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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. Jane

    Unfortunately, I think that this man should be tested for alzheimers and/or dementia. But he shouldn't be allowed to incite this type of panic. I can't believe any body gives this guy any credibility.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • CNN Loud Mouth

      Correct. It's the exact same thing as if he ran into a crowded movie theater and yelled FIRE! He's free to way whatever the hell he wants, but when proved wrong, he should be hauled off to jail and fined. He's a public menace.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • InFormed99

      Believe it. They did. To the tune of $100 MILLION. I guess there's a sucker born every minute.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • HeyNow

      And the MEDIA keeps putting a microphone in his face and interviewing him.
      Stop doing that, stop posting this stuff.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Pleo

      I don't think he has Alzheimers or dementia I think he knows exactly what he's doing. He's a conman who has made nearly 100 million dollars of this stuff. He's hiding behind separation of church and state because he knows he can't get arrested for fraud. You actually think he believes this stuff himself? I'd bet money he doesn't. I'd bet money he's a conman, and this is deliberate fraud on his part.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • DTakes

      Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. So far, no one has been injured. They might have been hurt emotionally, but that's no cause to send this man to jail.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Pleo

      DTakes, many people have been hurt financially because he has conned them out of their life's savings. Granted, people who were dumb enough to believe what he was saying probably sort of deserved it. But that doesn't make it any more legal to con someone out of money based on lying to them.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • CNN Loud Mouth

      DTakes...He's certainly caused emotional distress to children...he freaked out my 13 year old daughter. Yes, there is a life lesson to learn here about whacko's and nutjobs, but I'm sure there are kids out there who really did have anxiety issues as a result of this menace, who didn't have parents there to alleviate their concerns.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • DTakes

      Pleo

      I completely understand that there were people that were hurt financially. That is still not a cause for him to be sent to jail. These people chose to do this because they were following their beliefs. No one put a gun to their head. And as of yet I haven't heard of any news that they were forced to quit their jobs, etc.

      Churches all around the world have asked for donations and no one is arresting church leaders. Unless he's murdering people, or asking them to commit suicide there is no need to take this to that extent.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • DTakes

      And I should also add Pleo, that churches aren't the only ones that can hurt people financially. People invest in things because financial advisors tell them. If your friend, financial advisor, tells you to do something because they believe you will gain from it that doesn't mean you have to do it – or that the person has to go to jail for advising you of something.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • CNN Loud Mouth

      DTakes

      If we don't need protections in the financial arena, then why do we need a Securities and Exchange Commission, if no one will ever harm us? There are plenty of laws on the books and federal agencies protecting consumers from fraud and abuse, dangerous products and claims.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  2. PRISM 1234

    WOW! This stuborn old man did not learn anything, did he? What's worse then all the hoopla and embarresment false prophecy brought him, he DID NOT humble himself, and acknowledge that the Word of God is true, and he has ignored the specific verses that speak against what he is doing... He is a false prophet, and God has much to say about dealings with them! Anyone who will keep following this man's teachings deserves the outcome of them!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • InFormed99

      Anyone that blindly follows ANY teachings are just as foolish, he happened to make his foolishness very public.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  3. mmmiller

    My anniversary is Oct 21. Based on this new prediction, I've decided NOT to buy my wife a gift this year. I hope this guy is right this time!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  4. KOZM

    Is Camping taking bets this time? His $120 million is no use to him come October 22.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  5. Jason

    Quoting him from this video: "This is a big deal... big deal.. and I have to live with... think it out... " Did any one hear this "i have to live with" ? Hmmm... Do you believe in what you saying Herold?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  6. Jamie

    Buy GLER GLER GLER

    May 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Trixy with a Y.

      Can I claim unemployment since the end of the world didn't happen and I left my job?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  7. CNN Loud Mouth

    This has all happened before and will happen again. It started 150,000 years ago when our ancestors landed on this planet, named it Earth, and pointed their star ships toward the sun to destroy their technology to start anew. So say we all.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • InFormed99

      So say we all.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • CNN Loud Mouth

      Pardon me, I should have notated "Spoiler Alert" in my comment.

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

      aw, I miss Battlestar Galactica! lol

      May 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • CNN Loud Mouth

      Actually, it's about as good of an explanation as any, how this whole thing may have started. Certainly, if we don't wipe out the human race ourselves, we'll go kick-start another human race on one of those planets we've discovered to be the Goldilocks distance away from its sun. Unless, over the last few billion years, we really are the first race to make it this far.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  8. duhtruth

    This guy is mobile, agile and senile. His stupidity is exceeded only by that of his followers. Watch for the Kool Aid kids!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Pleo

      He's not stupid. On the contrary, he's a criminal genius. He's managed to make over 90 million dollars on this fraud. And I'd bet money he knows it's a fraud. He's hiding behind religious freedom and separation of church and state to defraud people out of their money.

