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. Jam

    He has gone mad. Its high time his followers should be punished this old crap on Oct’21.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Jam

      * He has gone mad. Its high time his followers should punished this old crap on Oct’21.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • blake

      i personally think it's a bunch of bull. im not religious. but this makes no sense
      it says in the bible. man will not know the date of Jesus's return. maybe they should read the fine print.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  2. Jon

    I always knew that May 21 date was a crock. But this new, improved October 21 date – now THAT makes a lot of sense. LMAO.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  3. ME

    First of all, this guy has NO IDEA what he's talking about. He predicted this would happen back in 1994. What was what? 17 years ago? Seriously, you don't know what you're talking about. Retire and be done. The Bible states that only God knows when it's ending. As far as I know, that isn't you. Thanks.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • FairAndBalanced

      But every time he makes a prediction, in come millions of $$ from his followers who believe every word he says.

      Looking at this in a very clinical way, this is the same type of scam that TV evangelists and mega churches perpetrate on a mass of people who will give everything for some some 'salvation'.

      If you believe in God, it can be done inexpensively, without donating to any religious organization. One's faith and God are personal, and it doesn't need to be bought1

      May 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  4. Jammer

    Holy cow, what an idiot this guy is.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • No Man Knows the Day or Time....

      If you haven't yet accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, this would be a good time to do so. The Father is patient so that no man will perish. Know Christ is Life.....No Christ is Death. Your choice. Choose right this moment.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  5. JZEE


    May 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  6. aliashw

    The rapture thingy happened right on schedule, no one qualified for the taking. Guess everyone now is just waiting for the end of universe thing.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • airwx

      Dibs on shotgun going to the end of the world as we know it cafe!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  7. Dan Aaaaa

    Extremists get media attention. Terrorists, goofballs like this guy, anyone who the media thinks is going to entertain and sell advertising. Too bad that religion gets such poor billing and as a result the public opinion is potentially shaped by the headliners. How about reporting the GOOD that we see coming out of how individuals practice their faith in making this world a more wonderful place? Too mundane? Too Bad! You've got tons of humanitarian relief going out to tornado victims, how about covering what people of faith are doing to help and leave the weirdos in their little corner with those they've duped into following.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  8. AK

    Is there a facebook page for "2-3%" . I would like to see who they are

    May 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  9. Horus

    For the sake of argument, I'd like to point out that John the Baptist was the leader of what was at the time considered an apocalyptic movement, off-shoot of Judaism. His followers anticipated the arrival of Kristos (annointed one). When the magic man Jesus showed up after being kicked out of a Jewish school, well, he was their Camping. This version has far more historical support than your KJB....

    May 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • airwx

      apocolyptic= unveiled... not end of the world

      May 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Horus

      thanks webster....you missed the point....desperate people seeking a leader....

      May 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • airwx

      desparate....as in the people today looking at the reality of the world and realizing man isn't going to fix this mess??? Is that the motivation you wish to describe?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Horus

      So you would rely on an imaginary being rooted in man's development of awareness? No, I don't think man will fix the mess we created..I think we will end ourselves via our own stupidity and arrogance...but the earth itself will thrive...especially without us here.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  10. The truth

    Did I mentioned that the earth was destroyed, no I did not, then the dove could not have given the Olive branch to Noah letting him know that the vision was fulfilled! and yes the world this time will be consumed with fire, the elements shall melt! Like I said before the ark of Safety now is Yahshua the Messiah.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  11. Edwin Jey

    Bro. Harold Camping, I am still listening to you as a great teacher. My car, home, office and laptop is tuned to FM106.9. I am not going to stop; but I never trust your prediction because Jesus already told in Matthew 24:27, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”. Also, in Matthew 24:36, Jesus said, “but about that day or hour no one knows except God”. Now you are indulging in Blasphemy, by saying “Saturday was an invisible judgment day". Don’t be stiff-necked anymore; but please repent to God. For Christian, every day is Judgment day; every minute is judgment. Please shed your quixotics and cultivate good thought, spread Gospel, which means Good News, rather than spreading rumor and panic. Second coming and Judgment of Him are holiest of holy subject and don’t make it a joke, please.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Bob Beecher

      Boy, these religious nuts like to quote that bible stuff. It doesn't make any of it true. I could quote from the book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, but that doesn't mean I'll be expecting Jack and Jill to come tumbling down the hill in my neighborhood.

