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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. Alex

    This media coverage of this con artist has to stop.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  2. whatever

    And if you wrong this time can we shoot you ?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  3. JayGaRo

    RELIGION is nothing but a product of an imaginative mind. Never forget that the words or ideology or whatsoever religion-related stuff that is passed down for generations is passed down by man and through man.

    It's not wrong to believe in a GOD.
    But never forget that by the end of the day, it is still your behind that needs to work in order to get what you want and what you need. No matter how many prayers you pray, GOD or ALLAH or WHOEVER, will not just magically give you food or shelter or good health because you prayed your whole life. EVERYTHING is still UP TO YOU. That INCLUDES what will happen to this PLANET. So don't blame GOD when things go wrong, cause GOD never did anything to you in the first place. Yes thank HIM when thing go right, but thank your behind more for all the hard-work it did. And for JUDGEMENT day, If GOD has that power why not just zap anybody with lightning the moment they commit wrong doings. Why let them be and let the good ones suffer even more with their wrong doings. Or on a lighter punishment just brainwash that the person will do the right things always. And don't tell me HE cant watch over us because we are so many because that will not make him that GREAT.

    BOTTOMLINE: JUDGEMENT DAY my BEHIND... Only Fo.OLS would believe in such thing. It's your behind who wakes up in the morning and who sleeps at night.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • Itmatters

      Poor you!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • Dude

      Your true ignorance shows. All it takes is a few people to take something positive and turn it upside down so as to give it a bad name for everyone else. Personally, I find that religion on the positive side that most of you CHOOSE not to see is giving to others in need without wanting a thank you in return, showing our faith and love to God (faith-something you cannot see but know is there. Example-We cannot see electricity but know it's there and have full faith it can do harm or good depending on what we do with it.), holding ourselves to a higher standard of conduct for our families and community in general. If it is a bad thing to hold yourself to a high standard of conduct when those that smack down religion choose not to and condemn you for the same, so be it.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  4. TOM

    Remember what happened to the little boy who cried WOLF?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • meriska

      he didn't make 100 million dollars off the backs of religious fools.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  5. Craig Shearer

    I wish this idiot would just die.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  6. JON WYATT

    OMG !! Where can I send all my money ????? :-)

    May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • Halleluljah

      Harold accepts all forms of pmt........just not promises and hand shakes

      May 24, 2011 at 7:14 am |
  7. Brasil1958

    There was no error in his calculations....he's a lunatic. PLEASE CNN make this your LAST report on this idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  8. Jessica

    STOP GIVING THIS GUY MEDIA COVERAGE!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  9. Sassan

    I can't believe so many people still believe in religion and a celestial dictator now that we are in the year 2011 and supposedly in the age of reason and science..

    May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  10. meriska

    he'll make another 100 million dollars off of you "rapture" fools lol

    May 24, 2011 at 7:09 am |
  11. Erm

    Paula> Do you know how to turn off CAPS? Yeah, thanks. There is no need to shout.
    I don't know about you, but I would never "worship" a being who was judging me every single day of my life. We are only human and not infallible.
    This man is a con artist. He is making millions off his followers. He should be arrested and tried.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:09 am |
  12. Alex

    These "end of the world" people need to shut the hell up! Everyone knows that you can't predict the actual date of the apocalypse! And as what Paul said, CNN needs to STOP publishing this stuff.
    But, I guess 5 months later, we will be, once again, laughing and mocking him for this prediction... unless if it ever happens. SMH

    May 24, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  13. haha

    he sits in his multi million dollar estate and plays with your minds, No One Knows when It will be, so enjoy your life and move on, Camping is about as bad as the wanna be savior obama, so technically if you read the scripture, both Camping and Obama are considered antichrists under the orders of God and should receive the same, turn your backs on them and not let them lead you to slaughter like sheep.

