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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. CULT

    If his followers don't know by now that he is a FALSE prophet then they are already doomed, blind leading the blind they both fall into a ditch Matthew 5:14................ <>
    New International Version
    34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

    35“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

    May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • CULT

      mark 13;34-35

      May 24, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • CULT

      Mark 13:33-35 (New American Standard Bible)

      33"Take heed, (A)keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.

      34"(B)It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.

      35"Therefore, (C)be on the alert–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or (D)when the rooster crows, or (E)in the morning–

      May 24, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  2. james

    This old fool needs to be Hung for everything he has and continues to cause. People actually killed themselves at six pm that day since they thought they weren't chosen. That's ashame, I hope he burns in hell. This guy went to a public elementary school telling little kids about this, he should be sued by the parents for preaching religion in school and for scaring these kids. Half of them went home crying saying they don't want to burn in hell.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • jeru0455

      I believe that's called... wait for it... evolution

      May 25, 2011 at 3:17 am |
  3. Stephen

    I don't know what's worse....Camping using the Bible to predict the end of the world, or the other idiots who are using Bible passages to prove him wrong. When are people going to realize that the Bible is a piece of fiction written by men thousands of years ago simply to keep people in under control?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • TheCaribQueen

      blah. you're c r a z y, aren't you?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Stephen O'Neal

      Bibles not all fiction, but certainly corrupted. There are more effective bases to communicate with the 'greater community.' Healthy incredultiy is good, but 'Zeitgeist,' for instance, misses the most important points. The ancient inscriptions are hardly all fiction, but we do have a mess on our hands, and require forms of intelligence not seen for quite some time, to overcome this. What say ye bretheren, that we should perhaps try? Mathematics and 'spiritual' do unify in very powerful metaphors, as we see in certain scriptural passages as they relate to higher forms of logic, reducing neither the analytic rigor nor the beauty perceived in the living being. This the spirits tell us unambiguously, if we ask them of it. So much more to discuss, really. Peace. Shalom, ///////\.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  4. The Woof

    No man knows when this sysyem of things will end but God Himself. Even Jesus stated that in the Bible but he did give the signs to show that the present system of things were on the way to ending. His best advice to His followers were to be on the watch! Don't be caught off guard. To beware of those falsely presenting themselves and having knowledge. I believe this with all my heart and thereby I just try and be the best follower of the Truth as I can be.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  5. Observer

    “There’s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says: fool me once, shame
    on, shame on you, if you fool me, you can’t get fooled again” - George W. Bush

    May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  6. ihaveabridgetosellyou

    So....
    Rapture tomorrow: heresy/lunacy
    But..
    Rapture TBD: Reasonable faith.
    Gotcha.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • LinCA

      @ihaveabridgetosellyou. If you find someone to buy that bridge from you, can you forward their contact info? I have some prime beach front property in Kansas that I need to sell.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  7. MARK

    THIS GUY IS A WACK JOB. HE SHOULD HAVE HAD A SEAT WITH THE OTHERS FROM HEAVENS GATE! ANYONE WHO HAS READ OR STUDIED THE BIBLE KNOWS THAT THE WORLD WILL END ONE DAY AND THAT NO MORTAL BEING CAN PREDICT WHEN IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. THIS IS JUST A WAY FOR THESE NUT CASES TO GET ATTENTION FROM THE MEDIA AND A WAY TO MILK OTHER SIMPLETONS OF THEIR LIFE SAVINGS. WHAT WILL THIS LOON DO IN OCTOBER WHEN THE END DOES NOT COME? SAY HE MADE ANOTHER MATHMATICAL MISTAKE. HOPEFULLY HE IS TAKING A REFRESHER COURSE IN MATH RIGHT NOW. HE SHOULD HAVE DONE IT YEARS AGO WHEN HE FAILED HIS FIRST MATH TEST AND WE ALL SURVIVED HIS PREDICTION.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  8. Wil

    NO MAN KNOWS THE DAY OR THE HOUR! The Lord SPECIFICALLY did not give a time specifically because he wants people to live for TODAY and TODAY only. The Lord does not want people to dwell on future events but live for him IN THE PRESENT.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  9. BRIAN!!

