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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. Skeptic

    The guy in the article from yesterday had it right. With these apocolyptic predictors it's their unshakeable faith that informs their theories, and the theories inform the 'evidence.' It never occurs to the doomsdayers that maybe the bible is just one book among many such books, (koran, bhagavad gita, etc) and that maybe it's not divinely written. Maybe it was written by humans – people from the bronze age who actually knew a lot less than we know now... Or you can look at the bible as the next 'da vinci code', waiting to be cracked, and spend millions of dollars advertising baseless predictions around the world. Oh, what? It's October 21st now? That's just the next day Harold Camping's delusion will suffer from reality syndrome... again.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      How We Got the Bible: Ten Key Points

      1. The Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

      2. The Bible is made up of 66 different books that were written over 1600 years (from approximately 1500 BC to AD 100) by more than 40 kings, prophets, leaders, and followers of Jesus. The Old Testament has 39 books (written approximately 1500-400 BC). The New Testament has 27 books (written approximately AD45-100). The Hebrew Bible has the same text as the English Bible’s Old Testament, but divides and arranges it differently.

      3. The Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew, with some Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek.

      4. The books of the Bible were collected and arranged and recognized as inspired sacred authority by councils of rabbis and councils of church leaders based on careful guidelines.

      5. Before the printing press was invented, the Bible was copied by hand. The Bible was copied very accurately, in many cases by special scribes who developed intricate methods of counting words and letters to insure that no errors had been made.

      6. The bible was the first book ever printed on the printing press with movable type (Gutenberg Press, 1455, Latin Bible).

      7. There is much evidence that the Bible we have today is remarkably true to the original writings. Of the thousands of copies made by hand before 1500, more than 5,300 Greek manuscripts from the New Testament alone still exist today. The text of the Bible is better preserved than the writings of Plato or Aristotle.

      8. The discovery of the Dead See Scrolls confirmed the astonishing reliability of some of the copies of the Old Testament made over the years. Although some spelling variations exists, no variation affects basic bible Doctrines.

      9. As the Bible was carried to other countries, it was translated into common language of the people by scholars who wanted others to know God’s Word. Today there are still 2,000 groups with no Bible in their own language.

      10. By Ad 200, the bible was translated into seven languages; by 500, 13 languages; by 900, 17 languages; by 1400, 28 languages; by 1800, 57 languages; 1900, 537 languages; by 1980, 1,100 languages; by 2006, 2,426 languages have some portions of the Scripture.

      Source: The World Christian Encyclopedia; Wycliffe, International.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Sam

      Fidei Coticula Crux, you are talking to people who do not care about the bible, and think it's lie, save your strength

      May 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      @Fidei Corticula Crux
      #1. I could also claim this post is inspired. To make a claim, internally, without any external evidence, is invalid, logically.
      All the remaining points are fairly meaningless, and can be attributed to many other literary efforts, as well.
      Your name is interesting. It is an example of circular reasoning.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Skeptic

      In point #1, you are quoting the Bible to justify the Bible's authenticity. Any way you put it, that is an intellectually dishonest statement, as is purporting the virgin birth of certain people and any other miracles that happend over 1000 yrs. ago because there is a book that says they happened.

      But the larger point is, when it comes to the Bible there's clearly a spectrum of confidence in the text. There's the "This is literally true, nothing even gets figuratively interpreted," and then there's the "This is just the best book we have, written by the smartest people who have ever lived, and it's still legitimate to organize our lives around it to the exclusion of other books." Anywhere on that spectrum I have a problem, because in my mind the Bible and the Qur'an are just books, written by human beings.

      There are sections of the Bible that I think are absolutely brilliant and poetically unrivaled, and there are sections of the Bible which are the sheerest barbarism, yet profess to prescribe a divinely mandated morality—where do I start? Books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy and Exodus and First and Second Kings and Second Samuel—half of the kings and prophets of Israel would be taken to The Hague and prosecuted for crimes against humanity if these events took place in our own time.

      I mean, you must admit there is so much about us that is not in the Bible. Every specific science from cosmology to psychology to economics has surpassed and superseded what the Bible tells us is true about our world.

      The Bible is a very important book. I think it should be studied because you can't properly understand the history of religion, civilization, morality, or literature without a proper Biblical education. But to say that it's the best book on every relevant subject, and to organize your life around it, to the exclusion of other books, or to believe that anything contained within it is true beyond a purely metaphorical level, is a mistake. That has been made exquisitely clear by Mr. Camping and friends. It would be funny, if 50% of Americans and most of our elected officials didn't believe that Jesus is literrally coming back.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  2. Garry

    This man's an idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  3. Sam

    Wow, I thought this is over, are you SERIOUS?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  4. STROKER

