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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. Huh?

    I cannot believe this guy. He is partly responsible for his followers predicaments – he needs to accept that an apologise. He's nothing but a fake... as predicted in the Bible. Can he not get no one knows when the end will come??? He will be wrong again no doubt. I just hope people are not foolish enough to believe him for the third time. He's making a mockery of the Christian faith. It is about time he stops. Had God wanted us to know the end, He would have told us. He wants people to follow him on their will, not because they know the end is coming and they want a passport into heaven by suddenly accepting Him. He does not want robots. My God believes in freedom of choice.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • Greg

      Considering that this is his fourth date, his sheep....sorry, followers deserve what they get.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  2. Camping=ProphaLIAR

    He tells Propha-LIES, if any of his members did not have a spiritual awakening in their spirit after this so call doomsday didn't happen, their minds have been seared with an HOT IRON of DECEPTION

    May 24, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  3. Anotherdayjustbelieve

    What disturbed me the most was how he was saying that "Salvation is over"...

    May 24, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  4. Bobby Chacko

    THE DAY AND THE HOUR WILL BE ANNOUNCED ONLY SHORTLY BEFORE THE ACTUAL EVENT – IT CANNOT BE CALCULATED, BUT WE CAN KNOW WHEN IT IS NEAR:

    THE ANNOUNCEMENT:
    Matthew 25:6
    6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

    THE DATE CANNOT BE CALCULATED:
    Matthew 25:13
    13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

    THE ONLY DEFINITE SIGN GIVEN:
    Matthew 24:14 (King James Version)
    14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • SB

      And this makes you less insane than Camping, how?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  5. Jason

    "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says..."

    Except not.

    Matthew 24:36 is clear: "“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    And to add to that...

    Matthew 24:24: "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect."

    May 24, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • Greg

      It's a book of fiction. It isn't real so don't get your panties in a bunch.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  6. unknown

    I only have one thing to say about all of this....He DOESNT HAVE A CLUE!!! I wish someone would hunt him down and get rid of him just like they did to osama bin laden..then the world would be soooo peaceful once again from all these false prophets!!!!!....HORRIBLE

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  7. Greg

    Stop giving this guy press coverage. First it was 1988, then 1994, and now two different dates in 2011. ENOUGH !!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  8. Bigbrotheriswatching

    I'm not a church going person but the bible does state that no man, not even Jesus but only God knows the exact time of the rapture.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • DB

      and there is nothing we can do about it. Either you go up or you go down so quit clowning around.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  9. apassionategesture

    Matthew Chapter 24

    3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

    4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

    9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

    15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

    22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect [Christians] those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

    26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

    29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

    “‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
    the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[b]

    30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[c] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[d] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

    32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[e] is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    Note: 1. Matthew (who wrote this book) was a finance collect for the Romans, so he was a scribe and kept meticulous records. He is also one of the 12 apostles. 2) In verse 34 he is specifically referring to the persecution of the early church. Read the Book of Acts for info about this. 3) He specifically says that no one knows the day nor the hour, not the angels or himself. That way no one can say "an angel told them" about the end of the world, nor can anyone who is a prophet say anything as it states in Revelation: "Prophecy is the testimony/words of Jesus Christ". If Jesus does not know, neither can the "prophets". 4) the "statue of desolation" from Daniel is referring to a statue of the AntiChrist that will be erected on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel. This is written about clearly in Revelations (last book of the Bible).

    It's there in black and white that this is dangerous deception. Give Christ the benefit of a doubt. Read the Book. Do your research. Christ spoke of this crap 2000 years ago. If I were you, I'd take his advice.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Greg

      Whatever.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:18 am |
    • Nocordoba

      He doesn't say when the end of the world was to come. He doesn't even say all this was about the end of the world. I am a Christian and I read the Bible what this ":preacher" is saying is wrong.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • mojo

      Imagine how much more productive the US would be if people like this guy put as much time and effort into studying math and science instead of memorizing passages from a fictional novel,

      May 24, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  10. Mike

    Why is CNN devoting so much print to the ramblings of one mentally unbalanced individual?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  11. Camping has the spirit of DECEPTION

    This man is deceived

    May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  12. UltraAtheist

    yawn

    May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  13. Penny

    80m$ for a 5 months end. I can provide 1 month additional for much less... any offer?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  14. Whatever

    There is a very specific passage in the Bible that very specifically states that God alone knows when the world will end. My guess is that God did not divulge this information to some guy with a Christian website. Camping is the kind of idiot who makes the rest of decent Christians look bad and makes some people resent religion in general.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • mojo

      I don't resent religion. I'm just smart enought to realize what a dangerous bunch of crap it all is.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Eumir

      Yeah... definitely. "Whatever" is the phrase that best applies to this stupid, filthy fool.
      No wonder there are so many atheists in the would. Morons like this guy and Islamic fundies have destroyed their own religions. Death to them!!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • Greg

      It is kind of hard to believe that a work of fiction can rule over so many sheep....sorry, people.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Eumer Evolution and atheism is a religion once you get down to it all that is involved is blind faith.Example where did the matter and energy come from that created us?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  15. Den

    Why is there coverage of what this guy says?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  16. Camping is a ProphaLIAR

    This man is a ProphaLIAR, he tell ProphaLIES, If any of his members stay in his church after all this PROPHALIES, they are spiritually bound. The spirit of DECEPTION has this man BOUND, Oh God help him.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  17. BB

    The more dates he names, the better the odds........Still 896 quadrillion: 1, but hey, fear sells.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • acbaby

      This guy doomsday is only for him. He doesn't know what he is talking about. The real doomsday no one knows but God. I think he is talking about himself.. Hey tell him to try to get a life insurance for himself so he can pay the people back for what he took.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  18. mojo

    Seriously, is there no way to prosecute this guy for anything?!?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  19. Doomguy

    I said from the beginning this whole thing was a scam. Yet this guy keeps raking in untaxed money. REMOVE RELIGIOUS TAX EXEMPTION NOW AND CHARGE CLOWNS LIKE THIS WITH FRAUD!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  20. Becky

    I'd like to know why the man deems himself so important that God would reveal this time to him when according to Matthew, not even the angels in heaven know.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • What a crock

      Those words may have been in the book of Matthew, but they were the words of Jesus Christ. If this man claims to know the hour or date, then he is very plainly calling Jesus a liar and trying the take the place of God Himself. I cannot understand why people blindly follow people whose doctrine is not Biblical. Read the Bible yourself and if anything your pastor tells you contradicts...HE IS WRONG!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • Sardukar

      ..so how come Mathew knows it all, huh ? How does he know anything..

      May 24, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Teeph

      Eeeeeexactly. His whole thing is "we can know," though, right? After all, he says, "Noah knew."

      The thing is, in every other instance of prophetic foretelling in the Bible, the prophet in question heard the news FROM GOD, DIRECTLY. You don't see any examples in the Bible (whichever translation you care to use) about the "prophet" saying, "Hey guys! Check this out! I found this whacky mathematical formula in the Bible that predicts stuff!"

      Dude, if you're going to point to Biblical precident to try to disprove a clear and direct quote from JESUS HIMSELF, try making sure that the scam you're running actually FITS the precident you are citing. And, as far as I know, Camping is NOT claiming to have heard this news directly from the Big Man Upstairs.

      This guy is a prime example of a false prophet. Literally a false prophet.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:27 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.