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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 • Faith Now

soundoff (4,998 Responses)
  1. God

    The only difference between Camping and the rest of you "Christians" is, Roldy thinks he's got the inside scoop on when everything's going to happen.

    Here's a tip: Keep your towel handy.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  2. mstras

    OMG !! Thank goodness I still have 5 months left. I wanted to make sure all my credit cards were paid off but I ran out of time. But, with 5 more months I think that'll be enough to get my credit rating high enough to be included with the Saved.
    Praise Pastor Camping, er, ah, I mean Jeezuz

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  3. ChuckSheen

    This guy is a total nut bag and should be put in jail for manipulating STUPID people. What is he going to say when October 21 comes and goes without incident? "Oh, I made another error". The old saying still stands true, there is a sucker born every minute. I think in the US it should be "there are 3 suckers born every minute." If you really believe his BS send me your money. I will put it to better use.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  4. Matt

    Failed twice, lets just look more foolish. He's got to retire and live with NO media attention. Perhaps in a remote area away from all other human beings.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  5. Sliph

    someone needs to stop this fool

    May 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • jean2009

      I think he is not the fool. Fools are the people who follow him and keep funding his platform to make idiotic wrong predictions.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  6. AK

    "It received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009" – Sounds like a good business model

    May 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  7. Bruce

    Given the intellectual tapdances I see most Christians perform trying to explain away verses like Matthew 24:34 ("oh, well 'this generation' didn't mean 'this generation' but rather 'some future generation' of course..."), what Camping does with verses like Matthew 24:36 (see his website http://www.wecanknow.com) seems, actually, more intellectually honest and straightforward.

    It's all hogwash, but Camping's hogwash is actually better in some respects from the hogwash I see from most Christians...

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

      Right now Bruce you seem to be a bigger fool then Camping. Most Christians are not religious fanatics. We were bracing for when this didn't happen because of people like you coming out of the woodwork looking to bash us.

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

      Excellent comment... anyone who believes they have an invisible friend is at least a little off

      May 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Noigiler

      @Joe

      True, most Christians are not fanatics. But you tolerate those that are. You feed churches that hide pedophiles. You support politicians that let their religious beliefs drive policy. Some of you believe that natural disasters are god's punishments (which fascinates me as it implies the bad people have settled near fault lines–I guess god made it so to make it easier to aim). Many of you believe that morality comes from the bible and that we'd all be murderous loons without the god-given 10 commandments. You tolerate creationist nutjobs that try to infect our children with nonsense. So many beliefs that get in the way of living life. I fully respect the right of any individual to believe whatever they want. But I will not tolerate attempts to make me live by their beliefs. And to the extent you tolerate those you call fanatics, you too are complicit

      May 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  8. Mark

    look for a sign is his motto which will not come in his lifetime

    May 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  9. JT

    Hello all, does anyone have a list of names, phone numbers and email addresses of the followers of Rev. Camping? I am from Nigeria and have an email to send them.

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

      Too late, they don't have anything left.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  10. JTSU

    TWO OUT OF THREE!
    5 months from now... THREE OUT OF FOUR!!!

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

    Its not his fault... its the fault of the total Morons who give this lunetic attention...

    May 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  12. Deist

    “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein

    May 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  13. ambet

    be the best humbling and good person you can be everyday and be an example through deeds. talk is cheap.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  14. Mary

    It is people like this that make all Christians look crazy!!!! I am a Christian but I believe that we need to show others the love of Christ in the way we live our lives everday not by scaring them half to death and stealing money from them!! They should be ashamed!!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  15. The truth