    OK – HERES THE EQASION – THE BIBLE SAYS SOMETHING I THINK LIKE -AFTER ISREAL BECOMES A NATION AGAIN THAT NOT A GENERATION SHALL COME TO PASS I THINK BEFORE THE LORDS RETURN -I MAY BE WRONG ON THIS INTERPETATION – SO YOU FOLKS READ UPON IT -ANY HOW FOR US 2012 "ER-S " THIS IS OUR -FLIPPEN TRIPPEN -POSSIBLE END OF IT SENARIO -FIRST YOU HAVE ISRAEL POOPING UP – 1948- AND IF MOT A GENERATION SHALL PASS – MANY THINK THIS NUMBER IS A NUMBER OF COMPLETTION IN THE BIBLE WICH IS "7" OR "70" SO MOST FIGURE 70 YEARS FOR A GENERATION – AND -TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD THAT NOT ALL TGHIS GENERATION WILL DIE OUT BEFORE HE RETURNS – SO FROM THE ASSUMING PEANUT GALLERY HERES OUR EQUASION – 1948 -PLUS 70 =2018 NOW MINUS 7 YEARS TRIBULATION THAT BELIEVERS WONT BE HERE DUE TO RAPTURE YOU HAVE =2011SOME TIME SO THAT GIVES BELIEVERS "AN ANY DAY NOW FEELING AND 2012"ERS REASON TO WORRY – ESPECIALLY SINCE THE WORLDS GETTING SO DAMN HOSTLILE TOWARDS GOD /JESUS THESE DAYS AND THE WORLDS CALLING -GAY "OK "-AND ITS CALLING WRONG RIGHT AND RIGHT WRONG AND ALOT OF CATOSPROPHIC EVENTS ARE HAPPENING AND A ONE WORLD CURRENCY -CASHLESS SOCIETY IS ON THE WAY -SO YEP MANY BELIEVERS COMEPARE WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT TODAY SHOWING SIGNS IN THE BIBLE THE RAPTURE ISNT FAR AWAY BY BIBLICAL STANDARDS -THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THIS IS MANS INTERPETATION AND GOD THE FATHER – IS THE ONLY BEING THAT KNOWS WHEN THE SHOW IS OVER ,NOT MAN - BESIDES EVEN THOUGH ISRAEL BECAME A STATE IN 1948-9 JERUSALEM WAS NOT RECOVERED BEFORE 1967 SO THAT THROWSW EVERY ONE OFF – :} ANY WAYS – ME I DONT CARE IF THIS PREACHERS WACKO OR NOT – I THINK HES JUST TRYING TO WORRY PEOPLE INTO GOING BACK TO CHURCH – AND GETTING THERE LIVES SQUARED AWAY AND FOLLOWING GOD BETTER -

    May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Sam

      He's telling people to leave Church and their wrong teachings

      May 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • sbp

      Lay off the crystal meth. PS: We can't hear you.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • WHAT?

      ARE YOU KIDDING? RUN! HIDE! COVER! NO! THE SKY IS FALLING!

      in all seriousness, the world has always had tsunamis, earth quakes, hurricanes, tornado's, wars, famine, unhappy people, sad people, people who crave power, happy people, people who work hard, lazy peeps, sometimes it snows a lot, other winters are warm, some summers are hot, others are quite cool, some springs it rains a ton, others it is dry. The other night I was outside, and it was calm, cool, the bird were singing, and it was an absolutely beautiful night, the night before there was a tornado watch.....THIS is life and living on earth. Just enjoy living on earth, help your neighbor, work hard, raise good kids and try to be happy.....soon enough, just like everyone before us, life will end....and you will see....like every other person who ever lived.....that the world is not ending.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      @sbp
      She scrambled the words, and if you draw a diagonal line down and to the right you will find the secret bible code.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • dude

      Seriously, what a d*ouche!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  5. It good CNN covers this

    I am glad CNN covers this. I grew up in religion, believing that prophets lived and communicated with God. Then I started studying more about my religion and found out that there was so much inconsistency in what "the prophets" said that it shattered all my belief in religion. Now I dont believe in religion and feel free to think..... HOORAY....It has been a very liberating experience. No more holy cows in my mind that cannot be analyzed because I will be acting out of unbelief and questioning God. By covering this man, people can see that religion is a load of crap, wrapped in fear mongering and money laundering. There is so much good in this world, so much good we can accomplish if we stop believing that there is a God writing everything down we do wrong and a devil waiting to sink our immortal souls into a pit of burning fire. Escaping from religious thinking is one of the best things I have ever done with my life......

    May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  6. AR

    He's pretty old. Maybe he means the end of his existence in the world

    May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  7. mickeymo

    This guy does much more harm than good. What an idiot. The idiots that follow him have got to feel like idiots cubed. Idiots all of them.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  8. Gilbert

    Camping needs to realize that his doom-chasing is turning millions against God. If he honestly believes in what Jesus died for, he needs rethink his methods and teachings. Either he is a confused believer or a false profit trying to bring down as many souls as he can. His chicken little routine is not helping anyone.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  9. Sxray04

    "Nuts"

    May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  10. Gabrielle

    What if the Rapture came and no one went?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  11. Kristina

    enough is enough! you're really scary people. No one know when but god only! that is not right mr. camping

    May 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  12. Reality

    Camping is insane as was JC. JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself."

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.......................................................

    May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  13. Sy

    I am very surprised that after the Dumbsday May 21, this guy still exists!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  14. Sy2502

    LOL, some people have no shame! You'd think the guy would be ashamed of showing his face in public after the last prediction...
    The best part? I am sure there's going to be more suckers falling for this one.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  15. Michael

    I'm sure the FBI has been or has started watching this group.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  16. no religion!

    This is a JOKE! I don't believe in God to began with, but come on.... People get your head out of your A**!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  17. Dave

    Doomsday prophets use etch-a-sketches to write their predictions.

    1914 (shake), 1975 (shake), 1994 (shake), 2000 (shake), 2011 (shake).

    Coming Soon...2012 (shake), etc.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  18. TBevins

    Give it up, man!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Wally Balloo

    God doesn't like fraud.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Anthony

      Don't trick yourself.... either god invented fraud, or she is a fraud.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Darrick

      And people don't like it either....things like God(s)

      May 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  20. Really LOL

    "I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household." LOLOLOL – his poor wife needs to grow a pair and tell this guy to shut up.

    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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.