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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. No more stupid people

    Ok, ok, so he now says it's in October, but what time of day? is it EST? CST? PST? I mean I really wanna know so I can get my popcorn ready

    May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  2. realfastbill

    I hate campers!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  3. Vivian McPeak

    If there is a God it is nothing that we could conceptualize. It is neither male nor female, beyond human form. Only a complete and total fool would pay attention to some media manipulating preacher. Frankly, I'd just as soon believe in Caspar the Friendly Ghost. If anything, people like this crack-pot preacher are driving millions away from religion and towards science. Sadly, science is largely a sociopath by nature, and could a little bit of spiritual perspective. Religion delivers little of that these days. When several large churches supported the invasion of Iraq that was a clue for me how corrupt religion in America has gotten. Christians think they are better than everyone else, and they can ignore their own commandments.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • frink

      "Sadly, science is largely a sociopath by nature"
      Sooooo, rational thought, study, and repeatability of experiment is a 'sociopath by nature'? You wouldn't even have the word sociopath if it weren't for science finding out that evil spirits didn't exist.

      Perhaps you are ignorant of what science is.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  4. Rachel

    HE IS F.O.S I wish he would shut his mouth and disappear.He does the worlds Christians and believers a HUGE disservice..Thanks Elizabeth for those kind words...Apparently tact and class are words that don't exist in your vocab.Just because religion does not work for you does not mean the rest of the world is stupid,ignorant or delusional.Maybe you should learn some compassion and humility.Just because you don't agree with it, or believe it does not make you RIGHT.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Truth

      wow...are you a Christian?????????????? because the Christians that I know certainly do not speak like you.. *smh*

      May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Rachel – which one would you be – the pot, or the kettle?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • frink

      "Just because religion does not work for you does not mean the rest of the world is stupid,ignorant or delusional"

      The efficacy if religion, although debatable, has nothing to do with how stupid, ignorant and delusional you are. But make no mistake, you ARE stupid, ignorant and delusional.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  5. Doctor Dr..Whatswrongwithme?

    Will the IRS start an investigation of this idiot "Family Radio" business can
    we call them frauds or not?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Chicken Little

      You can call them anything you want. The IRS however, can't do anything. If they started down that road, every religion in the country would be in tax court in within a few days.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  6. Stephanie Powell

    once again the Bible is not a text book , or math book , please leave it to GOD to do his work , so when he is ready then aint nothing we can do about it . if it happens it happens quit predicting and messing with the Lord's word , it's not fun to mix and match things in the Bible . that is the book of Life. so camping please just stop you are making yourself look bad .

    May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • frink

      Correct, it is a work of FICTION, used to control people with weak reasoning ability.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dorianmode

      I think you're both right and both wrong. It's mythology, by it's strick definition. An attempt by human brains to explain and make sense of the world they see around them, and an attempt to control the environment they find frightening and overwhelming.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  7. MDS

    A man goes to a doctor, the doctor gives him six months to live. The man can't pay his bill so the doctor gives him another six months. A false teacher tells the world they have a short time to live. The man hasn't sucked enough money out of his followers, so he gives them another 5 months...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  8. JZEE

    MR. CAMPING HAS BEEN PLAYING TOO MUCH BLACK JACK AT THE CASINO. THAT IS REASON WHY HE ALWAYS SELECT 21TH DAY. HIS DELUSION IS IN BLACK JACK CASINO.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  9. kls817

    why is this news? Has the news media gotten so bad that the reports chase crackpots to hear what goofy things they say?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Peyton

      I agree. Kim – Author, you should be ashamed. This entire story is garbage. If you give crazy lunatics a platform, they will say whatever they need to.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  10. BeelzeBaby

    you mean wake up and smell the coffee...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      I don't recall having any offspring. Are you an imposter???

      May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  11. jim

    The really silly part about this situation is that his followers will believe this old turd as long as he keeps coming up with new dates for the end. They are gullible beyond belief!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  12. Rooster Cogburn

    His calculations were off??? For the big ending? He probably used a scientific calculator... And no, don't use a financial calculator this time, use a religious calculator, the King James version...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  13. MIA Guy

    Give me a break!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  14. Chris

    I can understand that there are nut cases running around saying all kinds of things but what's hard to believe is that anyone believed this guy. Even harder to believe that anyone still takes him seriously. Really what's the point of this story – just that it's fun to make fun of mentally defective people? Poor taste, I think

    May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  15. Lenny

    Even a broken clock is right two times a day. Sooner or later he may be.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • TampaMel

      @lenny – if he keeps pushing the date, at some point, he is going to disappear but it will be underground and if we go far enough, we will be there also. After that, does it matter? Also, if you are a Christian then you must find that he is contradicting Jesus. Jesus stated that no one, only God, can know the end of days. If all those people that believe they will be saved because of their faith you must ask yourself and them, "how can you believe him, it is against scripture".

