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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. MDaniels

    I'd like to say it's impressive that people can sustain their "faith" in the face of such obvious evidence to the contrary. But I have to be honest, it isn't impressive at all. It's sad and disturbing. Wake UP, you pathetic, wretched fools.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • alex

      whos the fool sounds like your living a lie prob one of those people who give 10% to the church, lol, any honor thy brother fellow man kind not bull crap religion cause of most murders in history. enjoy life not live in fear created by morons!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • john percer

      I AM OFFENDED BY YOU!!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • alex

      offended by me or him? i am not intending to offend anyone, while i am not a true follower of any particuar religion, I am extremely supportive of the basic message behind them all, be a good person, not a fear mongul

      May 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  2. EmeraldCity

    Why not just shift the date to 10/31? You know, Halloween. That's satan's day anyway, right?

    $80 million in contributions in 4 years. Anything to perpetuate the con. Amazing that people are stupid enough to fall for it.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  3. The Half Baked Lunatic

    Let me be blunt. The bible was written by HUMANS. Mere mortals, who just put together a bunch of crazy stories that make absolutely no sense. People who lived 2000 years ago had no more data about what the future holds than we do today.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  4. VeridisQuo

    I'm very disappointed that our government lacks the common sense to put people like this in prison; treating them like terrorists. This is the definition of terrorism.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • airwx

      Then militant atheists would be next. Then scientists who propose hairbrained theories....

      All we really need is for people to think for themselves.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • mary

      Not really... It's people that really aren't doing what they should be doing in the first place, and that is reading the bible for themselves.. It is here for a reason.. I f you are going to allow others to tell you what is in it without looking for yourself.. Then your going to get tricked a lot... Or believe in a crazy person who desires to have followers..
      It is the wrong kind of person who desires followers... Never trust some one like that..

      May 24, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • VeridisQuo

      No. People who try to convince others of their imminent destruction go to jail for up to 28 years in prison! If you call in a bomb threat to a school, you can be arrested and tried as having incited terror and disturbed the peace. Why is this any different?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Veritas

      Put those terrorists that promote the theories of evolution, gravity, and algebra in prison too. Only the lord's word should be allowed.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Heck, it could be anyone next. All we have to do is label them as militant, extremist, etc...

      May 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  5. Willie

    Religion is the last refuge of scoundrels. It is the easiest way in America to scam people out of their money legally. Churches are the greatest untapped source of tax income. Our government is supposed to protect us against fraud.
    MAKE RELIGIOUS FRAUD A CRIME AND TAX THE CHURCHES. We can call it the Camping law in honor of this weeks conman.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • The Half Baked Lunatic

      Willie – absolutely. Agree 100%.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • alex

      amen

      May 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • cliff

      if you did the exact same thing and called it by any other name besides religion you'd be thrown in jail...but we give religion a free pass on common sense, critical thinking and logic.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • bobthebob

      Willie-Churches spend all the money they make so no NET, Taxable income to tax. The salaries they payout are taxed, the expenses they incur are taxed to the recipients, and as a whole, churches provide significant assistance ($,food,clothing,etc) to the needy. Clergy get some preferential tax treatment on housing mainly, but the vast majority (but not all) have comparably low incomes. They don't have near the sweet deal from a tax and benefit standpoint as government employees (including teachers), In short, taxing churches really won't help much. Might try taxing the 50% or so of people in USA that don't pay ANY income tax, OR BETTER YET cut the gov't drastically, have it spend what it makes, including servicing its ridiculously large debt. Interest expense on 14 Trillion dollars @ 4% (this rate will go higher as debt climbs) is 560 Billion dollars a year. Total individual income tax collected is about ONE Trillion a year (70+% of which is paid by the top 5% of income earners) – which only leaves 440 billion for actual operations. We got some real geniuses running things don't we. Taxing churches, "The Rich", or anybody or thing more isn't the solution – A WHOLE LOT LESS GOVERNMENT IS!!
      Combined of course with the American Consumer willing to PAY MORE for stuff that is Made in America by Americans – the only way the "JOBS" are going to come back/be created.

      Neither is going to happen, unfortunately.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  6. Doug

    Fortunately a bozo does not negate the Truth. Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus will come in the air for those who trust in Him as Savior. And, the Bible teaches very clearly that a terrible time of Tribulation will follow. Jesus warns us to be ready because we do not know when it will happen. It is the Believer's Blessed Hope (expectation). It is too bad that instead of helping people come to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, Mr. Camping has made them cynical and more firm in their unbelief.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Veritas

      So what you're saying is that you are just as r3tarded as Camping then?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  7. SFC Ketch

    Incidents like this happened in the 80's. It's not the preachers fault, it's the mindless individuals that believe anything they hear and the media that fuels these dumb stories. Doesn't the bible say "I will come like a thief in the night". Anyway, I'm selling tickets into Heaven. Anyone want to buy one for $25.00.....