      Ah, there's a sucker born again every minute.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • brandon s

      Expert troll!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  12. The Truth

    When the United Nations will ELIMINATE all religions? I hope for that day everyday!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • roshinobi

      Wow, you know you're out of touch with reality when you think the UN is capable of doing anything.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • The Truth

      The United Nations can at least promote eliminating all religions as a way out of Terror, child abuse in church, vatican, muslims, etc, etc

      May 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • ntprofile

      I agree, there are so many people who think like you but the fantasy continues in so many weak minds. Religion has it's purpose, but at some point in time of grown adults one would think that physical reality is more important than so many conjured up fables. I say, believe in what you want but look at the world around you. After all we do live in a physical world where people have feelings and emotions. These people who say and suppoirt this are disconnected to say the least.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Halleluljah

      It has already begun.......only a matter of time before the walls fall

      May 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • roshinobi

      It's pretty naive to think religion is actually a source of evil. It's an excuse at best. Evil people are going to be evil no matter what their religion, or lack thereof, is, and people are going to be manipulated with or without religion.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • TheBenedictine83

      You would have a better chance of being Raptured than having the UN actually ban all religions in the world.

      Seriously, The Truth, really, I mean, really? Wow, just -- wow.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  13. Richard

    Why does the media give credence to crazies. This pastor (just as our friends at the Westboro Baptist), are as far from God and Scripture as Satan is from ice. They insult Christianity with their pride (which as Scripture says goes before the fall). These same groups makes condemning judgements which that are definitely not of Christ. Regarding end times prophecy JC said: "But of that day [tribulation] and hour no one knows not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." So are these preachers stepping into God's place! - don't they wish. Christ said you would know His disciples by the love they show and that He came to save not condemn. A lot of so-called Christians are condemning everything but themselves and they too, are a shame to Christ. JC called these types of Christians wolves in sheep's clothing. In other words, this fear mongering and hate-spreading must stop (if this is Christianity it's not Christ-like).

    May 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • george


      May 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • jmac

      Richard – well said, my friend.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Bob Beecher

      Are you kidding? Christianity is loaded with hate and violence! Read the bible and you'll see!

      Crazies? If you believe in an "invisible daddy in the sky" who watches over you and listens to your prayers....well, then you've just got yourself a first class ticket on The Crazy Train!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  14. Casey

    What a stupid idiot. I hate crazy religious nuts.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Manner V

      If this nut causes one person to take his own life, or come to financial ruin, he should be held legally responsible.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • NG

      Crazy religious nuts is a completely redundant statement. Religion=Crazy

      May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  15. norman

    Harold Camping could accurately predict the end of the world if only they'd stop switching his meds at the old age home.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  16. Somebody

    How can god "end the world" when he doesn't exist? The bible is a bunch of fairy tales.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  17. PRISM 1234

    So,the day came and went,and nothing happened.But why did the Media give it attention to this old guy, who even in the past had some false prophecies that did not come to pass? Is it because the media loves to put the bad spotlight on all Christianity, by choosing to make light out of it through weird guy like Camping? Yes, it looks like it! But that's not the only shadow that's covering now day's Christianity.... When the "Left Behind" books came out, and then the movies were made, it really sparked something that has made American Christians look like silly kindergarteners making up fairy tales for themselves, thinking if they gathere in large numbers, and believe hard enough , they will make it happen! ...
    Someone said in one of the other posts"the "rapture" is a 19th century American invention.." And it is so! Yet, much of the American church grabed hold of it as it were a fact, and clings to it, because it promises them no suffering and persecution, but Jesus said that the servant is not greater then his master... If they persecuted Him, they will do them too.. and through much tribulation we will enter the kingdom of Heaven.
    The true Christians of all ages past were persecuted for their faith.. Does today's "Laodicean" church thinks it will escape it?
    No, but because the the spirit of deception has blinded them, they can not understand the very words of 2Thessalonians 2:2-5 that specifically declare that Christians will have NO EARLY EXIT.
    But that's just the way satan wants it, because when he comes on the scene, many of those deceived Christians will NOT recognize him, and fall for him, since they were told they would not be here.... That's the peril when people look to man for interpretation of the Scriptures, instead of God....

