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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. David

    Each year my man in the the big red suit and puffy white beard will visit me with bunch of cool new toys that date is December 25th..... but I just found out it was my parents this entire time.Oh well, got some cool stuff. Can anyone relate too the "big guy upstairs" ? What I mean? blahhahahahahahahahaha.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  2. Enough Already!

    CNN. THE NEW NATIONAL ENQUIRER!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  3. Ryan H

    I really wish the media would stop giving this guy attention. You're not doing anything but inviting other crackpots and dogmatics to spout their foolishness on a broader stage. Please ignore the lunacy and let those of us–Christians and non-Christians alike–who wish to worship quietly, privately, and piously do so without stigma.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  4. musikpal

    I thought he was ready 2 retire w/ 80 millions in his pocket. Prophecy of a false prophet is not new n will always b around, but here's a thought 4 u.....

    R u REALLY SURE there's no God? It's not legitimate 2 say there's no
    God. Take a moment to ponder about infinity(if not, u can do it after u finish reading). 1st let
    me ask, R things we r living in absolute? Will science like Newtonian Mechanics always work on a large scale object below the speed of light? It appears so in our dimension, but is this it?No, of course we
    can't say this is it because we have a limitation, that limitation is
    we can NEVER n will NEVER understand Infinity. Infinity isn't matter nor energy.
    For us to try to understand infinity would b like a fish confined in a
    fish tank who knows all the detail inside the fish tank, but have no
    comprehension about the things it see beyond the 4 glassy walls (which
    is its limitation). If u live on a straight line, can u understand a
    life on a plane? NO. If u live on a plane, can u understand a 3D
    life?NO. So if we live in this 4D life with boundary (x,y,z, t->inf,
    we r bounded by infinity, just like a plane is an infinity to a
    straight line, n so on), how can we then say there's
    no more dimension beyond this infinity?How can we say,then,there is no
    God?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • SB

      Did you text this from your phone or do you hail from 4chan?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • Kebos

      Just because we can't answer some of these questions now doesn't mean we should invent a god. 2000 years ago people had no idea what the shiny lights in the night sky were. But we do now know they are stars and we know no god whipped them up a day.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:02 am |
    • musikpal

      @Kebos If u r smart u would know that I didn't suggest any one to invent a god. Rather, how would u answer this question 2 ur self......R U SURE?

      From ur answer, clearly u haven't thought much about infinity.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • NotAFanoftheRCC

      pls lrn 2 spl proprly.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Alex

      Muskipal, you're not as profound as you seem to think you are. please don't reply to this as your spelling is annoying.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Kebos

      Musikpal – I'm not implying that I am smart so don't you. Just don't bring a god into it. The Greeks did with lots of gods and look where they are today. Keep any god out of it and then one can truly marvel at the beauty in our lives, in nature and in the heavens.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  5. albert

    The problem with the majority of so called "Christians", is that rather than reading and studying the Bible they listen to and have faith in what their preachers/priests say. These people follow pagan customs and Greek mythology. Look up Easter, Christmas and you will see what I am talking about. Also, the teaching that bad people are subjected to eternal torment in Hell is not taught in the Bible. Neither is the Trinity. Jesus even warned that this would happen. The sooner people wake up and start leaving these churches the better. Think of how much money you will save too.

    The Bible has a positive message. You will not find this message in the churches of Christiandom; Catholic, baptist, Presbyterian, Holiness, 7 Day Adventist, Mormon, Methodist, or any other Church that practices the above mentioned Pagan customs and Greek mythology. You are being lied to.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:55 am |
    • Enough Already!

      What Bible are you reading. The Lake of Fire. Where the worm never dies, burning forever, wailing and gnashing of teeth.. I think Jesus talks more about hell than heaven.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Indigo

      How do you know? Have you even been inside a church?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Nocordoba

      I correct I read the Bible and study it it does say there is a Trinity. You do not understand this. 1 Corinthians 8:4 Matthew 28:19 2 Corinthians 13;14 Genesis 1:26-27 Isa 44:6 There you have it the Trinity is what the Bible teaches.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:05 am |
  6. foodietofoodie

    Harold Camping is a complete fraud. Please stop giving this ass clown more publicity.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • Kate

      AMEN!!! Seriously, he may want to consider reading all of scripture for guidance, not money-making opportunities.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  7. Julia

    The world will end in 5 billion years when the sun explodes.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • skarut

      safe prediction :)

      May 24, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Kebos

      Agreed and by the way, you won't find that in the bible!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  8. Jeffrey David

    This guy is the biggest clown of all.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • beelzebubba

      you obviously haven't watched Glen Beck's show. Beck would have raked in twice as much from his huge gullible, non-questioning fanbase...