      May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • vanessa

      I know that's right. Eventually it WILL come true, but every generation has it's time and place, each one thinks the end time is in their lifetime. The truth is that no one knows but God.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  16. Immat

    Why is this news? This man is probably suffering from dementia. The Bible also tells us that "No One" will know the time of His return but God. So give Odama some more face time folks.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  17. TexasTek

    What is wrong with this guy? Did he not just say yesterday, that he made a mistake and they should learn from it? Yet here he is again saying that the world will end in October. Has this preacher actually read the bible? I have a long time ago and even studied it in school. I remember it saying something about only God would know when it would happen. (I could be wrong) So by process of elimination, this preacher thinks he is god, I guess like most preachers do. Bunch of low life,child molesting, power and money hungry preachers that only take from the people.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  18. beelzebubba

    Can't you picture Glenn Beck making ridiculous connections on his chalkboard to predict the end times? Just wait. His miraculous religious conversion and revelations will be coming soon... as soon as the uproar from this cult and those repulsive Westboro Baptists dies down.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bellatrixie

      And Beck already said Soros is the Auntie Kripes... I think it's coming soon....

      May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  19. Chris

    This is definitely embarrassing for you christians, because this man is a real quack and needs mental health attention!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Peyton

      My guess: 90% of the "believers" of this garbage vote Republican. Coincidence? I think not.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  20. Elizabeth

    People act like this man is sooo crazy. But what they fail to realize is there's no difference between believing what this wacko says and believing what jesus and mohammed and all those religious figures said either. The Bible is a joke, yet so many christians believe in it. Religion breeds stupidity. Wake up and smell the roses.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Paul

      I am sorry but you are wrong. Jesus and Mohammed actually helped people, they didn't scam them with doomsday prophecies. There is a difference between legitimate religion that CAN be a positive force in the world and scam artists like this.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • steve

      You think that loving your neighbor and helping the poor is crazy? I feel sorry for you.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Chris

      No, there is a big difference between the major religions and this nut-case. The major religions are all careful to not say things that can be easily refuted. They talk about things that can't be seen or tested or that happened long ago. This nut's mistake was to make a specific short term prediction. Major religions never make specific short term predictions.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Jasper

      So, instead of believing in that nut-job, you're telling the rest of us to believe in you. Honey, I did wake up...and when I awoke I decided to find my spirituality and my faith within myself...not within the teachings of Camping or my local pastor, my athiest neighbor, nor even you! The problem with most of the faithful is that they are looking for external guidance rather than seeking to understand what is clearly right in front of their nose. I have my faith, and I could personally give a rat's @ss if you believe me or follow what I know to be true. But please, sweetie...don't go preaching what to believe to everyone else.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Nocordoba

      Elisabeth what roses? This world is filled with problems thousands of diseases hundreds of wars death every day and according to you the end of everything there is for a person every single day. That is why I ask, what roses? Most (if not all of) the founding fathers were Christians, now were they stupid? I would like to see you do what they did. The Bible is not a joke. Did you know that the water cycle was perfectly described in the Bible over 2000 years ago? And yes this man is crazy because the Bible does not guarantee (and never did) when the world will end.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • jlf2002

      I assure you there are countless people MUCH smarter than you who believe in God.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @jlf2002 – and there are countless people MUCH smarter than you who don't believe in a god. There are also countless people MUCH smarter than you who believe in a different god. What's your point? And what makes your god so much more special than other gods?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      1. The fact that Jesus and Muhammed were good people is irrelevant. Regardless of what kind of people they were, they both preach the idea of flying off to heaven after death, living forever with "God," this man up in the sky that no one has ever actually witnessed. Seems akin to a fairy tell, magic. Yet you believe it all?
      2. The main thing that bothers me about religious people is that they try and come up with an excuse for EVERYTHING. How come no one's ever seen God? They'll claim that it comes from "within" and only the faithful can understand. Same as telling little kids that Santa will only come if they "believe." Are you guys really that stupid?
      3. I'm not telling anyone to follow me. I'm questioning your beliefs, something that is accepted and encouraged in our society. If you someone told you to give you all your money, would you do it? No, you would question their motives. People seem to think that questioning or challenging anything religious is off-limits. I say no.
      4. Just because he's making a short-term, specific prediction, doesn't make him any different from Christians or Muslims. Long-term predictions are safe, so you Christians can hide behind the fact that your Judgement day won't be for a long time, after we're all dead. That way if it never happens, you won't be to blame.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:30 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.