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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. Deuce Moose

    Its fun to watch these people. If you don't believe like they do then you can go laugh to yourself about what they are saying. If you do believe them then there are more people to laugh at. Why stop a harmless and funny thing?

    May 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  2. Justin Saskatoon Sk

    I am no PURE Christian, nor am i Athiest, I am a believer of Christ. I am also very logical with my beliefs. I do not believe everything word for word the bible says, because it is very easy to misinterput. But I am starting to have a major problem with this mister Camping. He claims he is a preacher, which may be true, but if that was the case i would expect him to be a PURE Christian (Meaning he has never lied, stole, cheated, used the lords name in vein, etc., etc.) And the fact that he is using EXACT days, and even EXACT times; to me, makes him a Phoney. The bible says Itself, that no one, not even Jesus will know when Judgement day will happen, Only God himself. Also, Judgement day is NOT the end of the world, its the day when MAYBE 2% of the worlds population will be taken to heaven before the rest of us are put through many years of war, poverty, famine, and other torture, where we must try fo fight throughit and die doing it to prove we are worthy to go to heaven. Those people who will kill themselves, or continue to sin during these times will have a place in hell. While the rest of us will prove ourselves worthy. Even if Mr. Camping were 100% right about Judgement day, it is NOT the end of the world. There will be a lot worse stuff ahead of us all, and personally, i think this Camping guy is just in it for the media.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Hey Justin

      Maybe dropping out of school wasnt the best idea. You're dumb.

      Not sure if youre 7 or 70 years old, either way youre trash.

      Carry on...

      May 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Justin Saskatoon Sk

      And how so? What Logic do you have behind saying that, Elaborate your opinion. (If you know what Elaborate means)

      May 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • UncleJesse

      No, he is right. You are an idiot. Period.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  3. Nordic

    Don't know about this guy, but I'm pretty sure that Thor already came back to Earth on May 6th! :-)

    May 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  4. GD

    Thank God I'm an athiest

    May 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  5. Complete Idiots

    I would love to learn the average IQ and education level of these close-minded, scared, socially retarded morons. It's frustrating that these followers are able to give birth; raising more mindless drones. I feel sorry for them, but even more so for their children.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  6. Pork Boi

    When will the sheeple ever learn that the Bible is nothing more than the most prolific piece of nonfiction ever written?

    May 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • ligia

      The bible states that no one knows the day and time. This guy preaches from his own dissilusioned mind and he should not be associated with God or the bible in any way. It's people like him that lead many to hate the bible and God.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Pssst

      "It's people like him that lead many to hate the bible and God."

      It's not realistic to hate fictional characters; but shining a bright light on the fact that that's what the bible showcases is helpful.

      Rave on, Harold Camping!

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

    A vulture who preys on the weak of mind, nothing more, nothing less. For those of you who defend him...you are just as weak.

    P.S. I love the part that he is an Engineer, yet repeatedly fails to calculate his dates correctly. I guess we should be happy he doesn't design rapid transit or the like.....lol

    May 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  8. fokjou

    Hopefully next time he'll convince his followers to drink the Cool Aid...literally...

    May 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  9. Ladylou

    Yo! Kim and Dan! Don't you have anything better to write about?! What tripe!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  10. r-hope

    And now Camping wants to take credit for warning us about judgement.... is this guy related to Donald Trump?

    May 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Grigory Dashevsky

      HO,THIS GUY IS RELATED TO 18.510 MENTAL PEOPLE.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  11. Tomoyo

    Stop reporting on him, unless you're going to cover every crazy religious fanatic alive. He deserves no more credence than any of them.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  12. victoria

    STFU!!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  13. Weller

    He's just doing what he does. The ones to feel sorry for are the idiots who unquestionably keep believing his crap.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  14. avi42

    The rapture is tomorrow! I mean tomorrow...I mean tomorrow....I mean tomorrow...

    http://punditsquares.blogspot.com/

    May 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  15. Sean

    come on folks. stop beleving in fairy tails already. think for yourself for once!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  16. MORGAN

    zzzzzzzzzzz. Please stop reporting on this. Do not keep giving this guy a free platform to spew his nonsense. He's 89 and clearly not all there anymore.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Grigory Dashevsky

      I,m with you,MORGAN!!!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  17. Pete

    I think he should set a date for the Return, and promise to do himself in the day after should that not happen. Then at least he would be displaying the courage of his convictions (and self-limiting the blather).

    May 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  18. Deist

    Some of these post are filled with such hater. Hate speech, regardless of a person's belief or non-belief, is still hate speech.

    “It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.” – Edmund Burke

    May 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Buck stops here

      There is belief which I can respect and then there is worthless blathering BS which this guy is displaying. The key is to be able to distinguish between the two.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  19. Larry

    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES HAROLD A DULL BOY.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  20. Cereal Kid

    STFU you old fart!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
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About this blog

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.