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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. Jim

    This guy is an idiot and anyone who listens to him is also an idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  2. Largencharge

    CNN, you need a serious dosage of Internet methadone to get off this story. PPPPLLLLEEEAAASSSEEE stop !

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

      1700 comments to this article as I write this, which includes yours. That is why they will keep covering this story.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  3. Mari

    WOW! This guy is nuts!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • L'il Woman

      His attempt to be humble in the last paragraph failed when he uttered that last sentence:
      "I don't have any responsibility. 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."

      REALLY??!!

      Maybe he should just go live in a Third-World country if he believes his spouse is below him (insert major eye-roll here)

      Could we stop giving these ignorant cult people access to the media?

      May 24, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Gaz

      $80 million worth of nuts.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  4. Anthony Lopez

    People stop with this religion nonsense, it was useful when people didnt know how to explain things, the uneducated times, we live in REALITY now. Science is prevailing and showing us more mysterious and beautiful things no religion has. and science is backed up by proof. Look up at the stars for your answers people, not mythelogical figures that may or may not have split the sea in half to walk through it.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  5. bobcat2u

    Are you people still going to follow what this dude says ? Really ?????????????

    May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  6. DianeDiaz

    False prophecy cannot be forgiven.
    He needs to read the words of St. Paul.
    What he's doing is very spiritually dangerous.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Bruce

      @DianDiaz: 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 10:18 am |
  7. Chuck

    STAY OFF THE "HOLY WATER!'

    May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  8. RichK

    I consider myself warned.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  9. hotrod

    I remember when the followers of Camping were asked what they would do if nothing happened on May 21. I don't recall if Camping himself had actually been asked that, but his actual response was just as sad as the long-shot predictions: he's still right. "God" changed his mind about destroying the world because he is so "loving and merciful."

    The last part of the article is the most hearbreaking: "I don't have spiritual rule over anybody...except my wife." That poor lady.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  10. Canuck1979

    EPIC FAIL! First off, what's with everyones obsession with the end of the world. The world will end when our sun burns out like every other star, it wont be in our lifetime, it will be in about a billion years. Second, why is the media giving this guy so much attention, there are other idiots out there that will believe this stuff. This is counter productive. Also, those saying he is an idiot and countering his teachings with other Bible passages are just as dumb.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  11. jean2009

    Gee he has cried wolf several times before, he must have missed Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32. What does the Bible say about false prophets?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Bruce

      You really think he missed those verses, that he never addressed them, or that he ignored them?

      May 24, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  12. rtbrno65

    PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!...

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  13. Chuck

    STAY OFF THE "HOLY WATER!"

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  14. whatawally

    this guy is awsome

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  15. Michael Lane

    Please stop this stupidity, If your really a man of GOD then you should know that it says im the the bible no man will know the minute, day, or hour of his return, Not even the son himself. To me you are just a big crook, trying to profit on peoples stupidity. Im a beliver in god too, but i will never give some pie in the sky hopes of someting none of us really know about. Please just give it up before you look more stupid.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  16. AnnieM

    For someone who is nearly 90, he's pretty sharp. He keeps milking the religious sheep for all they are worth and they keep handing it over to him. The rest of us are in the wrong business!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  17. BD

    Why don't they just "Team 6" his ass?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  18. nitrored

    As many of the comments on here are rather intellectual and well written it would be a waste of character space to go into depth about my own personal regards on this matter.

    So in the spirit of keeping things short I can offer but a few words: Mr. Camping is right on one issue, an issue that no one is denying. The world, will, evenutally, and inevitably come to an end. However by this time the human race will most likely be extinct due to complications arising from our own existance assuming we don't suffer a cataclysmic natural disaster.

    And lastly, Mr. Camping; please stfu.

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

      Please excuse my typos: eventually* & existence*... as if mechanics even matter anymore. O_O

      May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  19. Brett

    I feel bad for the gullible people who fund this guy. Taking advantage of ignorance should be grounds for indictment.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  20. George

    Sorry, I meant Oct is the end of the world, please send money!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:09 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.