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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. Harold hater

    CNN should stop fueling such unverified prophecies and prophecists. This is what they really want.. free publicity! These stupids won't stop until news media stops fueling them

    May 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  2. Bobbyz

    Well it really depends what speed/gravitational field God is residing in, obviously! I mean... it's simple relativity stuff... time is dependent upon speed and gravitational force affecting the subject. DUH! O_o

    May 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  3. Barbie Q

    What a fraud this man is. I love how some people ignore the parts of the Bible that don't fit their agenda. It is specifically stated that even Jesus doesn't even know the hour that he will return. God designed it this way so that we wouldn't fret over it... and look what this man did – caused a panic, his looser followers quit their jobs and sold their stuff. Then surprise surprise he's wrong and now he has revised it yet again? Wow, three strikes – you're out you freak.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  4. JEFF

    STOP GIVING THIS NUTBAG A PLATFORM CNN, this is a old man with severe mental health issues please stop covering this wack jobs this is NOT news!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  5. AllyCat

    The Rapture gave me a hangover

    May 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Specter

      exactly.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Spiritual, but not a SUCKER

      Oh, I get it. Let's keep milking the "faithful" for the next five months, asking for more $$$ so I can insure that I, and my progeny, will want for nothing going into the future. And then, after October 21st comes and segues into October 22nd, we're going to once again hear, "My calculations/interpretations were misconstrued. What I really meant was this...."
      As one well known HUCKSTER was attributed with saying, "There's a SUCKER born every minute"...
      Quite obviously, Harold Camping has fully exploited this truism to his, and his family's, financial benefit...
      Enjoy it while you can Harold and family, for your Judgement Day WILL eventually come....

      May 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  6. Clearly it's proof

    It's time to stop believing in religion if you keep letting this crackpot and the WBC be your voice.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Whatever

      Stop believing in religion or stop believing in crazy old men who represent a tiny (and extreme) fraction of Christianity?

      May 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • IsnoGod

      Religion is only to keep the weak minded uninformed and under control of those claiming to be in touch with god. People need to stop believing this crap and come back to reality.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Whatever

      Oh, religion is for keeping the weak minded uninformed? That explains the millions of religious schools and colleges all over the world that provide people with a means to further themselves. Oh and then there are all those scientific discoveries which came from religious sources. Gregor Mendel and genetics spring to mind...

      May 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Christinsanity Islame

      Whatever – Just because there are religious schools, you exaggerated "millions", in the world, doesn't change the fact that they teach false information and perpetuate the delusions. In fact, there are many, many more non-religious schools that DO teach the truth. Thankfully, the religious ones are decreasing in number as more people wake up to the truth.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  7. MattD

    Somehow, he has justified his actions again and again despite none of his predictions coming to pass. I can only fathom that it is likely that he and his followers look for any sign on those days (especially if it doesn't come to pass), and associate that as him being right (like there was an earthquake somewhere, just not worldwide). I used to think this stuff was harmless, but seriously, I don't think it's right to bilk foolish people out of their money, especially when it plays on their fears and hopes...sigh.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  8. Ray

    Why doesn't camping put his money where his mouth is and give it all to charity. If he's so sure of himself he won't have to buy his way inti heaven. And in the meantime the money can help alleviate some suffering of those in need.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • John

      Why? Becaue the guy's a fraud who's only aim is to rip people off and get their money. He's not doing it for the poor.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  9. Mo

    The Bible says, You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. No one knows the day or the hour that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will return. We need to be prepared its going to happen when the LORD says so, not MAN!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • i wonder

      So your "Lord" is a sneak-thief? Isn't that SPECIAL!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Christinsanity Islame

      Don't kid yourself, you're just as bad as this idiot. You believe the exact same thing as they do, but you're content to stay home rather than go out and prove to everyone your delusional. That's the only difference. And, you're using the same delusions to justify your actions as they did to justify theirs. Pretty scary, isn't it?

      May 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • IsNoGod

      Don't give me that 'Bible Says' crap. The bible was written by men, not a god. Then the Romans trashed it so it fit their needs. That's like reading the Lord of the Rings and believing in Elves simply because it was written in a book.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  10. Chris

    And the FOOLS march on like there is no tomorrow.....oh wait.....to them there is NO tomorrow. Like John Lennon said........imagine

    May 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  11. Fester N. Scab

    Dear God, please kill this guy, he's a complete loon.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Stevey

      I'm on your side.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  12. SC Diva

    "INSTALLING RAPTURE............44% DONE. Install delayed....please wait. Installation failed. Please try again. 404 error: Rapture not found. EVENT "Raptture" cannot be located. The rapture yhou are looking for might have been removed, had it's name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later..." All joking aside no one knows the date or the hour of the rapture which I am sure others have mentioned, so I am surprised the people who fell for this did not take this into consideration.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Bruce

      Camping and his followers did take Matthew 24:36 and verses like it into consideration. It is quite easy to look up. http://www.wecanknow.com

      May 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Alan

      The miracles are real. They just haven't happened yet.

      (welcome to the land of Lewis Carroll).

      May 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  13. barkboy

    ok, who is this guy and why do we care what he says?

    May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  14. AlienShark

    ok lets give him another shot.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  15. Christinsanity Islame

    Everyone is born an atheist. Anything above that is delusional baggage that people strap to themselves as a filter for the scary world. This kook is living proof, and he's just as bad as the rest of them; Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh, L Ron Hubbard, Jim Jones, Charles Russell, Mohammad & Jesus. All shysters of the highest order.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Whatever

      You forgot to mention the millions of religious people who do nothing to harm anyone or anything. Oh and don't forget those terrifying Christian and other religious groups who donate their time and money to ease human suffering around the world. Scary stuff...

