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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. Concerned

    CNN, FOX News, ABC News, World News, Good Morning America, AP...etc - Please stop giving this guy air time and web space.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  2. Josh

    He's not the only one preaching this rubbish. There are literally thousands of mini-end-of-the-world-christian-cults out there. I can't believe anyone's stupid enough to buy into this crap. But I guess there's a moron born every minute.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:16 am |
  3. Michael

    he seems very credible to me. I plan on moving out of the house, quitting my job, leaving the wife – the whole thing. I'm goin for it. Baby Jesus- take me home!!!!! Get me away from these filthy non-believers and take me with you to the big spaceship in the sky – i want to fly away – this is going to be so coooool! awesome! I like to imagine that that i'll be greetd by little baby jesus, and he will be wearing a light blue tuexedo with a tuxedo t-shirt on underneath and he'll be singing LynRD SkyNrd's, "Freebird," just for me and there will be tons of hot waitresses from Waffle House servin up heaps of waffles and lumpy grits. Take me home baby Jesus!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:16 am |
    • Christian (really, that's my name)

      mmmmm, lumpy grits.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  4. Ronbo

    Does that guys still HAVE followers???

    May 24, 2011 at 6:16 am |
  5. Christianity is Christ

    The Bible clearly states that NO ONE knows the day or time when Christ will come again. It has been the "end of times" since Jesus died on the cross and we began to live under grace instead of law. I pray the Lord restores the jobs, homes, and families of those this lie has affected. Putting your faith into what a man says is foolish, especially when it does not line up with the truth of the Bible. People need to get out of religion which IS based on man, traditions, and idols and begin to have a real relationship with God. Christianity is Christ, he is the Answer. Shalom.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:15 am |
    • American Citizen

      Uhh, the bible also "clearly states" that Jesus told his ..err .. "disciples".. that he would return before they all died.. Well.. guess what?? They're all dead, Jesus included.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:35 am |
    • Whistler's Mother

      Camping is caught on YOuTube saying that the verses in Mathew stating that the Son does not know the time of His return does not refer to Jesus. If not, who does Camping believe the Son to be? and who is the Father?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  6. Halleluljah

    Life is not always heading in the ways of the past. The future holds many secrets that can bring the strongest of men to their knees. Days are coming where food will be the aim of the man in the city not fancy cars and big homes. Kinda pointless if your hungry.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:13 am |
  7. Daniel Haszard

    Harold Camping sounds like he plagiarized Jehovah's Witnesses
    Jehovah Witnesses are a spin-off of the second Adventist which all came from the Millerite movement.American war of 1812 army captain William Miller is ground zero for Jehovah's Witnesses.
    Yes,the "great disappointment" of Oct 22 1844 has never died out... it lives on in the Jehovah's Witnesses.
    The central CORE doctrine of the Watchtower,yes the reason the Watchtower came into existence was to declare Jesus second coming in 1914.When the prophecy (derived from William Miller of 1842) failed they said that he came "invisibly".
    -
    Danny Haszard been there folks!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • Halleluljah

      what did the angels say to his disciples when jesus ascended to heaven?

      May 24, 2011 at 6:17 am |
    • Halleluljah

      if u have intelligence?

      May 24, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  8. Nanacy

    OK CNN, why are you doing this?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:10 am |
  9. mike ike

    This man is one of the billions of proofs that Christianity is something wrong. In fact every religion is a wrong thing. If Christianity and religion, then Christianity and Islam and Hinduism.
    People these days, they're stupid enough to believe stupid things. Each day new "Christian" churches emerge, because some Evangelist thought he saw Jesus Christ that told him that the church will be restored, and then he discovers some "holy books" that show that Jesus came to America. Then they send people to your houses, and stupid people believe them. How stupid this world can be? The answer is: look at religious people and you'll see.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:10 am |
    • mike ike

      *If Christianity and religion are the same thing, then Christianity and Islam is the same thing.
      That's what I wanted to say. Sorry.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • Kwesi

      Strong words but true , most people are fraod to think !! or read

      May 24, 2011 at 6:29 am |
  10. En Passant

    This man should be medicated back to reality!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:09 am |
  11. Phil Emup

    Two words and only two... NUT CASE.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:09 am |
  12. Gary

    Family Radio should be shut down by the FCC. They have strict rules against broadcasting "false information concerning a catastrophe." (47 C.F.R. § 73.1217) If you want this nonsense to stop, file a complaint with the FCC about Family Radio. They have an online form.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • American Citizen

      Excellent idea Gary!!! Thanks!!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  13. crediteye

    Jesus said that no one, not even the angels in heaven know when the last day is....much less this crooked protestant

    May 24, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • American Citizen

      Jesus also clearly stated he would return before all of his disciples had died...
      ..and they've all been dead for 2,000+ years. Jesus included.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  14. Buddy Kowalski

    Isaac Newton tried to figure out when the world would end according to the bible. If he couldn't do it, I doubt that this "genius" can.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:00 am |
    • Albert911emt

      Obviously. Issac Newton was a man before his time, a true genius. Camping is just a con man, a religious nutcase. How many more times must he prove his own craziness before he, and his followers, admit it?

      May 24, 2011 at 6:15 am |
  15. Donna

    I knew there would be some way for him to 'explain' this fiasco away. I'm so tired of so called 'christians' thinking they have all the answers. The bible was written by MAN, put together by MAN. It is meant to be used as a guide, not taken literally. With all the damage this caused, Camping takes NO personal responsibility. I wonder how many of the ones whom turned their lives upside down will continue to follow this man's interpretations. People gave up their lives, homes, families, financial securities all on HIS word, not God's word. There is enough strife, war and sickness in the world as it is without some evangelist making it worse.
    I'm so glad I'm a logical thinker and not one of these people whose lives are so empty that they need to follow a false prophet.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:00 am |
    • Halleluljah

      2 Pet 1:21 "For prophesy was at no time brought by mans will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit."

      May 24, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • Michael

      Ah, yes, the old circular logic in the Bible. The Bible was written by god because the bible say so! Well, I wrote on this napkin that I am god, and the napkin also says that it was written by me, and since I am god, it was written by god. Write me a check, now, so I can live in a golden mansion.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:16 am |
    • Michael

      ... and you just have to have faith that I am the all-powerful, all-benevolent, all-knowing great napkin god...

      May 24, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  16. Halleluljah

    If he lies about these kinds of things I wander how many other lies about God he has taught and teaches?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:00 am |
    • Buddy Kowalski

      I doesn't matter. Just make it up. No one can disprove you.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • American Citizen

      "God" is the lie. This man is just repeating it.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  17. Sparkandsnoot

    Yea! More end of the world parties in October! May and October are GREAT months for cookouts – not too hot, not too cold – just right!

    May 24, 2011 at 5:58 am |
  18. Sha' Boy

    May 24, 2011 at 5:58 am |
  19. murphy martins

    You stupid devilsh old man, your godem time is near here on earth i tell u...son of devil you and your hopeless followers, that you guys will not go to your bottomless pit with any single soul to hell. I tell you this and i quote: the bible says that instead of GODs words to come back to him unfullfill let heaven and earth pass way...so you are a SATAN full of DOOM,born BASTERD,you are a BEAST. BE WARNED GOD DOESNT SAY TWO MOUTH.....

    May 24, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • American Citizen

      Seek professional mental help a.s.a.p.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  20. Halleluljah

    I say let him speak. The more he speaks the more dumb comes out.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:57 am |
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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.