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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. hostage707

    This is all well and good but some folks on the planet have things to do and people to see.....Camping might want to reference the Mayan calendar, seems they have a 25000 year head start on doomsday over the bible....

    May 24, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  2. bandgeek1

    I guess I don't need to plan for my next wedding anniversary on 10/22.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  3. Maverick

    It's the end of the world...maybe...maybe not. Maybe a little later. Could be tomorrow, or perhaps next week. Or sometime. But it's gonna happen, sooner or later, maybe a little later than sooner but you never know. I know I don't know but that's not gonna stop me from saying it's gonna happen...eventually.

    Ya heard?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • Tim

      yeah, last I checked, you can plan on this earth imploding in about 3 billion years. Not mucht time remaining, huh?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Maverick

      One thing you can bank on...it won't happen during American Idol.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  4. Myrmidon

    The website sells t-shrits. Now that is interesting.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  5. Summer Seale

    Here's a little clue for all of you believers (in Camping and otherwise): There is no redemption; no God returning; no vengeful end of the world – its all bunk.

    A lot of you "good Christians" and other religious people have laughed for weeks and months at the likes of Harold Camping for "getting it wrong" and looking absolutely as foolish as can be on a world stage.

    And if you'd only take a few moments to step back from your "beliefs" for a moment, and look from without your particularly narrow world view, you would realize that this is exactly how you all look to the rest of us who know that it is a stupid little fantasy and has always been.

    To those of us who do not "believe", you all look like Harold Campings.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Hmmm

      Well said. The difference between them and Harold is that he thinks he can predict the event. But nonetheless, they all believe in this ludicrous event.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • pProf

      I bet all blacks look alike to you too.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • chuckt

      He is trying to use the bible verses to estimate Jesus's return and he is way wrong. It really doesn't matter what day he returns, but what really matter is I believe he will return. Now saying Christians are narrow minded, then you could not be further from the truth. Everyone is narrow minded because they only believe the world was created one way. You even believe one way, because I would guess you may be smart enough to understand the world was only created once. Everything around you screams that there is a creator and your focus is only to deny.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Summer Seale

      @pProf No, but everyone as insulting and foolish as you looks alike to me.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Summer Seale

      @chuckt You're wrong. My focus isn't to deny. My focus is that, like many Atheists, I have reviewed all the evidence given to me and rejected it, and wish to express that rejection. That does not make me a denier. What it does is show that I have better standards than most.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Maverick

      pProf, only with the lights out. What's yer point?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Timothy A Gigliotti

      To Summer Seale,
      You will be the fool when you meet the God you don't believe in and he has his Angels Wrap you in Chains and toss you into
      outer darkness, that Eternal Lake of Fire from which there's no return. As for Preacher Camping, when Christ was here with
      his Disciples, they asked him, when he would return, and he said " No man can know when that day is, not even I, the Son
      of Man, But "GOD THE FATHER,ONLY" , knows that day." Be watching and vigilant always, looking forward to that Day!
      For in a TWINKLING, he shall come, and not all will die, but Ye shall ALL be CHANGED!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Summer Seale

      @Timothy A Gigliotti

      That's odd, that's exactly what Harold Camping says as well! But I suppose you're right and he's wrong because your fantasy must be more "real" than his...

      ...or something.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Maverick

      Summer,

      "And if you'd only take a few moments to step back from your "beliefs" for a moment, and look from without your particularly narrow world view, you would realize that this is exactly how you all look to the rest of us who know that it is a stupid little fantasy and has always been."

      And then you say "My focus is that, like many Atheists, I have reviewed all the evidence given to me and rejected it, and wish to express that rejection". No one denies you have that right, but to insult those of us who believe is wrong, and unfortunately seems to be the weapon of choice that athiests use (as is wrong for those who believe and insult athiests).

      It's people like you who can't give credibility to your beliefs because in order to be credble you HAVE to be willing to accept the beliefs of those who stand opposed to yours. I accept yours because you have the right to have them, and if I don't agree I don't have to, but I still must respect your right to.

      And THAT'S The Final Word.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Summer Seale

      @Maverick No, it isn't the final word. Atheists such as myself would be perfectly happy and willing to let others believe whatever they find pleasing in life – as long as it doesn't impinge upon reality. But the fact is that the world is overrun with religious fanatics who are pushing their views – violently, politically, and otherwise – on non-believers. It's been that way for thousands of years. And now that non-believers have started to fight back, we are accused of being arrogant and intolerant.

      Well, let me tell you something...the difference between myself and believers is very simple: I am not the one proclaiming that any believer will be TORTURED for ETERNITY for being wrong. If I think you're wrong about something, you're foolish, you're stupid, you're insane, you're a moron, and a whole host of other expletives I may not even be able to post here.