      May 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • IsnoGod

      Exactly. When will they stop believing in this foolishness. just as lame as the Easter Bunny, Santa, and Faeries.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Whatever

      @ isnogod: What does it matter to you what Christians believe? This idiot gets tons of media converge, but the average Christian is not going to chase you down the street to force their beliefs on you. If someone chooses to live a good life and believe in a higher being, does that really have any impact on you?

      May 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Christinsanity Islame

      Whatever – The amount of human suffering they have alleviated compared to how much they have instigated is quite lopsided. You don't have any statistics, of course, but I imagine that your beliefs about how many groups are out there easing human suffering is greatly exaggerated. Compared to all of the deaths, and wars, and suffering caused by your righteous beliefs, it's a bad arguing point.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Christinsanity Islame

      Whatever – "live a good life and believe in a higher being". If that's all that you were doing, in your home, then good on you. But, how is it that christians try to forge government policy based on your delusions? That's more than just a good life and a belief. They kill abortion doctors, restrict scientific research, paste their cars with religious propaganda, try to instill religious images and words into public places and events, and then have the audacity to be offended when the non-delusional people say we don't want to hear or see it. Businesses aren't allowed to make false claims that they can't support with scientific data, and that's exactly what religion does. And that is scary.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Whatever

      There is no way I can describe every religious service group, look up Catholic Relief Services. Providing clean drinking water, trying to prevent the spread of disease, and feeding the hungry around the world.

      I can't speak for all religions, but most Christians do not do the violent things you mentioned and don't try to force their beliefs down the throats of others. However, people do have the right to disagree with abortion, the use of fetal stem cells, etc with just as much validity as those who support these things. Unfortunately for the non-extreme religious persons out there, idiots like Camping and other religious extremist get all the media coverage, so people don't realize that it is possible to be religious and sane at the same time.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Christinsanity Islame

      Whatever – I don't see that you are sane. On one hand, you say that religion doesn't "really have any impact on you (non-believers)", and then you say, as if it's nothing at all, that you want to decide what all women can or can't do with their body. Isn't that having an impact? Isn't that you pushing your delusions onto everyone else? The same with the stem cells, religious propaganda in public places, putting the word "god" on our money and in the pledge of allegiance and on, and on, and on. The separation of church and state is provided to protect the government from influence by delusionists.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  16. Mark Mc

    This lunatic charlatan keeps making predictions that followers and donors keep buying into. 1994... nnnnoonnnnooo, wait, May 21, 2011, nnnooonnnnnooo, I meant October 21, 2011! Hey, y'all: God does not set dates. God is alleged to be infinite, and Infinity is not tracked by finite time. The calendar is an earthly human invention to track the moon, planets, and stars. (And there have many calendars: the Julian, the Gregorian, the Mayan, the French Revolutionary, the Jewish, the Muslim, the Chinese.....yada yada.) When God Yahweh Allah Shiva The Creator terminates the earth, He may not give the advance warning of a date, or it may come in the form of a space rock, like the movie Armageddon, we helpless billions might see coming months ahead, but a date or any prediction to that effect is not in the Bible in any form. The arrogance and pathology of people who believe that they alone have the key to the plans of the Universe is what is most pathetic. Camping is a sick perverted old man; the wise, spiritual, loving choice is not to believe him but to ignore him. As for those knuckleheads who gave up jobs or money....well, in our terms, it's much closer to the end of the world for them, now, isn't it?

    May 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Terrance Stuart

      I believe prophets have a responsibility to be accurate. An inaccurate prophet is responsible for their inaccuracies and should admit so. In ancient days the High Priest, Prophet and King co-led society in much of the fertile crescent and the Holy Land. They had power and frequently had wealth. We do not live a society that honors prophets or fears them, otherwise his fate on 21 May might have been closer tied to his doomsaying money making operation. People have an inherent desire to not be alone, yet death, just as birth is an individual process, even if you are one among scores or millions who may be passing in proximity. It is one thing no one can do for you. Being translated to heaven is a seductive idea, death is by-passed and you are among the chosen, the good, the saved. All others are less than you are and must endure the pain of suffering death. If this makes you happy, I am happy for you who wish to be so special. For myself, I prefer living among sinners and perishing as one of them, as I regard myself to be no better than anyone else.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  17. Scott

    God didn't want to miss this season of Jersey Shore. THAT'S why he postponed everything.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  18. Lance

    If one wakes up every morning knowing that the world is going to end TODAY, he is right until one of three things happens, the world truely does end, he dies from whatever cuase or the clock starts on a new day. Each new day is the same, it could end TODAY, live every day as if it matters knowing that only three options exist....

    May 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "If one wakes up every morning knowing that the world is going to end TODAY," they are wrong every day of their lives... well, maybe not the last day, but by then who cares...

      May 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  19. HRPufnstuf

    When is this fraud going to go away? Crawl back under your rock!

    Maybe someone will hit him in the head with his rock.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  20. DL

    Oh my god, what an idiot! Surely nobody will believe this retards prediction again.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Bruce

      They already do believe his prediction, and his "spiritual" versus "physical" explanation of what happened on Saturday.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Alan

      Once people commit themselves to belief the changing "facts" don't matter too much. They can be explained away. The fact that there is a person who seems able to offer the "explanations" is what matters the most.

      In other words, the starting point point is where the person gives up what we would call a strictly rational perspective. So maneuvering once that has happened is actually pretty easy.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:23 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.