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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. carlos

    I just hope this moron doesn't die before October, so he can once again revise the date.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  2. ToooCrazy

    Sorry old Chap, 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 12:04 pm |
  3. Nathan

    The reason this guy is not in jail is because due to the millions of idiots listening to him and believing him it fuels our economy and people will buy stuff in preparation. I think he needs to be given three dollars for a condom put in jail and try not to catch something from inmate Harry.

    Where is Chuck Norris when you need him so you can set this guy straight.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  4. AG

    CNN for the love of God, stop promoting this con artist!!!!! Sheesh

    May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Also Agnostic

      Yep...it's time to call out religion for what it is...nice myths that allow people to associate themselves with common groups. let's just all root for the Redskins instead..!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • The Agnostic

      Could not agree more. Blind, unthinking faith, with no attempt to apply intellectual or rational thought is what the religions of the world bank on, and have for thousands of years. The sheep herded by the shepherds crook, the fear of eternal damnation of the soul....such is their stock in trade. Sadly, it has been an effective marketing campaign that is deeply entrenched in our society and culture.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  5. Rob

    Darn, you mean I'll have to mow the lawn all summer after all!? Someone informed me that I'm not going anywhere when the time comes anyway.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  6. mizh

    Then next year he'll say, February 21! No, I meant May 17! Oh wait, December 30.... jeez. Anyone who listens to/believes this clown should have their head examined.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • TheBeatGoesOn

      I predict the world will end on May 17, 2999. Dont be concerned cause non of us will be here. Please send a donation this way. Much oblige.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  7. Bob

    I don't think anyone can judge Mr. Camping or his intentions, or anyone for that matter. God and Jesus is something slightly different to everyone on this world. Love is the common trait we should all have – do on to others as you would have them do onto you. These are solid lessons that we can all learn from. I believe in Heaven and God, and I believe his son Jesus was sent to earth to die for my sins. If you do not believe this you can still believe in Love and doing well by your fellow human beings. After all this is what makes us uniquely human. If the rapture is tomorrow, a thousand years from now or never comes – love one another!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • samurai_lincoln

      GTFO

      May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Bob
      I don't think anyone can judge Mr. Camping or his intentions, or anyone for that matter
      --------
      Sorry Bob but you are incorrect. Camping Said "God said..." when God did not. He is a false prophet twice over and now is setting another date for the third time. Yes he is to be judged. The Bible calls him a false prophet! He is destroying lives and is disobedient to the scriptures. Somebody is going to say what about thaty judge not or you wil be judged thing. Peopel need to read that closely. It is concerning judging someone when the judge is doing the SAME thing. In short it concerns hypocritical judgment!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  8. The Agnostic

    You know, my buddy Sasquatch and I were sitting around making some new tin foil hats and discussing this rapture thing. Geez, what an idiot to believe anything this guy says. Oh, by the way, did you hear they finally deciphered the crop circles? Really good stuff.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  9. trulyblessed

    WOW!!! smh, BEWARE......of false prophets...that's all I can say!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  10. Stimpage

    By the look of this turd, his own Doomsday is coming quite some time before then.....

    May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  11. Salvatore

    Anyone who actually reads the whole bible and doesn't become an Atheist is only kidding themselves. The bible is like a large pepperoni, sausage, cheese, maggot, chlorine and rusty nail pizza. You pick off the pieces you like and throw out the rest and say it was a great pizza. But you don't stop there... then you recommend it to all of your friends.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      “But as it is written:

      “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
      Nor have entered into the heart of man
      The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

      But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

      THROUGH HIS SPIRIT: Only the Holy Spirit could reveal the truths of God (2 Peter 1:19-21). KNOWS… KNOW: The first verb refers to innate knowledge: the second refers to experiential knowledge. We could never have discovered the mysteries of God or the benefits of Christ’s death by ourselves. But we can know them by experience because they have been FREELY GIVEN TO US BY GOD.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Salvatore

      SHEEP!!! Stop posting quotes from the bible! It offers no real information. This is supposed to be the instruction manual for human salvation? I see your words... they are blah blah blah blah. Have your OWN thoughts and ideas, not those of ancient peoples who thought that the world was flat and the stars were lights hanging in the firmament and the moon was a lesser light. Please... Really? Really?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • The Agnostic

      Yes, the cross might the touchstone of faith (translation of your Latin screen name). The more important question is the value of the underlying faith to those who believe. Most religions are useless. You might as well use a shepherds crook to control the masses. It is all blind, unthinking, irrational belief.

