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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. ?

    But about that day or our hour no one know, not even the angles in heaven or the Son, but only the Father.

    Matthew 24:36

    May 24, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Yep you are right this guy is an idiot and is only hurting people with what he is doing in fact I think I will sue him for fraud.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  2. Khris

    LMAO @ Jack

    May 24, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  3. Someone

    And when October 21 comes and goes without incident – then what will he claim – he made another math error? Forgot to carry the 1? Used a Pentium 1 processor with a math hiccup on the chip? Rounded off wrong? At least he won't be advertisng – but of course, all these people donated a ton of money to him, so he acomphlished THAT mission....

    May 24, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  4. bc

    here is the math! your a freaken nut

    May 24, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  5. Reality

    Camping is insane as was Jesus.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  6. richunix

    You've got to be kidding me..... At first if you don;t succeed fail fail again

    Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Rob

      I like that!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Yep it is. Where did matte rand energy come from? The stuff you say by random chance and millions of years created us? Yep its a belief simply blind faith.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  7. Popcorn

    Harold Camping is most talked about....

    May 24, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  8. JustLiberty

    Anybody know what the old testament says to do with prophets whose predictions turn out to be false?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Sassafrass

      Yes, yes I do know... I also remember something about prophets whose prophesy does not come true did not receive it from God.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  9. Ron

    At this point, $diety is almost certainly rolling on the ground laughing at this fool and saying "gotcha".

    May 24, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  10. concerned

    this guy is a crook and a fraud who has cost many people hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time and money by spreading this filth. he, and the rest of his followers, would do the world good by ridding themselves from the gene pool. let the strongest survive!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  11. Kay

    Give it a rest, dude. You've already been wrong TWICE about this. How many times are you going to "miscalculate"?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  12. DBalt

    "Oh, did I say May 21? My bad. I meant June 3. Wait, I meant August 27. Or was it May 17, 2012? Shoot. It's coming. Praise the Lord. I will save you. By the way, have you made a donation recently to my church?" Just another "fear sells" religious leader. Anyone check recently to see how many little boys he's having anal with?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  13. Susan

    With 80 million dollars of tax-exempt money. I wonder how he is going to spend it all before October.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  14. Nocordoba

    The Bible never said the end of the world was happening on a Saturday. God is real and this doesn't prove he is not. I mean if he wasn't then why are these people who beleive in him having bombs blow up in their churches and still beleive these people who are not insane are having guns pointed at their faces and told to recant and yet they do not. Idiots and fools do not do this!Evolution can be proved a myth not fact but a religion itself! This is proven when I say where did all the matter and energy come from that created us come from? When you beleive this you worship matter and energy.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • richunix

      FYI term GOD (6th century Germanic) word. How nice, you should be using his Jewish name YAWEH or Hasheim… Of course it would sounds a lot like the Greek God ZEUS or maybe the Sumerian God “An”. Either way the deity does not exist and never has and fro your information never will.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Joe-Wilmington, DE

      Well, so much for logical, rational thinking. Yet another fool who knows nothing of science and has absolutely no ability to separate fact-based from faith-based. It is blithering idiots like you who are helping to hold science and technology back in this country allowing us to trail the rest of the modern world. Silly doomsday predictions aside, God gave you a brain...why don't you try using it!

      Heaven help us all!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • richunix

      @Joe

      Two thousand years ago. Multiple Religions were the cultural norm. The belief in multiple GODs was widely acceptable and only varied by type (and special abilities) depending the region you were from. None of the stories were ever PROVEN (BAR NONE) and always written well after the events. The only thing that changed was the names used. From Sumerian times the God “An” to the current Christian name “YAWEH”. Really the only thing that changed was the “story teller”. To improve his or her deity, the writer creates wondrous feats of magic that go beyond basic physical laws. You will find the very same Creation (according to the Sumerian) stories written thousand years earlier, only the name has changed to meet the current God. Of course when questioned the standard answer has been “God says so” . But yet they question believer’s of other religious sects like the Jehovah Witness and Morons as “whack –jobs” , but fail to see they are no different. The major difference is modern man has proven through scientific exam the laws of nature and how man really works and YES we evolved from lower forms of life and YES Apes are our distance cousin (deal with it).

