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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. Roberto

    Aw yes – practicing our 1st amendment right to freedom of expression – I love it – let's have more!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  2. Elizabeth Williamson

    Okay, the minister has changed his mind and made another prediction. You reported it via the crawling script at the bottom of CNN news. Must you report this the overwhelming numerous times? Is this the sort of news that CNN considers this important? I have always considered CNN as a sophisticated, hard-news, reliable news organization. I have no problem in your reporting what one man has said, but please stop repeating it. He is only one man with an opinion. You actually cause damage when you do this. Are you aware that some parents have taken the lives of their children to save them from the events predicted by this man? Report the news – YES. Do not report it over and over again because this gives it the appearance of validity. And, the validity of this is each individual's opinion. CNN must be more responsible.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      God, you think CNN has anything to do with this? He's putting up billboards and having his cultists sell their homes and give him the money. You need to get outdoors more often or something.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Willie

      If you actually watched the attached video you would see CNN is making fun of the whole issue.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  3. PN

    I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I also believe that when He returns, He's going to kick the cr@p outta this guy and the people spreading his "predictions."

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

      This false prophet is only adding to his punishment,

      May 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I would like anybody to point out to me even ONE example of a TRUE prophet.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  4. Erika

    LOL. What an idiot.

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

      Boy, took the words right outta my mouth!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  5. What?

    If you fall for it once you are gullible. If you fall for it twice you are an idiot. If yo fall for it three times you should just shoot yourself.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  6. jordans

    Its funny but sad. Anyone can get a following but what boatload of suckers this lier has found.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  7. RD

    This man is a false prophet. As a Christian, he should already know that no man will ever know when the world will end. It states in the bible no man will know, Jesus doesn't know, and only the the father will know. As a Christian, I testify that this man is not following the bible and is false Prophet. In addition, I agree with others who have said this man is using Christianity to make money. In out faith, those who make and spread these lies will be severely punished. This man is only adding to his punishment.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  8. sanjosemike

    Most people on this site work for a living (if they are fortunate enough to have a job). Some work 55+ hours/week. Others are pounding the pavement looking for jobs, cutting lawns, working at WM, McDs, whatever they can get. They are behind on their payments, have large CC debt...

    Hey folks, while you are actually working (or looking for work), this guy got donations of about 80 million dollars over the last 6 years or so. I know life is not fair, but this just galls me.

    I don't know how else to describe a crime, but this is....

    May 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  9. Locksley

    No, Mr. Camping. You are NOT teaching the Bible. The Bible says that only God knows when the world will end. Are you God? Didn't think so.... Are you a false prophet? Um... yeah.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  10. Steven

    why don't they lock this idiot up already...... or someone end his world today...

    May 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  11. Bob

    Ah, Christians.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Bucklee 1234

      So Bob, you're telling me I should sum up all the other Bob's as ignorant a..holes since you seem to be one?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Bob

      Unsurprisingly, I have touched a nerve. Ah, Christians.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  12. Don

    Harold Camping needs to have his pants sued off him... This is the only way of stopping this ridiculous stuff!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Jeff

      or media outlets like CNN need to stop giving this man an outlet for his money grab.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  13. Edwin

    I'm christian and here's what I have to say...:

    matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    God doesn't leave his plans to be "deciphered" by man.

    1 John 4:1 "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world"

    Be wary of false prophets.

    ....I believe that says enough.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Locksley

      Thank you! I'm really disappointed with how many people think that we're all so delusional as to believe this man's nonsense.

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

      Of course, while most Christians DON'T believe the "nonsense" about the particular date, they DO believe the nonsense that a guy who's been dead for 2000 years will eventually be coming back, so Camping is only SOMEWHAT more delusional than the mainstream types.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  14. away

    Of course the end is near.... for him! Have you seen his age? He is an old lunatic afraid of his own death but someone explain what's wrong with the followers. sick.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Total non sense

    Religion..... the last hope of idiots....

    May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ total non sense

      You've got it wrong also! ....

      * Sin is the disease of mankind.

      * Atheism is the case of those who having the voice of their consciences which gave them the witness of God, have rejected them, because of pride and love of Self, and sin that's in their hearts... therefore they will have no excuse when they stand before God who gave them life.

      * 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 5:10 pm |
  16. Bob

    CNN, why are giving this senile old coot webpage space?

    May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  17. posterous

    Is he trembling?

    Ask yourself a question. Would you change your life if you would know for certain that Jesus will be coming back tomorrow morning?

    If you say no, then you probably have been raptured already or you're completely without faith and follow the way you've always done.

    God spit this poor folk out of his mouth.
    Repent! while there's still time.

    If you understand the bloomy nature in Jews writngs then we must come to the conclusion that it is all spiritual. I'm not saying nothing will ever happen in physicall realm, like mountains moving and torn apart etc, it already happens, wars and rumour of wars ...Mark of the Beast ... you name it, it's all in full swing.

    The spirtual teachings also reminds us that 1000 years is but 1 day. So be patient. God is spirit and all we need to do is to adjust ourself to his wonderful Will. Nothing wrong with love, really. Jesus's spirit with all the powers and might will live in us with all the results the powers of unconditional love can create. – This is the rapture. Still, there's lots of work ahead and to overcome and I'm certain we're on the way to completion rather sooner than later. The more people get raptured the lesser the chance for hatred. Once we overcome all the environmental desaster will come to an end then too.

    Yes, we're living in a very critical stage by our designed material wisdoms only, still we have time to correct and balance it out. .

    In this sense.- Jesus is Lord and nobody comes to the Father (the power of love and creation, – the I AM) except through him.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Chanselor Jenkins

      What?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • sanjosemike

      Geez, (pre)posterous, your post is absolutely incomprehensible. It scares me to think that it makes sense to YOU!

      That's the problem with "biblio-speak." It starts out as nonsense and continues in every permutation of it.

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

      You have only 1 life, don't waste it with non sense... God is simply mankind's pacifier and security blanket, time to grow up and then live your life to the fullest

      May 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  18. AI

    Someone cue up "Tears of a Clown."

    May 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  19. Bruce

    I'm really glad it turned out to be a "spiritual" earthquake on Saturday rather than a "physical" earthquake. In 5 months hopefully it will be a "spiritual" end of the world rather than a "physical" end of the world.

    And by "spiritual" end of the world I mean an end to all religion in this world. Now THAT's a prediction we could all look forward to!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Halleluljah

      It is foretold.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Just an observer

      Amen... He predicted that 2 to 3% of the population would be taken to heaven on the 21st of May. Then why is he and his followers still here on earth? Is he not ready to give up his worldly wealth, estimated at 80 million dollars, courtesy of those who are gullible enough to believe him or should I say, those whose faith in God is not strong enough yet they have so much faith in a mere fallible human. We have so much "faith" in religion. Yet, we still have to learn the true meaning of "Faith in God". Faith comes from within, how much faith do we have in ourselves? If we can answer that in all honesty, than we can start to learn to have faith in God. And respect for other human being comes naturally afterwards...

      May 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  20. Deist

    “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” – Benjamin Franklin

    May 24, 2011 at 4:41 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.