      "Faith... must be enforced by reason.... When faith becomes blind it dies." ~Mahatma Gandhi

      May 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  12. LOL

    For all the hillarious comments, thx! ;)

    May 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  13. Triton83

    Mr. Camping, just STOP already. If you look hard enough for a pattern in anything you'll find it. If God hasn't even told Jesus then why in the world would he hide it in the Bible (which, by the way is a translation of a translation and chock full of metaphors)? How about instead of wasting money on billboards and tshirts and tracts you use it to SERVE GOD'S PEOPLE. I read an article that estimated something like $100 million was spent on this campaign. Do you know how many people that could have fed? There are people suffering from tornadoes and floods right now who could have really used that assistance. We don't need a date, we're just supposed to be ready. You were wrong Mr. Camping, three times now. Stop. Such hubris is shameful and makes you and those of us who do believe look like the worst kind of fools.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Gammi02

      He needs to be put in a loony bin. He is getting people so anxious about things he cannot forcast. Children are watching these things and going to school crying to their teachers and this is so uncalled for. Please stop with your stupid predictions and no one belives you anyways. A concerned grandmother of a 6 yr old and 4 yr old.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Bob

      In most part I agree with your statements. I hear the Love in your message to Mr. Camping. He is an old man and maybe in some regards he wants to believe the rapture will happen before his death. For old people and all people for that matter death is scary and the rapture idea maybe softens that for him. In times like this, with individuals that may have slightly different ideas about our same beliefs we must be patient and have love. After all the only one that knows the real truth is God himself, and he will let us know in his time. Have a great day – I hope you find success, love, and happiness in everything you do. Thanks for sharing your opinions, it was good.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Californian and Christian, but not a nut.

      Amen!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  14. Slowgun

    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!"

    -----------------------------
    Seeing how the Holy Spirit doesn't exist, then I guess reading it with "spiritual understanding" can't happen.
    Hey are there any other fictional books that you need the holy spirit to understand...how about Harry Potter?

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

      Hey I'm just glad I still get to see the final Harry Potter movie before the world ends... that's big enough for me. :)

      May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Slowgun
      Seeing how the Holy Spirit doesn't exist, then I guess reading it with "spiritual understanding" can't happen.
      Hey are there any other fictional books that you need the holy spirit to understand...how about Harry Potter?
      ------
      As you don't not believe He does not exist..in YOUR life. He is here to guide believers!
      Mock all day slowgun! God will have the final word! Keep reading this blog, you are reading scripture and at the same time eliminating all possible excuses! You will NEVER be able to say...I did not know". You know because we are telling you!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  15. marcia

    This man isn't a preacher. He's a nut!
    Who could possibly listen to this buffoon?
    Only other buffoons!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  16. John

    Just one more example of why religion needs to be outgrown and replaced with individual spirituality. It does nothing but divide us and create havoc.

    Anyone who still believes this guy is an idiot. And in 5 months, when he is wrong again, he will find another math error. And people will still give him money and swear he is a prophet. It is amazing what sheeple Americans have become. The destruction of this country will come from internal conflicts created by divisive politics and religious beliefs. I am still waiting to see what the nut jobs are going to do with both the Mayan calendar thing and an election in 2012.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  17. woman smarter than harold

    Did anybody catch that last line? What a chauvinist! Nobody rules anybody in this country based on gender alone unless you let them, in which case, stupid is as stupid does.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  18. MrsFizzy

    Now this is even more embarrassing for Xtians and any thinking people. Hasn't this guy ever heard the one about
    "The Boy who cried 'Wolf'"?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  19. Uli

    If you say "The world will end tomorrow" often enough you will eventually be correct. All things end.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  20. Harold Beavis

    So let me see if I understand this. God is loving and merciful but in 5 months time, all but a select 2 to 3 percent of us will "face months of tribulation before perishing in the Earth's destruction." Yeah, I think I'll stick with not believing. Thanks anyway.

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

      Nah, see that's what Camping originally thought. This way, we all have 5 more months, but what will happen is that an elect 2-3 % will go to heaven, and the rest of us immediately perish in the Earth's destruction – and presumably, then go to hell. Get it? Have a nice day!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • smrtaz

      Actually Camping does not believe in Hell according to what I listened to last night. He said that those people would just cease to exist. There would be no afterlife. I listened for about the first 30 minutes of the program. It honestly sounded like he was making it up as he went along. I believe he was even grabbing ideas from emails people wrote to him that made his prediction "true".

      May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
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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.