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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. Marc Laforest

    Question for anderson cooper: Just wondering Anderson if there is anything we can do to this nutjob. Does he really have the right to go around and scaring people every so often like this. I get that he is allowed to collect any money that his idiotic followers give him but as far as scaring normal folk, gotta be something you can do with your style of reporting. Lets get on this guys back and if not keep him honest than just to try to shut him up. Put the pressure on the way you do best

    May 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  2. a4mrtheist

    Come 10-21 what will be his next excuse?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • TheBear

      Another mathematical error! Please people, send in more donations! I need to buy more sophisticated equipment to get this damn date right! Praise the lord and pass the caviar

      May 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  3. Movitar

    Who else wants to get a $829
    iPad2 for $27.42! Or a brand new i7 macbook pro worth $1799.00 for under $150? Forget about high priced retail stores. Intelligent people are using SnagBids.com

    May 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  4. bluemax77

    One word – DICK..!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  5. Eugen

    It is a sad state of affairs when the great majority of Americans are brained washed into believing in a Jewish superman. This is why the US can't do the right thing for the Palestinians. Obama has opened the door for another False Flag event. It could be his assassination. Don't like the man but I'd hate to see him and others get hurt to initiate another disaster in the middle east. Mr President watch your butt.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  6. tos

    Please, quit giving this idiot the attention he so desperately craves- enough to lie as big as one can lie.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  7. gypsyboomer

    Stupid is as stupid does

    May 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  8. urbanite

    blah blah blah!
    but this is funny: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc0s358b3Ys

    May 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  9. Voltairine

    "[Christianity is] the most ... perverted system that ever shone on man"

    - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Joseph Priestley on March 21st, 1801

    May 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  10. Fred M.

    Five months with no evangelical Christians? That's as close to heaven as I could imagine.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  11. MaryAnn in VA

    Harold Camping obviously doesnot believe in the very bible he is preaching about. He is disgraceful and the folks who follow him are so misguided. This man can't even seem to get himself into heaven. Don't count on him for your salvation. Stop listening to him and read the bible for yourselves, then ask Jesus to help you...he will and you can then be sure. Harold Camping is a fraud!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • kb from canada

      The poor guy is probably just hoping he dies before October. Thus, saving face.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  12. Greg

    How convenient.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  13. cheese

    For being a preacher, he sure doesn't know his Bible very well.

    Jesus himself said in Matthew chapter 24 (verse 36) "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    And in verse 44, "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

    And finally, in verse 50, "The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of."

    Methinks this "preacher" needs a refresher course on his biblical teachings.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  14. calihai

    This bullshatft story should not have even be in the news. Comon Americans concentrate on something important, not some lunatics calculations.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  15. AJ

    Matthew 24:36, in part, says concerning that day and hour no one knows – not the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father. If he is any kind of a preacher surely he would have come across this Scripture at some point..........

    May 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  16. Sean T

    dude. shut up.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  17. danny

    MY name is the great DANNY!! i predict the world will end 2 of october! please CNN fallow my lead! send your reporters to film me and my prediction! as i am the fourth son of the third light from Nostradamus!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Harpo

      ALL HAIL GREAT danny!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  18. meleloup

    I would not be so sure of that if I was you. You dont have any proof. Wait and see what happens to you after death.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  19. ready2leave

    I have no problem with people following through with their beliefs if they are truly convicted of them.... as long as it doesn't lead to the killing of innocent people. I won't necessarily state that he lead a number of sheep to their folly, but that is definitely how it would appear. Are his followers naive? It certainly would seem so, but I have a hard time that all of them could be that ridiculously "out there". Unless the news has been making mountains out of mole-hills... but would CNN really do that? :)

    In all honesty though, whether from religion, politics, economics, philosophy, etc., I realize people will have very unique opinions... and who is to say they are wrong? 230+ years ago there were a lot of people calling the "New Worlders" crazy for thinking they could have a Capitalism based Democracy. In that case... we were willing to kill just for lower taxes. Maybe technically we aren't as nice of people as we thought?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  20. DANIEL

    oh dear, oh my, your were wrong mister preacher guy, the end of the world did not come, maybe next time you wont forget to carry the one.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:08 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.