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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. nfcbear54

    The world will end....unless you paypal 9.95 to end of the world.com.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  2. Scott Anderson

    Sadly almost all religions devalue earth life itself. With the ideal of some better after life. With that they sacrifice and limit the very limited life all the creatures including people have on this planet. Get out and enjoy the surroundings. Life is to short to be restricted for a view of something better after death. Maybe take some time visit Egypt and go see the 5000+ year old carvings on the tomb of luxor. You might be surprised that they have all the same scriptures the bible has plagiarized from previous faiths that only tried to over power previous faiths to them. 183 sons of god died on a cross prior to the bible and reselected 3 days later. All also being born of a virgin and all having 12 main followers. Plus all involving the 3 kings which is not people but the 3 starts in Orion's belt known by astronomers for 6000 years and still known as the three kings. What about the discovery of the on/offr switches in DNA that on a monkey embryo a sequence was turned off early in the womb for the arms which when the monkey was born instead of arms formed gills yes the same as fish. All one has to do is watch virus life cycles year over year and that is ample evidence that evolution is more prevalent than any other ideal including religion. 33.3 humans generations or 1000 years can be watched in viruses in 9 days. And today that is now why we have drug resistant viruses that only 20 years ago were not. They simply evolved (the weak dieing and the strong passing on and adopting to the changes of those drugs used over the past 20 years. Many preachers of the past who challenged science to prove their story have been taken up on that challenge but with a twist they will conduct the experiments themselves to see for them selves. Sadly for the religious movement many of those preachers jumped ship off the religion band wagon. Only to have the religious establishment try and cover up the ship jumping of the many. Charles Templeton – who was to take over for Billy Graham at some point, Bart Ehrman degrees from many bible universities and a past preacher. These are just a couple of many. Religion sadly with they way the words are written make it a sin to look outside the tunnel to see reality around. Just as Hitler had a natural gift of using words to move people so do the Bible and the Qur'an. It is call word patterns or in modern times Neuro-linguistic programming. It allows the ability to brain wash or manipulate people from hearing, seeing and feeling words when read or heard in a certain pattern. Some leaders have it naturally and used to to exploit the population and appear to have charisma (Ronald Reagan, Edgar Cacey even Obama uses it in his speeches today. Widely used in advertisement etc. Part of the training inside the CIA and FBI since the 60's.
    Today Science has finally surpassed religion but religions higher ups do everything to keep trying to oppress the followers from seeing the sciences and the results.
    Maybe some of the religious followers could take a trip to the Vatican and break into the forbidden library section that no man not even the pope is to go in. The works of all the top scientists 500 and 600 years ago that were older killed by the Vatican are probably in that library. Gee just around 600 years ago Christianity was forced on the people. If you were a parent at the time and your kids left the house and mentioned they don't believe or questioned the faith they would be killed without you even being present. Thus parents of the time were forced to brain wash the kids that everything is factual without question. And today about 20 generations later lots of people have been brain washed by parents who have been brain washed by grand parents and so on. Even the bible has been changed many times over the last 150 years with the definitions from the original scriptures. The end of the world is not in the original scriptures it is the end of the EON which means the end of the age not the end of the earth. The end of the Age of Pisces ( that fish symbol on the back of cars and moving to the new age of Aquarius in 2150). If one looks closely to the bible and all the works before it that are the same they all mention most of the astrological symbols that has been misinterpreted to serve self serving male power mongers of the times and today the world is full of misinterpreted events of the past and a lot of people suck inside a tunnel view and not open to looking around outside that tunnel. The earth is made up of mostly followers those ones are the are less likly to move outside the tunnel and be willing to research outside a single book. Just think another 100 years from now L. Ron Hubbard will be viewed as a god by many. SAD.

    Many will say that oh I know he exists because I felt his presents. That same feeling can be felt by focusing on a point of a needle or meditation. When one can gain focus on a single point (meditation, some fairy tale god, the Easter bunny, Santa Clause etc..) the brain is able to reduce stress levels and start loosing focus on the negatives around or in our lives. I prayed so hard god healed me. No you healed yourself with focus which caused your brain to reduce stress levels away from worry (Cancer etc..) which in turn allowed the natural ability of the brain to maybe increase the ability of sending say 800 antidotes per hours to try against cancer etc. where otherwise maybe only your brain would release 200 per hour because it is back logged processing stress and worry without focus. If your focus is religion then so be it but don't expect to force it on others who like to look around and beyond just one book.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Grammar

      This post was too long, so I did not read it

      May 24, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      Jesus offers eternal life here on earth… “I have come that they may have LIFE, and that they may have it MORE ABUNDANTLY.” John 10:10b, NKJV.

      And eternal life hereafter… “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. – John 14:3, NKJV.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • B-man

      get a life

      May 24, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  3. HFM

    this santimonious clown ranks high amongst the hypocrits who are on the air (radio or tv) trying desperately to separate widows and imbeciles from their money, all in the name of some deity....this lowlife dufus would not wager his bank account nor that of Family Radio on the his predictions....this dodo could not predict the winner of a one horse race.
    Yet morons across the country and perhaps around the world send Camping and FR buckets of cash, no doubt a large portion of which comes from social security and welfare...if Congress revoked their tax exempt status (odd, there is NO mention of god ordaining such a status for those who fleece the intellectually bankrupt) they would not be hawking their silly books, love cloths, blessed sanitary napkins nor their drivel on tape....

