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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. SIN

    Religious freaks that judge the Gothic people should have their mouth sewed shut permanently.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  2. OMG!

    If and when he comes........I'm ready!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  3. Jay

    If this man is making money off of the vulnerable I hope the Justice Department is listening.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  4. shinden

    Actually the rapture did take place on May 21 and not he nor his followers were in the 2% that left for heaven. I wonder how that makes him and his followers feel? ;-}

    How many times does this guy have to revise his rapture dates till everyone looses complete confidence in this scam artist? Please CNN no more free plublicity to fools like this.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  5. Rose

    CNN and ALL media

    STOP GIVING THIS GUY ALL THIS PUBLICITY!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  6. sickntired

    Hey old f@rt, soon one of your follower will kick your old A$$ and the doomsday will come on your old A$$, can you predict that day ??? We'll call it A$$ocalypse

    May 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  7. razer

    What will God give him for a new date on October 22nd? If I am wrong in thinking that it won't happen then either, I don't think I will care on October 22nd.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  8. Alex Gessong

    The end of the world IS coming! In about 5 billion years, when the sun begins to expand. You have been warned! Assuming the calendars in use at the time still include a month called "October," it could very well be October 21st 5000002011! The best part is, if that date comes and goes and the world is still here, I won't be around to have to make up some excuse for why it didn't happen! ;)

    May 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  9. BCW - NYC

    Why people want to leave Earth!? Earth is what God created for us to live in and to love each other. Let's help fix this Earth and make it a Heaven for everyone. God loves everyone. God will never destroy his creations; people and every living creatures on earth.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "God will never destroy his creations;"
      You mean, "God will never destroy his creations [again]" right?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @BCW, guess Noah forgot to pick up the dinosaurs! ;)

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Ridiculous

    He's just another false prophet who uses the bible and religion to earn his money. He earned millions of dollars with TAX free donation just because he predicted the end of the world. I mean how can you be a Christian preacher and claim that you know the DAY that the world will end. In the Bible only God knows when the end will come and Jesus himself does not. He is just a contradictory idiot who needs to quit trying to scare people and live out his remaining years

    May 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  11. capnmike

    The only thing stupider than this parasitic geek are the poor brainwashed idiots who believe this nonsense.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Paolo

      Amen!

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

      I completly agree capnmike. This preacher is an idiot. He does not represent god, he's just a leach who wants to make money while he can.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  12. LibertyBell

    The coming of Christ or the rupture will not be known by any human being. He is a false prophet period. The problem is people who believes in him and the world participating with it will be like "a boy that cry wolf. " People will just ignore or get complacent and not be prepared to the coming of Christ, prepared means being saved not of this material world.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Bruce

      The rupture? Are you talking about the levees trying to control the Mississippi floods?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • capnmike

      There is no such thing as a "prophet"...just scam artists who "predict" the future...when they are wrong, they make up excuses, and when they are right (about 50% of the time, by ordinary statistics) their lamebrained followers jump up and blather how this scam artist has the "gift of prophesy"...What a HUGE CROCK!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @capnmike,
      You sure you aren't talking about economists? : )

      May 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • flamboney

      rapture, rupture, prophet, profit - what's the difference?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      When the Rupture comes, you will need a truss. I'm just sayin' . . .

      May 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @LibertyBell, God made this material world, and said it was good, according to Genesis. I have to agree with God on this one: the material world is not so bad. Anyone who has understood the philosophy of Jesus ("treat others as you would like to be treated", "judge not, lest you be judged," "love your neighbor as you love yourself", etc.) and lives by that philosophy is ready for Rapture at any time. If everyone embraced that philosophy, we wouldn't need to wait for the afterlife to find paradise, we'd make it right here in this material world.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  13. litruha

    did he not get enough of donations? let it go man. you got your millions relax already

    May 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • airwx

      Actually.. they have already spent that money on ads, RVs etc

      May 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  14. thefrumepter

    Why do you keep publishing this ass clowns words?
    enough already!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Larry

      Agree, if anything this thief should be locked up.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Christopher69

      The world has ended, well, the old world that is. Welcome to the New World Order. Our old world and the old world way's have to pass in order for this New World Order to take effect, thank's to the people not doing their research on the people we elect into office to do the job of running the government and using our tax dollars to keep our great country stable.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Maxxi

    This old man Sux.He has no religion at all, his bible is money. He makes money by this BS, he should stop spreading more BS.
    Wolf is coming, wolf is coming but one day it'll actually come without any predictions.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  16. jurby

    Camping is raving lunatic and his followers are crazy to believe/follow him. Hey, Mr. Camping, if the world is going to end on October 21, 2011 then I'm the Easter Bunny and there really is a Santa Claus and a Tooth Fairy... Let me guess, Mr. Camper, that once October 21, 2011 comes and goes and the world is still here you're going to come up with some other excuse and making up some other day that the world's really meant to end. You're a lunatic Mr. Camping and I suggest you run to the nearest psychiatric hospital and permanently check yourself in as you are a total insane nutcase.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  17. bu

    Religion is a DISEASE!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • capnmike

      YES! How many of actually have the guts to throw this enormous scam onto the trash-heap of history where it belongs! (Unfortunately not enough)

      May 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      You've got it wrong.....
      * Sin is the disease of mankind.
      * Religion is man's search for ways to wash himself clean.
      But
      * Christ Jesus, the Son of God , whom He sent to redeem the fallen mankind is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND LIFE! Only faith in His finished work on the cross gives salvation to those who humble themselves to accept this gift,acknowledging their need of His righteousness.

      There is no other way! And this truth does not depend on any man's opinion!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Prism, you go right on thinking that, and have fun. We ain't buying it.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hey, clown, who is selling it?
      You've got your life free of charge, you've got the truth at disposal to you, even the witness of your own conscience, till you have silenced ti by the love of sin that darkened your heart.... And when you finish your journey here, what ever happens to your pitiful soul, it will be your chosen destiny, and then you;ll pay dues for lies you've bought, because the love of truth was not in you!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  18. Ben from PHilly

    I seriously wish one his own followers wakes up and punches him right in the Freakin face. Freakin looney tune nitwit.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  19. Goody

    ha ha – SALT!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  20. JustTired

    This is so beyond rationality that I cannot even fathom it. It is bad enough that CNN and others are giving this dememted creep the platform he needs to spin everyone up, but in October, we will surely revisit him again. If the world does not end, he should be thrown in jail for stirring up crap. Can we just put this bunch and the Westboro subhumans in a big room and let them fight it out? Maybe they'll do us all a big favor and wipe each other out.

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

      As much as I agree that such people are deluded, labels such as 'subhumans' are dangerous. Down that path lies slavery, ghettos, and crimes against humanity.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:36 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.