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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. Dwight Stegall

    They were saying it before on their website. They were saying Judgement day was May 21 and the end of the world is Oct 21. Don't go to their site. The WOT add-on for Firefox says it's a malicious site with a poor reputation.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  2. aerix88

    My favourite part was "I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household."

    I'm guessing he'd probably stone her for eating fish or some equally stupid ideology?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  3. JT

    Christians on here differing with these nuts that "no one knows the date" when they will be whisked up into the sky is like differing on whether pixie dust is red or blue.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • aerix88

      Hey! Everyone knows the pixie dust is blue...

      May 24, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "pixie dust is blue" Heretic! It's RED!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • RetLAEnvEmp

      All the pixie dust in the movies is a brilliant golden color; everybody knows that. You are trying to start something and the next thing I know you might try is to do is predict the rapture or talk trash about "junior" in NASCAR or Hulk Hogan retiring.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  4. Steve

    I'm not sure which is more pathetic- this confused old man spouting goofy ideas or the people who believe and act on what he says. I am thankful for the millions of credible, authentic followers of Christ in the United States who quietly manifest God's grace by their words and deeds. We should celebrate them and ignore Camping.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  5. Atheism is beautiful!

    Someone take this guy out, he's stealing from stupid people and preaching madness. Revised prophecy? Camping, you are a complete moron... as is every single babbling idiot that STILL follows you LOL. Have a nice life, losers.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Atheism is beautiful yeah holocaust of babies jews and stalins russia. Yeah beauty. (not)

      May 24, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Jake

      Nocordoba it is well established that Hitler was NOT an atheist and that Nazism was NOT an atheist movement. But don't let facts get in the way of a good "argument."

      May 24, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  6. Stan

    Please – STOP GIVING THIS GUY AND PRESS!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  7. Mike

    seriously, this guys 15 minutes is up. why anyone is still paying attention to his mindless drivel is beyoned me.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • RetLAEnvEmp

      "Beyoned" is way, way, way out there; it is a lot further than beyond.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  8. bailoutsos

    "I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household." ---- So, a religion written by Man puts Man in control over Woman. Haven't you people figured it out yet? THERE IS NO GOD. All the religions give Man control, not Woman. Hmmm....

    May 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  9. wow...

    How dangerous...
    Folks like this and the like are the ones that help the cause of others that denounce Christ. Non believers will see that nothing happened...not understanding that the the bible states that no man knows the day "But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only". If you are a believer, you should be careful with predictions and now...trying to save face.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • SB

      No, sorry. Non-believers are more rational than that. While the occurrence of the rapture would have proven the truth of Camping's interpretation of the Bible, the non-occurrence of the rapture does not prove the truth of a more literal interpretation of the Bible. Put another way, you cannot use the assumed inerrancy of one interpretation of the Bible to test the errancy of another; it's a complete logical disaster.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  10. George A. Romero

    Please stop giving this guy additional free media coverage!!! It is giving Christianity a bad name.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  11. Elizabeth

    Just because someone has a strong opinion, it does not mean that they are in any way an authority on anything. CNN, STOP POSTING THINGS THAT SARAH PALIN, HAROLD CAMPING, DONALD TRUMP, OR ANY OTHER OF THE GREAT MORONS OF OUR TIME SAY.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  12. Calendar Salesman

    OOPS, SORRY, I was looking at LAST YEAR'S calendar !. My bad.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  13. Mike

    Why are we entertaining this idiot? We are giving this fool all this free press while our loved ones are giving away their livelihoods. I understand that this kind of stuff sells media space but really, if you’re going to run this kind of crap just to make an extra buck, why not get with other religious leaders and get their opinion?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  14. Betty

    This guy needs to go into a Skilled Nursing Facility and have a full psyche consult!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  15. lavoris

    the word of God says no man knows the mintue or hour that the son of man shall appear .... he shall come as a thief in the night

    May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • JT

      And you're just as crazy as these nuts. Who's going to come as "a thief in the night"? What in the hell does that mean? You mean like an alien abduction via a beam coming in through your window and you float outside? You peaople should hear yourselves!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • GodIsNot

      Actually, man wrote that...just like all the rest of it.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • chyrd

      Which makes you as nutty as Camping... you both believe the same thing... The only difference is this dope is putting a date on your belief. Look up Irony in the dictionary.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  16. che-3

    Oh white folks and their LIES. It's amazing!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • Marcus Garvey

      Aw, man, lighten up. It's easy to get all caught up in predicting the end of the world. I mean, who hasn't? We've ALL said the world was gonna end.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • che-4

      Yes, it's the whites who lie, lol

      May 24, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Teeph

      Yo man, why you gotta go makin' this a racial thing?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  17. Ray

    so many false prophets and so so many idiots who follow them....pathetic really

    May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  18. Lisa B

    Soooo he says he's preaching from the bible...did he missed the part that says, " NO MAN KNOWETH..THE DAY NOR HOUR WHEN THE SON OF MAN SHALL RETURN " ...??

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • John

      'Oh shut up. EVERY Christian ignores large parts of Bible. There is nothing to show that one part is more likely to be true than the next. He is no more of a hypocrite than you are. If you truly believe in "god's" word, then you would believe everything in the Bible.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • GodIsNot

      Did you miss the part of the Bible that says "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man"?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  19. Brian

    Seems this guy still can't add (or even read) The Bible clearly states that 144,000 people will go to join Jesus. Not sure how he interprets that as 2 to 3 percent of the population

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  20. PJ

    Who is the more foolish? The Fool,or the Fool who follows him?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Jaime

      The fool who sells his house, quits his job, and makes no back up plans because someone said something religious. Harold Camping isn't a fool, he's a charlatan running an organization worth of 70 million. But he's small potatoes compared to the Catholic Church, Islamic States, etc.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:43 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.