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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. Eric Carlson

    Study history and you will be cured of religion.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  2. TheBear

    Guess now he's busy writing his speech for October 22nd.

    "Oh, gee. Looks like I was wrong yet again! I'll come out with another new date soon. Sorry that more of you gave your life's possessions to me without being raptured but persevere and have faith! Praise the Lord and pass the caviar."

    May 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  3. Ed

    Yeah, 5 months should be worth about another 1-2 billion dollars in free publicity for his dink church.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • TheBeatGoesOn

      Idiot Wife: "Honey Mr Camping now says the end will come in 5 months, should we send him more money?" Idiot Husband: "Sure, send him our vacation money since the end will come soon after." The beat goes on, and on and on. Only in America.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Johnny 5

    People still believe in this stuff? Hopefully this rapture does happen so we can finally get some things done on this planet. It's just a bronze age fable and may people need to come to terms with that.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  5. AM

    For those that still follow Camping, remember that in the end times there will be false prophets that will try to lure you away from the truth (the word). So please read the bible. Read Matthew 24:36... "No one knows about that day or hour not even the angels in heaven, nor the SON, but ONLY the Father." Don't become a victim of a false prophet.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • D

      Nah, just put the bible down altogether. The Earth would be better off if more people did so.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Eileen

      Thank you AM! I can't believe any Christians would follow this man when the bible is clear on this fact.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @AM

      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 12:17 pm |
    • Kelsey

      Amen!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  6. michael

    WHY ARE YOU GIVING THIS MORON ANY TIME???????????????. AND WHOEVER FOLLOWS THIS GUY DESERVES TO GO TO JAIL!!! IDIOTS!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  7. Alan

    Dear ........... please show us all some compassion and please come and take Mr. Camping now so we do not have to listen to his BS crap anymore. I think I am going to start a new fertilizer company called Campings weed and feed because thats all he is going to end up being when his day is done.... unless the romulans, the dominion, or the borg come pick him up first. Even if my Dr. was also a priest and told me I only had 5 months to live I would not beleive it.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  8. True Christian

    This moron missed one key verse in all his Bible study.
    Matthew 24:36

    May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  9. Sara

    If anyone believes any of what this man says, they fully deserve whatever happens to them.
    He should be silenced and sent to his "God".

    May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • D

      Wow, really? You wanna kill the guy because he's a little crazy? How compassionate.

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

    Or maybe the horse will sing...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  11. Chuck

    This guy should really back up his words. I think he should jump off a two story building at the appointed time on October 21st. That way, if he is saved, he'll be carried off to heaven. If the Rapture doesn't happen he'll hit the ground and break every bone in the lower half of his body, but he'll live to feel the pain.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  12. Justin

    I really wish this guy would just give up! If there was a rapture, this guy doesn't deserve to be safe. He should be sent down below because he was causing a whole lot of people to be terrified. He ruined people's lives! That unconsiterate douschebag!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • purplepuppy

      douschbags bags are at least usefull LOL

      May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  13. M3

    Does this remind anyone of Ellen White, Miller and the 7th Day Adventist Church? Seems history is repeating itself.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  14. Steve

    "We've always said October 21 was the day." Except for all the times we said May 21 was the day. And the time before that. And the time before that.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  15. jendfly

    This guy should be sealed in a tomb somewhere.

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

      He is an agent of the Devil and he will burn for eternity.
      Amen..

      May 24, 2011 at 12:11 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 12:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      BS, he predicted/prophecied a rapture on 5/21 and it didn't happen.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Luigi

      So then, who did God rescue on May 21st?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Bible Student

      Where does the Bible speak of a "rapture"???

      May 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  17. katpup

    Anybody who gives this idiot preacher even the time of day is a bigger idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  18. Bible Student

    He said: "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says."

    Actually at Matthew 24:36 Jesus said concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels or the Son, ONLY the Father. So he is saying that he has one up on Jesus???

    The bible does say that the end of "this system" is coming, Jesus talks about the "signs" of it at Matthew 24, but the bible does not say the Earth will be destroyed, only rebellious mankind. But there are several prophecies that have to be fulfilled before that happens.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  19. Kool Aid

    Headline should read:

    Preacher Revises IQ of his Followers and Admits he is a Charlatan

    May 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  20. DonDillinger

    This isn't funny at all..It's quite sad that people put their faith in this man and leave the word of God...I don't doubt the rapture or the return of Jesus at all. I don't consider myself to be a part of any "religion".. I consider myself only to be a believer and follower of God.

    The thing I have with this (I am only human) is that he keeps coming giving out these dates.. but why? Many believer know that Jesus will return and rapture his people.. But why say the end is on this date..?

    Why not instead life your life in a way that God will find favor and save you.. Dedicate your life to Chirst, repent and ask for forigiveness of your sins.. Because all is needed is faith the size of a mustard seed..

    So knowing the date makes no difference, if you are Gods people you need not worry when the time will come.. Knowing the time will not save you..

    Why don't you go around and spread the joys of Jesus and try to get people to dedicate their lives to Christ.. That's what will profit them more then knowing a date..

    No man knows the date.. He comes as a thief in the night.. PLEASE not to be disrespectful, but do not listen to him.. IT was written that many will say, Jesus will come on this day, Look Jesus is in the desert, but be wise do not listen to them as no man knows the DAY, OR HOUR of the COMING of OUR LORD..

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

      well said!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Luigi

      I agree. Well said.

      I found it troubling that some people who thought the end was near decided to go on vacation. Vacations are all well and good but going on a vacation right before when you think the rapture will come doesn't sound like what Jesus would do. (What would Jesus do?)

      May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • LHS

      Amen, DonDillinger, amen!!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Rod

      I enjoyed your comments DonDillinger. Obviously this man has not properly interpret the scriptures and I wish someone would sit him down (with love) and explain to him the true understanding of the scriptures. Talking about the man does not get us anywhere but knowing the truth and sharing it to others will.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • R J

      the real date is about 5 billion yrs when the sun runs out of H2 to burn

      May 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • so right don dillinger

      Let me add to this: Read your Bibles for yourselves and learn..You know what's so crazy is that Harold Camping has'nt sold his home and belongings or has he? Enlighten me on that please. He should give these people their money back if he is such a Christian.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Skeptical Analysis

      Do you really not see the irony in making claims about a god when you are refuting claims Harold Camping is making about god. It is not any different when you say you are sure that the rapture will occur than when he makes the same claim. Just because he is willing to put a date on it doesn't make it any more ridiculous than your claim. The rapture prophecy originated around 1850 years ago. It was a claim made by a group of the same kind of zealous idiots as Camping. Just because they scribbled down their crazy ideas doesn't give them any validity no matter how many sheep have been tricked into believing it over the centuries.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:37 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.