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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. Hello?

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36

    May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • TheBeatGoesOn

      I predict the world will end in 1 million years. There, now we don't have to worry for a while. Please make a donation this way. Thank you.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  2. Alex

    Well what did you expect? A retard cannot admit he is retarded. This moron will go on and on about the end of the world until the end of his world (he is 89 after all).

    May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  3. Juan Valdez

    What an idiot. His calculation was wrong?1?! Oops, sorry. Like he is predicting the weather or something. Good thing we didn't all panic and run for the hills. Now THAT would have been an apocalypse. Time for this guy to go in the ground, don't you think?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  4. Bruce

    You know, if everyone would just read the holy bible for themselves everything would be 100% super duper doubleplusgood.

    Because Camping never read the bible for himself, and his followers never read the bible for themselves–in fact Camping actively discouraged them from reading the bible for themselves, lest they find that verse talking about the day and the hour and whatnot. Yeah, that's what happened.

    [ /sarcasm ]

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  5. Marie

    Must be nice he can make so much money off of these morons who decide to follow him...Must be nice to lie for a living...Thank goodness he looks close to death...

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  6. Damion Houston

    People are still "Judging" this guy hmmmm did i say "Judging" this guy the only person who actually has the right to judge this guy is "God" so hmmm we did it again we are sinning "Seriously people" look at the signs "yeah he is a false prophet no we shouldnt be "Judging him. "allot of people think when "God comes he's going to be a loving god well yeah only for "HIS" people. Those people that dont believe are going to be left behind to drown in the lake of fire "Hmm yellowstone national park sits on top of the worlds biggest super volcano HMM Possible Lake of Fire" I'm saying now to my Father up in Heaven that i dont know if i'm right or if i'm wrong but i pray for every human sinners and non sinners where ever they may be or what ever they maybe doing that they shal get down to there knees and pray for this "Harold Camping" for he maybe going to hell.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Mr Phil

      I pray that the Flying Spaghetti Monster will someday reveal himself to you and bless you with the touching of his noodly appendage. Ramen!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  7. Joe

    You know, I used to wonder why the Romans fed the first century Christians to lions... Now I know why.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  8. js

    he predict his own death on oct.21,2011....he's just simply NUTS

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  9. DAM

    This is a scam. It is a money making scheme, to get people that are down and out, have no self esteem, to follow his crazy BS. If he get one more dollar from this scheme, he should be prosecuted for fraud....then sent to a nut house.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  10. Eric

    I can't believe I wasted my time reading this crap. What a moron. I hope people don't actually believe this lunatic.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  11. Cindy Hill

    Now, this should be a lesson to everyone who is listening to insane preachers.....Just read the Bible yourself...and find a preacher who is not trying to figure out what God said No One Will Know !

    May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  12. Joe

    Put this f***ing con artist in jail.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Nothing he's doing is against the law. You can also claim that a sky man is going to kill us, and ask for money to help him do it. But YOU have to pay taxes.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I agree with the con artist description, but unfortunately there is no law against claiming to know God and/or his will, or taking people's money because of it. Can you imagine how many people would be in jail if they had to substantiate their claims? Wouldn't be enough iron in the world for all the steel bars.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • HotLips

      He'd make a good politician or weather man.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  13. Curtis Candy

    It's October now? - NICE!! – We've got a trip to Disney planned for September, so now it looks like we'll get to go! – I was really worried otherwise, as all our reservations don't have Apocalypse insurance.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  14. DOUG

    It would not surprise me at all if Harold Camping is an atheist.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Bible Clown

      It would surprise me. Generally this kind of cult is powered by the intense belief of one person: "I REALLY DID go up in a UFO and they told me that the REPTOIDS FROM FAR BELOW THE EARTH'S SURFACE are the only REAL CHRISTIANS."

      May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bruce

      You think he could pull it off? That's quite a compliment to think he could be as convincing as Camping is if Camping doesn't actually believe what he's saying.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • J$

      Agreed. 80 Million dollars in four years!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  15. Nancy M. B.

    This guy is like the "Little Engine That Could"! "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can - order the Apocalypse! Maybe if I try hard enough, it actually will happen!" Well, ya gotta give it to the guy - he may be nuts but he sure doesn't give up easily!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  16. Jessica V

    I can't wait to hear the excuse for why the rapture didn't happen in October. What is he going to say next time? Oh sorry God wasn't in the mood for a rapture today, wait another 5 moths, THEN it will happen, I know it. Hahahahahaha. (:

    May 24, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  17. Vetericus

    Nimrod.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  18. wearejustparticles

    CNN, do us all a favor and STOP paying these crack pots any attention, ya nerds!

    May 24, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Madtown

      They won't. Not as long as any story generates this many comments. Numbers game. More comments = more advertising exposure = more money for CNN.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • ToooCrazy

      I am Making my prediction, that this man will pass away of natural causes by October 21, 2011, that will be his doomsday !!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • J$

      yea...& maybe all of his followers will too!! Wouldn't be such a bad thing!! (just sayin...;)

      May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  19. Ed

    The real call is to be ALWAYS prepared...I'm sure that many in Joplin Missouri discounted the May 21 "prophesy" but little did they know that a tornado would take their life the following day.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Ptah

      So, just where was your man made god saving those people's lives during the tornadoes?

      Was it out getting drunk again? Was it sitting in an office with its feet propped up an a desk, drinking coffee and eating donuts?

      Just where was your man made god?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Shawn

      Ed how dare your try to relate this to the tornado in Jopplin. Disasters happen all the time and have nothing to do with this false prophets predictions.
      No man knows the time we only know the signs.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      So, when he says the world will end, what he means is a tornado will strike Joplin, Mo.? That's really weak, man.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  20. Rabid Rabbit

    Bad news, folks, the rapture DID occur on May 21. If you're still here, well, you know what that means.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Bible Clown

      We will miss all four people who went to heaven.

      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.