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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. Actuarial1

    Can't wait till 10/22/2011 to hear the next excuse !!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  2. btinc

    Yes, everyone, let's keep that cash cow going for Camping. Never mind that there will be people who will continue to believe him, and this is his 3rd prediction of the Rapture's date.

    Burn me twice . . . never get burned again.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  3. David

    I agree with Mike. Shame on CNN for continuing to report on this guy. Let's focus on some real news and stop following a false prophet. This guy is a joke. If anyone continues to follow him after this past Saturday then they are just as nuts as this guy is. Again, shame on CNN. Stop giving this guy any kind of attention!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  4. Sharon

    The bible says- 'no man knows, not even the son, only the Father' to try and predict the end only shows how little about the bible this preacher knows. Yes Jesus will come back- anytime- not a predicted date.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  5. hebrews 135 ministries

    Matthew 24:36 NKJV

    “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Bruce

      Do you honestly think Camping never saw this verse, never addressed it?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  6. terry

    Delusional elderly man with dimentia... Enough already. Media: Move on....nothing to see here. People: Focus on Living and making a difference.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Not delusional

      Only he ain't so delusional as you may think! He's really raking in the dough!! Bet he's got much more than any of you put together have right now!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  7. Boston12

    Wait to we all see the media attention and those entrepenuers around the world looking to capture the Dec 21, 2012 headlines and world ending, thanks to the Myan/Aztec Calendars ending.
    Was that an acron that just fell on mmy head?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  8. Wow

    He looks mostly dead already. I think he's only predicting his own end.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  9. Terry

    Enough already. This guy's had more than his 15 minutes of fame. File him and forget him.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  10. Martyn Reno

    To retarded people: Every living thing in this universe has the right to exist and fight for existence whether it believes in a god or not. If any "god" or "alien" wants to come down to earth in 2011 to destroy everything then I will die knowing that I am a good person and that I believe that all life has the right to exist and find their own path in life. Self-reliance, courage, happiness, kindness, honest, etc... is what makes a human being noble - not what religion they belong to based out of a book that was written by a group of men thousand of years ago. I hope one day that people will find strength within themselves instead of focusing on a "god" to help them.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • J-Dubya

      "Good" people call others "retarded" all the time...well done.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Martyn Reno

      I never said that there is anything negative in being retarded. If there is a god then god invented retardation and there is nothing right with it. By replying to my comment you're insinuating that calling someone retarded is a bad thing. I'm sorry that you feel that stating an illness is a bad thing.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Reemo

      Martyn, "retarded" is a slur against people with Down Syndrome. There's nothing wrong with having Down Syndrome, but there is something wrong with calling them "retarded" for having it (or calling anyone retarded for that matter). What I'm confused about now, is who were you referring to when you started your first message with "To retarded people...?" Were you addressing people with Down Syndrome? Or were you just trying to insult people who believe in the Rapture? (Don't you just hate it when people see right through your crap?)

      May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  11. Rocky Road

    WHY in the world is this guy being giving any news space, let alone a headline, CNN? Why?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Madtown

      Unfortunately, it's because the story generates lots of comments. Look at all the comments! That means lots of people are visiting the website, which is good for business. That's it. The almighty dollar.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  12. No way

    Es puro pedo de este carbron, el mundo se va a acabar cuando te mueras. Este cabron esta loco.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  13. Reality

    Camping is insane as was JC. JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself."

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694

    May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Bruce

      Jesus was different from Camping in that he actually predicted something that came true. He predicted that all of the bad things and the good things (war, him coming back) would happen before his generation had passed. Within the next 40 years all of those things did come to pass. The Romans sacked Jerusalem. Jesus came back from the dead.

      Of course, this assumes (1) that the account of these prophecies is accurate and unaffected by the fact that the gospel was written after the facts of history actually took place, and (2) that Jesus actually rose from the dead.

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

      Saving Christians from the Resurrection Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      o p.4
      o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
      o p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  14. david

    Someone shoot this ass clown.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  15. croatoan

    I was taking bets the world would NOT end.
    How could I lose?
    If the world ended I'd pay them off?
    well........just another get rich quick scheme of mine.
    I couldn't find any takers.
    Croatoan

    May 24, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  16. Aa

    Can I just say the world won't end? Jesus is bringing heaven to Earth so yes, the world as we know it will end but for those who believe in Jesus they will still be living in a new Earth. Also, the Bible says that no one, not even Jesus or the angels, know when the 2nd coming will happen...what makes him think he's more important than Jesus that he's got it figured out??

    May 24, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  17. stevie68a

    Sigmund Freud called religion "a mental Illness", so very true.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  18. Mark

    What a jerk. What's he going to say on October 22 when we're all here? More calculations? The Bible was translated many times before it was presented in its present form. If there calculations to be made, they can only be done with the original transcripts. Try finding those, buddy. Besides, the Bilble is not up for mathematical interpetations, and it says nobody will know when Jesus will come back...especialy not simple human.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • LinCA

      Jesus, if he ever lived, is dead. He won't be back. Ever.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  19. cgreen64

    The guy doesn't represent all Christians and certainly not those born-again in his name. So please, I don't knock your faith, so don't knock mine and don't put us in Campings, CAMP! The rest of us know that WE DON"T KNOW when the second comming will happen. The Bible is not written in code!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Bruce

      Too many of you still subscribe to the "read the bible for yourself and discover the truth" technique that is the hallmark of Camping's movement, in spite of the exaggerated example of how wrong that technique can go.

      Once Christianity as a whole becomes more humble and admits that theology involves more than a man alone in his room armed only with his bible and his opinions, I'll stop lumping you all in with Camping.

      Camping is but a slight exaggeration of what you people say every single day.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  20. The Dude2

    Hopefully this idiot dies a slow, painful death.

    Bwahahahaha!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:56 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.