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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 • Faith Now

soundoff (4,998 Responses)
  1. Kiltlifter

    Maybe when those 2% to 3% of the people get taken to heaven we can finally have world peace here on Earth.

    Enough of the ol' malarkey!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Gop

      thats a great point. these bible nuts just are a lot of crazy people. our world would be better off without these God crap. I guess for some people living in a fantasy world is better then living in the real world.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  2. 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

    It's all about the benjamins

    May 24, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  3. Geo

    So, Harry... Do you have your contingency plans in order for your inevitable Oct 22 revision? No doubt you'll again claim to be technically correct, but that you didn't anticipate it to be an "invisible" (or yet another "spiritual") apocalypse. Don't worry, you'll still have plenty of followers to compliment you on your new "invisible" clothes.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  4. Kool Aid

    Please stop believing in fairy tales and start practicing critical thinking. Jesus is not coming back...you are not going to hell or heaven when you die...you are not going to be reincarnated into a lower/higher caste...Alah does not want you to fly airplanes into the sides of buildings...pork is not bad for you...etc, etc, etc....PLEASE WAKE UP!!!! Religion is what gives us idiots like the people who follow this guy!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Gop

      It is a shame there are only a few of us that do not buy into the dogma of Religion! things could only be better without Religion!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  5. Dave

    Is the end of the World clock set to Eastern or Central time??

    And isn't it already tomorrow in Mew Zealand?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  6. Damion Houston

    May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  7. katran

    You skipped the most callous part of his "sermon". Here's what he had to say for those who sacrificed their life's savings for his cause:

    ""We just had a great recession. There's lots of people who lost their jobs, lots of people who lost their houses... and somehow they all survived... We're not in the business of giving any financial advice. We're in the business of telling people maybe there is someone you can talk to, and that's God."

    His business, note. Not exactly a non-profit. And of course, not a scrap of compassion for those so-called "survivors."

    May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  8. James

    It was funny before and a good lesson for the credulous but now it's time to remember another fictional story called "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". You had your chance at the podium Harold. Now it's time for the sane people to speak.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  9. john

    This guy is a liar and a thief who if he isn't being investigated we're telling people this kind of behavior is acceptable, it's not.. The imbeciles who listen to this quack are either in on the scam or they're just plain stupid. I'm not politically correct when it comes to peoples beliefs in religion, you're all delusional, religion is a farce that preys on the ignorant uneducated people who are emotional and intellectual village idiots. This applies to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and all the freaky cults that are nothing more than bowel movements.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Salvatore

      Amen!!! I am tired of being diplomatic when it comes to this cancer called religion. People "see" the hand of god the same way I see images in the clouds; Neither exist but I don't spend the rest of my life following the big fish in the sky and pretending to know what it wants.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Slowgun

      "Amen"

      Religion is a business...it is all about power and greed.
      Why does the Pope have to live in a palace with priceless art work and walls made of solid gold? Jesus lived and died a paupor.

      "You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion."
      Ron L. Hubbard – Founder of Scientology

      May 24, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  10. Lanfear

    Don't the "end of the world" junkies realize that it is happening, gradually? They are so impatient, they want instant gratification. Sit back and enjoy, apocalypse takes time.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  11. Frank

    Wasn't it P. T. Barnum who said "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public"? I feel sorry for the folks who were taken in by this charlatan, but there's no accounting for stupidity.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  12. Lawrence Iverson Thompson

    The are never old. They are always brand new. Those three little words, "I was wrong."

    May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  13. Vlad

    CNN stands for Constantly Negative News...stupid News and non-interesting news...don't even pay attention, they are the only ones that spend time and effort on this....

    May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Slowgun

      You mean, aside from you posting about it?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  14. ben

    i think this guy just wants to die someone should do him a favor and murder him thats obviously what he wants

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

    First the religious kooks from Kansas who protest honorable soldiers funerals with no regard to their heroism for serving and dying. Then the kooks from Florida who burn the Qur'an with no regard to the danger that poses to our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim nations where they serve. Now we have the kooks from California who have a moving date for the end of the world. What they don't realize is that the world ended last January when the GOP took control of the House of Representatives.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Banana

      Someone should euthanize this old geezer.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  16. Rizengrom

    Prophecy from retired crack heads sounds just right! Here i got better prediction that will happen in five month, it's called " Mr. Camping in nursing home from brain-damaged people". But he is desperately trying to buy a ticket out of it.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  17. Morgan

    It's amazing what some people will do for attention. And what's even more amazing is that people will fall for this, too. He's a preacher. He should know better!

    "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."-Matthew 24:11
    "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." -Matthew 24:36

    May 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Right on Morgan!!!

      You are exactly right about no one knowing the day or hour but God. I guess that wasn't the part of the Bible he read that made him think he was qualified to teach or preach.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  18. Damion Houston

    I think people need to read Revelations in the bible or is everyone actually scared that they'll see that its happening

    May 24, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Dihan Fernando

      Jesus Christ will return to earth and that will be the day to look for. However, even Jesus Christ, the Son of The Living God, said " “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
      42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

      May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  19. Steve (the real one)

    Foolishness! Who still supports this guy? He has lied twiced and in the pocess raked in the cash, while people quit jobs, sell and give away their stuff. He was a false prophet back in 1994 when he first set a date. I think almost everybody on this blog knew there would be a do-over (for the second time). READ YOUR OWN BIBLES CHRISTIANS!!

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

      "READ YOUR OWN BIBLES" is exactly what Camping says. Why is it that his example doesn't serve as a warning to you that simply reading the bible for yourself does not work?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • 900-foot-tall Jesus

      People are afraid NOT to be fooled in case Jesus thinks they aren't trusting enough. One thing we know for sure from the Bible, Jesus likes sheep.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Dihan Fernando

      Read the Holy Bible! That is the only answer to all of these foolish people!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Bruce

      Dihan: Camping (and his followers) read the holy bible. It didn't help them.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Bruce
      "READ YOUR OWN BIBLES" is exactly what Camping says. Why is it that his example doesn't serve as a warning to you that simply reading the bible for yourself does not work
      ----
      In a very, very, very small since you are correct! We are to pray as well. In reading the Bible these people would known that setting dates is NOT scriptural. Reading the Bible (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit) DOES work! What you don't understand is Camping's desire is that people DO NOT read for themselves. That is why he can sucker people into quitting jobs and sell and giving away what they have. Have you read ONE time when Camping asked folks not to quit their jobs? Me neither! He will be held accountable! Not by man but by God!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      There is world of difference between just reading te bible and reading it with spiritual understanding. That ONLY comes by the Holy Spirit!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Bible Clown

      One of my co-workers had a spiritual crisis last year and quit to spend all day reading the Bible, saying he wanted to make up his own mind about it. I told him very seriously to be open to reading commentaries as well because reading the Bible all day all my yourself is a good way to end up on the roof shooting at people. Christianity is a community of like-minded people, and if most of them think you are wrong, then you probably are.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      900-foot-tall Jesus
      People are afraid NOT to be fooled in case Jesus thinks they aren't trusting enough. One thing we know for sure from the Bible, Jesus likes sheep.
      ---–
      Likes sheep? Nah! Try loves sheep! "Like SHEEP, we ALL have gone astray". That would include Me and you! "The Lord is my SHEPHERD". While you may have meant that as a jab, the term sheep is more than appropriate as it is scriptural!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  20. Matt

    I cant wait until Oct 22 comes around and we are still sitting here.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Dan

      There's no point in wishing your life away over this guy. Enjoy the limited time you have.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:45 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.