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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. FaithinChrist

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." (NIV, Mark 13:32-33)

    Camping must thave missed this verse. As a preacher who is supposed to preach the word of God as it is written, he failed his congregation. And to his congregation who followed him blindly, you put your faith in the wrong person. Human beings will let us down, we can be our own worst enemy and an enemy to each other. The Apocolypse or Doomsday, End of the World will come, definitely. We should all love nd respect each other as if it our last moments or breaths on this Earth. Don't worry about tommorow,
    Matthew 6:31-33
    So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

    Good words to live by.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Russ

      Yeah great words to live by, if you are okay with living in a box and never eating... and getting beaten with a sheep cane.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Barb

      You're so right! All very true!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  2. william

    Where do we send donations? Bwahahahaha!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  3. JayKayBee, New York, NY

    Wow . . . The good reverend Harold Camping wasn't chosen to be one of the 'raptured' this past Saturday. I guess he was left on earth with the rest of us evil people. That doesn't do much for his credibility.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  4. John Estes

    What a schmuck.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  5. tmichelle72

    I think this entire thing is so sad because at one point in our lives we all believed someone who either lied to us or mislead us adn the pain from that is still a part of us. We've all had boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, parents, political figures etc that we believed in lie to us and it hurt. The only focus I have on this sad story is the people, mistaken as they were, who believed this man and not the Word of God and now they are hurting and have to in some cases rebuild their lives. I know the negative comments on here also comes from some kind of pain but we should have some level of compassion for these people, we've all believed in someone or something that let us down at some point in our lives.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Barb

      You're absolutely right! Putting your trust in ANY man is a huge mistake we all have made. Trust in God alone – He will never leave you nor forsake you...Hebrews 13:5

      May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  6. Bobo

    Give the guy a break. He's 90 something years old and math is getting a little too tricky for him. Maybe he's just off a few decimal points and it will happen in 30,000 years.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  7. Grumpyoldlady

    How many of this guy's so-called followers (there's a REASON religion uses the shepherd/sheep analogy) are trying to slink away, get the lives they abandoned back, and pretend it didn't happen? It's all been done before anyway: google "Millerites."

    May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  8. Paul

    Forest Gump had it right," Stupid is as stupid does "...

    May 24, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  9. jon

    OK, see you all on the 22nd of October.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Kay

      Yeah, I think we are all getting a little tired of these Nut Bags ! They are a total joke. Next thing they are gonna do is start mixing the Kool Aid so they can MAKE it happen..... LOL. give me a break

      May 24, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  10. Phil Newton

    Go away.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  11. Katie

    *head desk*

    May 24, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  12. Guest

    Seriously????? Good grief.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  13. Jeff

    This guy needs to be put out to pasture or put down like any broken animal

    May 24, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  14. Christian

    As a Christian I stil do NOT understand how this "man" that supposedly knows his Bible can continue setting dates. He should know that no man knows the date or time, not the angels in heaven, not even the Lord Jesus Christ himself. When the Father is ready, He alone will tell the son when that time will be. Sure makes for a "very bad" Christian witness. It never fails that there are those of us that make bad choices and places a mark on Christianity. All that money should be doing what the WORD says to do. To take care of the homeless, widows, children, etc. And most of all to show the love that our Lord showed in dying for us so that we might have life, more abundantly and have Eternal Life. God Bless!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • AmericanGirl

      Very Well Said!!!! God Bless, and Amen!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Maine Liberal

      false profits (sic) anyone

      Deuteronomy 18 v 20

      20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded
      him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.”

      21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken
      by the LORD ?”
      22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not
      take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken.
      That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Bruce

      Christian, if you go to Camping's websites you will find that he addresses those verses head-on. He doesn't ignore them.

      He, like you, insists that people should not take him at his word, but rather "read the bible for yourself" and you will discover that he's telling the 100% bible-based truth. Why is it that his example does not serve as a warning to you?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Barb

      AMEN! Very well said! You have the correct response of a true Christian! May God richly bless you too!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Dennis

      As a regular, uninfected human being, I wonder how you could be so critical of Camping while believing all of the same entirely ridiculous stuff, minus the predictions.

      Religion reminds me of smoking; if you don't do it, it looks so dumb!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  15. Travis

    Religion is brain poison.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Guest

      No it's not. It's just this guy. He is poison.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Dennis

      Oh yes it is , Guest!

      You share most of the looney beliefs he does. The big take-away from all this publicity about Camping is that the theist's idea of good reasoning is this: Don't make predictions concerning our beliefs, because they can actually be tested.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  16. sunflower

    GALATIANS 6:7-- Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap
    MATTHEW 24:44 -– On this account YOU too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming
    MARK 13:32,33 ---Concerning that day or the hour nobody knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father.  Keep looking, keep awake, for YOU do not know when the appointed time is

    May 24, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • phearis

      PHEARIS 69:69 -Some people are just stupid attention wh0res.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Dennis

      In other words, Sunflower, you're too smart to say you know when your imagined being will do what your book says he'll do.

      You folks deserve the ridicule you get; unless you're a child, you ought to know better than to believe such silly fiction.

      Grow up, and think about how silly it is to quote a book in a public forum as though it settles the matter. Do you know how many theists are doing the very same thing everywhere, as if strange beliefs are more legit if you don't make predictions about them?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  17. dave

    "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible." Wow, its terrible that Mr. Camping feels completely absolved from any responsibility of misleading his own congregation. This guy is showing total disregard for the influence he holds over them, not realizing the emotional (or financial) impact he is burdening them with. Rather than deal with his own disillusionment, he chooses to further the problem by pulling yet another "end of world" date out of his behind. What math is even basing this on? Completely irresponsible. I hope his congregation has him removed from his position and replaced by a Paster who has a grip on reality.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  18. Martyn Reno

    FYI: "Camping said his company would not return money donated by followers to publicize the failed May 21 prediction. "We’re not at the end. Why would we return it?" / Mainstream Christian groups have distanced themselves from Camping's predictions.

    What a f'n snake. He's using religion to take people's money. For all we know he could be funneling the money into advertisement companies owned by his friends bhahahaha. I don't know if I feel more sorry for Camping or the naive people who gave him money bhahahahahaha.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  19. Concerned Non-Christian

    Also, if i had my way, Id make you accountable in court for damages to these young kids that your theories have traumatized. Im sure there are plenty of young pre-teen kids that love the thought of possibly being left behind to fight the dead right up to the moment that they die. Keep your ideas to yourself you self-serving phony

    May 24, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  20. ART

    This man is an idiot and so are the people that follow him.Is he related to Sarah Palin?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • phearis

      I wish there was a "Like" button.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Krreagan

      I'd say it's the syphilis of the human species. Eating away at the core of the human psyche.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Greg

      Camping founded Family Radio, a nonprofit Christian radio network based in Oakland, California, with about 65 stations across the country, in 1958. It received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009. I'd say the guys is pretty smart, I am sure a lot of this money went right into his pocket

      May 24, 2011 at 11:35 am |
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About this blog

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.