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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. CrustyOldGuy

    Has anyone else considered that the righteous and good have already left. That no news worthy celebrity was taken away from this veil of tears and maybe, just maybe, this ole boy is one of the us unrepentant that got left behind.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  2. AJ

    No one believes you.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  3. Lewis

    Foolish as a fox .... he smiles all the way to the bank. His followers on the other hand ....

    May 24, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  4. Dahveed

    What a turd... Ummm, haven't you lost all credibility? And when it doesn't happen in October, will you jump on the 2012 bandwagon to extort more funds from needy, ignorant sheeple?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • CanIGetAnAmen

      Probably so. The sad thing about 2012 is it's all misinterprepted hype too. There is zero evidence that the Mayans thought the world was going to end in 2012. That's just the cycle of their calendar. December 21, 2012 marks the end of the 13th baktun and the beginning of the 14th. People have just latched onto this event like the did the year 2000 or any other significant calendar event. Calendars are all relative people. Wake up.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  5. ruemorgue

    Another prediciton! Another prediction! See? God is giving all your sinners *another* chance to repent!! October 21th, thats' it! Finis! Sayonara! Adiur! Bon Voyage! So long, sucker!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  6. JT

    I love it how other Christians mock these deluded Christian idiots as if they aren't deluded themselves. All Christians still believe in being whisked into the sky one day leaving 99% of the poplulation for enternal suffering. How sick! Of course, each Christian thinks he is the extremely rare True Christian®.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Monty Garza

      Awesome

      May 24, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • TE

      really? Thats what all Christians believe? Wow. Thanks. I thought I (a "disillusioned" Christian) believed something different, but you clearly know what Christians believe, obviously being one yourself? or is this from all your research? Thanks, Mr. Ignorant. (was calling you Ignorant not "Christian like"? or was it? you would know better than me)

      May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  7. Monty Garza

    so does this mean those awesome shirts will go back on sale . I really wanted one

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

    Bwah ha hahhahahahahahaha. ROFLMAF – if I could – Steven Hawkings

    May 24, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  9. Zaphod2000

    This can only mean an hat he has already soent tge money his following fools gave him?
    I am not a bible reader (I like fiction on my own terms) but I have heard that in Matthews it states that we won't know it's coming until it happens.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  10. HATEBIBLE

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

    May 24, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  11. UnknownHenson

    Yeah, in 5 months he'll re-calculate for another 5 months and so on. At this point if people believe in his crap and buy into it they deserve what they get.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  12. bit of truth

    Is there a certified preacher in the house?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  13. Sarah

    "I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household." Wow.

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

      YES!! I was equally bothered by that sentence! What a nutjob. To think people have left their jobs, used up their savings and children's college funds to fund his twice-unproven religious campaigns – this guy ought to hold some personal responsibility for what this has caused people to do.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  14. jarred

    this guy is crazy. and the more the media reports this the more it adds fuel to his fire. he will be wrong about this and same the same thing in october, then the media will wait for him to predict again. report this, people need jobs, food, shelter etc. if he is so holy and christian why doesent he donate his millions to the needy...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  15. onlyHeknows

    But the prophet, that shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if thou say in thy heart, How shall we know the word which Jehovah hath not spoken? when a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him.

    Deuteronomy 18:20-22

    Nuff said!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  16. xoxo

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

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  17. skeptic

    Just another Madoff, but nobody can prosecute him for swindling all the money her got from suckers

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

      Well said.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  18. Jerry

    What is the point of this character predicting a date for the end? Nothing you can do about it. Are you going to straighten everything out with God before the end happens? This seems to me a bogus way he can make more money and scare the heck out of a lot of people.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  19. SCOTO

    Collecting millions, ruining families and destroying their savings. Should be tried like any other fraudster.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  20. Bugs

    Matthew 24:

    "36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
    and
    "42 Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord doth come."
    and
    "44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh."

    Why is that so hard to understand? This guy "teaches the Bible" like it's a secret code-book for reading God's mind. How about taking Jesus at His word and just waiting with patience and humility like the rest of Christendom?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Son of Man

      Stop following the text of a book written 2000 years ago. Religion is a way to control the masses, believe in yourself and stop following the words of ancient writings.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • SaraTonin

      Bugs ... another thumper! Bible thumpers are all alike. They put together a concoction of scripture (all out of text) that is supposed to make Gods meaning known. God, what idiots!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:29 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.