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. lamario2005

    honestly, I don't feel bad for the idiots who believe this guy and gave up their stuff. No one truly knows where the world will end, it doesn't matter how many times you read the bible, how many times you trip on lsd and think god is speaking to you, it doesn't matter how much science formulas you use or no matter how advanced the technology you use to predict the end of the world, it isn't going to happen. How about everyone just live their lives to their fullest instead of worrying if judgement day is around the corner.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  2. John In England

    WISCONSIN – USA – Dwight Bingham, a follower of the Christian radio network Family Stations Inc is demanding the return of the $185,000 he gave to Jesus last week when the Rapture was meant to happen.
    "I want my money back," Mr Bingham, 43, told a rival local Christian radio station.

    Thousands of Rapture followers are now threatening to sue Jesus for not showing up when they believed he would turn up.
    Some even sold all of their belongings and are still in home-made bunkers believing that the Rapture has actually occurred.

    ALL MAD PEOPLE!!!! On drugs get a real life

    May 24, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  3. DL

    Anyone who still believes this charlatan needs to be sterilised for the good of the planet. Nor should they be allowed to operate heavy machinery or do complex multiplication. If you believe this mess you are stupid. Not ignorant, not ill-informed, STU-pid.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  4. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Oooohhhh. Fluffy is ecstatic. Fluffy assumed his boss was going to lay him off today, but now Fluffy gets to work for a few more months.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  5. Howard Hirsch

    "I think Camping is hoping he's dead in 5 months."

    Wouldn't that be ironic.

    "CNN, please don't become a soap box for crazy people."

    They might have if it wasn't for those crazy-a$$ billboards and people passing out thousands of flyers. Hard to ignore stupidity when it's so well advertised and promoted. Any bets his "believers" will cough up yet more millions to add to the coffers of "Our lady of pain and suffering" once more? Even though he's been wrong twice now..? Boy oh boy. I'm in the wrong business. And I'd sure like to try out some of the koolaid he's passing out. Must be potent stuff.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  6. Annexian

    It's funny, you know how people are "Rapture Bombing"? Meaning leaving sets of clothes to look like they were just walking or standing and their bodies disappeared?

    Imagine 5 months from now, his most devout followers who've sold all they own, went into debt for more and are waiting for the end. IMO he'll flee at the last moment with all the money and it'll be like "Uh, I'm going to Thigh-Land for some last minute preaching to all them heathen non-white sinners, especially the street immoral women I saw on Thigh Cream Pies, so I'll be trying to save a few last souls, uh that's the ticket...just keep prayin..." Then the next day they get evicted from the church since he was REAL serious this time and sold even that, so there's nowhere to go...

    And they walk out and see the contemptuous piles of clothes...

    Uh, ever seen "Drawn Together" where Princess Clara thinks her roommates got raptured? YouTube it;-)

    May 24, 2011 at 4:47 am |
  7. Kathryn

    some one should get a rope, hang him from the nearest tree and tell him he has been raptured

    May 24, 2011 at 4:46 am |
  8. Franny

    How about this false Prophet pay back those who got rid of all their possessions? After all this so called Minister has 80 million! He sounds like a greedy 89 year old nutjob!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:46 am |
    • Mike in PA

      He's not a minister. Just a self-taught bible teacher who did well as an engineer and later as a radio broadcaster.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  9. taylorpres

    He keeps saying that he is preaching the Bible, but in reality you can not find what he is preaching in the Bible. The Bible does say that the closer Christ's coming is false prophets will arise. Camping is helping fulfill prophesy whether he realizes it or not. May God's people stay faithful to the Truth and not to what others have to say.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:43 am |
  10. vmprophet

    oh for the love of God wont these people just go away. Why are people so eager to predict the death and destruction of everything, I mean its not like predicting the lottery numbers. Your prize for being right is you DEAD and DESTROYED. "Hey here is a flyer telling you when everything you know will be eradicated, keep it just in case"

    May 24, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  11. Roland

    After 2 failed predictions and after I learned from my christians congregations that Mr Harold Camping was a false preacher, I will not put my trust in him anymore.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Void

      You should be embarrassed you trusted him a first time. I'll never understand you fundamentalist types.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:43 am |
    • After 2 predictions, Roland? Really? Really?

