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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. RixR

    Hey, Harold- It's not gonna happen. You're wrong, and you'll continue to be wrong.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  2. Nothing New

    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, so do not be alarmed.

    Dueteronomy 18:22

    May 24, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Stevie7

      So what does that say about jesus' saying that his predictions would come true before his generation would pass?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  3. Noel

    Mr. Camping is teaching his interpretation of the bible. There are many interpretations and we have many churches to prove it. Sometimes the leader gets lost and does not want to admit it to his followers. His followers need to wake up already...

    May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  4. Mark

    This guy (and whoever follows him) are complete idiots!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  5. Campaigning on how the world wont end

    INSTALLING RAPTURE.
    ███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE.
    Install delayed....please wait.
    Installation failed. Please try again. 404 error: Rapture not found.
    EVENT "Rapture" cannot be located. The rapture you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Hmmmm so only 200 million are going so that pretty much leaves every adult behind since children would obviously be taken first.Maybe he missed that too as well as the part where no one knows the time... Ignorance is bliss

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

      I wish there was a like button

      May 24, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Ryan

      This would make for a good second city skit.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Campaigning on how the world wont end

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

      Peace...

      May 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • catmandu

      LOL
      Great, I love it!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Noel

      Nice!! I like!!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  6. A guy who hates stupidy

    idiots

    May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  7. Tim

    Three words for this guy: Bat Poop Crazy.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  8. Anotherdayjustbelieve

    "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me..."

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

      Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  9. God

    Seriously Harold. Just stop. This whole thing went from humorous to pathetic a while ago. Stop using ad hoc defensive mechanisms in my name.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  10. Ryan

    Howard Camping is an @sshole! People who listen to this dip (fill in blank) are just as stupid.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  11. Michelle

    CNN please stop presenting the rantings of the mentally ill as front page news.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  12. Vic

    You just HAVE to love how sheepish religious people are. Doesn't matter what religion; they're so easily manipulated.

    Obviously, not everyone's like that but enough of them to part with their money, life savings, sometimes. One could make a very good living cunning these people.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  13. Whitney

    The rapture already happened, and none of us made the cut.

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

    Just a gentle reminder to those who are hurting GOD IS LOVE.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  15. W

    The bible says NO ONE will know the end of time

    May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • sbp

      Is there a requirement that someone posts this every 2 minutes?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  16. Steve

    HOW TO TELL IF A PROPHET IS FALSE ?

    It doesnt get easier, if we only heed Gods Counsel, It is Written : If they speak not to the Law or the testimony, there is NO LIGHT in them. ISA. 8: 20

    There goes the whole zoo. ( I hope you really get this)

    May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  17. Martin

    What a lowlife this guy is. Its not enough he got a bunch of suckers to waste their life savings on his ridiculous claims, now he's trying to do it again to more people And of course his so called "church" and radio network are raking in millions.

    Anyone who listens to this scam artist deserves to lose whatever the spend based on his words or whatever they send to his organization.

    STUPIDITY MARCHES ONWARD

    May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  18. ReligionIs4Dolts

    If at first your dumbsday prediction fails, TRY, TRY AGAIN!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  19. RAWoD

    Harold: go away. Even if it means offing yourself...go away. This world is tired of your stupidity and your "next world" doesn't exist.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  20. Todd

    This fool will keep adjusting the date until either we stop paying attention to him (which is why he's doing this in the first place) or the world actually ends (in which case he won't even be able to point out how he was right).

    May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • DeJesus

      LOL!! I love you, Todd! LOL

      May 24, 2011 at 11:58 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.