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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. Deb A

    To CNN, As long as you keep reporting on this human abomination, he'll keep predicting.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  2. Joe

    Why is it always the Americans that believe this kind of nonsense? People like Harold Camping make us Americans overseas look like fools.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Crocker

      Just the nature of the beast I guess. People with too much money and no 'cents'.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  3. Boscobear

    5 more months to gather how much $$$$?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  4. Henry

    Can somebody just beat the snot out of this guy and shut him up for good. What a moron

    May 24, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  5. MakesSense

    Headquarters based in Oakland, CA....

    This all makes sense now lol

    May 24, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  6. beamerguy0

    When will people learn. A true Christian knows that there is NO code to the bible. Harold Camping is a average 89 year old man. The bible says not even the angels, nor son but only the father knows when judgementday is. Shame on Camping for mis leading some. But even more shame on those for following him, leaving kids, jobs and all they own behind even though again the bible says jesus was the final prophet. His followeres can be angry at Camping all they want but they chose to not listen to the bible and listen to a not even true minister. All of you followers, I feel bad for you but you all can only be angry with yourselves as you must not be that true of a christian if you follow a guy in CA and not the word of god himself. What will Camping do when Oct. 21 comes and goes.... He wont give anyone help when it comes and goes. Wise up people!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  7. richunix

    @Nocordoba

    If I said the Easter Bunny rabbit" exist (walks and talks like humans) Prove me wrong. Making absured statement like God exist fall into that same realm. Since you are unable to understand your own arguement "Masked Man fallacy", I will leave with the truth: and if you can not understand the below statements, then you are lost into a world of make-believe and fantsey

    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 8:05 am |
    • Nocordoba

      I understand what you are trying to say you are saying that because these other God are not true then yours is not either. But that argument has no ground to stand on you can't prove that my God does not exist just as you can't prove matter and energy created this vast universe filled with thousands of stars molecules each so complex and not one of them is built wrong all are in the right place.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. The evidence is there now you see why I dismiss your god the god of science and death. Your belief give a reason to do what Hitler did I can kill all I want because there is no one to stop me and it doesn't really matter there is no need for a moral code we should all act like animals. richunix I understand what you are saying and if you continue to beleive this I am warning you when you find yourself being thrown into hell you have no excuse.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Nocordoba

      The easter bunny never existed and that is easily proven did it ever right a book with no errors or show with proof that it exists? No so there you have it, it does not exist.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • richunix

      A simple test: Go outside, get a rock and take it indoors...Ask whatever diety you believe in to move it. If he does publish it and the world will believe you, if not..well you know that answer. Of cousre you can not use the bible approach: "Don't tempted my silly-a$$" or in even term "Don't tempted your God". ss that fall into the fallacy of "The Staw Man"

      May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  8. Gary Fustanella

    Please stop feeding this religious troll. Media reports of his lies just encourages him and others to waste time and money.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  9. Abdul

    I have a bag of magic beans for sell...anyone want to buy them?

    Seriously...the judgement hour is known by GOD and Him alone. Don't follow false prophets. The last Prophet has already come to mankind, Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

    May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • JOY FAYE STRICKLAND-WARD

      would like to hear more Joyfaye300@gmail.com

      May 24, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  10. Theendofdays

    This guy has nothing over Chicken Little.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  11. Bob

    Give it a break loser...go retire somewhere where no one ever has to see or hear from you again.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  12. Roy

    No advertising or tracts? Sounds like he's temporarily out of money.

    So just pick another date and start a new scam, like he did after the failure in 1994.
    And tax exempt? Very nice arrangement.

    So he has calculated a new date. Can we see the math?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  13. Grimaldas

    Enough already. Camping and those of the same ilk, are no different than snake oil salesman. And yes, for the 1 millionth time, I know the bible says "no man will know.. ect.. " shut up already. People, ignore this crap, debate "real" news, (which CNN is obviosly finding hard to do) and get on with life. I will be around to say MERRY CHRISTMAS yet again for the 46th time in my life.
    -Grimaldas

    May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  14. Rich

    Oh. I see. He got the math wrong. Well that explains it.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  15. Rick

    Oh crap! I forgot to carry the 2!
    Harold Camping

    May 24, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  16. Charlotte Crist

    Spiritual rule over his wife...? Does that mean all the wives that have husbands get a free "Get Out of Hell Card"...?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  17. frank drevin

    Too bad he just doesn't send himself to his lord by diving off the steeple of his "church".

    May 24, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  18. Sagebrush Shorty

    This guy would even make TV evangelists blush. PT Barnum was right. There is a sucker born every minute.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  19. DB

    If he truly believed in what he preaches then maybe he could go and try to covert the Mideast to his way of believe. Ahhhhhhh the Rapture!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • BIBLEEXPOSED

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aA7X5VJhSU&w=640&h=390]

      May 24, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  20. musikpal

    (Only) if u FINISH reading through this u'll know what we meant the differences between false n true prophet.

    Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 n 1956 in Israel carbon dated at least 200 B.C.

    Isaiah 53
    3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
    Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

    4 Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
    yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
    5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds(the crucifixion) we are healed.

    Isaiah was one of the prophet in the old testament of Bible(before Jesus was born)

    May 24, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • DB

      Just how old was Isaiah when he wrote this supposed tale, 220 years old? Come of give me a break. That would have meant he had to be 20 at the time of Christ, and that he was literate which 95% of the polulation was not back then. The Bible is a story book written in chapters by different people that never knew Chirst but by story. Very little if any of it is true without exageration from time after time being embelished and exagerated on with each new writting. Get a grip man, it is a guide for your life in an old fashion way. If it were in the libruary, and a religous section were not available where would it be? Under Fiction.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • musikpal

      Never mind u can't follow the logic n don't know the term carbon dating.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:11 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.