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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. DB

    The moderator at CNN has to be about falling out of their chair laughing so hard at this idiotic stupidity. What is it 1% so far that are wacked out and the rest of the world are saine, or in the 1%'s mind the other way around?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  2. Enough

    Why are we giving this man any time in the press????He is clearly nuts!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  3. PlayNice

    Like every other Christian goof ball, he's just interpreting the Bible.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  4. Jeff

    Honestly, this is sad. Camping is not even a preacher, pastor or one-time priest, he's a engineer who has interpreted to the bible to read what he wants. The Bible is a fine story to read but should never be taken out of context for what it truly is....A STORY!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  5. poofy66

    Another reason why the bible is fake

    May 24, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Diane

      Matthew 24:36. Camping's fake, not the Bible.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  6. Tom

    Who is crazier this wingnut or the dumb sheeple that follow him? Maybe they should make their signs with space at the bottom so they could keep changing the date.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  7. buddy

    enough of this bull already! Now he wants another shot at it? did he not collect enough money from the morons that follow him

    May 24, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  8. Jim

    Hehehehe... he knows when my vacation is and put that doomsday right on top it. Let him go to hell.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  9. ron brooks

    $80 in contributions in 4 years? This man is not a lunatic but basically a businessman using human stupidity and blind following of religion to his gain. He should be a politician.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  10. Jeff

    Meh, maybe Camping and his followers can join forces with the remaining Davidians and figure out the right date?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  11. The Man

    The of "Pastor of Doom" is using not-for-profit church funds to invest in stock. Prosecute. Straight forward decision making. As for his believers, please forward your bank account & routing information to me by October..you wont be needing that money. ; ) Stay the course. lol

    May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  12. AmyLynn

    HAVE NO SYMPATHY FOR THIS OLD FOOL

    1.He said all in Churches are ruled by the Devil
    2.Millions of Babies would die on May21
    3. He was “the” Bible expert and Priest,Ministers,and all others were evil
    4.He said the deaths would be beautiful on Judgment day

    THE FCC MUST REMOVE HIS STATION FROM THE AIR

    SEE HOW HE TOOK $$$38 MILLION IN 1 YEAR FROM HIS FOLLOWERS! SEE HERE

    http://haroldcamping-21.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-harold-camping-pulled-off-biggest.html

    May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  13. Frank

    Camping, show us your calcs! If you've cracked the code, the least you can do is let the rest of us in on the decipher.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  14. GWOZWAZ

    " It received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009."
    This is all you need to know.
    It just amazes me how stupid people are. Just amazes me....

    May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  15. CK1

    When you are 89 years old the END is always near.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Jeff

      LOL :)

      May 24, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • nobleberean

      funny

      May 24, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • kite005

      Oh so that's what he meant! And here last Friday I partied like it was 1999 for nothing!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  16. Mitch

    I hope this preacher still is alive for october 21, so he can see he is alucinating..

    May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  17. Mary

    All this guy wants is to be recognized and guess what....the papers and stuff are doing it....yeah the time is coming BUT it's when God says it will come!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  18. bob bolin

    A couple of large woodchippers set up in some WalMart parking lots would provide a very satisfying way for us to help these morons meet Jeebus faster. Barring that, how could I go about getting the mailing list he uses to fleece his flock?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  19. Dan

    "I don't have any responsibility."

    Sounds more like he is trying to fit in with the modern ethos rather than trying to warn people of the errors of their ways.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  20. Atheist

    PS: There's klingons on the starboard bow. It's life Jim, but not as we know it.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:45 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.