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

      Oh, give me a BREAK. What qualifies you to call the President of the United States the AntiChrist??? Because he's charming and people like him? Because he's Black?
      That's just plain disgusting. The bible says no such thing. President Obama is a good guy and you are too blinded by your bible misinterpretations to realize it.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  14. Mandy

    It is necessary that wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes pestilence , that all thes things come...false prophets...and the love of many will grow cold(so-called Christians that would tell an unsaved to go get a gun)), you wont be saved by saying a prayer, but everyone should repent of sins, and accept you need forgiveness, and that Yeshua is the Messiah. God is coming back one time, to judge the living and the dead...Read the Bible, Christians are destined suffering and martyrdom if they remain faithful...unsaved are going to curse God because of the horrible things that come, and are going to be detroyed, there is no hope if you do not put your hope in God. All have fallen short of the Glory of God, there are none who are good, not one, there is only one hope. It says He is coming like a thief, that is concerning them that mock and are unprepared, please read the Bible, I beg, and just ask the air honestly, GOD ARE YOU REAL...I pray He reveal Himself to you

    May 24, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • Erm

      There is no such thing as "sin". If you want to feel guilty about being human, that's your deal, but don't drag me into your guilt trip.
      The only useful thing in the bible is "Love your neighbor as yourself". If we all followed that, the "Wars" and whatnot wouldn't even happen. The rest of that nonsense was written by crazy people who thought they were prophets.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  15. beenhad

    I sure hope this idiot is right this time. I'm tired of going to work.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • Indigo

      Why would you want the world to end just so you can die. Newsflash! You could just go and die the conventional way. But look on the bright side. No Work!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:09 am |
  16. Daryl

    I don't think some people realize that all of this end of the world garbage is actually producing millions of dollars in donations to this moron. People are emptying their bank accounts in some cases and turning it over to this con. He keeps changing the date to get every change at more money. The FBI and IRS need to step in here at some point and shut this guy down, because he's no different than Jim and Tammy Baker, Robert Tipton, Jerry Fallwell and other self-proclaimed evangalists and prophets who are in reality nothing more than common white-collar criminals.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  17. jewel

    WHY is the MEDIA covering what this False Prophet has to say?!?!?!?!?!!!

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

      Because they probably have nothing else better to do.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:08 am |
    • SB

      Because every page view is money in the pocket.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • Religion sux

      Um, because people like you keep clicking on the stories? Every time you read this crap, you're voting for more.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  18. Paul

    Great. Now give this guy more time to have more followers give up their possesions. This is the second time he has been wrong already. CNN, please do not continue to print this stuff.

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

      Actually its the 3rd time he has been wrong and the 4th time will be in October but it still doesnt stop stupid people from thinking he is right and sending him everything they have.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  19. Laureth

    May 20th- The world will end tomorrow!!
    May 22nd – Okay, the world is REALLY going to end on October 21st.
    The lesson Harold Camping took away from this debacle was to stop advertising. Hey, that's better than nothing. Too bad his followers still need to buy a clue.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:01 am |
    • mh

      They can't buy a clue because they gave this evil man all of their money...

      May 24, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  20. PAULA

    he did not say ' "I don't have any responsibility"
    i LISTENED TO THE WHOLE PROGRAM. We are being judged everyday of our lives, so from now on the media should tell the truth CAMPING always told his students 'DON'T TRUST ME" THE BIBLE IS THE AUTHORITY!
    We all missed it , except the person God revealed it to, God has a reason for everything.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • Bobby

      "We are being judged everyday of our lives, so from now on the media should tell the truth CAMPING always told his students 'DON'T TRUST ME" THE BIBLE IS THE AUTHORITY!
      We all missed it , except the person God revealed it to, God has a reason for everything"

      Paula, wake up and smell the coffee Your god wont be coming for you. You live , You die. There is no fairy tale like heaven, no virgins waiting for you, no La La Land. That only exists in your head. Throw away the crutch and make a difference in this life. Its all you have.

      What was Gods plan for the 100s that just got killed in those tornadoes, or the others in the towers, or the innocents the die every day. Hide behind your scripture and make believe the dinosaurs didn't exist.

      Bobby

      May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • Jamie

      Paula God is a forgiving God and I will not pass judgement on anyone. However, as a preacher, evangelist, minister, prophet or any office of calling in the lord that person has a obligation not to mislead people. Now the truth is that Camping taught that the world will witness rapture on May 21, 2011 and he first inaccurately predicted the world would end in 1994. God isn't going to use a vessel ordained by him to spread false prophecies. The truth is that these prophecies were false. Obviously there is a large disconnect with Camping's interpretation of when the rapture going to happen and the end of the world. I believe in the last days, tribulations etc however nowhere in the bible it speaks of the end of the world. The bible does speak of destruction of most of the earth and mankind but not total annihilation.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:27 am |
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About this blog

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.