreading this lie and seeking funding to further spread the lie across the WORLD. Now, with no spritual foundation what good is reading the bible, praying, or even attending Church when don't know why you do it. So are you telling me you would blindly follow behind Mr. Camping and support his False teachings.

      And I have a question for you? You read about Peter and you know these things. How would anyone else know if they didn't read it? So choosing to listen to man and believe what he says is the way to go? Well as we see all the people that traveled miles and miles to enjoy the "Rapture" with Mr. Camping went home extremely disappointment. Mr. Camping isn't even strong in his faith and it shows. If he was he wouldn't have to answer the question "What happen to the Rapture" and make up some lame excuse claiming his math was off again and it was a spirtual judgment. When in actuality you, me , and everyone are always being spritually judged by God their is never a moment you spirit isn't judged for the actions the body takes. Plain and simple Mr. Camping is a False Prophet and as a Christian it my duty to call him on his False Teachings. If we rely soley on man for our Spiritual lessons we will always fall short.

      2 Peter
      20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

      Apparently Mr. Camping didn't get that memo because if his message was from God I am pretty sure this conversation wouldn't be taking place.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Josh

      Please excuse my grammatical errors I am trying to work and conversate at the same time.....

      May 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  20. Tony

    If and when judgement day comes around there are going to be a lot of people surprised. Jesus didn't hang out with the self-righteous "church going" crowd. In fact, he destested these people. Being a good person does not mean that you go to church every Sunday, pray, and spread "the Lord's word". It means bieng kind and helpful to others, the planet, all forms of present and future life. Sharing your love and wealth with others so the world can be a happy place. Bigotry, intolerance and hate will not save you no matter how much you pray, go to church or preach "the word".

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

      And you were there to witness this? HTF do you know what the man Jesus did, thought, or even that he existed? Considering Nazerath was a burial ground at 0 BCE...

      May 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Aa

      I would like to say that Jesus hated the church going who didn't live it...they just preached it. Its good to be a church goer, its part of how we grow as long as we're also living out what we believe. No, going to church won't save you, but if your living your life for Christ, I honestly believe that you will want to go to church and have a time to be with others who believe what you do and come together to worship and learn about the God you serve. Similarly, if you're just a good person who doesn't believe, that won't save you either. Faith without works is dead and works won't save you, only the grace of God will.

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

      @ Horus, remember, the Bible is a record of history and an accurate recording of the life and words of Jesus, directly from his disciples, who must have been EXACTLY ver batim on the words and records they gifted the world. Because to NOT be perfect, to HAVE flaws, would imply that translations had been altered and formatted for the good or no good of the people that digest it's scriptures on a daily basis. To admit that would be heresy....Oh yeah, I forgot, we live in a FREE world without fear of labels. (Intense sarcasm intended).
      To say that Cmaping had encouraged or told the followers he had to "Read the Bible for themselves" or that he is not responsible for the actions of his following, is retarded. He IS responsible as a leader, not my leader, but none-the-less a LEADER that roped sheeple into believing his formulas and interpretations of scriptures. He WILL be judged accordingly, not by man, BUT he SHOULD reimburse the "donations" that were used to spread his horrible lies to others in their "Apocalyptic doomsday" message. Just my thoughts.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
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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.