    This guy just needs to die already. STFU Camping!! I think being alive through both World Wars, The great depression, Y2K, and everything else shut up!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  10. Joe

    Man I hope the media doesn't cover this for the next 5 months, if they do I will be rooting for the end to happen myself.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  11. Bob

    Well...this time he's not spending any money on advertising and such. What is he going to do with 80 Million+ then? He needs to be investigated...and then have his balls ripped off for convincing illiterate sheep to give up their life savings and homes to spread his lies.....idiot. Religion needs to be abolished....and those who go around preaching for money should be hung.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  12. Paul Bunyon

    Jesus, look at him, he isn't going to see October 1st, 5th, or even 20th. He looks like the Crypt Keeper...he'll be lucky if he makes it to June 21st!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • mfsb525

      Ok Paul...I'm done with this blog. ROTFLMFAO. Good one.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  13. Ric M

    I'll check back with him on October 22nd and as how he's doing. Then again he's old and delusional, likely the onset of something that will be his demise well before then.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  14. Johann1654

    False Prophet. I feel sorry for the weak minded fools who follow him. God loves them though.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  15. Cristina

    Why is this guy getting news space in the first place????

    May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  16. Cliff Gardner

    For those who weren't paying attention the first time, Judgement Day was to be this Saturday followed by 5 months of God monitoring and judging those who take heed to the message and delivering his final separation of just and unjust. In Camping's eyes, the world was never to end on Saturday–just the opening event (Earthquake–or lack thereof). To his credit, he has been saying October 21 will be the LAST day in History since 2006. Personally, I try to live and touch lives b/c I don't know if I'll make it through this day, crazy things can happen to us in life. Just making sure the article doesn't get misinterpreted like what was done this time. He had a open discussion with press for an hour and a half last night talking about it. The press seemed to take it better than I thought, maybe CNN should have dropped in.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • mfsb525

      And yesterday the good "preacher" was jus "flabergasted" and didn't know "why or how" he got the date wrong.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • nerve9

      You know what...fine. FINE! Continue with your ridiculous crusade. At least there won't be anymore annoying billboards or fliers to pollute the Earth. At least this time, he's going to keep his craziness to himself.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Bob

      .....And what of the 80 Million he or his group of sheep have gained from all this? He's not going to advertise with billboards again....so what is going to become of all the money??? He's flake and so is everyone who believes this crap.....Religion is a thing of the past when people were ignorant and couldn't think for themselves.....time to move on.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  17. 2cents4free

    Let's stand back and watch the media get "Trumped" by this bozo.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  18. Erin

    Extreme religious nuts will still flock to him, like flies to a turd.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  19. areukiddingme

    i dont know why all this didnt happen in may?
    May 21, 2+1=3. there are 3 parts to the trinity. there were also 3 letters in may. May 21st was Notorious B.I.G birthday, what does BIG stand for? Believe In God. Add the O from October to May and you get MAYO like in MAYOnaise. Mayonaise is full of CALories,,, like in CALifornia. and who was the governor in CALifornia? Arnold S,,, and what did he play in? Terminator 2,, JUDGEMENT DAY.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I just dont know how it didnt happen,,,,, I mean,,,,,, the math,,,, its all there,,,,,hummmmm

    May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Erin

      LOL

      May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • 2cents4free

      LMAO!!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Paul Bunyon

      LOLOLOOLOOLOLOL

      May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Iconoclast

      ROTFLMAO!! You are such a genuis...giggle

      May 24, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Nonimus

      lol

      May 24, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • beelzebubba

      Most clever post I've read in years. You, sir (or madam), are a genius.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Angelique

      LOL Too freaking Funny

      May 24, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • beelzebubba

      You could out-convolute Glenn Beck's paranoid 'reasoning'... have you contacted Crox News network?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • James

      HAHAHAHA!!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Really?Seriously?

      This is the best post ever! You could have gone on forever with this "analysis"! I have copied your comment and posted to my friends...giving you full CREDIT!

      Sincerely,

      Really? Seriously?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Tess

      jajajajajajajajajajajajaj...jaja...ja

      May 24, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  20. HoosierMessiah

    It takes really large cajones to publicly display one's ignorance and lunacy in such an enthusiastic manner. Glad I'm not on that CAMPING trip...

    May 24, 2011 at 11:02 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.