      But at least I won't to so far as to say that you're irretrievably damned for your beliefs by the "creator of the Universe". At least I don't have that coming out of my mouth and inside my head to guide me.

      So, pardon me while I lay all these accusations back at your feet, and the feet of every other religious person in the world. At least take the comfort that I laughed hilariously at the claim before giving it the finger.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Hmmm

      Chuck, the only thing screaming creator are the voices in your head. Humanity going from polytheism to monotheism isn't very persuasive. With billions of galaxies in the Universe, the Christian belief is that an omniscient and omnipotent being sent his son to a relatively insignificant planet to talk about sheep and goats.

      The atheist belief is that the above belief is ludicrous.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  6. NC Wafer

    Family Radio needs to get rid of Camping. If they cared about the credibility of their organization. Oops...guess its too late now to worry about being credible. Camping should of stuck with ministering the word of God, rather than doomsday predictions.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  7. mark

    A complete fraud just like *every other religious freak of any and all organized religions* on planet earth. Absolutely no different..
    Actually thats not true.. He's a much smarter businessman than 99% of them, as evidenced by his bank account.. Nicely done Harold!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  8. hoozyerdatty

    I'm confused...so there is no cake?....I was told there'd be cake...

    May 24, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  9. DB

    Let's see, 50 million for the southseas island, 10 million for security to keep the riffraff off my island, 10 milliion to start a coconut plantation, and 10 million to build all my structures so I have a comfortable life for the next 40 years, OH WAIT, I can't say that as the world is suppose to end! Let's see, the last 10 million for educating the local yokles instead.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  10. Ecce

    Can we not consider this "preacher" to be a passive terrorist? He's starting to fit the description, except, he doesn't have any weapons of distruction or for warfare.

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

      WOMD would be his mouth and the lies he spreads.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  11. Duke13

    As a Christian I hope people will just ignore Harold Camping and his prediction. The Bible clearly describes the signs of the end times. If you Google Contender Ministries End Times the signs of the end times are laid out with supporting scripture.

    Harold Camping is a false prophet as stated in Deuteronomy 18:22 (KJV), i.e. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

    Give it up Mr. Camping, your prophecies have failed twice. You are not speaking the word of God.

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

      As a Chrisitan, I hope people will ignore Duke 13 who reads Scripture as if it were a newspaper, as opposed to a collection of books and genre including poetry, biography, political literature, history, etc. It is NOT a connect the dot game!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • Jose Sanchez

      As a non-Christian, you're as crazy as he is. The only difference is he gave a date.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  12. Emilio Largo

    Points and laughs at the Family Radio suckers.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  13. Jack D

    Hate to be his wife.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  14. Greensleeves

    Good grief. Come on, Camping - let it go, would you? You're embarrassing yourself.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  15. Andy

    This prediction has to be real. I'm going to donate all my money. Thank you Mr. Camping, for heads up.

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

      Anyone who gives this guy $ should have to wear a sign around his/her neck reading, "I'm a d*uche bag!"

      May 24, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  16. Diane

    God is merciful, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentenance. He will judge, but no one knows when (not even the angels nor Jesus). Read Matthew 24:36 onward.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  17. Hamish

    What will his excuse be on October 22nd?

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

      He will have one no doubt he read the numbers wrong we now see instead of oct 21 its 2021 so we got 10 years!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • weallgotone

      December 21, 2010

      May 24, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  18. marc mccarron

    Just stop it! CNN.... reporte the news.... not sideshows and carnival barkers.... you have no standards!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  19. Jill

    No man knows the hour or time of the Return of Christ. Not even Jesus only the father. If anyone tells you they know the day, its a flat out lie. This man does need to repent and turn from his ways like all of us do. In the last days this kind of stuff is expected so its no surprise. I just feel bad for the people lead astray who are giving him money and changing their lives as if this is truth.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Tim

      You people are so gullible. It's amazing how a single 'charismatic lecturer' can influence so many stupid people around the world. Just goes to show that there will always be someone who is willing to send all their money to Africa so they can own of a bridge across the Amazon. AND ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT. If there are that many idiots on this earth, and especially in this country (USA), then I should get into the 'lies and manipulation' business and take my piece of that pie. Because I am sure that most of the 'followers' are going to continue to give away their money to this moron, even after he has proven "twice" that not only can he not predict the future, but he is also too cowardly to just admit he is a "LIAR".

      May 24, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  20. ageofgravity

    Absolutely no conscious at all. Just plain stunning.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:56 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.