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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. jeannie

    quit covering this lunatic – so tired of the media falling for this rubbish and perpetuating his rants.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Willie

      It's a matter of perspective. I see the media exposing this fraud. The sad part is closed minded people, i.e. believers, can't see through it.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  2. Tom

    Idiots all! Just keep on picking dates grandpa, maybe you will get lucky.....

    May 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  3. Singalo

    Is anyone else struggling with the "FACT" that in 2011, religion of any and every kind still holds so much sway on our modern society? Really, man on the whole is SO MUCH SMARTER THEN THIS!!!!.

    You want to know when man will realize world peace. It will be when the light bulb finally flashes on and we collectively admit that “religion” is for the weak minded and has held us back for MORE than 2000 years.

    People, we should have been living STARTRECK the Next generation by now.

    Seriously, does nobody else find themselves wanting to blow there brains out from time to time due to the utter frustration in watching the calamity that is religion?

    Unfortunately for the seemingly small (minority) of people capable of reason and logic, the (majority) of bible thumbing pre Cambrian slime for brains will continue to make MY existence on this planet a tedious exercise in patience and restraint.

    I promise all of you so called “Faithful”. If you would just take a day and pull your heads out, you might actually find thinking for yourself is a real treat.

    Now if I must point this out, then I must. So hear it is. You want see the “Rapture”? You want to meet your “Savior”? Do us all a favor, tee up the “Special” coolaid, and rid the rest of us of your incompetence.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Whatever

      Camping is an idiot who absolutely does not reflect the beliefs of mainstream Christianity. As with anything in life, extreme religion is a problem. However, have you failed to notice the millions of Christians (and members of other religions) living around you that impact your life in absolutely no way? Is it really a problem to have people believe in a higher power and try to live a good life?

      You believe what you wish and we will believe what we wish, but there is no need to be hostile to a mainly harmless group.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  4. whocares

    Why is this man getting any attention? Maybe the Attorney General should take a look at his books!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  5. IronRider

    Unfortunately we live in a time where people are calling themselves Christians but have long forgotten who God is. They would rather deceive people for a short time rather than do what is truly right. Such a successful man falls short of being a wise man. The message is not what day, because the day and hour of the Lord is immanent. So a wise man might live each day to the fullest and do what is right.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  6. //sara

    Each individual needs to read and study the bible themselves instead of following someone who does not know what
    he is talking about. He is a false prophet and wants your money.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Why the Bible? Why not the Koran? Why not the Kama Sutra? Why not The Amazing Spiderman #114?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  7. Jeremy

    They give this guy air time because he claims to be a Christian and doesn't teach from the Bible. If he did, he would teach that no one knows the day or the hour.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  8. Clay Wilson

    This guy should be thrown in jail!!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  9. Tommy gunzzz

    2012 is the real date!!!! get it right old man

    May 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  10. thatguy

    can't wait for it to not happen again.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  11. genny

    ARREST THIS CREEPY MAN!!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  12. The Truth

    before this guy talks about the rapture, he must explain if ALL good people go to heaven, what happen to bad people? The bible teach about Earth existing forever, who is going to be on Earth?

    May 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • The truth

      What scripture is that, my bible says even the elements will burn, that's including the Earth!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  13. Michael

    If these people believe the world is going to end, and they want to get in good with Jesus, they should donate all their possessions to the poor right now. Hey, all those folks in the Missouri tornadoes could use homes, clothes, blankets. If the world is going to end anyway, give those needy people comfort in these last waning months before The End. Comfort the needy, Christians!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Luigi

      Why do you call them Christians?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  14. Dmoney

    I am going to start my own Religion, everyone is invited. We are going to worship a man who rose from the dead, and eat bread and drink wine and pretend its is blood and flesh, then we are going to sing songs....oops has that been done already?

    May 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  15. ralk

    Ya sure it will...idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  16. dj23

    drink the damn kool aid already old man

    May 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • DikMcPlenty

      Yes, that spiked Kool Aid would be a good chaser for those hallucinagenic mushrooms he's been eating. Please CNN, don't give these boneheads attention. I had to calm my kids down because the media overhypes this crap.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  17. ric pantale

    This man does more to destroy Christianity then by preaching it.
    Does he not realize how he dicredits Christianity every time this fool predicts doomsday and it doesn't come true.

    He is a dangerpous man, a false prophet, He just may preparing the way for the Anti-Christ...

    May 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Colin

      Sooo, he has no credibility, but you believe in an "anti-christ". Yeah......do you hear voices at night and are there monsters in you wardrobe?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Willie

      Actually, if you read the bible, christianity is self discrediting.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Michael

      I've read the Bible repeatedly, and I have to say it has very little to do with what is called "Christianity." If there were a Christ I'm pretty sure he would be appalled at what is done and how people live today under the name Christian.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  18. audrey

    Remember God said there will be false prophets. The bible is to be read so all of us understand the end of days.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • IIO

      Wrong Audrey... the bible is for us to read and learn about the way people lived a long LONG time ago... in a far away magic fairly land, where angels and demons live... ooh scary.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  19. The Truth

    People keep repeating Matthew 24:36 about Jesus not knowing the day. But keep in mind that this was the year 33ac when he was still on earth. When he was resurrected, went to heavens and waited to be the king of the kingdom, God must have told him the day and the hour, since Jesus is the one that will take the lead in the War of God against the wicked people: Armaggedon. Jesus Christ does know the day and the time as of today (Hebrews 10:12,13; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:7-9 )

    May 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Dmoney

      i wish he'd get on with it, its taking an eternity...

      May 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Michael

      Must have? Even if a person were to believe everything else you said – and that's already a leap – then we're supposed to believe that you have knowledge of something that happened in "Heaven?" I would be impressed, if I weren't astounded by the egoism of anyone who pretends to have divine knowledge.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • DikMcPlenty

      Listen, the way we'll die is through our own doing (man made). It's inevitable as 3rd world countries are breeding to the point of becoming unsustainable. Resources will diminish and wars will be fought over the scraps left. If you want to believe it will be a cosmic zombie jew flying on a rocket propelled unicorn that is your perogative.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • The Truth

      Michael,

      I can tell you have not read the entire Bible and do not have a basic knowledge of what it says. I have read the Bible, the Coran, the book of mormon, and many others. At least I can comment on something that I have read. Do you know where your bible is at home.... oops, you don't have one.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      You are right... and Jesus then told me. It is July 16th around lunchtime. He said bring your own beer.
      Oh yeah, No Gingers!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • The truth

      Yahshua is the first and the last, of course he knows, he created it and he will destroy it, NOT MAN!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  20. Wow

    Time for Grandpa to go back to the Nursing Home.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:05 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.