    NO man can understand things of God on his own, unless God gives it to him. But He only gives it to those who seek Him, and only Him, in humility of their hearts, and total abandonment of self.

    So, you sceptics, and self proclaimed atheists out there... do not gloat over your "superior intelligence" and mock those who err, but still hold on to the Lord.... and don't spew your frivolous rantings. You have nothing to boast about. Sure, Christians are human beings who fall short on many accounts. But YOU are the ones who are the real losers, because in folly of pride that's in your hearts, you have lost ability to perceive what is real, and have lost the knowledge that you are more then what eyes can see and natural senses can perceive. Because in your folly you have silenced the voice of your own consciences which testified to you of truth, and therewith have denied your own souls .

    There is no other option for you, then to humble yourself and go back to where you left your consciences, that perhaps God in His mercy would give you repentance, and your poor souls would be spared from going into that place called hell, which you so vehemently deny that it exists. But you can't deny it away, because the reality does not depend on your opinions, it'll be there awaiting you, staring you in the face! One thing for sure is, you can't blame anyone for ending up there.... It will be your own fault, since God did not leave you out, but provided a way for you...
    So, no man can take anything from God. HE is the Lord, and we can listen, or turn away and do our own thing. That's the choice man has, called free will. But it comes with conditions which determine the consequences....

    " Oh, the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out... He has hidden them from those who are wise in their own eyes, but revealed them to the humble, and those of broken and contrite hearts... "
    But fools say in their hearts that there is no God, ans so they go on their own way, not knowing where it leads them, till they fall , and keep falling and keep falling, till they hear the voices of those who went before them having done same as they did.... And that's the reality, dear people, that no man can change, and his opinion does not affect!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • george

      Oh PAAAALEASE. Christianity puts a bad spotlight on it's closed minded self. It doesn't need any help from the media. And your long winded rant isn't helping.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • JZEE


      May 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jammer

      LOL. More hysterical nonsense from Christo-nutjobs.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • James

      It is not that disbelievers have superior intelligence, but that we trust what intelligence we have to understand the world around us. You and others like you simply refuse to learn from your own experiences, preferring instead to believe literally in words written hundreds of years ago by humans like yourself. There is literally nothing that can convince you that anything you choose to believe in is suspect or wrong, so it's a conversation not worth having. How many judgment days must come and go without incident before "believers" start to reconsider? Answer: For most, they will never reconsider, but continue to find excuses for their erroneous beliefs. Camping is perhaps the best current evidence that whether you are right or wrong has nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with how devoutly you "believe."

      May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Nobody

      Very long post. Well said. To bad more folks don't understand religion and faith are entirely different things.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      James, You said it's said "You and others like you simply refuse to learn from your own experiences, preferring instead to believe literally in words written hundreds of years ago by humans like yourself"
      But it is sad that you've missed the crucial point in my post.....
      I said "NO man can understand things of God on his own, unless God gives it to him. But He only gives it to those who seek Him, and only Him, in humility of their hearts, and total abandonment of self."But you've totaly missed this part! That'swhy there is no way you could understand things of God, and they are fulishness to you... These are not my words , but HIs, and according to what you said in your post, that's exactly where you are!

      May 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  18. Tina

    Oh goodie, we have five more months to repent!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  19. Moe

    Hey! If he's wrong, on October 22, do we get to stone him?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • iAmJustSixYearsOldRUmyCuddleFriend

      He's in California... it seems obvious he has been stoned for a long time.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Todd

      What's so wrong with getting stoned?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  20. ...

    lol it looks like he just bought a ticket straight to hell for lying to everyone.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • iAmJustSixYearsOldRUmyCuddleFriend

      The definition of hell is being surrounded by evangelical simpletons who can only see things in black and white and can only understand things literally. That is why they hate science, art, thoughts...

      May 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
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About this blog

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.