    May 24, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  4. Whitney

    I feel so sorry for those crazy people who are following this man! He doesnt know what he is talking about!!! The bible clearly says "but of that day and hours knowth no man, not even the angels in heaven, but only my father". Therefore the father has not even told Jesus when that day is, so im pretty sure he didnt tell Harold camping either! I dont believe that anyone but our father knows when that day will come. It also says he will come like a theif in the night so I dont believe it will be when anyone is expecting. this poor man and all who follow him should read their bible!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Bruce

      @Whitney: 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 10:28 am |
    • D

      Nah, we'd be better off if everyone put down that book once and for all.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  5. There are no gods

    This is the problem with religion, they are so focused on dying and living after death that they do not focus on living life to the fullest. Sad really.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      Jesus offers eternal life here on earth… “I have come that they may have LIFE, and that they may have it MORE ABUNDANTLY.” John 10:10b, NKJV.

      And eternal life hereafter… “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. – John 14:3, NKJV.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • sanjosemike

      Fidei Coticula Crux said: 'Jesus offers eternal life here on earth… “I have come that they may have LIFE, and that they may have it MORE ABUNDANTLY.” John 10:10b, NKJV. And eternal life hereafter… “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. – John 14:3, NKJV."

      Sanjosemike responds: Fidei, I know that you believe that quoting the bible makes something a truth. Please understand that many people here don't believe in your bible and regard it as complete nonsense, myself included. Do us a favor and don't quote the bible. It is a waste of words.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  6. MsLearning

    Prophets don't get to be wrong and they don't get "do overs" He's gotten it wrong twice already, why do people still believe in this demented profiteer?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  7. DK

    This guy ought to be in jail. Why isn't there a law against this? Put a sock in it!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  8. Slug

    Is there a mailing list for his followers published somewhere? When they are tired of buying into his crackpot ideas, I'd like to sell them some of my own.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  9. David Johnson

    The real chuckle here is, that Camping is only nuttier by degree than every other believer. Camping wants to set a date for Jesus' return. The other believers aren't willing to put it all on the line. They happily find bible verses that allow them to just go on believing their delusions.

    Cheers!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  10. David Torrest

    Maybe he is crazy...

    May 24, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Bruce

      Crazy all the way to the bank...

      May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  11. unafy

    This 90 year old man is just predicted his end of world. Dudes do not follow this man!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  12. just a thought

    CRAZY OL' FART IS WHAT HE IS LOL! Wonder what his excuse is going to be when Oct. 22 rolls around......

    May 24, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  13. Dave McGuire

    Mr. Camping, see a psychiatrist. Seriously. Please.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  14. Frank Blourtango

    The idiots are the people who listen carnival acts like this guy.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  15. Just another opinion

    Hip hop music these days is quite apocalyptic in nature as well. You're a lot easier to control if you're scared :) Peace

    May 24, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  16. Seph Kennedy

    He is false. No prophet, seer, or revalator knows the coming of Christ. Only the Father knows that. Although we CAN be sure of the place he will apear.

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

      Now we can't. It's just a story.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Vulpes

      Camping was sure as well ...

      May 24, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Bruce

      @Seph: 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 10:27 am |
    • Seph Kennedy, A.K.A, Mormon Boy

      We can be sure that Christ will appear in Adam Ondi Ahman, of that I believe with my whole soul.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Seph Kennedy, A.K.A, Mormon Boy

      @Bruce, I think that they DO believe in Campings word, even though it is false. They just dont see that it IS false.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Tammy

      you are so right! Bible says that not even the Son of God knows when He will return, and to beware of false prophets.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Bruce

      No, Seph: What they believe is that they have "read the bible for themselves" and have discovered that what Camping said is 100% true, and that they believe that they have discovered the biblical truth "with their whole soul." They have no doubts.

      That's the problem–they have no doubts. That seems to be your problem as well.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Seph Kennedy, A.K.A, Mormon Boy

      I think that I will search more into this, and find out what bible they're reading. Because they're reading a FALSE doctrine. Before Christ came to this Earth for the first time, the people became more wicked and more wicked. They practiced cults, they worshipped idols. There were leaders that lead the people away. This is as one of those groups. They believe in a false man, who claims to know all. You may object, 'He never said he knew all!' but it is true. He is saying he knows the timing of the coming of the Son. when even the Son knows not. He is either being mislead, confused, or hes lying.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • AV, TX

      Great point Seph, this guy is a false prophet, a true prophet is never wrong. A great reference for this is in Deu 18:22 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. For those that read this, please do not follow Camping, he claims to be following the bible but is not, please do not let this apostate lead you astray.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Seph Kennedy, A.K.A, Mormon Boy

      Thank you =)

      May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  17. Carlton

    Please shut up!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  18. John, TN

    The organized religions of the world are quite humorous. Please keep enertaining me!!! The same people believe evvolution is not based on scientific fact...I'll stop there.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Think

      As are you...I'm sure you have noticed, it is still referred to as the "theory" of evolution rather than the fact of evolution. Facts must be proven and this theory, to date, has not been. Perhaps you are confusing adaptation with evolution, common mistake. Matter, particularly bio-mass, cannot evolve from nothing. That is why this remains theory. There is no explanation of where any living organism originated in order to later evolve. You figure that out, and you just might be famous.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • william

      Think: You clearly don't know anything about science or about how it works.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • ed

      i believe in evolution, but its not a "scientific fact." please ask an educated person if it is a "evolution is a scientific fact" for clarification. Its comments like this that breed more ignorance. and the irony is that the flavor of your comment is not much different to this guy's, "the bible clearly teaches that the world will end 5/21/11."

      May 24, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Stevie7

      Think, gravity is also a theory. There is no fact of gravity. But I bet if you drop something, it doesn't fall up.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  19. Ruderalis

    This guys is so old, he'll probably die anyways in the next five months!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  20. Eric

    Classic cult leader manipulation.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:23 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.