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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 • Faith Now

soundoff (4,998 Responses)
  1. Nick

    This is another case of the media providing an outlet to someone who shouldn't be provided with one. Watch as we give him a ton of attention again in October, and again at some point in the undefined future when his crackpot theories don't pan out. I wonder if there's a special place in heaven reserved for someone who preys on people's fears and commandeers their life savings and livelihoods? Or perhaps a place somewhere else?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  2. JS

    Idiot sheeple.

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

    Oh-My-God, dude. Give it up already. Didn't you also say the world was ending in like 1994? I'm pretty sure you need to take your money and "rapture" yourself off to S. America.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  4. Andrew

    Consider that we are not really in 2011. We live in a world which contains a margin of error of + or – 7. When catholic monks came with our calendar system, it was not really know when year 0 had happened, so and so for. Now, any prophecy needs to take this margin of error into consideration. Saying the world will end on may 21, 2011 shows ignorance of reality and fact. How can something be so set in stone when "time" itself isn't? For all of those who are living this delusion of "world ending" prophecy, please THINK. Critical thinking is the most important aspect of human experience. Ask why and how and when, ask to see hard evidence and not just some mathematical insanities that make no sense. If you believe something so much, you'll make it reality. Choose to think about solving our problems. What if we all worked together to better the world, instead of trying to bring about its destruction?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  5. brad1001

    Inever did real well at math, but this guy, considering the magnitude of his computation and its' supposed result, really duffed it.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  6. Chris

    People like this are why police ask applicants if they believe they are on a mission from God. You can't give guns and badges to people like this. And, I might add, these people are why it's easy to be cynical about religion. I'd also add it's why these people can be dangerous to a society such as ours.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  7. ash

    Well in my opinion most people do know 'ONE DAY WORLD IS GOING TO END' But when no one knows. Only GOD knows. Jesus is alive, and he will come back to universe.....Also muslim belive too.

    Sinderely,

    ash

    May 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Cindy

      That's stinkin' thinkin.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • DoodleSheep

      I hope you get hit by a bus.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  8. donkeypower

    STRIKE TWO!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  9. CHRIS TEMPLE

    ts obvious that this guy is a lunatic....he has no believe in Christ......nor does he know the word of the LORD....this guy must be getting paid by Satanists to try and make a mockery of the Bible...This man is an absolute tool of Satan and is nuts....What I find very strange is that Mainstream media is actually covering this guy !!!!! Do you understand what is going on here....Its very plain to see that mainstream media has made this guy what he is and mainstream media is paying this guy to be a fool......And some people actually believe this nut case.....Know one knows when the Lord will return ....SO PLEASE MAINSTREAM MEDIA STOP TRYING TO MAKE A MOCKERY OF THE BIBLE.....YOU ALL WILL MEET YOUR MAKER .....THIS IS WITHOUT DOUBT AND THE ONES WHO ARE A PART OF THIS RETARDED HOAX WILL BE JUDGED ON YOUR ACTIONS.MMMMMMMMM

    May 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  10. CHRIS TEMPLE

    ts obvious that this guy is a lunatic....he has no believe in Christ......nor does he know the word of the LORD....this guy must be getting paid by Satanists to try and make a mockery of the Bible...This man is an absolute tool of Satan and is nuts....What I find very strange is that Mainstream media is actually covering this guy !!!!! Do you understand what is going on here....Its very plain to see that mainstream media has made this guy what he is and mainstream media is paying this guy to be a fool......And some people actually believe this nut case.....Know one knows when the Lord will return ....SO PLEASE MAINSTREAM MEDIA STOP TRYING TO MAKE A MOCKERY OF THE BIBLE.....YOU ALL WILL MEET YOUR MAKER .....THIS IS WITHOUT DOUBT AND THE ONES WHO ARE A PART OF THIS RETARDED HOAX WILL BE JUDGED ON YOUR ACTIONS.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  11. Akira

    As I predicted: nothing happened, so he moves the goalpost. But you don't need to be a prophet to figure that out though, this happens every time somebody comes along and gives a date for the End Of The World.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Five Points

      As you predicted? You should be so proud of yourself for making such an earth-shaking revelation!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  12. James

    This criminal is no different than the BAGWAN. Remember him? He bilked many hundreds out of their life savings while driving around in a fleet of Rolls Royces. The IRS finally got him on TAX EVASION. They shouyld get this guy too.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  13. CHRIS TEMPLE

    Its obvious that this guy is a lunatic....he has no believe in Christ......nor does he know the word of the LORD....this guy must be getting paid by Satanists to try and make a mockery of the Bible...This man is an absolute tool of Satan and is nuts....What I find very strange is that Mainstream media is actually covering this guy !!!!! Do you understand what is going on here....Its very plain to see that mainstream media has made this guy what he is and mainstream media is paying this guy to be a fool......And some people actually believe this nut case.....Know one knows when the Lord will return ....SO PLEASE MAINSTREAM MEDIA STOP TRYING TO MAKE A MOCKERY OF THE BIBLE.....YOU ALL WILL MEET YOUR MAKER .....THIS IS WITHOUT DOUBT AND THE ONES WHO ARE A PART OF THIS RETARDED HOAX WILL BE JUDGED ON YOUR ACTIONS.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  14. Nurul Aman

    I think these suckers are not idiots, but suffering neurological disorder that brings them into such a tragic disillusionment.

    organized religions of all kind are nothing but strategic business models to make money and power in the name fake religious myths. Until majority of human being will realize that and wake up themselves from their neurological disorders, these fake leaders will continue to make money and overpower on these suckers. What an unfortunate things happening in the world still!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • FaithAndLife

      Blanket statement my friend. I don't know when the Lord is returning but I am sure He will. Plus, I have no neurological issue that you speak of and neither would I attack your sanity if you told me you believed differently than I. You have every right to your passionate belief against religion and I respect that although you have to know my belief in Jesus and the Bible was not without questioning it and doubting it and even turning from it for years. Thru all the questions, there were many logical reasons for me to believe and not to believe. I am sided on belief now mostly because I understand more now than then. This is the same process that everyone goes thru. You have to see if the Bible lives up to criticism and, I have criticized it and it has passed the test for me.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  15. The Dimension Machine

    Thinking positive will make positive reality.

    Thanks www TheDimensionMachine DOT com

    May 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Normon

      I'm positive that thoughts alone do not alter reality.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  16. Arthur K

    recall that in the [religious] mindset, faith precedes theory, and theory informs the evidence.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  17. PeaceOut

    I hope he's happy. He's led thousands of people to screw themselves over, selling their houses and quitting their jobs, and for what? This guy claims to study the Bible, but apparently he's skipped over Matthew 24:36:

    "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

    May 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Dave

      You can't blame him for folks selling all their stuff or quiting their jobs. Stupid people do that....not that there is anything wrong with selling all your stuff when a crackpot old man tells you the world is coming to an end. Shame they get to vote.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jeff

      Anyone dumb enough to believe this guy's garbage or any other "end times" BS from the bible, and goes out and quits their job or sells their house, deserve everything they get.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  18. Gianni

    THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST (WHEN HE COMES IN JUDGMENT) WILL BE: 07-11-2011

    May 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • PeaceOut

      I just randomly turned to page 987 in the Bible, so I say he comes September 8, 2007. Oh, wait, September 87th, 2011. Shoot. My math must be off or something...

      May 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  19. kawika

    False prophet or senile old man....or both.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  20. Danialla

    Just keep sending in those donations folks!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:19 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.