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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. Fuyuko

    Alright, preacher. If the world is going to end, sell all your stuff and give it to charity. Afterall, you don't need it anymore do you?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  2. Jesus

    For the love of god, somebody stop this man!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  3. Robert

    The sad part is that there are seemingly so many well meaning but misguided followers that allowed Rev. Camping to do their thinking for them. If I could broadcast just one message to everyone in the world it would be "dare to think for yourself".

    May 24, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • U.S.Army-OverLord

      You get ONE SHOT to predict the end of the world... One you screw that up you are either a Con Artist or a False Prophet!!!

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

    Seems to be an error in reporting as usual. I am not and will not become an endtimer, but the original prediction stated May 21 would be the rapture and the world would end on Oct 21. Lets get it straight or did this false prophet release another false prophesy?

    There have been end timers since Paul and none of them has been correct and none will.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  5. OregonTom

    If there is a God he doesn't want you to follow him.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  6. Mike in KC

    There are people in Joplin Missouri and up and down the Mississippi whose world has ended, and we are giving lipservice to a religious nutjob like this?
    Seriously, come on. He is a quack who has nothing better to do than spout his made up beliefs. I am a Christian, raised in a preacher's home. The Bible is clear that no one knows the hour when the Son of Man cometh. I don't think God is really going to make an exception for this guy.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  7. Grumpster

    This guy is Jim Jones, but without the Kool-Aid. If you saw him on the news, you saw his lies coming out from behind his smirk and fake pearly white teeth. Why'd he need all that dental work if Jesus would have taken him up?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  8. mark kali

    If he really believes this next day is really the one, he should have full confidence to make some sort of agreement as to what he'll do if he's wrong again. I'd suggest a self-immolation agreement.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  9. Neha

    He figures that the will hit bullseye one of these days...

    May 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  10. The truth

    Harold Camping is a charlatan, and people who listen to him are fools.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  11. MrsFudd

    The audacity and arrogance of Harold Camping knows no bounds! Anyone who listens to this doddering old fool deserves what they get. Anyone who would quit their jobs, sell their homes and wait around for Jesus to come back after this fiasco on May 21st is a very foolish person and should be studying their Bibles on their own and attending a good Bible teaching church. There are NO Bible codes! Jesus was very clear when He said that no man knows the day or the hour, and that His second coming would be like a thief in the night. I guess Mr. Camping doesn't read those portions of scripture. I sure hope people are much more discerning come October, and will stop giving credence to this false prophet.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  12. BL

    Amazingly childish that this would be stated, reported and believed by so many. It truly is a "doomsday" of stupidity and spiritual infantilism

    May 24, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  13. Bob

    So he, and his followers, just conveniently forget the Bible passage that states that "No One knows the day or the hour"?
    It's amazing how many Bible Thumpers don't follow the Bible.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • cindy

      Exactly!! People who proclaim to be Christians need to study the Bible so when a whack job like this comes along, they will know fact from fiction.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • dee

      i agree

      May 24, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  14. dee

    there is a kook in every religion,, sometimes theres more than 1 kook.. lol anyways , i do believe that all thing come to an end but no one ever knows when or how. and what about all these "psycics" who say they can foresee the future and can see and feel the signs of things to come... not one of them are saying anything about the end of the world either... ... also everyones world comes to an end unfortunatley , when we die.. if i got into a horrific car accident because of a drunk driver tomorrow (god firbid) and i died, there goes my world, gone. why worry about when the world is going to end,, u gonna stress urself out,, live your life everyday, have fun, smile, play with your kids, whatch them smile, work so u can get the things your children, neices and nephews want,, try to get those things ur parents want that would make them happy , they wanna be happy too before they pass. this is why i dont have cable.. i hvae tvs and a ton of dvds, most of them are educational dvds and shows that my 3 kids love watching , why subject urselves and ur family to the negetivity all around us.. i understand knwowing whats going on in the world but when u let it depict how u live your life its a different story.. people are stressing out everytime they watch the news,, this is what ive seen... im not for all this negetivity,, everything i allow in my life will be positive... for myself and my family... sooooo go out and live life and have fun with your loved pnes and friends.,, make the best of every single day.

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

      dee, in general I agree with your post however, ignoring the the "negetivity" [sic] doesn't stop it from happening nor does it prepare your children for adulthood when they are beyond your protection.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  15. SillyT

    ..."the department of homeland stupidity has just changed the Apocalypse warning to green"...

    May 24, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Peace2All

      @SillyT

      LOL...!!! Excellent...! :-)

      Peace...

      May 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  16. Bob Ross

    Why is the press even covering this idiot? Enough, already!

    Bob in Beaufort

    May 24, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  17. CHERRYPIEGUY

    I wish all of you religious freaks would follow this typical moron over a cliff and let us true evolved human beings start cleaning up the planet. Global warming is what is causing all of the cataclysmic weather and the religious fools are claiming its the wrath of god.........you know......the fairy in white flowing robes that floats around the universe inventing planets. GET REAL MY FELLOW MONKEYOIDS........GOD IS THE DREAM OF INSECURE HUMANS THAT ARE SCARED OF THE DARK!

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

      Truly evolved? You haven't evolved beyond playground name calling tactics.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • BILBO BOOMERBOTTOM

      Right on target,dude (or dudette?)."Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"-Carl Sagan

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

      So one is either religious OR logical? I believe in Climate Change (it's not "global warming" really but an overall change in the Earth's climates), I believe in God. Can your brain not grasp that there are things out there for which we currently have no proof, no explanation? You can't just 'believe'? You are a sad little atheist, always demanding proof.

      And evolutionary record shows that primates descended from a common evolutionary path – in other words, we are not descendants of monkeys; more like 'cousins' because of a shared ancestor.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  18. Guillermo

    Please don't stroke his ego any more. Remove his predictions for the rapture and try to stick to real news. Of course, when it's politicians foibles, let them appear.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  19. Harish Tailor

    I am feeling sad for the people who follow this religiously blind man and make their life hell. I just do not understand them. Why cannot we stop running after an illusion about heaven and hell which no one has ever seen. If you look at the history of this earth, it had been many times destroyed and life sprung up again. It’s a law of nature that anything is alive today it has to go one day. So please stop worrying about dooms day and focus on good Karma so we can make our home (Earth) a heaven.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Paulette

      Thank you for your posting. It says all...

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

      very well said .

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

      Harish Tailor, good post.

      As an aside, how long has it been since you have seen three people agree with a single post? Surely a sign of the end times?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  20. CommonCents

    Reminds me of the preacher from Blazing Saddles....

    May 24, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • SillyT

      ha ha! good one! matthew, mark, luke, and...DUCK!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:21 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.