      He's a conman. That's all he is.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Chicken Little

      He's not a criminal. Name one law he's broken. If people are so idiotic as buy into this cr-p, they have only themselves to blame. Time to grow up. The ether bunny ain't comin any time soon.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  9. Chuck

    Religion does nothing other than to keep people ignorant and discourage them from questioning the foundations of their beliefs. It brings the human race back to the middle ages and keeps us from advancing through science. Many wars in history have been and are being fought due to religious intolerance (including the current wars in Iraq / Afghanistan) . Although we are supposedly over there to fight terrorism (it's really for resources) , it's being fueled by religious hatred and intolerance.

    Christianity is based upon old Egyptian religion. Even many of the symbols are based upon Egyptian symbols. The Christ story is based upon astrological observations the Egyptians made about the sun's movements against the horizon in relation to the constellations. It's an old story that's been told numerous times in history. They noticed that the sun would stop going south along the horizon on Dec. 22nd, hold position for 3 days and then "rise again" toward the north by 1° on Dec 25th. Hence we have the "sun god" Jesus dieing , being dead for 3 days and being resurrected on the 3rd day. The sun going north by 1° signaled spring was coming and "life" would be resurrected again.

    Jesus' 12 disciples are based upon the sun's movement throughout the year among the 12 constellations. Each disciple represents a constellation.

    The "end of the world" as this misguided preacher is using to take advantage of his people, is really stated in the bible as the END OF THE AGE.. Each age represents the constellation that the sun rises on Dec 25th. Our current age is the age of Pisces (Hence the Jesus Fish you see, it is the symbol for Pisces). Eventually, the end of the AGE will occur when the sun moves into the constellation Aquarius. Then a new "sun god" would take his place.

    These are all Egyptian stories that were incorporated into our current religion Christianity.

    It's all a story people.. . wake up!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • duhtruth

      I am so glad you cleared this up. God must be getting a good belly laugh! Keep the faith.

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

      Sounds Like someone who got their degree in comparative religions from a certain group of tv channels....

      May 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Chuck

      This is all based upon fact, not hearsay. Go back to believing your fairy tales. I'm sure it's a great comfort for you.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • jamie

      thanks for summing up the Zeitgeist movie, were you watching it while you typed?
      So you judge people for going along with religion and believing what theyre told, yet looks like youre in the same boat as them pretty much.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • buttdonger

      spot on. i have not heard such a concise description in a long time. good job on doing your homework. i wish more people would.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Chuck.... the basis for your statement comes almost verbatum from claims made by people who wish to make the Gnostic writings their new religious text. They have nothing original in them, and are, in fact, a co-opting of parts of other religions going back to Babylon.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Chuck

      I don't judge people Jaime. I just wish more of them would use the rational parts of their brains that God gave them. There would be less war and intolerance and we would be much better off as a people.

      Yes, I've watch the movie. I don't believe everything in it, but he has very good points in most of it. Everyone should watch it. At least before Youtube tries to remove it again. There's a reason why Zeitgiest is being blocked... it's hard hitting and ruffles the feathers of a lot of important people. Watch it with a critical mind. You'll learn something.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Chuck

      airwx- Yes. You're correct. However, which came first? The ancient writings of Egypt and Babylon or the Christian texts written in the 3rd century? Who's stealing from whom?

      The sun and the stars were very important to these ancient cultures. They based their entire religious beliefs on their movements and arrangements. Hence, the carry over into Christianity.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  10. lol

    shhhhhhhhhhhhh........go back to sleep grandpa

    May 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  11. DTakes

    Well, technically he's not changing the date. He's quietly dismissing his miscalculations of when rapture would commence.

    The only thing I don't comprehend, is how Christians/Catholics claim to be Christians/Catholics when they choose to ridicule and mock a group of people that are confused, lost and seeking guidance in the wrong place. There are too many religious people in this world claiming they have virtue when in truth all they possess is the ability to judge and deliver a quick "you're going to hell" verdit. Whether you're gay, of another religion, troubled or lost like the group in question – swift judgement lacking common sense is always delivered.

    I hope these lost souls find what they are looking for, but more than anything, I hope they realize that this man is either taking advantage of them or he's crying out for help in the most unconventional way.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bruce

      Did anyone notice that 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 1:19 pm |
    • HeyNow

      @BRUCE......um, what?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Bruce

      @HeyNow: Did I stutter?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • HeyNow

      @Bruce....not so much stuttering as babbling on incoherently.
      I tell you what I did, I sat on my back deck, read a book, took a wee nap, and woke up just as I would any other Saturday.
      The only this this person is doing is fearmongering. It doesn't have to be made complicated or poetic.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  12. centsless

    Sounds like this guy stole a line from the 16th century . . . selling indulgences? Well, why not just buy your way into heaven?
    Sell your property and give your life savings to good ol "Father Harold". Surely he'll put in agood word.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  13. Ryan

    I have some calculations for you Harry. Number of generations from David to Jesus as per Matthew = 28. Number of generations from David to Jesus as per Luke = 43. Something doesn't add up. Yup, he definately gets his math from the bible. Chances this guy will be alive to take the flack of him being wrong again. I'll go with 5%. You're welcome.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Ryan (another one)

