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. Sal

    I don't blame Camping. Blame it on all the IDIOTS who follow him. He is camping with his goons in a Caravan with $80 million he made from all these bunch of MORONS.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • PETERS

      It's more like 135 million dollars, some of which has been spent, leaving about 103 million dollars.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  2. sanjay

    To me it is another con , this time in the name of "GOD" ...shouldn't this be under "con detection radar !" as lot of money is involved....

    May 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • PETERS

      GOD has ALWAYS been a CON dummy.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  3. Roger

    I think that Harold should put his body where his mouth is. Give him coverage only if he promises to let us nail him to a cross on October 22nd (since he won't be here anyway) He has nothing to lose, he should agree to it and remain in our custody until that day so we can make sure to hang him high! (Since he has nothing to lose:)

    May 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  4. spocksbrain

    There is enough suffering due to manmade and natural disasters around the world. This idiot contributes nothing to humanity whatsoever. He is a zero and his followers are unfortunate dupes. He should shut up.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Ed

      Well said

      May 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  5. CTExas

    OK dudes...how long will this religious hoax persist? Until he disappears into the jungle with a bag of cash?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • PETERS

      Christianity has been going for over 2000 years, Islam about 1400 years, Judaism 5000 years, there is no end to human gullibility

      May 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  6. The truth

    This old fart is one banana peel away from the grave anyway!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  7. Ed

    Shame on you CNN for writing yet another story about a fictional event. This guys has been wrong twice thus far, soon to be a third. Waste of your reporter's time and your money. And shame on the people who still believe. This is nothing but another publicity stunt from Camping and his radio show. I will not feel bad for those who waste time in their RV's spreading the "word" and spend another life fortune on billboard throughout the country. Stop giving Camping the spotlight!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • CTExas

      So did the buffoons over at Faux News report on this fellow clown?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  8. Tuala Tommy

    We shud stop listening to this type of idiots,all they after is money,money and be famous for their stupid way of thinking.
    He shud be locked up in guantanamo bay together with all the terrorist.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Willie

      Dude, please take some English lessons.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  9. R

    This man should be jailed for having his followers who are dumb themselves sell all there life posessions and for scaring small children who watch television and see this sick man telling the world that it will end as if he was God. No one will know when the world is going to end.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  10. ash

    I really hope i don't get like that when I'm old

    May 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  11. Chalmers

    Here is the youtube link to the girl rapping! Her name is AJ. 🙂

    May 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  12. someone

    Actually its August 21st, you're wrong again. 😛

    May 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  13. Flo R

    When will we stop giving greedy sect leaders the benefit of air time? This guy is obviously interested in the millions of dollars of donations his organisation enjoys, tax-free I might add, and CNN is helping by spreading the word!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  14. The truth

    I just love the non-believers! makes the messiah's job more interesting!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • billy Smith

      You call yourself a true believe then donate all your wealth to the poor & give your services to people of aid! If you are able to that then trust me God will welcome you if you’re not able then please shut your mouth!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  15. brandon s

    "I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household."

    Nobody remarked on this patriarchal gem of Mr. Camping's. If I said this about my wife, she'd either laugh in my face or hit me

    May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • airwx

      Last I read, woman came from man's side. Not his front, not his back. Indicates equality to me...just a thought.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  16. jazz

    needs to be taken out quietly and tied up or something...enough is enough...we;ve heard this bs over and over again....2012 isnt the ned either, jus tthe end of mayan calendar and supposedly an age...ENOUGH with the BS.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  17. Sarah

    At least I get to see the last Harry Potter movie before the world ends. This man is a joke. I wonder how the couple that blew all their money on this false prophet and have a child coming in less than a month feel right now. Maybe 3rd time's a charm.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  18. Willie

    I tried to get on his webpage to make a comment but it only gives scripture B.S. and takes donations. Why are religious frauds allowed to exist legally in this country? He is the same as Bernie Madoff as I see it. Take the money and run.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  19. Dave

    The Bible states that He will return like a "thief in the night"... you can't expect it and noone knows for sure. I think it's ridiculous that anyone can come up with a date or a time. Anyone says they know, they don't.

    I hate that they went around making all Christians look like fanatics, but you have to admit the indirect effect is that everyone is talking about it. You can't deny the Lord you didn't know it was coming in general when Judgment day really happens.

    The Lord is returning one day, but noone knows when. All you can do is continue to work your jobs and care for your family not blowing your savings on rv trips and billboards (Do all things fervently as to the Lord), live your life to its fullest. All you can do is your best and have a closer walk with the Lord. In the end really nothing matters but knowing God and being saved by GRACE through faith. Look it up. That's clear in the Bible. I don't see any dates.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • brandon s

      You DO realize your remarks about the return of Christ sound every bit as nutty as Camping, right?

      May 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Kevin

      this is by far I consider a humble comment in my opinion.. not deriding anyone else's but yours caught my attention the most.

      glad to know someone has a view like me.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • iCanSitOnMyPriestsLapIfI'mGood

      So, a true christian shouldn't confront a burglar and risk blowing it???

      May 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Roger

      Their is a thief in the night – his name is Camping!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Jamie

      DAVE, you are right. Nobody knows when Jesus will come. Nobody knows the day or the hour and those who claim to know definitely don't. And, yes, to non-believers, this does sound weird, and if I didn't know Christ and trust in the Bible, I would probably doubt it too. But then again, that's what faith is... believing in something even when others think you don't have a leg to stand on. I don't believe anything should happen to Camping because let's face it... he is 89 years old and the Bible says that there will be lots and lots of false prophecies. Apparently, we have witnessed 2 in Camping so far and a 3rd in October I'm fairly certain. I don't know why some people think it is so wrong or strange to believe in something bigger than you or me. God is very real and I feel that more and more every day I live. Matthew 24... Check it out.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Dave

      Brandon, I realize that it may sound crazy to some, and that's the point of faith. Faith is believing without seeing. I'm not forcing anyone to believe what I believe. Your opinion is that of many in the world which is fine. Nutty is condemning everyone about judgment day (essentially judging everyone). This is why other religions are deemed nutty. Islamic radicals judge all westerners to the point of death. Noone should judge or condemn anyone, but love all equally. Unfortunately we are all human and many do.

      Christianity, and all religions in general (including atheism and anti-religions), are made up of people. Noone is perfect. I don't blame or hate atheists for going fanatic on me and insulting me personally for my beliefs, just as I am saddened by those that take any belief or opinion to the extreme, adding words, dates, and more that is not there. I don't believe the same as you, and so I can agree to disagree. In the end, I'm here to love you as another human being, and work hard to be the best Christian I can and show you through my life and choices to love, support, help, and be there for all humanity I can come into contact with.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  20. Richard M.

    Stop taking up space on The CNN website with this idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Gord C.

      Thank You ! We can only hope that CNN will stop giving these lunatics any air time, enough already !

      May 24, 2011 at 3:59 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.