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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. Evan

    Alright, folks. I've made a brillant discovery on Rapture day.

    Remember Nostradamus? He said In his writing that humans will leave for another Galaxy, why? Because the sun will explode and destroy the world. Now what does Is means? Well, Rapture means "To be caught up" and being caught up by the will of living will get you to leave our world that Is home. People shall be "Taken up to the sky" for doing so, and who will be chosen to be taken away? Well, not everyone can have that privilege as time Is short. So as this man said, It's might be only 2%/3% of those people being taken up to "Heaven" while the rest will face their last remaining days on earth, therefore, Five Months of tribulation before dying out by the explosion.

    That's mean we'll live our lives and this guy might be as well Profiting on us, I'd like to see someone checking his whole money account before, between and after what's happened.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Alientech

      Brilliant, except that the sun will take about 5 billion years to go super giant. Humans will be a long forgotten life forms by then.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • airwx

      I would think that if science is as good as they say it is and the multi-verses proposed by DR. Tevgart (sp) of MIT is correct, we can just make a choice that our sun is under our control and in the parrallel universe that that observation or choice creates we will be able to limit it to its current output forever. Of course that means the other multiverse that opposes that thought gets the immediate effect of the sum expanding and killing all of humanity...GEE ain't science great????

      May 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  2. Mark from Middle River

    I wonder what Stephen Prothero will try to post to top this article by Ms Kim in the post count?

    He still is in Tennesse with the Mosque story :)

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  3. David

    For the supposed inventor of language (God)..he sure has a problem being clear.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • airwx

      Remember that the Tower of Babel thing was to confuse speech....not to clarify it....

      May 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Alientech

      Notice they have an answer for everything. Tower of Babel, LOL.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  4. Jay

    Anyone have any idea of what he's going to say when he gets this one wrong again?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  5. Tyler

    Someone please smother this man with his own bible

    May 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  6. william

    PT Barnum was right.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  7. teXas

    This guy is a nut. Being a Christian NO ONE has the power or ability to predict the end of the world it could happen in 5 minutes or 5 centuries. Who knows. It's like this guy is saying "I'm old as dirt so I'm gonna rain on everybody's parade." Who in their right mind would believe him.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • David

      It is very funny to me when fellow Christians call this man a nut job. Not because he subscribes to some crazy idea that Jesus will sweep from the heavens to swoop up the worthy souls and then smite the rest over a period of time but rather because he has chosen a date. The date being the crazy idea.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Alientech

      That's right, this guy isn't any different than the rest of the Christians who believe in the rapture idea, his mistake was to make a specific prediction. The rest of them are awaiting rapture without making testable claims.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  8. Bill

    i was wondering what this freak would come up with to save face. wonder if he's ever been warned against 'digging a deeper hole'.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  9. toto

    REPENT, JESUS HAS COME SPIRITUALLY, THE END OF THE WORLD IS NEAR. REPENT

    May 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Veritas

      Ha ha, good one. Sounds exactly like one of those mentally retarded wackos that rant about the end of the world on street corners.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  10. Bear Peterson

    Ah good, obviously the media will have realized by now they've wasted space, money and manhours by covering this piece of "news". He'll not get any media coverage next time, nor will any other "prophiteers" pulling the same trick. Right? RIGHT?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  11. Jen Babine

    I have also spoken with God. He says Don't Worry the End of the world isn't coming until the day you take your last breath. Please Send all Checks directly to me...
    He also wants me to have lots of airtime on national TV and through out the entire Web.
    Don't forget to make Parody T-shirts, websites, and other things I can make Royalty money from. I also want all other important, factual, and relevant News to not be printed, and just pictures of me in a chicken suit on every front page.
    Thanks for you time.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • airwx

      And did he tell you when you would die so the rest of us can have a heads up???? You said when you take your last breath...or are you going to change your prophecy too?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  12. Frank

    How many do-overs does this guy get?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  13. James

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Family-Radio-and-Harold-Camping/212076602156812

    May 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  14. yaya

    This man and his followers should all be killed and their assets donated to charity. I mean that 100%. This man and his followers contribute to the ongoing problems that America and surrounding countries experience daily. They perpetuate stupidity that in turn drives the rest of the world into the ground. Harold Camping should be publically crucified and then we'll see how strong his faith actually is. QUIT RAPING PEOPLE'S MINDS AND FINANCES.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  15. Greg from Grand Island

    This guy is the biggest idiot of all times. So in 5 months when the world doesn't end what is his excuse going to be this time? More bad math. He should has at least put the date out past his life span. So he won't have to make up excuses again and embarras all those who actually listen to this crap. Get a life.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Nike

      How is he stupid? He got hundred of millions from scamming his followers with all sort of predictions. They're broke, his rich. So who's stupid? Its the people listening to him!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Barkingkitty

      OK, sorry I can't agree he's an idiot. Did you read that his group took in $80 million in contributions from 2005 – 2009. Let that sink it: $80 million. Religion=tax free. I purport he is very, very clever to fool so many. And he'll do it again in October with another excuse, and the money will continue to roll in, because, as my granny used to say: A fool and his money are soon parted." He's got a whole flock of following fools.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  16. devout christian

    only the Father knows the day and hour of his return. truth is in the Bible. look it up! Mark 13:32,

    May 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Veritas

      Ah, but you're forgetting that the bible is a just collection of ancient nonsense.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • David

      You might want to read Mathew 24: 32 while your at it. The time of Jesus return has long passed.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Davindh

      Two words for Harry .. EPIC FAIL. He blew enough money on his stupidity campaign to elect the next president.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  17. cpc65

    Three words: Lawsuit, lawsuit and lawsuit. Take your pick. False advertising. Causing emotional distress. Fleecing his followers., not that they don't deserve it for being stupid sheep. The Earth has been here for about 4.5 BILLION years (That's 4,500,000,000). The odds of it ending in our lifetime (short of nuclear war) is about several hundred million times less than you winning the lottery. A BIG lottery, not the little local $500 to $1,000 one that is.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  18. andy

    YES YES YES, it's still on. This little nugget has brought so much joy on my facebook page, the jokes are ENDLESS !!! Plus it's so much fun to confront other Christians who can't in good faith say that it WON'T happen on that day, yet are annoyed at this guy. Looooove it !

    May 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  19. Kyle Field

    I had a long talk with Santa Claus...he said these folks are nucking futs and the world is not going to end, so you can go back to your daily routines.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • redragon

      One hundred percent agree!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  20. Lee Bartholomew

    There is no date. Anybody who has a date does the work of the devil because a date takes advantage of the less fortunate. Sick sick man taking advantage of many many people. :( That isn't what Jesus wants.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:02 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.