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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. ali

    Harld Camping, please shut up!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  2. Theologian PhD

    Camping should do a little historical research. Every post-Enlightenment prediction of the end of the world in different Christian circles has ended in some spin doctoring by the appointed prophet claiming that Jesus did in fact come back and judged the world spiritually rather than physically (i.e., an inviisible judgment that no one blinked at). It happened with the Millerites in the late 1800s who became the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah's Witnesses in the early 1900s, and it will most likely continue. These "dispensationalists" read the Bible like it's a mathematical puzzle-game waiting to be unlocked.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  3. tom arneson

    please do not bother woth this lun, nor the botox Mom. e nuf

    May 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  4. Howdy

    October 21,2011 will be passed with smooth and foliage leaves. Children will be walking door to door for candy on the date of Halloween.
    Who want to thrown away the keys of the houses and savings, please give them to homelss and charity.
    If the world come to the end. No body will be leaving the earth beofre death. The world will be ended eventually but on 10/21/2011 but much much much longer future date. like every living thing will one day come to the end.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  5. Tim

    Funny how people get so excited just because he is some kind "Man of God". All religions are scams. If you use any quote from scripture of any kind and try to pass it off as fact without doing any research on it than you are no better than the fools who followed this guy. You are all sheep. There was no Jesus (I mean do you really think that Horus and his story is just a coincidence? Sheep!) and there is no god. Just because you don't understand something right away you don't make leaps of faith to the supernatural, that is such a barbaric way to think. Pick up a book and learn something. Most don't even read the bible, they just quote little bits and pieces as it suits their life and forget about any part that might conflict with them.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Ali

      Though in general I completely agree with you, the Horus/Jesus thing is way overblow. Being fairly familiar with Egyptian mythology, the similarities drawn between the arc of myths surrounding Horus and the stories surrounding Jesus are essentially fabricated. The Horus/Jesus thing was then picked up by Bill Maher in the film Religilous and spoken as fact.
      Not to say I buy the whole Jesus thing, because I don't. If you really want to blow your mind read up on Zoroastrianism. They have a god figure, a devil figure, and end of days, and a messiah. Sound familiar? Depending on the source, the religion predates Christianity by about 1000 years.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • BBking

      You are calling people ignorant and telling them to read books. I was wondering which book you used to make your claim that there was no Jesus. Nearly all scholars, secular and religious, believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure. In fact, an overwhelming majority would agree to the historicity of his baptism, teaching, and his crucifixtion. The argument comes down to his divinity and resurrection, not his existence. To say Jesus didnt exist would be breaking your own rule of looking to sources and following the minority opionion of a few lone scholars, while the majority of academia would say he did exist. If you want to state your opinion as to his divinity go for it but dont state "facts" that most of the scholarly word would disagree with.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  6. Nightwyn

    Harold Camping was partly right, Judgment Day was on May 21. Only it was the world that Judged him.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  7. noel

    Matthew 24:36...for NO MAN knows ... seems this guy doesn't read much scripture...GEEZ!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Do YOU read scripture? Or only selective parts of it.

      Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32. Looks like the world should have already ended. Or, as some would argue, jesus prophecies have already been fulfilled in the first century ... and conveniently before the gospels had likely been written.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  8. Lee

    Enough with the predictions already. Hasn't he done enough harm in taking people's life savings, getting them to quit their jobs, putting them in a depression because the doomsday prediction failed. Give it a rest Mr. Camping. You are not the prophet. Let God rule over this world, and he will end it when it is time, not because Mr. Camping says so. He is doing more harm then good and perhaps he should be arrested for fraud.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  9. Wendy

    Why is the media even giving him the time of day? I really wish they would stop reporting this crap in the news. He will continue to through out dates until he dies. Give me a break!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Mark

      Thank you Wendy! I agree! Please tell me CNN isnt going to cover this crap for the next 5 months!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  10. Mark

    Wow!! another 5 months of people quoting the book of Matthew............Nobody knows...........I dont think I can take it anymore!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  11. Eric

    I thought the Bible said we will not know the time or the place of the rapture. Did this guy just call the Bible a lie while trying to use it to predict the rapture? Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  12. Gabe

    Forgot to carry the 2!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  13. Robert from Kentucky

    I think it is remarkable that there are people out there who go for this. As George Carlin said...the delusional leading the delusional. Imagain if I came to your house and told you I represent an invisible man who allegedly killed his own son and I would like for you to give me 10% of everything you make for the rest of your life. But on the other hand, you can come to my them park for 15% the corndogs and the Jesus shaped fruit rollups.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  14. pat

    on oct 21,2011 should i take a six day or vacation day

    May 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  15. Jasvir Singh

    Well he put date five months from now thinking he probably will die in that time and this will spare him from embarrassment. I don’t know why people will even believe him on first place. If we believe him his predictions are believed to be true then why worry budget deficit, jobs, stock market if world is going to disappear in another five months? What a con-artist in last days of his life?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  16. clb

    What Bible is he reading???? The Bible that I read says that "No man knoweth the day or the hour not even the Son knows when this will happen"

    May 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Bruce

      If you go to his website, he addresses that very verse.

      But you probably won't go to his website to find out what he says, because you really don't want to know and you are asking that question with ulterior motives in mind...

      May 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • mlb45459

      AMEN!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • adam

      Bruce: I beg of you. If you believe this, don't breed.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  17. Bruce

    So, obviously Camping correctly predicted the spiritual "earthquake" on May 21st, 2011, though even he did not understand that the earthquake was spiritual and not physical. How many people on this planet had their eyes focused on New Zealand, turned on the news at 2:00-3:00a.m. Saturday morning on the east coast to see if there was an actual devastating earthquake (of the physical variety) there? How many people–both believer and unbeliever alike–thought about the end times and God and the return of Jesus and all that rot at some point on that very day?

    Now the question is, what is the "spiritual" equivalent of what happens over the next 5 months? Given his success at "predicting" the May 21st event, how will he declare the world actually ended, in a "spiritual" sense, the day after October 21, 2011?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  18. Mike

    I love idoits – they're such comedic fodder!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Scott Johnson

    What a misguided heretic is he! And his so-called followers are deluded, too.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Please say no

      I really hope Camping and his nut job followers don't vote. Scary.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Bruce

      That he is a heretic is obvious, that you are orthodox is quite doubtful...

      May 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  20. Joe

    Stop enabling this senile old coot. Ignore him. There are more important issues to take up space with.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:02 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.