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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. Larry

    You can't call this a prediction, since it is a proven fact. The world is guaranteed to end – tomorrow.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  2. aatami

    Uh huh...........

    May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  3. sportsgirl99

    I didn't know the bible said, "And Jesus said unto his disciples, the end of the world will be October 21, 2011"...

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

      It wouldn't be any more true if it did.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  4. Ed

    His a loon

    May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  5. musikpal

    I thought he was ready 2 retire w/ 80 millions in his pocket. Prophecy
    of a false prophet is not new n will always b around, but here's a
    thought 4 u.....

    R u REALLY SURE there's no God? It's not legitimate 2 say there's no
    God. Take a moment to ponder about infinity(if not, u can do it after
    u finish reading). 1st let
    me ask, R things we r living in absolute? Will science like Newtonian
    Mechanics always work on a large scale object below the speed of
    light? It appears so in our dimension, but is this it?No, of course we
    can't say this is it because we have a limitation, that limitation is
    we can NEVER n will NEVER understand Infinity. Infinity isn't matter nor energy.
    For us to try to understand infinity would b like a fish confined in a
    fish tank who knows all the detail inside the fish tank, but have no
    comprehension about the things it see beyond the 4 glassy walls (which
    is its limitation). If u live on a straight line, can u understand a
    life on a plane? NO. If u live on a plane, can u understand a 3D
    life?NO. So if we live in this 4D life with boundary (x,y,z, t->inf,
    we r bounded by infinity, just like a plane is an infinity to a
    straight line, n so on), how can we then say there's
    no more dimension beyond this infinity?How can we say,then,there is no
    God?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • Joel

      I have a msg 4 u, y do u write this way 4ever? Srs, it's not cool and u r'nt txting ur peeps. Hard 2 take u srs when u communicate this way.

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

      Sorry English teacher, my whole crew do the same, we don't work hard we work smart n we take short cut when ever we can.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • hotrod

      me take shrtcut 2. easy speak w shrtcut. me smart 2. me think pnctuashun n spell 2 mush wrk. so mush 2 hrd 2 typ real wrds. me scholar btw. me teach @ big skool.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  6. Joe

    In short this man is certifiable. How many of those who believed him made arrangements at their own expense for the day of reckoning that never came? How many of those now look like idiots to their friends and coworkers? The only reason this man is allowed to continue with this sick diatribe is because it would be politically incorrect to call him out, and those that did would be looked down upon because of the sensitivity of faith and individual beliefs. I believe in God as much as anyone on the planet, but for me personally I can accept the fact that we are all heading the way of the departed and if God chooses me at any time, I am prepared. This man makes a mockery of religion by these baseless predictions, and yet when the basket gets passed around, he is still able to sustain his Church by the contributions of those so engrossed in his faith, that they turn a blind eye to the truth. Reverend, your fifteen minutes are up. Cervantes says it best in Don Quixote..."Silence is golden."

    May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  7. Free Ride

    How embarrassing! Put a sock in it Harold!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  8. Dennis Jackson

    This guy is a massive FLAKE. Ugh. enough of him and his ilk already!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  9. Kevin

    Check to see how much money he wired to Heaven before the rapture. A lot of people gave him all they had.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • SB

      Indeed, though the giving goes even deeper than money. One man in Nairobi, Kenya gave everything he had for Harold Camping, including his life. He killed himself to avoid the tribulation.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  10. Gregory Faith

    Please all who agree with me and contact me so we can get a class action lawsuit started to shut this moron up and make him pay for terrroizing my children and others. He's an American Terrorist and needs to be put away until he is dead. No one can predict the end unless he holds the keys to the weapons of mass distruction is is prepared to use them! Sick SOB!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  11. Mr. T

    I pitty the Fool !!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  12. NYC'er

    This guy should be prosecuted...he's no better than Bernie Madoff.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • lizardking85

      Prosecuted for what? Bernie Madoff was prosecuted because he didn't deliver on something that had the possibility of being tangible (money). What this wacko did was to not deliver on something that is intangible, something based on faith or spirituality (he didn't deliver the Rapture).The people who gave this nut job money got what they deserved. If he had asked people to send him money which would be used to finance mission trips to third world countries and instead bought himself a yacht, that would be prosecutable in my opinion. In some ways he did deliver on what people were sending him money for. They gave him money to spread the word that the end was near. He did just that; he spread the word.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  13. BIBLEEXPOSED

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dWZFcW-8ag&w=640&h=390]

    May 24, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  14. Ray

    The world will indeed end. In 3 billion years when the Sun runs out of fuel the world will either grow too cold to support life or be swallowed by a supernova. Either way, humans will be long extinct before then. At the rate we are exploiting the Earth's resources, we'll be lucky to see another 500 years.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • BIBLEEXPOSED

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo_xxkp4KOw&w=640&h=390]

      May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  15. xoxoxo

    Just to make it clear no one will know the day, hour, minutes or seconds that Jesus would come back on earth. People should stop listening to this so called pastor he is a fake and always will be one!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • steveo

      Just to make it clear, Jesus will be a zombie.

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

      Give the guy a break....third time is a charm!!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  16. John Que 3000

    CNN....THE ONLY PLACE WHERE HARD NEWS AND TOTAL BULL CRAP APPEAR ON THE SAME PAGE. THERE HAVE BEEN DOZENS OF SIGHTINGS OF UFO SHOOTING PLASMA BLAST INTO THE FLORIDA INNER COUNTIES BUT NO NEWS COVERAGE. INSTEAD WE HAVE THE, "ACCORDING TO MY CALCULATIONS WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE SOON , " GUY.

    UP YOURS CNN, UP YOURS WITH A RUBBER MALLET.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • Lincoln Place

      NIce sign-off. Way to distinguish yourself from all the other crack-pot wackos out there!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • SB

      The UFO's didn't spend tens of millions of dollars on a world-wide billboard campaign and bus tour to gain attention. Tell them if they want to be covered they need to advertise themselves a little bit more.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • give your head a shake

      Mr Camping,meet John Que

      May 24, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  17. Randy

    This guy must be smoking way to much weed nobody can predict when the world will end only a man and this guys isn't it maybe he and Palin need to hook up they both are whacked out.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  18. ChaosNmotion73

    Kind of says something that he wasn't in that select 2-3% huh...??? Sad that people are so desperate to believe in something that con artists like this proliferate.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  19. Tommy

    t This guy is a whack job who is raking in millions with his "non-profit" organization. Mr Camping, you should read your Bible more and stop trying to act like you have a special connection with God. Remember; the Bible says that when the end comes it will" come like a thief in the night " and NO ONE will know. This means you too, Mr Camping.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  20. eptjr

    Oct. 22 is my wife's birthday...guess I will hold off on a present.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • SB

      Your world is guaranteed to end on Oct 22nd if you show up without a present.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • irishdog75

      whew, my colonoscopy is scheduled October 23rd!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • sportsgirl99

      I suggest you at least order an Edible Arrangement to show up on that day...just in case the world doesn't end and you can't leave the house to get a present.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:14 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.