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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. ten2andeven

    wanna know why there's been so many tornadoes ? This wind bag has been running his mouth

    May 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  2. Jeff

    To CNN and all the other media outlets – PLEASE stop wasting valuable news space on this stupid story. So many newsworthy events going on in the world and this is what you print or post online. This article should be in a supermarket tabloid next to the "Elvis bags my groceries" stories

    May 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  3. A. Olszewski

    Just like environmentalists:
    "the world will go into another ice age in 20 years, REPENT!.... NO?

    OK, the world will starve – hundreds of millions dead by 1985 – no?

    Ok! OK! The world will warm, oceans will rise by 2010....no?

    Ok, ok, ok! How about this: climate will cool as it warms in 5 years...!"

    Etcetera, etcetera....

    May 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • KingdomWork

      Are you scared to die?

      May 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  4. A. Olszewski

    Just like environmentalists:
    "the world will go into another ice age in 20 years, REPENT!.... NO?

    OK, the world will starve – hundreds of millions dead by 1985 – no?

    Ok! OK! The world will warm, oceans will rise by 2010....no? Ok, ok, ok! How about this: climate will cool as it warms in 5 years...!"

    Etcetera, etcetera....

    May 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  5. KingdomWork

    Muneef- What are your beliefs on our creator?

    May 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Why listen to the Preacher when you have the Pope?

    They said;

    The Pope Has All  Power in Heaven and Earth and Can Change Divine Laws
         "The Pope is of great authority and power, that he is able to modify, declare, or interpret even divine laws. The Pope can modify divine law, since his power is not of man, but of God, and he acts as vicegerent of God upon earth...".

    They said;

    "The Pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth...by divine right the Pope has supreme and full power in faith, in morals over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true vicar, the head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians.

    The Quran said; 
    ------–
    [3:79] Never would a human being whom GOD blessed with the scripture and prophethood say to the people, "Idolize me beside GOD." Instead, (he would say), "Devote yourselves absolutely to your Lord alone," according to the scripture you preach and the teachings you learn.

    [3:80] Nor would he command you to idolize the angels and the prophets as lords. Would he exhort you to disbelieve after becoming submitters?
    -----

    [9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of GOD. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners.
    ------

    [3:64] Say, "O followers of the scripture, let us come to a logical agreement between us and you: that we shall not worship except GOD; that we never set up any idols besides Him, nor set up any human beings as lords beside GOD." If they turn away, say, "Bear witness that we are submitters."
    -------

    Special Warning to the Leaders
    [19:68] By your Lord, we will certainly summon them, together with the devils, and will gather them around Hell, humiliated.

    [19:69] Then we will pick out from each group the most ardent opponent of the Most Gracious.

    [19:70] We know full well those who are most deserving of burning therein.

    Everyone Sees Hell*
    [19:71] Every single one of you must see it; this is an irrevocable decision of your Lord.

    [19:72] Then we rescue the righteous, and leave the transgressors in it, humiliated.
    ----

    May 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  7. Arick

    It is unbelievable that people are still listening to this quack.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  8. Reality

    Camping is insane as was JC. JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself."

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices.
    =============================================================================================

    May 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Mike W

      Reality,

      I am, in fact, a NT scholar. Citing Gerd Ludemann as representative of any norm is nonsense, as is suggesting that the majority of NT would only attribute a "few" of the sayings in the NT Gospels to Jesus or those recorded in the Gospels. Surely the conservative fundamentalists have erred in thinking that the Gospels are all history, but so have the liberal fundamentalists (Ludemann) erred in suggesting they are (nearly) complete fiction.

      Obviously, Camping is severely misguided, but neither does he represent mainstream Christianity (in much the same way that Ludemann doesn't represent mainstream NT scholarship).

      Cheers,

      Mike

      May 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  9. cattslaro

    The most ironic explanation is that the Rapture DID occur, and Surprise, Surprise! – Harold and his people didn't make "The Chosen" list!

    May 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  10. Scott

    His math was off? The only thing "off" is this Kool-Aide salesman, and CNN for running this garbage!

    May 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Scott

    "Amen" to those who acnkowledge that this guy is a nut-job and that CNNis even nuttier for continuing to run this crap! You know, one day the earth WILL end because the sun will run out of hydrogen, which will cause the star's core to collapse and release a blast of radiation that will incincerate the inner planets, leaving the larger outer planets in a permanent, frozen darkness. And God will have nothing to do with that. On a related note, to the extent God ever existed, I think the band Concrete Blonde said it best in "Tomorrow, Wendy" when they sang: "I told the priest, don't count on any Second Coming. God got his ass kicked the first time He came down here slumming. He had the balls to come, the gull to die and then forgive us. No, I don't wonder why, I wonder what He thought it would get us."

