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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. Jeffery

    It's time to find the "off" switch or pull the plug on this guy!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  2. terry Moore

    Once deluded, always deluded.... Good luck Mr Camping,, You have earned a rest.... :)..Please make it a long one so that organizations like CNN do not feel compelled to talk about you...

    May 24, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  3. leper messiah

    This man is a pathetic old fool who hopes to live long enough to see Christ come and save the faithful. I am not questioning the mans faith, but moreso his motives. It's sad that there will still be people ignorant enough to follow this false prophet. The Bible warns of just this such thing, but their religious pride and ignorance blinds them from the truth. May God have mercy on all their souls.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  4. humanist

    the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing man that god exists

    May 24, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      If there is a devil, then there is a God. You can't have one without the other.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  5. Marsha Bass

    Maybe the media could do us all a favour and ignore this idiot. He's had his 15 minutes. He didn't deserve that much.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Brian

      Thank you!!!! If I stood on a street corner and spewed this crap, everyone would just call me a nut. B/c this guy "affiliates" himself w/ a church, he suddenly gets a platform to speak on the subject? I wish the media would ignore him.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  6. cynthia-494

    He only has spiritual rule over his wife?? What a silly !

    May 24, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  7. KC

    He's like a poster boy for bad credit –"I promise–it'll be OCT! WHOOPS, I promise–it'll be March...WHOOPS, I promises-it'll be Sept!" IDIOT.
    Head of the household over his wife??? BARF....

    May 24, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  8. soropiyela

    I can sense the hidden fear among those who have mocked at the end-of-the world theory. Cannot take Harold camping lightly ! His calculation might have been wrong twice.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • D

      No fear, just total hilarity. The man is clearly deluded by his obsessions.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Robert

      I laugh at the doomsdayers! These religious nuts really are insane. False prophets?

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

      @soropiyela. And his calculations will be wrong again, and again.

      He isn't wrong because he is bad at math. He's wrong because he uses the bible as his source for information. There is no way to get facts from a fairy tale. You're odds of correctly predicting tomorrow's weather from reading the story of Peter Pan are much better than predicting ANYTHING from reading the bible.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  9. sourpatch575

    It's sad that this man is a mathematician and is wasting his time doing all this bogus stuff. Money definitely pays a price.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  10. Jay

    I can't believe how utterly stupid some people are. Folks this is as good as it gets.... there is nothing else, Period.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  11. anon

    This preacher should stop embarrassing the church by making such statements and rallying people to prepare for dooms day. All of the things that are happening now satisfy the conditions that the Bible said would happen when the tribulation BEGAN, but the Bible said that not even Jesus would know when the final day will be until GOD himself decides that it is time. This preacher is basically trying to say that he knows more than Jesus. The Bible states over and over that we our focus should be on seeking GOD and knowledge. While GOD allowed us to investigate his creation, so that we would discover the wonder of his design, there are some things we are not to know. If you are going to evangelize, please give a true testimony. There are enough false prophets in this world that are tearing the world apart.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • D

      Check your history a little closer. Pretty much any collection of 'current events' in any given time period fit the 'conditions' listed in the bible. That's the problem!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Bruce

      Why is it that, in spite of the exaggerated example of Camping and how this "read the bible for yourself and see what I'm saying is true" technique failed both him and his followers, many Christians still insist that the answer to everything is precisely this technique?

      May 24, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  12. RonFromNM

    The power of mental illness knows no bounds

    May 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  13. Marie

    Just another ploy to collect more money over the next 5 months – he's already a mutl-millionaire. False prophet indeed....

    May 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  14. Jennifer

    What part of "...the day of the Lord's return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night" does this guy not understand?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  15. skifru

    "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says"

    This is a LIE! The Bible does NOT teach what this man has been propagating. He's using the Bible as a self-defense tool when he made up 99% of what his "facts and interpretations" state. This man is a phony, false prophet. Christ did not come in 1994, nor on May 21, 2011... nor will he come according to Camping's predictions later this year. True believers know that no man (especially Camping!) knows the day or the hour when the trumpet will sound. And come on, "we're seeing this as a spiritual thing happening"? Really, Mr. Camping? You're claiming you know what's going on in the spiritual world? You're crossing all sorts of boundaries here, sir!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Bruce

      @skifru: Why is it that, in spite of the exaggerated example of Camping and how this "read the bible for yourself and see what I'm saying is true" technique failed both him and his followers, many Christians still insist that the answer to everything is precisely this technique?

      May 24, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  16. TheOtherSide

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

    ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca (born: 4 BC died: 65 AD at age: 68)

    May 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • jayray

      fantastic quote! i love it!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • MGoBlue100

      Perhaps the best quote I have ever read. I saved that one, thanks!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  17. jt

    IDIOT!!!

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

    It humors me that Mr. Camping seems to know more than Christ himself regarding the end of the world. The Bible is pretty clear that no one knows when Christ will return, not even the son. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" Mark 13:32...Need I say more.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Seph Kennedy

      EXACTLY. Some one should e-mail him this scripture! Because he is DEFINATLEY not reading this part!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • LinCA

      @tccclifegroups and @Seph Kennedy. In other words; you believe the same nonsense, you just refuse to pick a date.

      Adding 2 and 2 together and coming up with "Wednesday" isn't fundamentally different from getting "Bananas" as a result. You suffer from the same disorder, you're math is just slightly different.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  19. Red Pison

    He was wrong twice, now he's just trying to cling to whatever he's got for a little longer so idiots can send him more money.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  20. CindyB

    The media, including CNN needs to stop covering this lunatic. the people who follow and believe him are sadder than he is.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:03 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.