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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. john defestore

    All of you fairy tale religious idiots deserve each other...oh this guy's nuts but when Jesus comes back blah blah blah

    May 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  2. Rob

    This insane, delusional, criminal is at it yet AGAIN! This mentally disturbed crackpot has got to be stopped. This is not religion, this is not freedom of speech, this is fraud and abuse and it has to stop now.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  3. He's a False Prophet

    The Bible specifically says: 1 Thess. 2: Don't be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord HAS ALREADY BEGUN. Don't believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us.

    Apparently Camping keeps missing the key scriptures. "Thief in the night."

    May 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      All prophets are false, since there is no god.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  4. The Big Machine

    All I'm gonna say is if I EVER run paths with this imposter prophet, I'm gonna big boolt his a** for causing all this unnecessary panic for lot of the people.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  5. The World

    The world is not going to come to an end, we the people are coming to an end. We will kill ourselves with all this wars going on the world just adapts to the changes that we do to it.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  6. jheron

    He predicted the world would end in 1994 and again on May 21st. I predicted it would not both times. Maybe his followers should start following me.
    I sayeth that thou should live thy lives as kind , productive people, treat thy children and thy neighbors well. Thou shall end before thy world does.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  7. Intelligent Design

    Oh wait ......

    May 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  8. CatchMe

    IDIOTS. Just stop publishing news about this punk. Why do you give so much importance and get this out of control ? Just stop

    May 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  9. jae

    Let's get one thing straight the word rapture isn't even in the bible

    May 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  10. Chaz

    Well, as a Jesus-loving Christian i realize this man is being ridiculous. The rapture and Judgement Day will happen and Jesus will return, but only God Almighty knows when. Real Christians know this.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • nate

      no, it won't

      May 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Intruth23

      Yes Nate, It will!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • jheron

      Do real Christians know of Mithra? The original Jesus Christ?

      May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Gregory

      I'm with Stephen Hawkins, Heaven is a fairy tale along with Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  11. Dante Orlando Brown

    "But of that day and hour no one has knowledge, not even the angels in heaven, or the Son, but the Father only."–Matthew 24:36

    May 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  12. Miles

    Why is this in CNN and other major news media? Is this "new prediction" serious news? This is ridiculus! obviuosly he is crazy or just a afraud. If it was not because he has received so much free publicity, only a bunch of ignorants would be listening to him... A true Christian must know he is a false prophet. Now his number one fans are the atheists: this guy is their new weapon against religion/faith... when most mainstream churches have ignored or denounce him, the atheist are the ones paying attention, how ironic!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Landruu

      Miles. It's in here for the entertainment. Hell, I had a good chuckle.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  13. Jesus

    Maybe the bible is a TEST to see who can think and who can not , who is worthy

    for all the people who blindly follow a book .. did you ever consider your wrong ? and might goto you hell
    for being so blind and nieve?

    May 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  14. Tony Buzzardi

    Everybody needs to get a real job!! There is no human alive that knows the time of the lords return, period!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • James

      There's no human alive that can say God exists.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Or that he doesn't exist.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • jheron

      Please define your God Mark,. Based upon your definition we can then look at whether it is likely it exists or not. Right now we have a universe that seems to follow certain sets of rules that we are continuing to discover. If your God does not fit into these rules, then it is a more persuasive argument that your god does not exist.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  15. dan

    He is a moron. and not a real christian. he is a fear monger and full of hate and venom. God bless

    May 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • John D

      So what you're saying here, is that he's a Teabagger? I'm just saying...

      May 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  16. Tom

    Please CNN. Let this story die the death that it so richly deserves. With parts of the world coming apart at the seams and our own economy doing its best to take a double-dip, perhaps there are more important stories to report, eh? Let Mr. Camping go back to fiddling with his numbers and amazing his followers. Take pity on the rest of us and leave this senile old man alone.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  17. joe-s

    Funny so many religious posters say this guy is crazy and people who gave them are crazy for believing in such nonsense

    but then will put money in a envelope for sunday mass ..

    HYPOCRITES

    May 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • The truth

      Speak the truth my brotha!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Whatever

      Do you have any idea how much good Christianity does in this world using funds donated by the religious? I can't speak for every group out there, but look about Catholic Relief Services and think about it.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Heinz Doofenshmirtz

      Good point Joe

      May 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Lawrence

      But the money he collects is used to voice his anti-Christ and false prophet remarks. Adding any date to the day Jesus was crucified could go on a long time. When someone without any spiritual training tries to preach the bible he/she gets a lot of things wrong.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  18. Jess

    His intentions were well meant, despite the fact that he was wrong, and thus I regret that he's received so much heat.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • hotpatata

      What exactly is well meant about "I'll pretend I know of the end of the world if you give me gobs of money and attention"? Harold Camping is a false prophet, same as the small-town crooks who heal the sick in tent revivals. Can't wait to hear what excuse he'll come up with on October 22.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Will Clark

      Jess, I do not regret that Harold has received so much heat, but rather that he's received so much publicity, thus giving the rest of those who do believe a bad name. When are "non-believers" going to start looking to the REDEEMER and not the FOLLOWERS. Maybe ti's because the followers are as fallible as they are and they are scared/afrriad/initimidated to be judged by the standards of a sinless God in the midst of all our sins, regardless of whether we believe it or not.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  19. ronna

    Why are these people so set on wanting the world to end. They should be living and enjoying the fruits of their labors. I hurd some of this parents even pulled out their kids from school did away with their college funds and in some cases the kids didn't even buy into this nonsence. This false prophet is selfish, he knows that end is coming soon for him because he is old but he doesn't want to go alone. Sad that he has followes who beleive all this crap.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Prabhakara rao

      Why Camping could not predict Killer tornado which ripped Jopplin(Missouri) and killed around 116 people.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  20. Buck stops here

    For those who truly believe, please give your laptops and desktops to charity since you will no longer be here. Then we won't have to see your foolish posts anymore.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Prabhakara rao

      your suggestion is right for the wrong people

      May 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Will Clark

      So you're allowing your ETERNITY to be decided on the basis of those you say are foolish??? You're absolutely right, the buck DOES stop there.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:00 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.