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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. wow

    cnn this is BULLL..... get this guy outta here....1st of all i didnt know he was so old....so hopefully hes talking about his own doomsday....what a load of you now what...2nd of all.....YOU CANT CALCULATE THE END OF THE WORLD....WHERE THE HELL'S THE CREDIBILITY....f you harold camping just another liar that gets more money....hopefully i meet him on the street....got a few bones to pick

    May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  2. R J

    instead of 5 mos.,he should say 5 billion yrs which it really is

    May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  3. Citizen

    Harold cramping america's style

    May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  4. Marci Nelson

    Who keep giving this person the opportunity to voice his opinion on things he doesn`t know? He needs to read his Bible with a real Pastor. He sounds like an unlearned minister without knowledge concerning the scripture. There are more important things to talk about, such the unemployed people in N.C. who lost their benefits thru no fault of their own.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • I vote for Trump (2012)

      The unemployed people of N.C. should get jobs.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Tina

    How do we know that Judgment day didn't actually occur on the 21st? I think God took a good close look at his "followers" and said "Scr*w it, I don't want any of you!!"

    May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  6. Jason Glugla

    What is really sad is that there are people who will believe this man's new date.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  7. Ken

    Great Quote: "We've always said October 21 was the day," Camping said during his show.

    Uh, all the billboards said May 21st!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  8. John

    How come people can't believe that people actually believe him? Did not several people kill themselves because they thought a space ship was coming with the Halbop comet? I believe the stupidity of people with all my heart and nothing surprises me anymore. Hi did win by causing nation wide panic and it shows you how sad our society is ready to believe anything and anyone. Pathetic.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  9. Alabama

    The Bible says of false prophets that "[t]here is no bad tree that beareth good fruit."

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

    This individual's finances now need to be audited, and if he's found to have done any wrongdoing (which will inevitably be the case) he should be tossed in jail (with a plug in his mouth so he cannot do any more harm). Sounds like he has destroyed the finances of many clueless, ignorant people, including their families (ie many children, who now have nothing due to mommy's or daddy's stupidity) and he should pay for that. Maybe eventually someone, somewhere will be called to heaven. But this guy has instead earned himself hundreds of years in purgatory, for sure.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  11. dany valencia

    this guy makes me laugh. he should just died or something. god will come but no one knows the day. if u believe him wow u must be the dumbest person ever (no disrespect to no one) but really u guys just plan stupid

    May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  12. Jonathan

    At first, I was thoroughly enjoying laughing at all these mindless fools who followed him like sheep. However, now I'm ALMOST starting to feel sorry for them. If you are so scared and insecure that you have to believe in something, make sure it's not the ramblings of a senile man about to turn 90 who has been wrong a couple of times now. Apparently CNN doesn't have much to report on if they are still covering this. Come on, there has to be something else going on in the world to cover.

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

    If the "Jesus" u have been taught about in "church" goes against His Abba in heaven then u are following a false messiah...the Messiah that came would not go against His Abba's Torah for He was and is the Torah made flesh as stated in Yochanan/John 1:1...so if the "Jesus" u follow teaches contrary to Torah and has changed Abbas feast days for false pagan days, and eating unclean foods then u really need to read for yourselves the Word not rely on men such as this guy and many others leading ppl astray...shalom and may Abba Yahuah give you spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see His Emet/truth...omein!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  14. Gary

    CNN – PLEASE STOP TRYING TO RE-ANIMATE THIS DEAD STORY!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  15. labandme

    Only uneducated people from third world countries and Americans from the bible belt would believe such bs.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  16. Roxann

    This guy can predict the apocalypse just as well as my Magic 8 ball! Jeez people, WAKE UP!Stop being sheep! If you gave all your money to this "man", you deserve to be broke!What he did was take advantage of probably decent people. He is evil! But, they gave of their own will:(Hopefully SOMEONE learned something from this:/ Somehow, sadly, I doubt it:(

    May 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  17. seriously226

    So he wrong and can't admit that you CAN'T predict the second coming, so instead, he changes the Bible: "God is "loving and merciful," and had decided not to punish the humanity with five months of destruction." I feel sorry for his ignorant followers.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • seriously226

      "he's wrong" not "he wrong"...yea I can type.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  18. DD

    How is this news? An idiot said something, without any facts, and CNN is covering. The only reason I read this article is to find out if maybe he dropped dead. Nope, he didn't. He just made another stupid prediction. I bet NASA hired this fool to make them look good.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • wetpaperbag2

      It's news because this false prophet has a global reach.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Ich

      Posted on Its difficult to doveiscr knowledgeable individuals on this matter, but you sound like you realize what youre speaking about! Thanks

      March 3, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  19. Mann Singh

    remember the story ..... The Boy Who Cried Wolf..
    I think he got one of those medical marijuana cards and he stays loaded all day and thinks he is connected to god..LOL

    May 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  20. Sean M

    Ohh her forgot to carry the 1. jeesh what a simple mistake we all understand.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:12 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.