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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. Easter Bunny

    So...anyone wanna know what's REALLY happening on this planet?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  2. Alex Winter

    Preacher should revise his meds.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  3. enough free publicity for this quack

    why is this guy still on the front page of CNN?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  4. chamborde

    Why does the media pander to these morons? Is there anything that CNN won't do for ratings? Why does this once respectable news organization have to keep lowering its standards? Don't broadcast this crap and people will stop paying attention to these clowns.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      If you are getting the tar kicked out of you by FoxNews then you will resort to anything. Its CNN moving closer and closer to being the National Enquier. :(

      May 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  5. Suzen

    Well, crap! I'll just leave my bag packed.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  6. Id10t

    Ummm, it was my understanding that when I took up religion, there would be no math?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  7. Muneef

    If Jesus and Muhammed did not know the date or the hour because God wouldn't reveal it to any,so how did the preacher knew what is not known to any other than God the Creator him self...??

    May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • john mikeals

      Because Harold has good connections, Please don't shoot the messanger....God help us, as the end is near.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Muneef

      John.
      You are right about it being near too near even can be tomorrow or not within our life time....but no one should give exact or approximate time for it to happen..

      May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  8. linDa Fox, M.S.

    HI, one thing that stands out in all this hoopla is the anger of some persons at this poor delusional man! So what if he is wrong, so what if rapture did not happen? I say, if he fooled some persons with his non-biblical interpretation, well, they need to learn to question all. In 1500's people thought the earth was flat, in 1800 the new science was evolution, today people again are obsessed with ghost and paranormal? Idiocy still abounds.... I say the rapture theory is OK, just not the predictions. PS, I flew into OKC and we were discussing this, and we saw a cloud that looked like a cross about 5:30? So, was it a cloud or a sign? probably a cloud, but was the most defined cross/cloud I have ever seen! I look forward to rapture as this world is not a peaceful place.

    L. Fox

    May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Willie

      Obviously you don't get it. He scammed millions of dollars out of gullible people and continues to do so. You may be next.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  9. wikihistory

    Why is this guy still getting face-time? Seriously. Absolutely ridiculous. Poor journalism.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  10. DesertJag

    Religion is a thought-control tool for inhibiting the behavior of infantile morons who are incapable of controlling themselves. If you – yes you – personally still believe in ANY FORM of this stupidity – then you are fooling yourself.

    This ain't the 5th century – and you are fresh out of excuses. Give it up – grow up – and DEAL with the fact that there is no heaven, no hell, no god, and no devil. There are no angels. There are no demons. There are no ghosties, goblins, nor easter bunnies.

    When you die – that's it – end of story – no MORE.

    So, quit traumatizing your children with this ridiculous stuff – and quit annoying those of us who ARE capable of independent thought.

    Your religion – whatever it may be – is just plain wrong, infantile, and irrelevant.

    Quit it.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Throwing tantrums about what other folks belive is pretty infantile.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • Tyler Durden

      I totally agree...except for the Easter Bunny. He's real....at least I've convinced my 5 year old son so by providing proof every Easter. But even at his young age, he has a hard time swallowing that other crap. I wish more adults would acquire the skill of critical thinking.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Chuck

      Completely agree Jag.. Imagine if everyone were to wake up one day and realize that it's all bull? Imagine how much more we could focus on humanity and real issues we all face if all this were just ended tomarrow? The wars would end. There would be no more Al Qaida , us vs. them , etc. It would just be us.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  11. rICHARD gILBERT

    YOU SIR ARE A MORON

    May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  12. J. Zimm

    Attention CNN staff: why are you even bothering to give this froot loop any more coverage????????

    May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  13. Heinz Doofenshmirtz

    What an unexpected turn of events. And by unexpected, I mean "totally expected".

    May 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Heinz Doofenshmirtz

      Ah, Perry the platypus, as usual your timing is uncanny. And by uncanny, of course I mean... completely canny!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  14. Josh

    Hay, Harold Camping, you got to prove there is no Christen god, and that Jesus ever existed. Accept it. And my thanks for finally putting this to rest.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • oh geez

      I'm not a religious nut nor do I believe in religion. BUT Jesus did exist during the Roman Empire. Whether or not he's a prophet or the son of God, is up to everyone else.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  15. JST

    God isn't going to destroy the world, Humans will.
    Camp will keep predicting the end until his own... epitaph reads:
    "The End"

    May 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  16. Bill

    Why doesn't someone help him predict his own demise and let god take care of the rest of the human population.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  17. vtrweasel

    I couldn't care less about this 1D10T or his followers. The thing that saddens me is how many people didn't even know the 21st was "Armed Forces Day" EPIC FAIL CNN and the media in general. A$$HATS.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  18. Vannia

    I dont believe this!! Matthew 24:36 says that no one knows the time NO ONE!!! i believe this will happen, but not when this crazy guy says so....the bible also says to watch out for FALSE prophets!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Veritas

      And how is Camping crazy and you're not? You both believe the same ridiculous crap, don't you, but he also puts a date on it?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  19. Child of God

    Doesn't matter what happens in this world, those born of the seed of God have eternal life.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Veritas

      "The seed of god"? What the hell is that? Sounds like something a catholic priest would utter while r@ping an altar boy. And who would want eternal life; sounds incredibly boring...

      May 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  20. Frank

    what a quack, boy he took in alot of peoples money last year, to bad a funnel wouldnt go over his head. He is been wrong so many times , Take your blinders of people he just sells religion to make money

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 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.