    Noah preached for 140 yrs that it was going to rain, no one believed him, that knowledge was given to Noah in a vision, the reason no one believed Noah was simply because it had not rained on the face of the earth before, Noah preached that Rain would fall from the sky, the earth received water from a mist or dew, like you get in the mornings when you awake and the grass is wet, well now, so people just did not believe him because they could not perceive rain falling from the sky! But this did not stop Noah from preaching. 140 years is a very long time, after a while people just shunned him as a crazy old man, but Noah and his family kept on building that ark, so 140 yrs expired and Noah was instructed to get into the ark with his family which was 8 in all. Now when Noah and all the animals were settled and the Ark was sealed, then the very first drop of rain manifested on the face of the earth. can you imagine the looks on the people faces! but it was too late to say, you know that old man was right! Now the difference now is knowing that the Ark of safety is being one with the Heavenly father and to believe on Him who the father has sent! Yahshua the messiah is the ark of safety and he will destroy the heavens and the earth so we must be one with him or suffer eternal lost.

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

      You forgot to start with , "Once upon a time..."

      This story is bunk, bogus, hokum, mumbo-jumbo, nonsense.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • mark

      and where is that arc? Doesn't it puzzle you that it's said to be the biggest arc ever build, yet it cannot be found.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Iconoclast

      If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is, "Probably because of something you did." ~Saturday Night Live, Jack Handey, "Deep Thoughts "

      May 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • iAmJustSixYearsOldRUmyCuddleFriend

      RE: "mark and where is that [ARK]? Doesn't it puzzle you that it's said to be the biggest arc ever build, yet it cannot be... I'm not endorsing fairy tales, but the Ark would not have been in ice, frigid water or buried under sand or mud, it would have rotted away long ago.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • MJ

      R U F'ing insane. There are hundreds of thousands of years of quantifiable measureable geologic evidence of rain. Hell, a basic chemistry class will show you that rain is as natural as the spinning of the earth due to the make up of our atmosphere. The entire earth would have been a desert or dry savahnna. You peope that live so engrained in mythology and take the stories that ignorant uneducated people made up to explain the unexplainable so literally is why society itself will never move beyond the point of basic social responsiblility. I guess it is OK to continue to pollute the earth right? Cause got created it for YOU to do WHATEVER YOU WANT WIITH it. Including Kill your equally ignorant brothers in the islamic faith. After all you all worship the same mythological God the creator of Adam. You all make me so sick.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  16. Nicholas

    This man is obviously NOT a biblical scholar. He should be arrested for fraud, unless he gives all the money back to those who gave him their life savings. But then again, if they are foolish enough to do that, maybe they deserve it!

    This guy is the most ignorant preacher I've ever heard of!

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

      "biblical scholar"...that's a laugh. You'd get more historical accuracy reading Homer.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  17. Fred

    "I don't have any responsibility," Camping said. I agree with Camping. His "prophecies" are totally irresponsible. "I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says." I respectfully disagree with this self-serving statement.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  18. dbagpriusdriver

    this guy is a great businessman, probably making a fortune off of these crazy predictions

    May 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  19. Halleluljah

    I'll take a double bowl of fruit loops too please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  20. The Truth

    The bible talks about Noah's world... it ended because God promised. In Mathew chapter 24 it talks about a new "end of the world" similar to Noahs because God has promised it will happen again, not by water but with fire. Can we first get the facts out if Noah's World ended, did the flood really happen? Was there a global water disaste ever? Lets prove that first.

    We know that the actual EARTH was never destroyed, it was the wicked people that was destroyed... and every other destruction that happen after that: Israel in the year 607bc and later in 70 ac. We can then say that the "World" will not be destroyed, it is the wicked PEOPLE that will be destroyed. There are at least 10 different bible text that will say something like this: Psa 37:29 "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever." Pro 2:21"For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. 22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

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

      :)

      May 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • jeff

      stop preaching your slanted biblical truths as noone but the naive believe it...

      May 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • iAmJustSixYearsOld

      A real all-knowing, all-powerful god would have done it right the first time. What you worship is an imaginary friend who is eternally dissatisfied with his own inventions... only a sociopath would blame his victims and threaten them with endless torment.

      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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.