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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. J Richards

    Darn, I was hoping he had been taken to heaven.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • virginia

      sooner or later he should get it right.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  2. ash

    Fruit loop stay underground where u belong

    May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  3. richard

    QUACK

    May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  4. what a JOKE

    bwwaahahahhahahahahhaaa

    May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  5. Jason

    Dear Camping, hurry up and die.

    Signed,
    The Church

    May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  6. Charlie in Maine

    Really?! October 21st really? Oh that's just my luck, the Red Sox are finally acting like they could make the playoffs and the world is ending Oct. 21.

    Could we at least have until after the election? I'm relly don't want the tea party in charge of end times

    May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • D

      That'd put it into 2013, ya know.
      And by then we'd be past the ending the Mayans predicted.
      Gotta beat them Mayans to the punch ya know!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  7. Willie

    Dude should be tried for fraud. He took peoples money in exchange for a false promise and he hasn't refunded a penny.
    FRAUD!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  8. Comments4U

    No more Advertising means no more expense and a load of cash to sit on.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  9. Jan d

    What a bunch of morons.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  10. jake

    80 million dollars? in the words of Rick Ross, "everyday i'm hustlin, everyday i'm hustlin." Anybody dumb enough to give this man their hard earned money and their families money, deserve to be broke. it sucks, but why would you even think that this one man is the only man that knows when the rapture will occur. Wouldn't other preachers and ministers also be aware of this day? The rapture is not coming, everyone will live on and I will die of old age. I'm 29 by te way.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  11. Fiona

    So keep those donations rolling in, my friends....

    May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  12. JZEE

    GAS TOO EXPENSIVE, GOD CAN NOT KEEP CAMPING'S FOLLOWERS IN THE AIR FOR 5 MONTHS, UNTIL EVERYTHING SETTLE. SO, GOD NEED TO FINISH UP HYBRID WINGS, LESS GAS. TIME WILL COME.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  13. chris

    To paraphrase the WORD: Neither the angels nor the Son knows the hour or the day. He shall come like a thief in the night.

    If this man is a man of the WORD, he would know that and know that false prophets will abound before Christ comes again.
    To teach what is not Biblical makes a person a false prophet, to preach that you know when the rapture is, is un-Biblical.

    Enough said.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Allen

      If man can figure out God. How much better would God be than man?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  14. PJ

    They really should commit this silly old man. He is obviously a danger to society. Think about the pathetic guy in NYC who sold everything to pay for ads for May 21st.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  15. Mark

    Its a good thing that only God knows when these things will take place. Not even Jesus knows when it will happen, so how can any human claim to know when it will? Ridiculous!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • D

      It's ridiculous because it's all a myth and will *not* happen ever. Well, at least not for a couple billion years until the sun becomes unable to sustain life or burns out.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Horus

      Holy Trinity – Father, Sun, Ghost.....aren't they spiritually one? So wouldn't Jesus know? Sorry, I get all this stuff mixed up when trying to apply base logic....

      May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Colin

      Mark, Mark. Want to know what's ridiculous? You Chrsitians believe that god the father and god the son are one and the same. How can it know and not know whaen it is returning at the same time?

      Let me guess, "god moves in mysterious ways", or some deriviate thereof.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Alex

      What's ridiculous is that people still believe in these fairy tales.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Horus... actually the SON (please check your Hebrew!) could be kept in the dark about the date. At the time the statement was made He was in a physical state, not a spiritual (post resurection) state. Do you know everything as a human?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Horus

      @airwx – wow, you really are into grammar. What you failed to realize is that Sun was intentionally spelled with a U because that's the basis for all gods....(the Sun)... perhaps you should read up on your history of religions, and the development of man....

      May 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Horus

      @airwx – allow me to correct myself...the basis for "some" god-men, like Kristos....and Horus btw....

      May 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  16. Tom

    I have a question:

    WHO CARES?

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

      Apparently, you do.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  17. begee

    enough already, why are we spending so much attention and money on this???
    Now he is saying Jesus came and didn't like what he saw???
    well did he stop by and chat with him? obviously, he has lost his mind....

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

      How much money have you spent on this?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  18. Steven

    I love watching all these kids talk about their imaginary friend beaming them up.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  19. illtellu

    Please, please, PLEASE stop giving this lunatic any sort of platform to spout his idiocy.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Colin

      it is no crazier than the supernatural nonsense any Christian believes, apart from the date certain.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  20. Colin

    You think Camping and his followers are weird. I once encountered a cult that actually believes that simple bread and wine can be converted into the actual flesh and blood of a dead prophet from the Middle East 2000 years ago because a priest performs some magic hocus-pocus over it at church on a Sunday morning.

    They are called "Catholics" and they truly believe this. Even though it is still bread and wine after the priest does his hocus-pocus, they believe that, in some magic pretend World it is actually (not just symbolically) the flesh and blood of Jesus.

    And it"s not just for children. There are grown adults there who believe this stuff!! I swear, the adults do, too.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Halleluljah

      Is true.

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

      Colin, I used to belong to this cult you describe. Lovely people for the most part, but watch out for some of their priests!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Bruce

      You apparently were not told what "mystery" means, and why it is important for the intellectually proud to submit to ideas they simply cannot comprehend as an act of intellectual humility.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Colin

      Bruce, to give you a leg up in articulating your thought, I assume you are effectively saying "it is a mystery beyond our understanding" and I am proud for not accepting that. Well, yeah, that's pretty much right. Please explain it to me, because it sounds like Dark ages clap-trap to me.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Halleluljah

      This is not what Jesus meant though when he talked about it. Cannibalism was a practice forbidden to the Jews. The emblems though were fitting symbols to remember his sacrifice and that he bought back what Adam lost...Everlasting Life on Earth for obedient mankind. Those who will rule with him in heaven are discribed in Revelation as 144,000.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bruce

      It's basically the same thing as 2+2=5 in a novel by Orwell. It's death to self. It's when the "me" dies and what rises is the "we." The conflict between "we believe" and "I don't really believe that" does not end, it is fought every day for the believer. You, as Paul describes in 1Cor15:31, die to yourself every day, multiple times a day, through acts of will such as saying "we believe" even when you, personally, do not actually believe.

      The death and resurrection is a model. We die to ourselves and we rise into a new Body, the Body of Christ, which is the Church. "I" die, and what rises from the dead is the "We." The mystery of transubstantiation of the Eucharist, the mystery of the apparently self-contradictory Trinity, as well as other mysteries, are tools for you to use in order to crucify your self multiple times a day so that you can rise again in the collective Body of the Church.

      The difference between that and Orwell's 1984 is that "you" never come to love Big Brother. Instead, "you" die and "we" love Big Brother.

      Hope that helps you understand.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Scott Dunnett

      Very true. I don't see how this old man is considered to be more disillusioned than any other christian faith.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Colin

      To Bruce. Nope.

      I might as well have asked a poodle to explain quantum mechanics. Thanks you for your efforts and fell free to get back to the static on your television. I'm sure there's a mesaage in there somewhere.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Bruce

      LOL. Only in your mind is "Nope." an acceptable answer to what I wrote.

      Whatever, it's not like it matters. You don't care to know what the Roman Catholic theology teaches, so who cares if you get it wrong?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:03 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.