      May 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  9. cyberczar@gmail.com

    The only possible chance the World has for ending is on November 7th, 2012 when I wake up and Sarah Palin has been elected President of the United States.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  10. IRONMIKE

    Stop sending this freak money and lets see if he can get a real job or if we are lucky he will starve to death.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  11. smartlogic

    Please stop calling this guy "Christian". He is so far off of true Christianity it isn't even funny.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:50 am |
    • Eric

      Tell you what. I'll stop calling guys like him and Fred Phelps Christians as soon as you can get conservatives to stop calling all Muslims radical.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • SB

      What is "true" Christianity? You have 25,000 denominations, many with incompatible or irreconcilable interpretations and practices, an untold number of versions of scripture, non-canonized and non-orthodox scripture, newly revealed scripture, and beliefs ranging from ultra fundamentalist to ultra liberal. Where in this mess... this hodgepodge of blood cultist beliefs that glorifies sacrificial suicide... is the "true" Christianity?

      May 24, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • GodIsNot

      Read the Bible much? It's horrific. It just so happens that many Christians today are much more moderate and chose to ignore the majority of scripture. This makes them better people, but doesn’t make them spiritually superior to anyone.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  12. Michael

    please comment on my cool post about little baby Jesus. let's start a thread!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:49 am |
  13. AB

    Matthew 24:36 "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."

    May 24, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • Kebos

      Yeah, and if I was the man that wrote the bible, I would say the same thing. The bible was written by man for man.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • American Citizen

      You're conveniently forgetting the scripture (LOL!) where Jesus told his disciples he would return before they had all died.. Tsk, tsk! Shame on you for telling a "lie of omission"!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:52 am |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      I'll see you in the rapture capsule with the unicorns. Don't forget to wear your nose ring – the big steel one that I padlocked the chain onto when we were practicing for the uplifting.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • Kebos

      The bible is full of errors. Read "Jesus Interrupted" to understand just how many. Again, a book written by man for man with all the errors of man. Now, if the bible had have explained quantum mechanics or provided advanced medical care for it's time then I'd take the bible more seriously. But it does not. It's a fools pursuit to cling to the bible.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • SB

      Unfortunately, while the occurrence of the rapture would have been proof of the truth of Camping's Biblical interpretation, non-occurrence of an event is not evidence for the truth of anything. Saying, "Of course it didn't happen, the Bible says so." is an error in logic.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:05 am |
    • Halleluljah

      kebos when a man fails u what will u do?
      when machines fail u what will u do?
      when all that u know fails u what will u do?
      sounds like it would be to late to turn to God since u don't know Him.
      Better to not speek about what your not sure of than be judged by what u say.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • Kebos

      To Halleluljah – let the judging begin. You can speak in pseudo-riddle with your simplistic philosophical questions but in the end, that is all your words are. If we live our lives in a just and honorable way then any god to judge otherwise is flawed. I don't need to belong to a religious club or pander to an imaginary big guy in the sky to have a clear conscious of why I am on this planet.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  14. Plumeria

    Seriously, the people who follow this person really should examine their lives to see what's missing. If you're in a bad relationship, change it, get therapy, but how desperate do you have to be to put all your faith in something like this. I feel so sorry for them.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  15. kcg

    why does anyone with a brain pay attention to this nonsense coming out of an idiot's mouth. this guy is a fraud, go away that would be the best contribution you can make to society. as bugs bunny would say "what a maroon"

    May 24, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  16. American Citizen

    This guy is doing a fantastic job of exposing christianity for the self-centered humanity-hating death cult that it is and I sincerely hope he and his followers continue their incomparable education of the masses!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • Indigo

      Seriously, get a life. I bet that the average Christian donates more to charities in a year than you do in your whole lifetime.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  17. C

    Religion is an escape from the fact that Death is really the end.
    Go ahead, believe in your gods and tell me i'm wrong.

    But not even god can save you from death.
    And you know inside that is what scares you most.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • Kebos

      And there should be no fear in death because when one is dead they do not know. All consciousness ceases. So enjoy life because this is all you and I ever know. No life after death. No silly heaven or hell. And for sure no silly rapture that only a fool would believe.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • Halleluljah

      Depends on what u know. Some will make it thru the great tribulation shortly to befall mankind. Rev 7:14

      May 24, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  18. Sitara

    These types of reports have been going on since I have been a teenager in the 1960s. Besides what happened to that report of the end at Dec. 21th 2012? I wouldn't sweat any of it no matter what.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  19. Fidei Coticula Crux

    Don't believe those who say the Day of the Lord has already come.

    The Spirit of Truth vs. the Spirit of Error.

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

    John speaks of the SPIRITS of teachers in a way similar to what Paul says about the spirits of the prophets in 1 Cor. 14:32. John is not referring here to demon possession, but to teachers who promote error. Believers have the Holy Spirit (3:24); but FALSE PROPHETS obey evil spirits. A true prophet is one who receives direct revelation from God. A false prophet claims to have received direct revelation from God but in fact promotes erroneous ideas. Harold Camping is a false prophet and does not teach true biblical Christainity.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:46 am |
    • American Citizen

      Blah, blah, blah!!! Get real!!
      No matter who interprets a lie, it is still a lie!!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:50 am |
    • skarut

      this is what is called a contradiction...the bible is full of em

      May 24, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • Halleluljah

      1 false profet........check............destruction of false religion by Govt......?????..........

      May 24, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  20. Ryan M.

    I appreciate how CNN, under the guise of a new network, attempts to discuss religion at the lowest common denominator. You are doing yourselves and your readers a great disservice.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:46 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.