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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. Mark from Middle River

    Poltergeist II : The Other Side.

    "As it turns out, the Freelings' house in the first movie was also built over a massive underground cavern that was the final resting place of a religious cult that died there in the early 19th century. The cult was led by Reverend Henry Kane (Julian Beck), a power-hungry zealot anxious to control the souls of his followers and the graveyard inhabitants in both life and death.

    Kane told his followers that the end of the world was coming, and they dutifully followed him into the cavern. However, the day he predicted it would all end came and went, but he never let his "flock" out of the cavern, and eventually, they all starved to death."

    Ghost of the 80s are coming back. I keep going back to that caravan of new RVs going into the Holland tunnel a few weeks ago with this guys logos all over them. If its the end of the world why the huge production.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  2. calvin

    I still can't believe how this guy has gotten SO much attention, simply amazing. Personally, I have MUCH better things to do than to listen to him. The media has certainly given him what he wants, attention. Must be ratings time.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  3. Damien Quest

    I feel sad for this man. He is desperate now. He waits, no, longs for the end. His own demise is the change he expects but will accept any disaster. It is sad. Do not fall in with him. You will lose...

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  4. Willie

    Camping said that he wouldn't give away all his possessions ahead of Oct 21.

    "I still have to live in a house, I still have to drive a car," he said. "What would be the value of that? If it is Judgment Day why would I give it away?

    Apparently he doesn't believe in the rapture himself!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  5. pagan

    as someone whos on the fence about god and spirituality and ghosts and the rest of it i dont know what the hell to believe, all these natural disasters that are happening every year and still today are really making me think what do i do? im terrified by these ramblings, i dont wanna die in a sheer state of terror, i cant even go outmy house for fear of the world ending. this man has really messed with my head. i dont know what to believe, i dont believe in god but i do believe in physcics and mediums so im unsure of the link between that and god. i dunno what to beleive but if this man says anything more i swear im gonna sue him him for emotional distress

    May 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Willie

      pagan, I'm an old guy, lived a long time. The weather, earthquakes, volcanoes are nothing new. Been here since the dawn of time. The difference is todays minute by minute around the world 24 hour news. Nothing has sped up but the media. The only thing for you to fear is someone trying to devalue your future. Lots of great things to look forward to!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • purplepuppy

      find a copy of the Tanach in both Hebrew and English and read, Then find a copy of the newly translated New testament from Aramaic and read. There is now way to know the end of the world that is for G_d to know alone

      May 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • hehe101

      Just remember this:

      If you are a believer in evolution
      If you know religion didn't start with God, but the people wanting to be together (this month's Nat Geo)
      If you know life is fairly new in earth time
      If you know there are multiple religions
      If you do not believe in God
      If you are a skeptic of those who claim to be prophets.

      Then you have the power to believe this isn't going to happen. Sue him all you want, he's made a lot of money off the striking fear into the hearts of the population.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Scott

      Pagan: Relax, the Christians have been predicting the end of the world will happen this year, every year, for 2000 years and they haven’t been right once. They are just trying to rattle you and scare you into joining there club so you can pay them money

      Google ”end of the world”, read how time and time again people have been certain the end is now, have sold everything and been terribly disappointed when it didn’t happen.

      Every religion that has ever existed has predicted the end of the world, and it hasn’t happened.

      Willie’s right. I’m an old guy too. The first time I heard a bunch of crazies on the news saying “the world was going to end” it rattled me too; but, I’ve gotten very use to it. It’s like riding a rollercoaster, The first time you experience it, it’s scary; but, nothing bad happens and after a few more rides it just gets boring

      May 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Scott

      Nobody’s been right about predicting the end of the world, ever, including Jesus. He said he’d be back in the lifetime of his followers. If he didn’t get it right Camping doesn’t stand a chance of being right
      When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matt. 10:23,
      For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27–28)
      So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matt. 24:33–34).

