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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. wendy

    If anything, I think it should make Christians take a look at them self and think " if the rapture really was going to happen, would I go or would I have to stay?" Although no one knows when it will happen, because the bible says that, everyone should look at themselves and ask if they are ready.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Hey Wendy! For $350 I'll take care of your pets after you've been taken by the rapture.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • LinCA

      I'm ready. I was born ready. Anyway, anybody sane knows it's all BS. Jesus isn't coming back (if he even existed).

      May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  2. Rick

    As October 21st gets closer, I ask CNN to do us all a favor and stop mentioning this guy. If he's wrong yet he keeps getting reported on, more people will get sucked in. If he's right, then I'm sure God or whomever will figure out some other way besides CNN to notify the faithful.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  3. Steve O

    The Macho Man was in a wrestling match with god, which is the only reason the rapture didn't happen.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • sheffshell

      "....Those left behind would face months of tribulation before perishing in the Earth's destruction..." what with this recession, job losses, home foreclosures, natural catastrophes all around us, missing, abused children and uneducated children...who says we aren't perishing NOW in the Earth's destruction....dude give me a break – the 2-3% are the ones that can afford to recoup quicker than the average !!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  4. Caylyn

    "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."

    CORRECTION MR. CAMPING – You are NOT teaching the bible. Matthew 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many ****false prophets***** will appear and deceive many people.

    Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying ***lies in my name.**** I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries[a] and the delusions of their own minds.

    you need to STOP telling lies to your followers and stop decieving them. You know what the bible says. NO ONE knows the time and date and FEAR IS NOT OF THE LORD! So stop trying to make it that way. My God is a loving God but he also is an ANGRY God when he is having his people steered in the wrong direction.

    2 words...FALSE. PROPHET.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Sorry to break this to ya Caylyn but your Jesus man lied too:

      Matt. 24:37-38

      Um.........there never was a flood.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • theguyster

      @Sybaris–Jesus was w/o sin and therefore never lied. The Father of lies is called Satan. I hope you fully understand your folly.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Caylyn, @theguyster. Your god doesn't exist. Jesus probably never existed either. It's all a fairy tale.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Sybaris

      theguyster. There is no folly in my statement. There is absolutely no evidence that a global flood as depicted in the bible ever occurred. If your Jesus man was omniscient he would have known that,

      May 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • theguyster

      @linca and sybaris–You both will have to give an account someday so please save your comments for Jesus on THAT DAY

      May 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Josh

      I think God at this point is hands off with this situation. How can you claim to follow him yet follow man it's impossible in God's eyes to do both.

      It's out duty as Christians to help these believers see the light.

      This reminds me of the story of the devil and what led him to being banished from heaven. After hearing that story I am content with not preaching or leading a church. I would rather conversate with believers and non-believers (mostly non-believers and get their take) Honestly I have found some of the most insightful conversations are with Atheist because they do what we Christians are suppose to do. Take the Word as it is written and not attempt to imply things that aren't there (well some Atheist that have nothing to prove). I find it hard to believe so many people sacrificed so much to follow man's word.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • LinCA

      @ guyster.

      I will only have to give an account to Jesus someday if ALL of the following assumptions are correct:
      1) There is a god
      2) This is the only god
      3) This one god is the christian god
      4) This christian god is as you describe him/her/it
      5) Your god doesn't care if you "fake it" and gives full credit for pretending to believe

      I don't believe there are any gods. Even if there are gods, the one that most christians believe in can't exist. And, if I were a god, nobody would deserve credit for pretending to believe.

      Furthermore, if for some miraculous reason, there is a god that resembles the christian god, I prefer not to spend eternity in his presence.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  5. intheknow

    Somewhere in a pumpkin patch Linus still waits.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  6. Steve

    Why does the press continue to give credence to this guy? I predict that the world will NOT end on October 21. Anyone want to run a story?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  7. Xylenz

    Maybe the rapture already happened but he and his followers weren't of the "select 2-3%". Probably never occurred to him.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Landruu

      I like the way you think.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  8. mauidano

    "...Or five moths after that, or five months after that or until I'm dead which at 89 could be soon. Y'all coming with me?"

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

    I'll bet this guy will meet his maker before the world ends!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  10. jumpincats

    What's wrong with him, he was and is lying to us. Mr, Camping is one of the false prophet. Please go way.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Sybaris

      "False Prophet". As soon as everyone accepts that "prophet" was a creation of people who believed in myths, legends, and fairy tales to expalin their natural world then we can put ALL of this religious nonsense behind us.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  11. carolyn pratt

    I have never heard of this guy camping until now why does he have to do this some people get scared he shouldn't do this people some of them do crazy things when they hear things like this and when it doesn't happen these people are sorry like quitting their jobs ,putting their dogs to sleep because they might not be here to take care of them riligious or not he should get in trouble for doing this

    May 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Editor in training

      Punctuation perhaps?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  12. grofys

    maybe there was a rapture but none of his group were included.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • sheridan adams

      hey I thought all the good people did go somewhere – it's all the rest of us left here. -

      May 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  13. theguyster

    So lets do our own math, he's 89 years old. He was wrong in 1994, 5/28 and he will be wrong again .
    Obviously he has mental problems but likes to point attention towards himself.
    The book of Jude talks of such men and calls them apostates, which simply means they are wolves in sheeps clothing misleading other christians. At 89 years old, if he doesn't know what the bible says about this subject then he never will.
    Jesus said to be aware of such people. Other people that follow this guy are deceived and are just as stupid because their giving him money, 2000 billboards, etc.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  14. cecilia

    it is amazing how people like this make money from the fools in the world – along with sarah palin and bristol speaking out for abstinence – beam me up Scottie – there is not intelligent live down here

    May 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Wufei

      You might want to check your spelling and grammar before berating others about their lack of intelligence.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  15. closetiguana

    Jesus: "my mom told me a god got her pregnant and my dad swears she's a virgin so therefor I'm your lord"
    Crazy comes in all shapes and sizes.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • iAmJustSixYearsOld

      when that happened to my mom, she kept screaming oh god! oh god! then afterwards she said it was divine. She told me that's all the proof I need to know it was god, but not to say a word about it to my daddy

      May 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  16. Mike

    What an idiot! Jez, you are really giving this yo-yo ink! Did this guy ever do anything to justify the media coverage?
    Enough with this judgment day stuff.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  17. nasser

    I agree with this man, but the date is wrong.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  18. Greg

    Can't fix stupid.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  19. Burbank

    Will someone please put this scheming, scamming narcissist in jail! Anything to keep attention on himself....

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

      Why?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  20. LilySue

    This guy is preying on the beliefs and fears of people, and it's resulted in forfeiture of life savings and property. Except for the different career paths ("preacher" vs "financier"), what's the difference between him and Bernie Madoff? Maybe Bernie needs a roommate. So why aren't the Feds getting involved in this??? Exactly what organized relgious group is thie guy part of – what is the basis for their tax-exempt status??

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

      He needs to be put in jail. These people always make an excure when it doesn't happen and then push the date up a bit so they can keep it going. He did something similar a few years ago. When it still doesn't happen in October we should prosecute him for either scamming or terrorism or both.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:14 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.