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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

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117

    May 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  2. WVLady63

    Obviously he STILL has NOT read his Bible!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Molly

      I don't understand why the media gives this guy the time of day. He's just going to keep moving the date up. If he knows anything about the Bible, it states that the Lord will come like a thief in the night and no one will know the time of his arrival.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  3. Steven

    What I don't understand is, YES I believe in Jesus and God, but what part of the bible don't people understand when it says that no man will know the day or time for the end of the world?

    So if you were duped by a man who is even by biblical standards a FALSE prophet, you have only yourselves to blame, that or you are not as versed in the scripture as you claim to be.

    In anycase, whether you believe in jesus, another religion or in something entirely different, I hope people will continue to try and be better to one another regardless of what you think, feel or believe.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Mohamed

      Posted on Hmm if feels like your site consumed my apnsorel first review (it was particularly long) so I guess I’ll simply conclude whatever wrote as well as say, I’m completely savoring your blog post. We very feel a future site blog writer although I’m even now new at all to all. Have you got every recommendations for rookie site freelancers? I’d actually enjoy it.

      March 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  4. nooneknows

    no one can tell the end of the world that's according to JESUS Christ himself...

    May 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Uh actually your Jesus man never wrote anything, nor did any fellows named Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Whoever wrote what you are referencing wrote it some 70 years or so after it was allegedly said and the author wasn't an eyewitness. That's like believing my elderly neighbor is accurately describing an event that someoneone told him about when he was 5. In effect you have no more reason to believe in Jesus and the gospels than you do in Zeus and the Hesiod Theogony.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  5. Jesus

    What??? No, I wont be retuning till November 8th when the new Call of Duty game comes out.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  6. Sully 7

    Why doesn't Harold Camping and his Christian Public Radio donate all of the companies net worth to charity on Oct 1st? I mean the end of the world is coming....right? why doesn't someone in the media interview him and test his confidence in his prediction? if the world is ending on Oct 31, 2011...let Mr Camping donate the entire net value of public radio and his personal wealth to charity? Lets see if he is a true believer in his own prediction... or is it that he knows the world is not ending and this another publicity stunt to generate more donations to his ministry... I mean someone that really believes and is so sure will not need the money come Oct 21st! so tell us Mr. Campiing, what charity will you donate all your money to?

    May 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  7. beelzebubba

    If there was a loving god, this shriveled cult leader and the Westboro Baptist cult wouldn't be here spreading their contagion.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  8. chedar

    And so on and so forth. The world will end when it wants to end.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  9. Wolf in the Fold

    I second Wisdom4u2! These people all have a screw loose.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  10. stevie68a

    "Religion is a mental illness"- Freud

    May 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Isn't that another old nut. Didn't he say that folks basis of life was se'xual and that sons wanted to sleep with their moms and daughters wanted to sleep with their dads.... "shudders"

      Yeah, freud .... someone to look up to. I perfer Carl Gustav Jung. He went on to help influence Alcholics Anonymous.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Yeah, AA, something else that brainwashes you into believing that you cannot overcome your vices without the crutch of religion.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  11. Mark from Middle River

    Good greif 117 pages. I do not think that I have ever seen a story get so much posting. It is hilarious

    May 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  12. Noigiler

    It is NOT news when a senile old coot proclaims crazy things. But,

    It IS news when thousands of people around the world believe the coot enough to send him millions of dollars, quit their jobs, try to kill their children, etc.
    It IS news when thousands more believe he's crazy ONLY because he asserted a date for the rapture

    May 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  13. Chuck White

    This guy is a mental reject. Anyone who listens to this blabber is just as insane. And as for those who think that they can predict the end of the world...get a life (while you can !!).

    May 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  14. ricky

    Silly old GOAT!!!!and the lame sheep that follow....how stupid!!!!! can people be...amazing.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  15. Larry Morrell

    Mathew 24:36

    "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only"

    May 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Noigiler

      Simply quoting the bible adds nothing to the debate. It carries no more weight than quoting any other work of fiction. Please try to use your brain instead

      May 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • JF

      THANK YOU!! If this guy was really spiritual and believed in God, he would know this true fact straight from the Bible!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  16. Skyttles

    Dude seriously people really need to stop listening to him. He need to do us all a favor and just kill himself like the other crazies always do. Maybe he will just predict his own death. October 21st may be his judgement day but according to my god not mine. No one truely knows when the world will end.It been going for millions of years and technically the world isnt going to end. Something catastrophic may happen that will end civilization but i doubt that will happen any time soon. This guy need to get real and stop stealing peoples money. I need to come up with something serious like that to see how much money I will make off of people saying insane stuff like that.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  17. Tmas

    someone should rapture this guy in the face.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  18. spottedsharks

    "Normal" evangelical Christians are only slightly less ridiculous than Camping. They believe in the same rapture nonsense he does, only they don't set a date. There are no gods, no afterlife, no angels, no demons. Stop looking forward to a next life that will never come and start making this one as good for yourself and others as you can.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Is that the same as the rest of the African Americans are not that far off of the gang bangers. Or maybe that the majority of White folks are not that far off from the klan. That the Republicans are not that far off the udders of Bernie madoff and crew or that the Democrats are not that far off the Communist.

      Or should we just say that the Atheist are slighty close to the devil worshipers and other satanic cults :)

      See, it aint that hard to attempt to roll folks you do not like into the same mix as someone or some group that is generally seen by yourside as evil and stupid. :)

      May 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Pssst

      Mark,

      Is is not a central tenet of Christianity that Jesus is coming back to judge the living and the dead? Don't ALL Christians believe this?

      If so, then it is not unjustified to 'roll them together' in this respect.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  19. beelzebubba

    RE: "how will one know if the prophet is false?"

    1. If they are called a prophet in the first place
    2. If they are a for-profit prophet

    May 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  20. wisdom4u2

    I predict this man is as crazy as a road lizard!!!
    And his followers are twice as crazy as he is!!!

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

      Yeah, reminds me of Paul

      May 24, 2011 at 6:25 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.