      May 24, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  6. dave

    "The sky is falling the sky is... wait no it's not. It will fall on May 21st!" The sky is falling! The sky is fall... wait not it's not again... but it WILL fall in October this time!!!! " Chicken Little declared before running in circles, drooling, and handling snakes while the other chickens clucked, "Praise Be!" and shoved their heads into the nearest hole in the ground.

    "Oh, Jesus, "said a Man in the clouds who was watching the silly chickens, 'How stupid are these #$%#@*& birds?!?"

    May 24, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  7. Willie

    Anyone who sees the end of the world as a good thing doesn't deserve to live...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • 3vi1

      People who spend all their time waiting for heaven instead of making it here and now on earth deserve what they have.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Scott

      Amen

      May 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  8. Mark from Middle River

    Someone compared him the creepy preacher in the Polterguiest movies.

    Didn't that guy in the movie lead a doomsday sect into the desert .....

    ...Maybe Camping is playing out a role from the movies? If he starts to sing that scary song from the second movie I am going to go hide behind the Athiest. I am too big to play Carolanne :)

    May 24, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      http://www.altfg.com/Stars/p/poltergeist-ii-julian-beck.jpg

      May 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • purplepuppy

      Oh NO your right! He does look like that creepy preacher. Now I know why I am Messianic and let no man call him self Rabi.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Jim Weix

    He is laughing his way to the bank. Amazing, but America is filled with morons that will make him rich.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • dave

      I don't think he's in it for the money- he's got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. He's in it for the attention like most crazies screaming doom on street corners are. I don't know which is sadder, Harold or the idiots who believe his chicken little routine.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  10. 3vi1

    Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.
    Fool me three times, and I must have a learning disability.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • dave

      "In the apocalyptic mindset, faith precedes theory, and theory informs the evidence."

      Translation- idiots base their "faith" (in this case a crackpot theory that the world would end May 21st) on nothing at all but their delusions and not reality or even a misinterpretation of the bible. They're just whacked out and stuck u p their own a ss es.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  11. dfergenson

    We aren't paying more attention to this story than it deserves. Suppose a physician were to incorrectly tell all of his patients that they were to die on May 21st and that many of those patients made life altering decisions on the basis of that information. I believe that that would make the news as well. The difference is that we would be far more critical of the physician. Even if he sincerely believed that he was correct on the basis of shoddy science, he would be vilified, not ridiculed.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  12. WildmanBill

    I think it is time for Mr. Camp to take a dirt nap.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  13. sammie lammie

    what is he? one of those crystal ppl. he doesn't know how to give it a rest does he he already failed twice. he needs to juss worry about his life he doesn't blieve in the truth what a shame he doesn't know the future and he still get it. it said it right in the bible. READ HAROLD READ! read and believe. this is nothing to joke about this is getting on my nerves i want to scream. OH LORD HAVE MERCY ON US AND HIM PLEASE HELP HIM BELIEVE ONLY IN THE TRUTH. NO MAN KNOWS THE DAY! he is no different from anybody else. if i don't know then he doesn't know

    May 24, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  14. Steve

    http://www.secularhumanism.org
    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com
    http://www.nobeliefs.com

    Harold Camping is not the first or the last con man (or women) to try to exploit the less than informed...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  15. Hawkeye1012

    Camping also had an accident in his adult diaper that he said resembled the profile of John the Baptist.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  16. Phoenix

    Simple BS. Simply another interpretation gone wild! Silly people...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  17. ScadBigEye

    hey Harold & co. – can I have all your money & stuff?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  18. dave

    HE BELONGS TO A INNSITUTE

    May 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Melisa

      Posted on I similar to this site rellay much, Its the rellay good berth to review as well as catch info. He is the self-made man, rellay most in adore with his creator. by Benjamin Disraeli.

      March 2, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  19. Kevin

    Why does this guy get so much press? How many follow him (believers, that is)? The coverage seems very disproportionate to his actual impact on people.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  20. Bo T

    Camping is calculating his own death. Guys looks like 100 years old. Hope he gets it right this time.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:34 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.