      It took 2 predictions before you figured it out? Despite all the verses in the Bible advising that no one will ever know the date? Despite all the previous religions (Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, etc.) and movements (Millerites, etc.) who've attempted to predict the end and failed?

      You're probably not an idiot, but I suspect you can't be accused of having any common sense either.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:50 am |
    • Jenn

      After 2 failed predictions? May 2011 was his 3rd failed prediction and October 2011 will be his forth. He tried this back in September 1994 and again in October 1994 before his May 2011 prediction and now October. This guy just needs to be locked in a padded cell where he can make all these stupid predictions to himself and nobody will be dumb enough to listen to him.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  12. JoeShmo

    Matthew 24:36-"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
    Read your Bible Mr.Camping, there are many verses that say the end is unpredictable.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • Mark Grundy

      100% spot on answer Joe.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:37 am |
  13. Paul

    The guy's desperate. I bet a former follower will end up putting a bullet in his head.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • Laughing atheist

      REALLY wish this guy of all people would have drank the cool-aid

      May 24, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Rick

      That would be amusing, but I would prefer he takes that step to see Jebus on his own

      May 24, 2011 at 4:39 am |
  14. Da'rrell

    Why does CNN continue to give this guy a forum to make these outlandish claims. If you take the mic out of his face he'll go away. How many times does he need to show he's a fraud before you walk away CNN. Have some dignity. You use to report the news. Now you're just an extension of TMZ.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • Howard Hirsch

      Amen. The more exposure we give these mental deficients, the more wackos will come out of the woodwork to emulate him. Isn't Lindsey Lohan and Charley Sheen enough?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:55 am |
  15. Chancho

    I love Jesus but this dude is bad news. You know when it says wolves in sheeps clothing?... yeah

    May 24, 2011 at 4:29 am |
    • Yep


      May 24, 2011 at 4:45 am |
  16. yeah right

    Fruit cake

    May 24, 2011 at 4:29 am |
  17. Zed 0

    I guess he forgot to carry the 3.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:28 am |
  18. dan

    Oh CNN, please don't become a soap box for crazy people.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:22 am |
  19. John In England

    This Harold Camping is nothing but a fraud, people doing stupid things by taking his word for it, yes gullible people. I looked on his website to see what trash he came out with and on the page it said "the bible guarantees it" So now again i guess you will have the same guarantee in 5 months (again) now.

    Faith is what it says"faith" people taking a persons word 100% without ever questioning it.
    How many wars and killings have happened in the world in the name of religion ?

    A guy from the UK called Derren Brown setup a fake faith healer to come over to America and do there stuff when the "faith healer" was nothing but a actor and yet so many people believed in him.

    There is a real world, the planet is a living planet and there is no such thing as god, and after the 5 months has gone AGAIN you will see more lies and fake religious nonsense yest again for his next prediction.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • Nope

      God is as real as the world. He created it, unless you wish to contend something came from nothing.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • Possibilities


      I contend that we don't know everything about the universe... yet. I do not fall back on the default answer to the unknown by saying, "God did it"; much less that such "God" spoke to some primitive Middle Eastern desert tribal men.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:56 am |
    • John In England

      @nope.... Science has PROVED more things then just saying god has made the world. Science makes people think and not just take a persons word for it as they like to prove things unlike religion is taking a persons word for it.

      RNA can be created by people also proved, a building block of life. I lived in TX (Brownsville) for a while and religion / money go side by side when thousands of people suffer and all this TV stuff i seen like 1-800-pray its all trash. Ever seen a poor religious person as in a priest ? seen the problems that pastor caused by the burning of the Koran ?

      No religion is less wars and less gullible people being scammed

      May 24, 2011 at 5:35 am |
    • SB

      @Nope: Creationists are the ones who believe we came from nothing. The rest of us believe the universe owes it birth to natural processes that have yet to be fully understood.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:40 am |
    • John In England


      Well said.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:01 am |
  20. Polaris431

    I think Camping is hoping he's dead in 5 months.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:21 am |
    • PJC

      I think many others are hoping that Camping is dead in 5 months.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:33 am |
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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.