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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. mickeymo

    Moronic idiot...moving on.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  2. Jessi

    The fact that he thinks he knows the day or hour is absolute blastphemy!!! Scrpiture CLEARLY states NO MAN will know the day or the hour. only He knows!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Lizzette D.

      Yep, I always say this too!!! I don't even believe in the Mayan prophesies.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Willie

      @Lizzette, the Mayans never predicted the end of the world in 2012. That is an American interpretation. To the Mayans 12/21/12 is the beginning of a new cycle, nothing more.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  3. Tom

    By the way, all babies born after May 21st....sorry, Judgment Day has come and gone. You are all denied Heaven! Live it up babies, you only live until Oct 21st, then you are all sentenced to eternal suffering. Nice God this Camping believes in...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  4. American

    Harold Camping, rot in hell, love, Jesus

    May 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Neuron2003

      Um, folks, this latest escapade reveals just how delusional Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) really are.
      Do you REALLY BELIEVE that Yeshua of Nazareth, son of a carpenter, was the SON of god? Or that Muhommed was the last and final prophet? Do you believe that Yeshua came back from the dead– essentially, a zombie– for 40 days before ascending to heaven? If so, then you MIGHT just be crazy enough to believe these apocolyptic nut cases. Admit it- if you believe the former, the latter makes logical sense. You buy one delusion, you've signed up for the whole thing.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  5. Please wake up American Sheeple

    Please America, it's those of you that believe in the lies of people like Harold Camping that are fodder for the forces that are trying to destroy our Republic. We will all become the serfs that our fore fathers escaped to create this new land if you don't wise up! Quit watching Reality TV to start. Then find a news outlet other than FOX or any other mainstream source and start to educate yourselves! Otherwise the world as you know it WILL come to an end!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      At 8pm Eastern standard Fox had its big lead story the tradgity in Joplin ..... CNN had the Obamas trip to Ireland.

      FoxNews covered Americans in a devestating period of their lives.

      CNN shows a president who would not even cut his trip short to return to help. But he is drinking Guniess in Irland trying to find his roots.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • The Brady Bunch Chainsaw Massacre

      I was sitting in an auto repair shop for the last hour, with CNN on. 100% coverage of the tornados in Joplin and Oklahoma City. You are lying about CNN, Mark.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Please wake up American Sheeple

      Mark from Middle River,
      CNN just actually shows a balanced news report as opposed to FOX

      May 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Check out the websites. I am pretty sure that was what everyone was talking about. Look at front and center kid.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  6. Wake up

    If you believe that the rapture will EVER happen, then you are just as much of a moron as if you believe it will happen in 5 months. There will never be a rapture, because the bible contains no information of predictive or historical accuracy whatsoever. If you're a rube, you're a rube, and people will take advantage of you in this mortal plane (which, by the way, is the only plane that exists.) Oh, and don't call me miserable for being an atheist. I think people that want the end of the earth to come in a ball of fire and can only bear life in a fantasy land are the ones who are truly miserable.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Allen

      Silly Christians...

      May 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • believer

      hey "wake up" – i like ur comment, very typical... but I disagree, Bible is pretty much on target, historically, geographically, spiritually, etc... the rapture will happen, whether you believe it or not... just can't say when, but Jesus did leave some signs of his Coming, mainly earthquakes, wars, famines, petilences, tsunamis, etc...... talks about people doing every day business, like getting married, etc... and all of a sudden, it will happen., just like in the days of Noah... oh I forgot, you don't believe Noah even existed... oh well, I guess if you lived in the times of Noah, you would have been left outside the Ark, and drowned.. well, maybe it's a chance for you not to be left behind this time... anyways, cheers, God bless!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  7. Walter Schenck

    To gain a sense of the absolute truth, please read my books: Shiloh, Unveiled as well as First Voices. They are available through any bookstore. These books are written through a human's eye without the blunders of fatalism. Walter Schenck

    May 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  8. TomAmerican

    Isn't it amazing that when a prediction is wrong and there is a recalculation, the recalculation is always in the future! Astounding! It is never a date that is already past!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  9. Larry

    This dude is as fruity as Islamic funda"mental"ist whackos, toad suckers and snake kissers who do their thing in the name of religion. And his followers are just plain gullible. I suppose the next thing we'll hear is that his "flock" who quit their jobs to go out and do his bidding will be applying for unemployment. They probably sing Blondie's "Rapture" as their church's hymn every week and think the lyrics are based on factual happenings.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  10. Denverdriver

    HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHahahahahahahahahaha! ! ! ! ! ! !

    May 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  11. Kumaran

    If god is merciful and loving but decided to wait for 5 more months to punish people. What kind of god is this? Oh! man, we need to adjust our law to put this kind of crazy people behind bars.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  12. Willie

    The christians are crying foul saying CNN shouldn't post this story and the atheists are saying finally, the media is following up on fraudulent religious claims.
    I'm saying Mr. Camping needs to donate all that money he scammed off people and donate it to non religious not for profit organizations. What's fair is fair.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Interesting since hardly a page goes by that a Christian is not condeming Camping... So do you only read the Athiest post?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  13. Gumby

    Actually I'm glad that brother Camping has received all the media attention. Religious pundits are so quick to say 'he is not one of us!'. But alas he is, and the absurdity of his claims over the past several _years_ (I have been listening for years, with detached amusement) continue to underscore the absurdity of all modern religions. Thank you brother Camping. I'm also encouraged to see his unfettered followers again begin to line up. It encourages me that there are some seriously foolish and ignorant people in the world, and that there is hope indeed of making some money off of them.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yeah, Camping only got 100 million. Nothing compared to Bernie madoff , he got 65 billion.

      See how much more you can get when you factor out religion and its every man and woman for themselves. :)

      Thank you Brotha' , Big Dog , Papa Doc Bernie :)

      May 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  14. Cindyloo

    Hmm theres 5 letters in bible which means that 5 plus the number of books in the bible times the square root of jesus's age plus 2... Oh my god everyone! The worlds going to end june 1st!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  15. Josh

    Interesting that scripture is very clear that no one knows when the end will come, and that was stated by the son of God. The publicity this guy receives is his meal ticket. He is a fool, and so are those who give him the time of day.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • davidtal

      You are disputing Camping's interpretation of fantasy with your own interpretation of fantasy. Your statement is no more legitimate than his is. How can you people believe this stuff?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  16. don

    one man's preacher is another man's wacko

    May 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  17. don

    "the sky is falling-the sky is falling"

    May 24, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  18. Mary

    This idiot needs to shut up. What will his excuse be in five months?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  19. bf

    can this guy just go ahead and die already?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  20. Errol

    Damnit, stop giving this guy attention!

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

      They cant... this many responces on this story is more than all the rest recently. CNN will be able to go to StarBucks or Sears and sell advertising space here for a high enough primium to pay for the entire rest of the CNN.com site.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Jameskxia

      Ha! True :), atheist or not, this is never gonna happen.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:06 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.