    May 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Willie

      He did come like a thief in the night stealing millions from stupid people under the name of Camping. You could not be more wrong, the messenger is to blame more than the followers. In my long life never once has a representative of satan ever asked me for my soul, but these jesus preachers are after every soul and each dollar that they possess. Your typical christian is the prototype for the soul less body. Nothing left inside, perhaps that is why their music is so bad.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  8. BJ

    STOP GIVING HIM A PLATFORM. HE IS DELUSIONAL.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Veritas

      "HE IS DELUISONAL" Duh, he is religious...

      May 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  9. Yossarian

    Where is the Rapture mentioned in the Bible? I don't remember seeing it anywhere, but I certainly could have missed it.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • airwx

      The word Rapture does not appear in the Bible. You are not mistaken. It comes from people taking the the words "caught away" (implying snat///ched up into sky) and created a new theology. Started about 1830 as I recall from mt reading...

      May 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Ron

      It isn't mentioned in the Bible. The idea of the rapture is based off of two verses. It has no basis in fact at all, from a Christian belief system. Of course, I'm no longer Christian but still remember my Christian History studies.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  10. b. e.

    Third times the charm ..... ?????? probably not. me thinks this guy is to pig headed to learn from the previous attempts.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  11. aaron lesley

    Don't shoot the messenger!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  12. mary

    It's time to stop predicting.. The bible says on that 'day' and 'hour' no one will know...
    This is absurd... People that believe anyone can know the 'DAY', needs to get out their bible and read it for themselves...
    People that try to convince others they some how have a direct line and have been "told" the 'DAY' ..Are liers....Or insane...
    many people sneer at religion.. And belief in a God at all..Or the bible..
    Let them... It's people like this that help make people of faith appear crazy and turn people away... They get fed up with the crazies and think religion is all about being nuts..
    And this guy has probably turned a lot of people away.. They trusted, they believed and now they don't... Because they got fed a load of hooey...
    Anyone that tells you they know the DAY or the HOUR is full of it..

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  13. Easter Bunny

    So the end of 2012 isnt the end of the world. Its the end of the "spring" cycle we are in. And "summer comes next....

    May 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  14. paulm5545

    "It appears as though this whole [rapture] thing happened in a spiritual, rather than a physical way," said Store, 66. Well, of course it did. In the spiritual sense, there is no way of proving it did or did not occur. If it happened in the physical sense, then there would be tangible proof; missing people, gone in the blink of an eye. So, Camping and his followers say it did indeed happen – it was just in a spiritual way. Those who will believe, will believe (and send money to their favorite "church") and those who don't believe, won't...and will save their money.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  15. Enjay Sea

    People like to characterize Harold Camping as a "clown", but he's far more insidious than that. He's a very bright, very cunning con man who stole millions of dollars from the easiest and most gullible victims on earth, the faithful.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  16. Easter Bunny

    So here it is. Its simple. Our planet has cycles. Just as there are the "four seasons" there is a millenial "cycle" also. For the lack of a better way to put it; we are leaving the millenial spring and entering into summer soon. Hence; the prediction made by the Mayans. And the weather will change gradually until its really hot around here. Make sense everyone?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • alex

      are u serious? cycles? the world is not going to end from cycles or religion, man will wipe out man in my opinion. i know there are respectable scientists to back up your cycle theory but fact is data hasn't been collected or studied long enough to prove it. and all u religious nuts.....the bible and myans theory mixing??? okay it has been all but proven aliens helped myans so to say their prediction is correct is to completely throw out religion (or most religion) that god's rapture is amongst us. come on people wake up and enjoy life, not fear these false prophets lol

      May 24, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • buddysattva

      Are you talking about the Hindu Kali Yuga? We are at the end of the Kali Yuga, the fourth and last cycle. Check it out.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  17. Tonylkh

    I am shocked that the other Religious folks here are laughing at Camping when they too believe in the Rapture.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      We are laughing for the same reason that many Christians have stated here... no man shall know when the end is coming. If he was not of Faith we would have dismissed him as we do with others with Athiestic beliefs. That he claims to know we say that he is just wrong.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  18. Lotus

    Here we go again. Harold Camping has not given up. He is what makes a true prophet a shame. Our Heavenly Father is not confused. Does he need more attention from the media? Is he going to use another $100 million dollars to put up more billboards? People who are in need of money and he has time to use the money to put up fake, false prophecies. Woe unto him as he use another date and time for his next false prophecy. He need to read his bible with a clear understanding. His members are the same as he is, working as satan's agent.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  19. Yossarian

    This guy is the Duke Nukem Forever of doomsday prophets.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  20. kp

    Maybe, just maybe he and his followers are still here because they didn't get picked on judgment day (said sarcastically) are the true evil ones.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:26 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.