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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. The Truth

    Hey Michael.... 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 4:27 pm |
    • gni

      the coran? haha, what?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • The Truth

      I said reading... not believing.

      What I believe is that one day the United Nations should eliminate all religions.

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

      The Truth is that I believe in the Bible and no other book or men! Religion is a different story.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • UncleJesse

      "The Truth" is an ironic name for someone that so perfectly embodies the definition of ignorance. You would do well to study other disciplines in addition to your religeous studies (which I do not believe for a moment that you have fully read). In your support of the bible and the other afforementioned texts, you are fostering the propagation of oppression, ignorance, hate, greed and in some cases even murder. Introspection will set you free, not empty beliefs.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  2. gni

    What he really means is that i'll keep this idiots going until i'm dead by october then i don't need to given any refunds. he's a hoax, a fraud, and no different than tammy and jim baker. do we really need to give a crazy old guy another minute of anyones' time? good bye nutso.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  3. coffeeandtea

    You are a complete idiot if you believe in what this fool says or any other fool who spouts religious nonsense. What a sham – all of it. Religion is a fraud, a lie, and results in harm and death to people who get wrapped up in all the mythology. That's all it is, people, mythology.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  4. Bubba Franks

    Cool, another day on which to knock back some pints! I love this crackpot!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  5. Enough Already!

    109 pages of comment about this idiot. Please folks. We already know he is lying!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bubba

      Half the commenter still think it's true, which is why this is so funny. Wolves and sheep, thieves in the night, etc. They still don't get it.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  6. MHuff

    Poor, sad people. Do they really have that little to live for that they're willing to immediately accept this scam? How many times does one man have to be wrong before he will be questioned by his followers? Maybe they're just unwilling to look gullible? There is no god, people. Let's start looking out for each other.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Richk

      I agree to a point....there is no god in the way mainstream religions portray god to be. That is a myth. But to deny that there is something much bigger and complex than us is silly human arrogance.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Naomi

      Only a fool will say that there is no God!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  7. rsaenz

    I think it's stupid that media gives him any space on publications, sites, and broadcasts. He needs to be ignored. This is sad on the media's part too.
    Yes, the world will come to an end. Everything does, but idiots like him nor others know that precise moment. Duh!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  8. The Camster

    The only way to believe Camping is to believe that he is God the Father. Even Jesus doesn't know the date and time of the Apocalypse. You can look it up. The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 13, verses 32 and 33.

    32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert[e]! You do not know when that time will come.

    Do these folks ever actually read the book that informs their religious beliefs?

    May 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Craig

      Jesus was not referring to some kind of worldwide apocolypse. He is referring to your own demise and how it will come at a time that nobody knows, so you should prepare for it.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  9. HeavenSent

    My brain went to heaven, and all I got was this old T-shirt.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Phoney! I know it is CNN/Tommie boy trying to make me look bad. I am onto your little game.
      Amen.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  10. Craig

    This should remind us that one must never have the pride to think that it is possible to predict God. For those who believe in "intelligent design", one mustn't ever be foolish enough to think that our intelligence can ever compare to it. For those who believe that there will be some kind of giant good vs. evil battle to end the world, you believe in a false god named armageddon instead of the true God you claim to have faith in. The epic battle is inside us every day and shows itself in our choices. It will culminate in our own death and at that point you will either experience your own personal rapture or perish. The rest of the world, however will go on.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  11. Shawn Selway

    F..U...C...K you religious retards.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  12. Camping

    Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  13. Grizzle

    Is this guy even going to make it to October?

    May 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  14. June

    Why do we give this guy any publicity? He is just another reason to ban ALL religions. 95% of the world's problems are cause by religion.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Eric

      Really June, 95%, I'd like to see facts to back up your claim, or are you just talking out your backside.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Phil

      Who do you see inforcing this ban on religion?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bruce

      Okay, Eric, maybe only 94.3% then.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Raj

      Instead of "banning" all religions, perhaps, we could ask them nicely to leave the world alone. If "god" is in your heart, please keep him there, and out of my government, my schools, and most importantly, OFF MY FRONT DOOR.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  15. Randy M

    This guy is a nut case.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  16. virginboy

    YES I HAVE 4 MONTHS TO LOSE MY VIRGINITY THERES STILL HOPE!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Willie

      Oooh, sorry to hear that. It's always harder for a guy.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  17. Please....

    Crucify him. Sooner than later.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  18. Larry

    CNN, why is this news? Are you promoting him? He's Looney Toons. Report some real news for a change!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  19. LookAndSEE

    Jesus is coming again!
    Don’t be let down account of a failed prediction. The Bible is sure. All Old Testament prophecies of Christ birth and ministry were 100% fulfilled. We can be sure all the prophecies and Christ own promise, “I will come again” (Jn14:3)
    A careful study of eschatology (end time events) you can see the condition of the world and understand important political and economical events must take place before Christ can return.
    First , let the Bible interpret it’s self with important symbols.
    Beast = Empire Daniel 7:23, Woman = Church Jeremiah 6:2, 2Corinthians 11:2
    These are the conditions:
    Mt 24:14 The Gospel will have been preached to the whole world.
    2 Thess 2:3 Says the “man of sin “will be revealed first.
    Revelation 16 gives the impression that there are a few major disasters to strike our planet and cause havoc (this is on a Global scale).
    Revelation 17:3 “...and I saw a woman setting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy...” (Revelation has two women of different characters. A woman riding a beast or empire and a woman clothed with the sun in chapter 12). A close look at these verses you will see the Church controlling the state which also gives persecution (Dan7:25, Rev13:7).
    Revelation 13:15 suggest there will be a death penalty to all who oppose the ruling empire.
    Revelation 13:17 No one can buy or sell if not registered with ruling empire. This means that an economic boycott will enforced against those who oppose ruling empire.
    This is only a brief study of the condition of our world before Christ returns. To get a much deeper study of this, visitwww.amazingfacts.org .

    May 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Larry

      Oh great another one. Someone close the asylum doors. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Bruce

      Larry, the GOP is cutting the budget to the bone because of the deficit. So, rather than raising taxes on the uber-wealthy, we need to empty the asylums and lay off all of the mental health care workers, because they have a strong union and we must break the backs of all unions... oops, wasn't supposed to say that out loud...

      May 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      You are nuts. Get help. Stop reading that stuff. Try Stephen King instead.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Greg

      Wow... These are the kind of people my parents warned me about. The ones you should avoid and slam doors on. They preach with frustration when someone fails to believe the words that have been following and to me that just says "Nut Case" where they should only be concerned about themselves. Church’s don't ask you to recruit more "Nut Cases" they are really asking you to help grow their pocket book with weak minded people that will follow the rest of the heard when it jumps off a cliff like sheep do. Seriously you can believe what you want to believe and in this case keep it to yourself. There is only one reason to Preach Such Junk and that is to make MONEY. Let me put it this way. If I knew the planet was going to be engulfed with water to where there would be a 1 mile by 1 mile island left and I was the only one that knew about it. pfft I wouldn't tell a soul. Think about it, why would you care if the Average Joe isn't going to be taking a seat on your Grand Voyage to Heaven that you might have to give it up because, fact he has more money to give then you do? Anyways it is all just a ridiculous and absurd waste of time “ALL AROUND”.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  20. Marty in MA

    the bible is not the answer to anything. It's great
    literature filled with mythology and fables, written by PEOPLE, not god.

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

      Exactly. Thank you for some common sense.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Great literature? Not at all!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:34 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.