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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. WildmanBill

    All these religious nuts are making me want to hurl. I guess they believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Boogie Man under the bed too?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  2. ScottK

    "It's fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that–it's all illusion. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing." – John Lennon

    May 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  3. Larry

    For even paying attention to this ass, you at CNN are just as crazy as he is.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  4. Robert M

    This guy is a fraud. He must of not gotten enough millions in donations the first time around so he wants people to be scared for another 5 months and make some more money. His accounts should be frozen and he should sit and rot in a jail cell. But no, he's going to get away with it hiding behind the guise of religion. I wish there where a heaven and hell so he could burn in hell for being such a spas.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  5. nofoldems

    Will the world come to an end? Yes! In about 4-5 billion years. That's based on scientific calculations, not looney interpretations.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  6. hawaiiduude

    the israel lobby aipac is his biggest supporter I wonder why?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  7. Jeez

    I honestly wish CNN Would quit this nut job attention.. You're just making him richer.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Joe

      Really! He makes sane Christians look bad, and crazy CNN reports question their decisions to highlight garbage on their website.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  8. 2cupsofjoe

    If in the Bible, it says that God's own son doesn't know when judgment day is, why would God let Harold Camping know?
    It also says that a day is like a thousand years, so what is he calculating? God is going to come like a thief in the night and EVERYONE will know, according to his Word. The Bible also warned about guys like Harold Camping who are false prophets. All harold camping has done is bring name recognition and money to himself. In the Bible is says that the devil comes in sheep's clothing.
    People need to read the Bible and stop this humanitarian crusade to get people saved because God looks at your intentions and the only people that are going to enter the kingdom of heaven are the people who know Him, not the one's that scream out His name.....THATS IN THE BIBLE TOO!
    it doesn't matter how much money you have in the bank, if you joined the crusade or if you congregated with Harold Camping...God doesn't look at any of that. All that matters is your OWN relationship with God....don't take my word for it. Read the Bible! If more people did, then they would not be fooled by the Harold Campings of this world.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Lot o' crap in the Bible... just because you read it don't make you right (see Camping- read it, totally wrong!).
      Everyone keeps quoting this same passage from the Bible, but no one answers my question... How can Jesus (son) not know, but God (father) does? They are the same person according to every Christian I have ever talked to, and it eludes to that throughout the Bible. Silly, silly, silly....

      May 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Yeller.. Does your right hand know anything without the brain telling it? Does it know what the left hand is doing? Same concept...Father=brain Jesus=right hand

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

      People are basing there lives on a book that promotes the subjugation of women, incest, murder, hate, discrimination and violence. And people call this the "Good Book"? Thats nice. I will pass.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  9. CollegeGuy

    So he is sitting 2 strikes down. Then the Mayans are next up at bat; and humanity it pitching a tough game.

    My money is on October 21st being full of laughs at what excuse and "reasoning" he has for why the world hasn't ended JUST YET.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Lynda

    The only thing that matters in all this is that his actions caused others to be financially ruined..commit violence..etc..This man shouild be held accountable for endangerment to others..and law suits shouild be filed against him or the government should take his millions and distribute them to those who lost everything because of the stupidity of this man..He needs to shut up and stop hurting people with his words..God would not want his children to be hurt..so this man, in my opinion, is not a follower of God..

    May 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • rnowman

      Sorry but if those people are dumb enough to fall for that crap,they deserve to lose every penny they invested in this nut job.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • 2cupsofjoe

      It's like what happens when people believe everything that the media spits out.....harold camping is successful because we depend on others to do our research, to the read the Bible for us and spit out the information. I DON'T THINK HE SHOULD BE SUED AND IT IS NOT HIS FAULT. It may leave a sour taste in your mouth because he has grossly profited with his false teachings.
      ITS NOT HIS FAULT OTHERS DIDN'T READ THE BIBLE. IF PEOPLE ACTUALLY READ THE WORD, THEN THEY WOULDN'T BELIEVE THE HAROLD CAMPINGS OF THIS WORLD. This is lessen to be learned.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Finger Puppet