      I’m not interested in changing anyone beliefs, that is for you to decide. If believing in whatever you wish to believe make you feel better about yourself, please continue. But stop with trying to make the stories sound if they are true. No ONE (BAR NONE) has ever seen any God (outside of the occasional burring bush and always alone), parted the Red Sea or the Jewish Sea of Reeds or even a damn pond or turned to stone, pillar of salt or into your favorite color. If you tried (and a few have) to use any of the stories mention in the bible as a test of scientific theory or used in court for defense the angel Satan made me do it, or God said so, who are you to say “He’s lying”

      I’m very happy with my life and YES I know I’m going to die as it is very much a part of life. I’m not so vain or fearful about what will happen that I need stories to comfort my fears. I know I will live forever, I can see it everyday with the next generation and I sigh with relief, that they will make the world a better place. Enjoy your life, do what you can to make it better, don’t live in fear of unknown.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • the TRUTH

      God is real? That's why people blow themselves up? Really? See, 'cause I always thought that religion was a power play- a way for those in power to keep their power, while controlling the masses and fleecing them of their money and their independence. But hey- if you want to believe in a fanciful trio of deities in the sky who judge your every move and render you completely powerless through their will, go right ahead. I'm gonna go ahead and believe in science, particularly Quantum Physics. It's a little more complicated than an ancient fairy tale/lie, and I doubt you could wrap your delusional head around it. But hey, maybe pray about it? lol

      May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Nocordoba

      I don't beleive these stupid doomsday predictions the bible says no one knows the day that he will return. To you richunix I can say "where did matter and energy come from you know the stuff which created us come from" atheism is a religion and a belief based on blind faith. Zeus? Really science can prove he doesn't exist but not my God no after I understand why you dismiss all other Gods there is no reason to and I cannot understand why you dismiss mine. Read the Bible It clearly states how the water cycle works long before man ever knew. How? The bible was written by men inspired by God I suppose he knew how his creation worked didn't he?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Joe Cannuck

      I am more spiritual than I am religious. IMHO Organized religion is simply one person (or a few people's) interpretation. I think there is something greater out there, however, that said, I believe your post is about the most backwards and laughable thing I have ever read! Evolution can be disproved but Religion can't? Please.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Richunix he major difference is modern man has proven through scientific exam the laws of nature and how man really works and YES we evolved from lower forms of life and YES Apes are our distance cousin (deal with it). My grandpa was not a monkey...And never has there been found that missing link that science needs. Where did all the people go? If man started 30,000 + years ago and in the last 1000 years the population has grown over 2,000,000,000 then add that up and even with all the death and suffering you could think up (the last century was the deadliest in history) that would still be at least 20,000,000,000.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Guy 2

      You are just stupid. You don't need that much common sense or logic to realize what a bunch of hogwash creationism or religion is. People like you are no less insane than radical muslim terrorists. You know the "white light" some people see when they have near death experiences; well, that is actually caused by endorphins released by your brain before you die to give the mind and body a sense of peace and euphoria. Why don't "sinners" ever see flames and a hole open in the earth to swallow them up into hell where they can go finger satan's butthole for the rest of eternity. Because none of it exists.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  15. Jamie

    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 7:31 am |
    • richunix

      Man is forgiving "make-believe" is not

      May 24, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  16. peick

    Mr. Camping, REPENT, for the end may not be at hand just yet....

    May 24, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  17. PAULA

    Psalms 37:30The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • richunix

      Verily I say Fools are lead by the foolish Richard: 1:2 (anyone can make a passage...)

      May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  18. JSR

    Shut up.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Yeah I agree this guy needs to shut up. The Bible never taught that the wold would end on Saturday.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  19. guy

    HAHAHAHHA.... He's taking lessons from Donald Trump as to how to get FREE publicity/advertising for his radio station...he has learned his lesson well, grass hopper:)...not too shabby for an old dude:)

    May 24, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  20. MassiveMarbles

    ~~~~CHARLATAN !~~~~~

    May 24, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • kite005

      massivemarbles? geez yeah I bet

      May 24, 2011 at 6:46 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.