      Ryan, have you ever studied why that is? Maybe you should did a little deeper in your study of the Bible if you are to throw "contradictions" card. Ask yourself, how could the two books give such a closely detailed account of the ministry of Jesus? If you are claiming that the lineage is starkly contradictive, then this means the authors must not have had access to each other's manuscrips to make them "match". Why then, does the rest of the story match almost exactly if it were not witnessed firsthand by two separate authors?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • David

      Matthew and Luke both used a common source (which Mark was also based upon) and they each embellished the earlier stories in their own fashion, as they heard the tales grow in their "neck of the woods". Harold Camping is just as accurate as the bible.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  14. Mark

    BRUCE..........What is the mans website? Please do share it with us.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Bruce

      www dot wecanknow dot com

      May 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  15. RodRoderick

    ...So does this mean he'll be giving a refund for his book, or a free copied of the revised version? =P

    Seriously though, for those who think all religions are scams: yes there are many out there that will try to take advantage of the weak. The problem is many people do not realize that religion isn't just about an "eternity after", it's about how to enjoy the life you have now. Many of the things that so called athiests take for granted is that by living a more humbled life and trying to avoid the tempation of sin – your life can be morefulling. The eternity in heaven is just icing on the cake.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  16. Fidei Coticula Crux

    Do not give what is holy to the DOGS; nor cast your pearls before SWINE, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. – Matthew 7:6

    DOGS and SWINE refer to people who are enemies of the gospel, as opposed to those who are merely unbelievers. Such enemies are to be left alone (Matthew 15:14; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). Besides, if there was no Christianity or Religion, then who else in the world would the new atheists have to hate.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • David

      And what pray tell does that have to do with this religious crackpot getting it wrong every time then "revising" his dates? It's got nothing to do with hate from atheists and everything with religious morons hypocritical preachy babbling.

      I look forward to Harold's next "revision".... or do I mean bee-ess?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Laughing

      What's fascinating to me is that there are two camps that seem to feed off each other on this board. No I'm not talking about chrsitians vs. atheists. I'm talking about within christian believers who feel on one hand all they're doing is spreading the word of god and that they're good and atheists are evil because they spew hate, then you have a comment like this, calling out atheists, or "new atheists" which I think is your fancy name for an atheists who has found his voice to actually speak up. You wonder, if there was no religion around who would atheists hate? Well I can speak for a lot (not all) of my fellow atheists when I say that we don't hate religion, it's straight pity. Once religious people come to their senses and can realize what they think is real doesn't make any sense then maybe you'll realize a lot of the hate is pretty one sided and would disappear.

      Then again, you can always just call me and my fellows swine because your magic book says so. Either way

      May 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Brandon

      They would probably hate their ex-es, their boss, rapists, pedophiles, bedbugs, crying babies on planes... you know, the stuff people already hate. If religion had never existed, how would they have ever been an atheist in the first place, anyway?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • DTakes

      @ Fidei Coticula Crux and Laughing:

      Both of you are being ignorant. Respect each other's believes whatever they may be. As long as you're not off murdering people I don't see why an intelligent conversation can't take place without demeaning each others beliefs. You're acting like kids.

      @ Fidei Coticula Crux:

      I have never met an atheist who hates religious people. They are just trying to comprehend why someone would choose to believe what they think is a lie. They see it like you and I would see a folk story or fairy tale – in the same way religious are trying to understand why atheists choose to not believe. So why all the anger?

      Let each other believe what you want to believe. There is nothing that can prove either of you right. Even if there is science, evolution, etc. that doesn't mean there isn't something greater.

      @Laughing:

      I hope one day you realize there is no need to pity religion. If you're going to feel something, feel compassion for people that use religion with malicious intent or without common sense. Religion can be a wonderful thing.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Laughing

      @DTakes .......I'm going to assume you're in the "can't we all just get along?" category of christianity. Wouldn't it be great? I agree, I would love a live and let live policy, you know my issue though? It's stuff that you say like, "feel compassion for people that use religion with malicious intent or without common sense. Religion can be a wonderful thing." How the heck can I feel compassionate towards a person who wants to do harm and legitimize it. You tacitly allowing that action is just as bad as the action itself. I think I'll stick with stopping the people who use religion with malicious intent thank you very much.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  17. Landruu

    This guy is 89 years old. He will never admit defeat. What he will do though is that he will continue to change the date with each passing of his prediction. He will do this until he dies so that he never has to say he was wrong and that the past 40-50 years of his life were a lie. His fanatical behavior is no different than anyone elses. He spreads terror to the weak.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  18. bob

    He should redo the part of the math where he scammed $100 million from people. Then again, if they're stupid enough to send it to him...

    May 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  19. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    He forgot to carry the zero.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  20. lucas

    We know God is mercyfull no doubt,What about those followers,lost they jobs,houses?God does not have to do with this mess.THe preacher is a faux prophete.Nothing happened since he has been talking about the end of the World.He need to shou tup and leave people of God alone.Nobody knows when the end is going to happen.HE need to give us brak we know and Love Jesus HE s our savior.God does not scare peoples

    May 24, 2011 at 1:16 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.