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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. Intelligent Design

    @Some Sheeps & @Bucky Ball
    Looky !
    http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-dance019.gif

    May 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  2. Dragon

    This man is not a preacher, he's a criminal. Lock him up!!! I can't believe people are still believing this idiot. but then again that's what you do in a cult. People, follow GOD, not man.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • The Half Baked Lunatic

      'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to pacify and control the weak minded people. It's a rediculous story made up by men, nothing more.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  3. Godless

    Looking to the Bible for guidance is entirely acceptable under the First Amendment, but those who do so need to understand that it carries no weight whatsoever for those of other religions and those who simply do not believe. There seems to be a curious blind spot in folks who insist upon quoting scripture to support their view of things–as if they don't know that large numbers of people do not see any relevance in passages written in the iron age by people who had no clue what disease was, that the earth was round and revolves around the sun, or that it wasn't a dance, sacrifices or pleading to an invisible being that brought rain, but shifts in conditions within the natural world. The wisest man three thousand years ago was far more ignorant than the average fourth-grader is now. Quoting the advice of such men in support of any argument in the year 2011 is beyond ludicrous to any rational person.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  4. Phil Gliori

    Why is this guy even getting publicity. He's a extreme religious fanatic that is also a major loon. Enough already.

    Couldn't think of a good rapture joke? Don't worry, it's not the end of the world.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  5. Mark from Middle River

    American Sheeple....Awww... sad are you now? It is the truth though. Foxnews has the destruction of Joplin as its headline, CNN has Obama taking a European trip. I can see if it was a G8 summit but while the rest of us here are suffering with high gas and unemployeement our president is walking down a street in Ireland drinking beer.

    Come on, when the Chilean mine disaster happened their president left a summit to fly home. Wehave almost 90% of a town wiped out and Obama will be meeting with the Royals. Heck, they do not even have any real power. :) Sorry dude, should leave Foxnews out of it, they are number one for times like this.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Willie

      Interesting, I just checked Foxnews.com and the Camping story is right there on the front page.
      Looks like you missed more than the rapture!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  6. hmm

    125 pages of comments. Maybe the message has been missed. As we all joked about it throughout the days leading up to it, how many said "what if"? I don't care either way so don't bother replying. Sometimes things aren't as they seem.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  7. Ernest

    Hes not even a preacher!!! Hes an engineer or some crap. And didnt he say months ago he was 100% sure this time? Whatever Ignore this idiot and his cult. The bible says "no man not even jesus or the angels in heaven but only god shall know when the end will come." Beleive the bible not some attention hungry old fool. Like the opposing billboard said, "2000 years of any day now"

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  8. jay

    I think he means his world will end in 5 months lol

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  9. JC is back

    It's always win-win with these morons.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  10. whd1675

    What if –

    What if Judgement Day really did happen on May 21st, and the chosen 2% to 3% of humanity did pop on up to heaven – But it wasn't Camping and his groupies that were seleced

    Perhaps someone should plant that seed with the Campers.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Phil

      If all the religious fanatics disappeared off the face of this planet - man...wouldn't that be just great? The world really would be a better place.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  11. Hiram

    STOP GIVING THIS ASSHAT PUBLICITY

    May 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  12. rowena zaldivar

    after a failed prediction, now he says another date. . . while his subordinates are busy collecting dollars from people who they can lured in watching his tape.

    what a scam??????????????????

    May 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  13. The End

    Why do you give this idiot more air time!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  14. Mike Buck

    The End is near! Send Money!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  15. Anotherdayjustbelieve

    IT WILL NEVER END!!!!! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  16. The Brady Bunch Chainsaw Massacre

    Can we have another story please? CNN wore this one out days ago.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  17. Please wake up American Sheeple

    Mark from Middle River,
    Your comment isn't pertinent and is a display of how those that would destroy our Republic try to divert the conversation.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  18. EvilStepQueen

    "correct" his math, or make it work in his favor so he doesn't look like a schmuck and not have to repay all of his followers...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  19. Lance

    How does he know it didn't happen and he and his followers just didn't make the cut? Or maybe he just needs a new battery in his calculator.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  20. Sandra

    This man ran a Ponzi scheme, and he (or his fake religion) is extremely wealthy. All those who were suckered by this bozo should take him, and his estate should he conveniently die, to court and sue to get their money back, and his sorry saggy ass should be in prison for bilking them.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "should he conveniently die,".... good grief dude. All life is precious from the Atheist to this guy. You might disagree with him but to wish or hope for his death is a bit much.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:09 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.