      @Lynda
      Oh Lord Almighty,
      Are you for real ? "They" are responsible for themselves. He couldn't make them do anything if he tried. He's a feeble 89 year old.
      Everyone's a victim, right.
      He caused nothing. If anything happened they caused it for themselves, and brought any consequences on themselves.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jake

      Lynda - If we prosecuted all religious organizations for victimizing and defrauding followers based on nonsense and lies, there would be no religions left. Wait, that is a good idea. I like the way you think!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  11. Laughing

    I miss Clinton.....Where are you buddy!? We were having such a lively debate, which not many atheists or christians can say on this board considering it usually devolves into name calling and condemnation, but you clint, you tried......tried to argue intelligently.

    Someone get Clinton in on this PLEASE?! Oh holy zeus, who sent your son hercules down to do labors for mankind and wrought miracles, if you hear me zeus, get clint back here stat!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  12. Lucy ! You got some 'splainin ta do.

    Now Harold, THAT was awkward.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  13. Rhonda_S

    I will not judge what did or did not happen. A fellow man, followed his heart and the light from within. There are many changes happening everyday., I hear people following there hearts in everything they do, were before they followed what was popular. It is brave and real to be your unique true self at all cost and it is happening in front of our eyes and ears every day.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  14. lolo

    Will these people just quit with the guessing game. They cannot be Christians. No one knows when the world will end. They must have written their own bible to follow. These nut jobs have been doing this for years. He must be a republican. He sounds just like one of those mushroom people. I bet the people in the red states are eating this junk up. Now they have something new to complain about. I guess it was President Obama's fault that the world did not end on the day that they predicted. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  15. GAW

    Two Sayings come to mind here "At first you don't succeed try, try again" and "The little boy who cried Wolf"

    May 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  16. scott wong

    Camping is either a lunatic or a swindler. The main culprit is CNN though for giving attention to this gentlemen in hopes of getting rating. CNN is getting to be like the National Enquirer. READ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL OR FINANCIAL TIMES. Stop funding CNN and this Lunatic Organization.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      you know this guy and his little band of followers was covered by news organizations world wide right? not just cnn in the US?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • WildmanBill

      I think both.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  17. Scott

    Larry, someday you'll find out if you're right.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  18. Sinner

    If he is a minister he must be reading from something other than the Holy Bible. Read Mathew, Chapter 24, Verse 36. This man cannot know the time or the hour, period! The news media needs to quit giving him the attention he is seeking. There is no true christian who would be saying this if in his or her, right mind. You nor I will be his judge, God will be. Enough said.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • dannydencolusa

      wake up America these Christian nuts believe that because ur bibles a best seller it is evidence & facts to live by....the timing is off through out the bible,when it was written,the events within it...it is a sales pitch,no one group would b chosen over another by a perfect God.end religion & became spiritually connected with life

      May 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  19. Don

    Nobody knows when the world is going to end. The ones that say it is going to end soon don't know what they are talking about. The world is still going to be around another 5 billion years. And what is going to destroy the earth. Is the milky way coliding with another part of space. So he is saying that the earth will be destroyed Oct-21-2011. We will still be here then. The preacher just wants to be in the news that is all. And make millions for his churck.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Bruce

      On October 22nd, 2011, if Camping is still alive to tell us this, he will reveal that the end of the world happened the day before, just as he predicted, although it will be a "spiritual" end of the world rather than a "physical" end of the world.

      That is my prediction. So mote it be.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Don, you ctiricize this guy for making a prediction and then you go on to make your own prediction... which will probably be about as accurate as his.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  20. Dan

    I am completely shocked that this guy had the nerve to even face the media.. well considering his 1994 failure why should i be. Anyways he says he interpreting the bible.. well he must of have missed reading mathew as it says NO one KNOWS when it will happen. And I hate to burst his bubble but chirstians don't get taken away from "tribulation" they are persecuted and destroyed. To many false preachers out there.

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

      Dan, why would this shock you? If there is one thing this Camping guy's got, it's nerve...

      May 24, 2011 at 1:46 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.