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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. Jon

    Teaching the Bible? The Bible says clearly in Matthew 24:36, "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
    Not Harold Camping will know... NO ONE KNOWS...
    He is not teaching the Bible, he is preaching Heresy.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • The Bobinator

      Matthew 27:52-53 also talks about zombies.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  2. zimzum

    third times the charm i guess

    May 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  3. code

    lololololololololoololololol this guy is nuts!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  4. Amber

    Last I checked it states in the Bible that we will NOT know the date or time. This guy is sooooo fake!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • The Bobinator

      Last time I checked the bible contains errors. Your faith is exactly like his. Lacking any sort of evidence.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  5. Larry

    Where's that damn calculator.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  6. Zuri

    Yes Jesus is coming but like Jesus himself said Not Even the Angels know when he will come again so why would Jesus tell you and not the Angels!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • tim

      the old testimont, that which christians, muslin and jews share, is a direct copy from the sumerian religion some 5000years ago, all the stories are the same from creation to the flood, minor conflicts being one god as opposed to many, which for me the religious is no that minor at all. maybe ones faith should not be so blind, read a little history, ...but who knows, maybe unicorns were wiped out to the flood...interrestingly there are articles mentioning gods wife was in fact edited out of the bible after all....hmmmm, lets all put our faith in magical beings

      May 24, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • tim

      (eeek, corrected some of my mistakes)
      the old testimont, that which christians, muslims and jews share, is a direct copy from the sumerian religion some 5000years ago,
      all the stories are the same from creation to the flood, a minor conflicts being one god as opposed to many, though not to the religious i suppose
      maybe ones faith should not be so blind, read a little history fanatical believers, ...but who knows, maybe unicorns were wiped out to the flood after all, haha...
      interrestingly there are articles that mentioning gods wife was in fact edited out of the bible after all....hmmmm, lets all put our faith in magical beings,
      listen to voises in ours heads and pray to a seemingly biggotted ultimatel being on sundays or fridays or whenever else

      May 24, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  7. Canadian Dude

    I wonder why all these "End of the world" topics come from the US? They have not much else to do? Their stomach is full... Bored with the TV shows... Guess what.. oy yes, God...

    We think about the islam extremists... But what about these people gave their homes to life savings to this guy? Oy my...

    and these people live in US... It is shocking yet very funny...

    I think the people will goto heaven if it exists are:

    People who help and love the family...
    People who help and love the neighbour...

    You kill and steal and then expect to goto HEAVEN...

    What a BUNCH of loosers...

    May 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Nory

      Don't blame all Americans. Camping represents a very miniscule piece of an extraordinarily weird pie. As always, oddballs, freaks, and deviants dominate US news. Rarely do the millions upon millions of good, kind, decent folks get much attention. And we like it that way!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  8. 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."

    May 24, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Keyser

      Sorry, but anyone who believes in this crap should have their head examined... Mythical stories told eons ago, in a manner which to control the populace and teach civility... All spun around a great heavenly fairy who created the universe... Please... BTW, of the 5249 deities worshiped around the world today, how do you know your prophet is not the one who is false?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Raider

      Don't worry, I'll ignore him, and you too! As a matter of fact, I'll do my best to ignore as many of you loonies as I can!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Christ Denier

      I like that Biblical passage, especially since it refutes completely the idea of a savior at all. Isaiah 7 and 8 (a child shall be born and will be called Immanuel), was about a kid born 700 years before Jesus, so whoever interpreted Isaiah's prophecy was also a false prophet. Voila! No Jesus! Problem solved!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  9. Thoth Amon

    ENOUGH! Enough of this fool! Now thousands of young children are going to be worrying until October 22. CNN is as big a bunch of irresponsible morons as this fool preacher is. I'm turning CNN OFF!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • The Bobinator

      Only children that haven't been told that religion is all silly nonsense.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  10. There is probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy the rest of your life!

    There is probably no god. Now stop worrying about it and enjoy the rest of your life!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  11. MsLearning

    One word.... Dementia!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Steve in Denver

      Dementia . . . describing Camping or his followers?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Keyser

      No, not dementia, but crazy like a fox... Ole weird Harold and his cronies have been collecting on average of $18,000,000 a year in donations from idiots who believe this crap...

      May 24, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  12. rtbrno65

    "Some gave up their homes, entire life savings and their jobs because they believe the world is ending."

    So who took these people's life savings?

    May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Steve in Denver

      The inbred offspring of the Jim Jones and Koresh followers.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Keyser

      Why, ole weird Harold, of course... All in the name of GOD!!!! What a joke... As P.T. Barnum once said, "there's a sucker born every minute"...

      May 24, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Raider

      I have little sympathy for any of the idiots who gave up all their possessions due to believing this guy.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • SF

      Most of the people who gave up their life savings probably gave it to this "ministry". They've had $80 mil in donations over the last 4 years. Looks like the doomsday prophecy business is paying off big time for him. It just amazes me that otherwise productive, intelligent people get pulled in to scams like this. I hope that Mr. Camping is ready to answer for the sins of false prophecy that he has perpetrated on innocent people. I don't know if the end of the world is going to be as glorious for him as he believes when he is called to judgement for it.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  13. go away

    what a dick

    May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  14. Devil's_Advocate

    Mr. Camping, you are a dirty, dirty liar! That's right, I am calling you out as a false $PROFIT$!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  15. Paul

    You wonder if there really is a God, does he understand guys like this or send them strait to hell in a hand basket?

    May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  16. Dirty Joe

    CNN, aren't you partially to blame for continuing to publish and disseminate his crap?

    Quit giving this idiot a bullhorn. Who listens to radio anymore anyway?

    May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Easton

      CNN stop giving these people creditably, it's pathetic. Their are much more important issues DUH!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  17. TOM

    What's really amazing are the idiots on Facebook that get mad and defensive when I bring this up as if I am the person who is "casting stones". So called Christians get angry when their fairy tale baloney falls apart and accuse you of being the sinner for shining the light of truth onto the lies, the fraud, and the false prophecy. The idiocracy just continues in mass even in the blatent face of truth, and these are supposed to be "highly educated" people. Unbelieveable!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • conoclast

      Who ever accused christians of being 'highly educated'? Religion relies on and actively nurtures IGNORANCE.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Keyser

      Not to worry as they are all delusional fools who place their faith in a great heavenly space fairy named GOD... Perhaps they will all off themselves in protest to not being taken home by the rapture... We could only hope...

      May 24, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Renaee

      Not all Christians are mature in the faith. I implore you to not judge all of us by the actions of a few. This "profit" is not representative of all Christians, no more than Bin Laden was representative of all Muslims. There are idiots in every faith.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  18. Domokun

    Who follows guys like this? This should be used to demonstrate how retarding religion is and how it adds a significant challenge to any nation that seeks to foster an enlightened and rational society. They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link... OMG, we're in trouble.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • mani

      This guy is a wacko. All this attention will for sure bring in some extra cash for him...thats it. At least my birthday is 2 days before the next "rapture" smapture.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  19. Paul

    Wow, does this guy LOVE attention or what?

    May 24, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  20. Geo

    There is of course the subtle irony in hearing one group of delusional people criticizing another group of delusional people for not sharing the same delusions.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Hillcrester

      Absolutely right on! They are arguing about the length of the unicorn's horn. Sad, really, when there are so many productive things that need doing.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
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About this blog

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.