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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. Alenas

    So inconvenient for me! Now we won't have Christmas or Thanksgiving! Thanks a lot Harold!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Stevie7

      And worst of all – no Halloween! I humbly suggest that we move Halloween about two weeks forward so that we can all gorge ourselves on sugar before the end.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  2. Anna Gavel

    this is not true at all, why are you gonna believe this twit?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  3. Palm Coast guy

    WHEN ARE PEOPLE GOING TO STOP LISTENING TO THIS CON MAN? He is the greedy, self-absorbed, leader of a cult – nothing more. What is he doing to help all the people that gave away or sold all their possessions (many to his "church", at his profit no doubt!)? He needs to be put in jail for what he has done to many, many innocent people.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  4. The Tweed

    Idiot Camper. You sir are a false prophet and you will burn in hell !

    May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  5. David

    Here we go again.....

    May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  6. Gladys

    This is what happens when you read a book. It gets to you.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  7. Steven

    This is another fine example of American bias in favor of Christians. If this guy were a Muslim and he predictied that Washington D.C. was going to be bombed to the Stone Age, he would be arrested, but under the divine protection of our country's favorite belief system, he can make riciulous and irresponsible predictions that create business shutdowns and emotional chaos, and he suffers no worse than to be called a harmless kook... and one who will be taken seriously again.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Geo

      If he were Muslim and predicted that Allah was going to destroy the world, he would be allowed the same freedom to be the nutcase he is. If as a Christian he predicted that DC would be bombed into the stone-age, I suspect he would be treated the same as as any Muslim - probably neither would be arrested, but both would likely be questioned to determine if he is a serious threat. One is free to predict you'll burn in hell, but it's different when one predicts you'll be torched in your own yard.

      So what were you saying about bias?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • fuzzy bumgardener

      really this is the same as a person saying they are going to blow somte thing up. I see know were in any of this that he said HE was going to do anything to anybody. He was predicting the end of the world. The same thing as the Mayans....wait let's go arrest the Mayans as well

      Heck I think theis guy is a nut job, but there was nothing in anything he did that was threatening to ANYBODY or ANYTHING!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  8. ronna

    Why is this news. This guy needs therapy.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Anna Gavel

      he has failed already four times on his attempts. i think the oldness is getting to him!!

      May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • wishwash

      The people who give him all their money need therapy. Pure nonsense.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  9. John B.

    i don't know what you all are talking about. i was raptured up on saturday!!!! it wasn't at 6pm though, it' was about 11:30PM. took me most of the day sunday to get sober again, but....

    May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  10. ThatOTHERdrunk

    if its only 2-3% how do we know they have not already and gone and camping was left here with the rest of us ?

    Better question who is attending the Rave at Grave on the 21st!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  11. nick

    Crazy old man , why is he even giving media attention ???

    May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  12. Banana

    someone should euthanize him....NOW

    May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  13. tyler durden

    Camping – please, stop spreading your message. It is false and damaging to the children who read and cant know what kind of fool you are. Please, please just be quiet.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  14. 20somethingnobody

    stop giving him press! seriously – he is an idiot & probably making more money when you write about him!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  15. Christian

    Ephesians 5:22 – "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (NIV)
    I Corinthians 10:22 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." (NIV)
    Yes some actually read their own bibles. We learn who God Almighty is this way. We learn of HIS character this way. We have our own personal relationship this way along with prayer. Everyone who is looking for any answers in life can find them here, in HIS word. Those that wish to remain as they are have that choice, free will. God bless you!

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

      "HIS" word, just written by someone who's not "HIM". Got it.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Bob

      Wives submit to your husbands? Are you Fng kidding me? Take your religion and go bother someone else. You are a fool....Your "god' is a hypocryte.....read: Isaiah 13:15-18 ....and when you are done F-Off....

      May 24, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Christian

      There really is no difference between Mr. Camping and his followers and the christians who actually believe that there will be a 'rapture.'

      It's all a matter of 'when' for you guys. The only difference really is that Mr. Camping picked a date... and you true bible believing christians just 'know' the bible is 'truth'... and it 'will' happen someday, "just a matter of time."

      Again, you guys are two sides to the same coin in reality.

      Peace...

      May 24, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Joe

      Unfortunately, that is where most peopl stop reading. Men stop reading and say that wives are supposed to submit to them. Women stop reading and think the bible is telling them to be subserviant. THe Bible goes on to say this:

      Eph 5:25-28
      Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

      Men are commanded to love there wives as themselves, as Christ loved us. Women are not to submit in the sense of being subserviant, but are to follow as their husband leads. And how should a husband lead? In love, following Christ's example. What was Christ's example of leadership? He led by serving!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Hillcrester

      Men, who write history and create laws, have always used that power to dominate women. What else is new?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  16. Perry

    teach me how to douggie.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  17. Joe P

    Why would ANY REPUTABLE news organization give this crackpot the time of day. You would have a more interesting story if you interviewed a 7 year old. Please find someone in your organization who is interested in developing a smidgen of credibility. This idiot is just that– AN IDIOT– and we should never hear from him again. CNN– if you think this is real news you need a major re-organization

    May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Madtown

      You're correct Joe. However, look at all the comments this story has generated! That's the bottom line. Hundreds of comments means a lot of activity to the website, which pleases advertisers, which means more money for CNN. Doesn't matter what the story is, as long as people continue to comment like this, CNN will run it. See anything about $arah Palin for another good example.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  18. Paul

    Hey, No Rapture, you are wrong about the Bible not mentioning the Rapture. I can't remember if it calls it the Rapture, but it mentions it. A very brief description of the rapture is found in the Bible - 1 Thessalonians 4 - and is supported in other passages. Unfortunately, the Bible is ambiguous about exactly when the rapture will occur.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  19. 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 11:44 am |
  20. Jimmy LEE

    This article should show in CNN MONEY instead of CNN RELIGION.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:44 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.