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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

    Notice its not too distant in the future since he wants to be alive when it happens. Notice how these knuckleheads are never under the age of 35 when people haven't lived their full lives yet. These false prophets always have a selfish agenda since they are already at the end of their life. Why do these kooks have a platform AFTER they've been proven wrong? At this point, this guy has no more credibility than any drunk bum on the street. They're probably more accurate than this weirdo.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  2. Tony

    Another calendar reset and we can go through it again in five months. Why doesn't the "word of god" spell it all out for us and we wouldn't need all these interpreters.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Kathleen

      Because the 'word of god' is a scam. Always has been, always will find people just stupid and gullible enough to believe.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  3. victoriang

    you are crazy, you are not our God to tell his people when the judgement day is..........i feel so sorry for you who calls himself a christian. you need help!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  4. David

    Well at least now we have until October 21st, don't worry be happy until then.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  5. biscuit4523

    he got all of us talking about jesus. so he is kinda winning.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • RHQuad

      The only thing he got me to do was go to a couple of really good parties.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  6. ADES

    There he goes again, looking for another "infallible" proof for a new date.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  7. pat

    why is this nut,not in a nut house with with the rest of his followers,

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  8. Lance

    It's hard to imagine that Harold Camping would smoke crack at his age but clearly he 's firing up some rocks on a daily basis! What a nut case! In 5 months when the world doesn't end what will be his excuse than?!?!?!?!?! lol What a moron!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  9. manuel Rodriguez

    If god is perfect he has a perfect plan for humanity, i ask all the preachers if they will burn they children if they did something real bad no one ever said they would and, then i tell them that they are better than god cause they keep saying he is going burn all of us in hell i also remind them that Jesus was a Jew and he did not made a new religion and the only time he used force was a the temple with those dealing with money and this is very common today.I believe in god no in religions.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  10. JD

    P.T. Barnum was indeed right!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Nunya

      P.T. Barnum did not say that, David Hannum did.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  11. Jimwink

    Can't wait to hear what he has to say on Oct 22.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  12. hiddenfromyou

    The Holy scripture says: "NO man knows the day nor the hour." Anyone who says that they know, is a liar! plain and simple.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • sbp

      Thank you for not using the scroll button or checking out other pages. Otherwise, you might have seen that every fourth post says this exact same thing. Way to add to the conversation.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  13. runswithbeer

    FRAUD, both in the charlatan sense and also FRAUD as in the FELONY attempt to separate someone from their money using religious deception and coercion. This guy is a Jesus SCAMMER. Lowest order of Charlatan around next to Radical Religious TERRORISTS. He should be arrested. There is a point where Freedom of Speech and Religion cross a MARKED LINE into Felony Fraud.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  14. Feo

    Fast forward 5 months from now and his story will change again and the simple minded fools that empower this charlatan will keep sending "contributions." Religion is a crime against humanity.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  15. BudyLee

    This Camping guy has his math all wrong. The true date where all the popping, whooping and shaking will begin is July 4th at sunset. Send me your checks. I also accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and PayPal.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  16. Glen Beck

    God and I talk all the time.
    I know when the end is coming.
    Send me all your money and I'll email you the date.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  17. Michael

    Why are you giving these idiots a platform to spew their religious stupidity?

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

      So people like you have something to post a comment about.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Amavet2

    F This FREAK!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  19. Anne

    LOL He is on a mission! Wow $80 mio of contributions in 4 years, not bad...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  20. d

    Mathew 13;32

    May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Counter point: Matthew 24:34

      Also Luke 21:32 and Mark 13:30

      May 24, 2011 at 1:19 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.