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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. JS

    A lying, whacko. scam artist moron– with non-stop media coverage. GOD is a SCAM- MORONS!! There is NO GOD!! NO GOD! NONE!!!!!!!! No Judgement Day is coming. Go to strip clubs, enjoy your life– because once you're dead- you're buried and you're history. RELIGION 'CAUSES' most of the PROBLEMS in the world– WEAK, FEEBLE MINDED- IDIOTS resort to this stupidity because they can't deal with their lives. Humanity has reached a new low- when this guy gets this much attention.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • JZEE

      yep! Religion cause most of the problem in this planet, AND IT WILL END WHEN THOSE RELIGIONS LUNATIC DON'T GET ALONG.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Tim

      I'd agree with you about the cause of problems, but that's only because of the corrupt, stupid or violent people looking for excuses. No normal person will do bad things in the name of faith, but a lot of people aren't stable and they will either blatantly oppose their alleged faith with their actions, or they truly believe and are misled (because they are too stupid to realize the difference) and do violent acts or make the world a worse place, or cause problems. Believe it or not, there are some (not many) normal Christians that follow your same beliefs about life and society. That said, few people are what they claim, so it's no surprise people use religion as an excuse and that is what most people see, so I don't blame people for thinking they're all insane idiots.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  2. Miguel

    What a village idiot! Bring on the "speaking" in tongues and holding snakes crowds...
    Misguided folks have been predicting the end of the world since man could think, well before the Jew named Christ started to preach his good words.... and many more will for all time no matter the religion or background – there will always be "doomsday" prophets.

    My recommendation to all of these groups is – take the poison, we need to selectively breed out this brand of idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Hugo

      The guy made a mistake. Come on people, we ALL make mistakes, it's not like it's the end of the world or something... oh wait...

      May 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Rodrigo

      Jajaja, Hugo, excelent.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  3. SRSLY?

    ". . . except my wife as the head of the household." LOLOLOLOL Where to begin?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  4. Mark

    Bruce

    (5 x 10 x 17)^2 = 722,500, therefore May 11, 2011.

    There you go.

    What in the world Bruce? How does that have anything to do with the bible saying October 21st is destruction day?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Bruce

      Just add five months. Duh... :P

      The numbers, and how he derived them, don't matter. The numbers are a cover for something else. He needed a firm date so he could boldly proclaim it. The boldness was the key, not the numbers.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mark

      http://www.wecanknow.com says nothing of this date. The video I watched is of the man fumbling around in the book of Thessalonians. Bruce its ok to admit that you are a Camoing follower!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Bruce

      Mark, does it make you feel good to think of me as a Camping follower?

      I've already said that Camping has some serious problems with his predictions, but that the problems didn't include ignoring verses like Matthew 24:36. If you went to his site, you would have quickly realized this.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Mark

      look my friend I knew this before I went to his website! I am just trying to ascertain how in this world he and he alone came up with October 21st from bible chronology. I thought you knew but now I know you dont. From reading some of your posts it was kinda easy to say you may be a Camping follower. You seem to know so much about him and have some insight as well. Dont get offended, I knew he was a fruit loop long before this. I do think everyone should go to his website to see his ramblings on.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • JZEE

      C'mon! the guy has been in the casino too much. His head always think about 21, he will the deal. When crack-pot + black jack = 21 WIN the DEAL. That is how he get his day on 21th.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  5. hsmith

    This man is misguided; The Bible plainly says that NO MAN knows the time when Jesus will return. If this man says it will be at 6:00 on Saturday evening , you can be sure that it WILL NOT be at that time. It will be at a time when no one expects it. The Bible says to "Watch and Be ready." So we should be ready at any time, not when some misguided man tells us to be ready.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Horus

      To bother watching and worrying at all is misguided. To follow a book assembled by man is misguided.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  6. Dan B

    If you're going to be a fundamentalist Christian and base everything on the true word of God as written in the Bible, you can't simply ignore passages that contradict what YOU want things to mean. I'm not a Christian, but even with my limited knowledge of the Bible, I came up with a few passages for Mr. Camping and his radio listeners to ponder:

    Deuteronomy 18:21-22:

    21 "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' 22 "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

    Matthew 24:36 and 42-44:

    36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." …

    42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into." 44 "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

    Food for thought. :^)

    May 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • furious

      You may be the first person I have ever met that is truely dumb. you sound like a person who believes in pure science, hay stupid...if man evolved from monkeys then why has the eveloution stoped..you can not believe that the human form is the most intelligent design..Get Real.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Horus

      If you understood evolution, you 'd know that modern theory doesn't propose we evolved FROM monkeys. Proof of evolution exists even in us...read a few books, try to understand, then see where you are completely wrong. Whales have pelvis bones and femurs...oh my...human fetus's have gill slits...the horror.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Miguel

      I agree with you in principle Dan, but sure they can and do ignore it all the time...
      many of the sects just focus on one passage and base their wholr sects beleifs in it (and this includes muslim, christian, jewish and other religions)

      This clown Camping is just another huckster or worse really beleives his own BS (e.g. Jim Jones) – the really bad part is there are people out there who he convinces to give up everything to follow him....

      From the Christian side I think of the Jehovah Witnesses, 7th day adventists, Snake handlers and other assorted Appalachian back woods religions.... cults for a few generations until they gather enough followers to become mainstream.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Heather M

      You are so right if he a true prophet (some one who is speaking the words that they heard from God) that prediction must come to pass or he/she makes God out to be lier. God would be no different the a sinful man. He should keep quiet because what he speaks is not from God at all but is own sinful nature.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • JZEE

      Much better of number then Camping, at lease you did not call 21th or WINNING the black jack deal.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  7. 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!

