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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. Nunya

    This guy needs to be held criminally responsible for is actions, charged with fraud, something. The devastation he alone has caused in peoples lives is unforgivable.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  2. ME

    Well, because of what he told people; some people’s lives are over. All of the people that quit their jobs, sold all of their belongings. Now what do they do? Set and wait? Go on a government assistance program? How about sue the idiot for false advertising?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  3. Ron

    Old fool. He simply needs to shut up and go away. If he lived in the ancient Hebrew times, he would have been killed for being a false prophet. That's how the ancient Hebrews dealt with people like him.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • ME

      exactly!

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

      In baseball 3 strikes and you're OUT. How many strikes does this idiot get?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  4. Largencharge

    Man, this guy is perfecting that MX beach club advertisement I saw recently,

    " Free drinks all night, come back tomorrow to redeem "

    May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  5. Viv

    This guy claims to be a minister, a minister of the Word, is this being interpreted from the HOLY Bible or what? I have yet to read anywhere in the Bible where it reads of the Bible giving any set time or date when the world will end. Please tell me what Bible is he reading from? The Holy Bible clearly states that no one would no the time nor the hour. Read the book of Revelations it will explain it all! and this may clarify some of his misleading beliefs!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  6. Bre

    This guy is a complete nut case!! Yes, I do believe in Jesus Christ, but who knows when the world will end?? I very seriously doubt on October 21st or even 2012! I'd be mortified to have to sit in a church and listen to this wacko preachh!! Wow. Way to go Camping!! Looks like your crazy predictions have crashed and burned!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  7. Aaron

    This guy is a nut

    May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  8. Manbearpig

    CNN please stop covering this story. I'm getting tired of this. This isn't news.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Amy B.

      I second that. Please stop portraying this as news and stop giving him a platform. He is trying to make money, plain and simple.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  9. Carl Williams

    One thing the pastor and everyone else that believes what he says, forget is this: The bible says: NO MAN knoweth the hour which the son of man cometh!!! No body knows, especially him. No one but god himself knows the time this will happen, quit trying to put a date on it, live your life the best you possibly can, and live with the results

    May 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  10. Navyvet8192

    Everyone knows that the Mayans have it right, and it's December 21, 2012. So just relax, smoke them if you got them, and enjoy the ride... It'll all be over soon enough!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  11. Gerardo

    There happens to be a verse in the bible that states only God knows the date, not even his Son or the angels. So whenever someone says the world will end on a certain day, you can know it will not end then

    May 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  12. John Q Publick

    Does anybody know why CNN is still posting this idiot's predictions??

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

      It's probably because of all the comments the story inspires. Hundreds of comments. That means high-traffic to the website, which eventually translates into high dollars to CNN.

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

      Amusement value and ratings?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • GG 206045 Allin

      Because they're hilarious?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  13. Don Carson

    This preacher has continued to make predictions that have only served to scare and confuse people. Perhaps its time for him to retire and await his fate; by himself.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  14. Joe

    Why are we still talking about this DUMBA$$? He is a loser that needs to shut the hell up!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  15. Vince

    People that do not read the Bible, make people that do look bad. Go back and look at Mark, buddy...your a deceiver..not a believer.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  16. Dave

    To be completely honest, Camping never said the world would end on May 21st. He said that was the day of The Rapture, when the faithful would be rescued by God. His prediction for the end of the world has actually October 21st for quite some time now, so nothing really has changed in that regard.

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

      Seriously?
      So what about the rapture? why didn't it happen? It was "Guaranteed by the Bible," right? I want my money/soul/life back as was "guaranteed"!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • carlos

      Nonimus: Are you one of the fools who gave up their job and assets because you thought you were going to get pulled up to heaven?? Maybe you will think twice next time before believing such nonsense.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Carlos,
      No. Dave just sounds like he's equivocating on Camping's failure and I'm saying he failed.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  17. Ted

    damion houston: I think you 've hit the nail on the head.I can't understand why these people who claim not to believe in GOD or The Christ JESUS are so terrified of his word.Why are they so angry with those of us who do believe?It's a matter of choice. They choose not to believe but think we have no right to our choice.This is the kind of thinking you get from many liberals and all Islamics.I don't believe anything camping has to say .It t's not biblacal.But those who do believe him have that right.Many of our srevice men have paid a very high price to assure that right.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Seriously?

      Are you kidding me, Ted? You calling out liberals and Islamics is showing you don't have any tolerance for these two groups, and it's also showing your ignorance. The whole basis of Christinaity is love and faith. With comments like these you aren't really showing love for your brothers and sisters. Maybe you should go pick up your Bible and redefine what you think Christianity is about.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  18. Atheist

    Well done, continue to give the snake oil salesman attention.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  19. Vlad Bondarenko

    So, on October 21, the world won't end, because the God will not tell ANYBODY when the Judgment Day will happen. So, just get lost with your doomsday calculations and predictions.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  20. Jo

    I really wish Camping's family would have him committed. There were reports of people telling their children they weren't going to heaven and pet owners trying to get their vets to put their animals down.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Atheist

      the irony is anyone that deranged needs to be put down. Camp's done us a favor, helping us identify the mentally deficient among us.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:06 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.