    May 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  12. really44

    dude you need to let it go you call ur self a christian but you are totally wrong.. you will never know when the world win end only god him selft knows you are not the chosen one sorry to say that you are a false prophet so stop .. we all know that the world will end one day .. but you will not know when no matter how many mathmatical predictions you make.. God Says NO MAN WILL KNOW not even his son nor his angels in heaven. in Matthew 24:36 it states "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. but you say you are a christian but obviously you just want money for you prediction .. so really enought is enough you are wrong i only believe in God

    May 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      The Earth will end when the Sun eats it. Hopefully humanity will have moved off this rock by then. There is no such thing as God, no matter how you water down your beliefs.

      May 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  13. atheist

    that guy is an idiot if the world didnt end last saturday it wont end in 5 mos. he's crazy he said the world was going to end in 2000 but it didnt so dont believe it

    May 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      He said it would end in 1994, not 2000.

      May 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  14. The Jackdaw

    People will buy into anything. What a disappointment.

    May 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  15. Bill

    This preacher must be a right wing republican. Gloom and doom personality. It is all Obamas fault. If you want life to continue, vote for a republican, Gods people.

    May 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • guitarharry

      Nope. Religious fanatics come from the entire political spectrum. The sooner people accept that religion, God, Jesus, Mohommed, Wicca, etc. are all equally ridiculous, the better we all will be. Organized religion is the downfall of humanity, Unless people wake up and accept the truth; there is no "higher power." We are all just products of a natural order. One day, people will cease to exist, yes. But it will have nothing to do with metaphysics; it will be caused by a virus, or some other natural event. Sad, but true.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  16. Kris

    Please someone come get these folks and take them to heaven soon, so we don't have to listen to this BS anymore.

    May 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  17. Arianna Morris

    Hey guys, you should check out the video I made, (featured at 1 minute, 15 seconds) :) Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_YuF9MoUus

    May 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  18. CBS

    Anybody else reminded of the story of the boy who cried wolf? In the end nobody listens to you and you get eaten by a wolf...

    May 25, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • bill

      I urge the believers to give me everything that they own, because I aint going no where and they sure as hell cant use it where they going.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Muneef

      Never stop living;
      Keep Planting, Even if the Day of Judgment Arrives!
      Prophet saw said, “If the hour ( the day of judgment) is established upon you and in your hand is a plant, if you are able, do not stand until you have planted it into the ground.”
       Never give up! Never lose hope! Continue, even when death has arrived, to command the good and forbid the evil. Hold tightly to the truth. Do not let the world get you down. Be an optimist!
      http://www.seekingilm.com/archives/76

      May 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  19. Kenneth

    He just had the numerals in the date reversed. The world will end May 21, 2101; or is it May 12, 2110; or is it May 21, 2110?................or is it?????????? Someone has way too much free time on their hands.

    May 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  20. Sine Nomine

    This is no laughing matter. He's claiming no responsibility at all for the countless families that donated their life savings, their childrens' tuitions, and in some extreme cases, every last penny they needed to live (food, shelter, etc). If it were only adults, perhaps this wouldn't be so tragic, but families have been destroyed while he profits from his lies.

    I can't believe how easily everyone is letting this deceitful, lying, home wrecking, family destroying con artist off the hook with just a laugh and a wink. Real people have been hurt because of him, and he's getting away with it.

    Again.

    May 25, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • C-span

      Social Evolution. Those people are the weak antelope in the Savannah that are sacrificed by nature for the good of the heard. Those people's flaws are a lesson to the rest of us. That lesson is "Think for yourself"

      May 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      I initially felt bad for them. Now I see that their humiliation is good. I hope it stings so bad that they are on the verge of suicide, just so they will learn and never be taken advantage of like this again. It’s called tough love. And the followers of this fool and fools like him need a boatload of it.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "Real people have been hurt because of him, and he's getting away with it." Aw, have some faith! You don't want people thinking you are an atheist. do you?

      May 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @C-span,
      I think you are making the same mistake that Social Darwinist made in the late 1800's to early 1900's in which the "notions of struggle for existence [was] being used to justify social policies which make no distinction between those able to support themselves and those unable to support themselves."

      May 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      This guy is no different than religion in general or religious leaders more specifically. None of them have ever been held responsible for the crap they all are peddling.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • guitarharry

      Agreed. But I would take it further. All religion is the same as this crazy man. It is ultimately the most negative influence on humanity. It is time to step out of the dark ages. Science has replaced medievalism. Those who refuse to accept the truth that there is no such thing as God are just blind idiots shouting in the dark.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:42 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.