    We need to put the focus on the story of the brave people in Joplin, MO right now and the need to help each other. Not, this idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • steve

      Couldn't agree more. The greatest hindrance of social evolution is religion, next is greed, followed by addition to material objects.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Tim

      Your assumption about all Christians being ignorant fools, is actually all based on the actions of a minority of lunatics and uneducated "so-called" Christians. Yes, a lot of people claim and think they are, and believe ridiculous things, cause more problems in the world and do get in the way of medicine and science and are basically just crappy people. However, there are those that take things for what they are, are intelligent, good people, who don't impose their beliefs on the world, politics or other people. The so-called Christians that believe in ghosts floating around (being watched by a guardian angel or dead relative), those that think when a child dies, they float up to Heaven and become "angels" and think the end of the world is coming in our life time or that of their children's generation, are really just the ignorant one's that don't understand or lead the lives they claim they are leading. People like that are easily duped.

      A normal, sane and intelligent Christian does ask questions, accepts facts and they simply have faith in a higher power and the association with Jesus Christ. The man did exist, for example, but one could easily debate if he was the son of God. The only difference between a normal, every day decent person and one that's a Christian (a true Christian), is their belief in a higher power. I understand there are a lot of hypocritical, violent people with agenda's that are clueless and rant on about God and being a Christian, but few actually are. You wouldn't know or care about the difference in reality, so long as they weren't one of the typical frauds you see (so I understand why people that that impression, especially with wacko's like G.W. Bush telling America that God told him something, or the GOP trying to use simpleton's of faith to get elected and get in power by just saying they are more morally grounded). It's an individual thing, so try not to lump everyone into the same mindset. Don't get me wrong or think I'm being arrogant, but as a Christian, I don't see a lot of normal one's out there either, but being one doesn't automatically mean you're an annoying idiot or a trouble maker.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • NC

      Great comment Chuck.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • JZEE

      Religions fanatic getting too close to destroy thhis planet now. NOT GOD, NOT EARTH QUAKES, IT RELIGIONS FANATIC GROUPS. WAIT until Islams get to hold on Nuclear Warheads. Who are they going to destroy? Westerner countries. WHAT IS MAJORITY BELIEVERS IN THE WESTERN COUNTRIES? CHRISTAIN

      May 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  8. Jacks

    Oh, Diogonese and the rest of you lunatics shut UP already. It amazes me how, when you people are proven wrong, you just default to "It's God's will" and that makes your lies and cult garbage acceptable. Just...just, shut up.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  9. Craig

    In the days of Christ and earlier, false prophets were stoned to death. I think we need a renaissance.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Jarett

      That is exactly what I was thinking! False prophets in todays age should get locked up away from causing any more harm and insult to the integrity of god.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Shirley

    Doesn't this old guys family come visit him in the rest home? Is he that desperate for attention.. That is understandable, what is boggling my mind is that he has other convinced he knows what he is talking about...wow.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  11. Ginger

    Why in the name of all things logical hasn't this guy been arrested for fraud? He's just plain stealing money from the sheep of his flock. And sheep is an apt term for certain.
    Teaching the bible... which one? Doesn't matter, the bible is nothing but a bunch of arbitrary stories made up about 1900 yrs ago to keep the ignorant in line. Those farther along on the evolutionary ladder know this and we feel very badly for those of you still listening to the total fantasy of religion, any religion. It's all nonsense. Christianity is no different than when the Greeks believed in Zeus and Hera. The only thing religion has done for this world is cause wars in the name of a deity (whichever one) who is supposed to be loving and forgiving.. surely sounds like a presence that relishes war? Insanity.
    In 4 months he'll just say, OOPS I got it wrong again, collect more money and laugh his way to the bank.
    Wake UP people! If you want to do good with your money, give it to a homeless shelter, a food pantry, educate your children or someone else's. Now that's the "Christian" thing to do anyway, isn't it?
    Someone sue this charlatan, along with every other church for spewing fiction as fact. Better yet, make them prove it.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Shirley

      Thank you Ginger, very nicely said.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  12. furious

    this prediction comes from a man close to death and who is afraid to face GOD alone...what a chicken.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  13. hr

    Maybe it did happen, and he didn't get to go.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  14. tyler

    Thinking, intelligence and Christianity never seem to fit together.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Ralph

      You are 2/3 right ,Tyler. Thinking, intelligence and Fundamentalism do not go together.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Miguel

      I have to go with Ralph on this one, Christianity and the other religions by themselves can give people hope and prinicples to help them thru life.... it is fundamentalists – another name for EXTREMIST – no matter the religion muslim, jew, buddhist, christian, that give bring it all down – for they all have one goal – convert you or kill you if you do not

      May 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  15. Only sheep need a shepherd

    His beliefs don't sound any more ridiculous than any other religion. Keep praying, sheep.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  16. Boom

    well. third time is the charm, right?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  17. buckup

    "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible. "

    The mindset of america leading the world.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  18. Roger

    yes – but a staircase from Heaven would be soooo much better for ratings.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  19. Bruno

    According to Camping god is "loving and merciful", yet according to him in five months time 7 billion lives will be wasted so the messiah can return, but at what cost? To him and his followers, and any of you out there with similair thougths, I say keep your messiah, the trade off isn't worth it.
    I also can't believe he can spew forth this nonsense, and Family Radio was able to raise $80 million in 4 or 5 years, sure are a lot of fools out there!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  20. Jim

    I feel sorry for these people that follow such things. Just live your lives the best you can, help others to the degree feasible and stop such nonsense.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Matt Brosnan

      I think that they should ban him from making radio shows ever again and is forced to give back every dollar he ever received from his listeners

      May 24, 2011 at 2:45 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.