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. Rick's Real

    Camping will end long before Mother Earth does.

    May 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  2. Willie

    All these xtians posting about false prophets is laughable. All prophets are false! That is why this page is called "belief", there are no facts, just wishes and hopes.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Eddie

      Enough of this ridiculous covering, there are more important issues in this country and around the world that wasting time in these type of lunatic information...

      May 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  3. Rick's Real

    We get the joy of reliving watching the religious fanatics punch themselves in the face to unconsciousness, only to once again awaken to the fact that they are still here. Kind of like seeing a car wreck. Grotesque, but so hard to look away.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  4. Spencer

    Can this 'nut job' be locked up already or thrown in a 'home'? If my Grandpa was walking the streets, spewing this BS; he'd be put away by now.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  5. Caribbean

    No one knows the day or hour in which Christ comes back to this earth, not even the angels. There are going to be a lot of antichrist out there running to the mountains and hills with strange beliefs but when Christ comes back ALL of us will see him in his glory. There is still a lot of events that will occur before Christ returns. What we should be doing is preparing ourselves daily for His soon coming. He will come like a thief in the night so BE PREPARED.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  6. חֲנוֹךְ

    wow... 111 pages worth of post on this crap as of this posting.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  7. Billy

    ███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE.
    Install delayed....please wait.
    Installation failed. Please try again. 404 error: Rapture not found.
    EVENT "Rapture" cannot be located. The rapture you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Kevin K in TX

      finally someone tells me what error 404 is...

      May 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Ghotistyx


      May 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  8. Aaron

    What an anus. The worst part is that these people are IMMORAL. They look forward to the day when almost everyone will be killed by their penis god. How is that any different from the holocaust, in fact it would DWARF the holocaust. People like this should be terminated.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ryan

      Well put!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • David

      Sounds like a hustle to me. Wonder how much money this jerk swindled from the weak minded?

      May 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Sam A.

      Reportedly, $80M between 2005 and 2009.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Bruce

      Yeah, but it's a "spiritual" holocaust, not a "physical" holocaust, so that makes it okay.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • myesh

      So, Aaron, you're really suggesting Camping should be assassinated? Not cool.

      Time will take care of him soon enough. I don't believe in the Rapture or much else that fundamentalists use to frighten people into believing in God. This man is just another sinner preying on the weak-minded.

      It's a shame.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • tm

      "People like this should be terminated." Which would itself be a holocaust.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • okayyyy

      Hopefully you see the apparent irony and contradiction in your statement and have thoroughly chastised yourself

      May 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ryan

      I agree....it's a very closed minded view. All religion is. "Don't believe in what we believe, then you die a terrible death". Very nice religion you folks have. I just can't believe in this day in age (we are not in the dark ages anymore folks) that people still find themselves believing in magic! Wake the F up already!!!!!! Open a REAL book, with real DATA and USE YOUR BRAIN. Your parents might have raised you in the church....that does not mean you need to keep up the rumor of magic any longer. It's time to just....stop it....and focus on real topics and real life.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  9. Mike

    A loving and merciful God? Yet he is going to "end" the world in October. This so-called preacher should join the ranks of weather men and women, the only group I know who can be consistently wrong and still have a job.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Kevin K in TX

      don't forget to lob repulicans into that group.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  10. Rick's Real

    Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! LMFAO

    May 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Aaron

    I guess he has 5 months to find a good hiding place

    May 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  12. my name


    May 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • nino

      the media should ignore this fools. They're making this newsworthy and is not!

      May 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  13. Sam A.

    What I imagine when I read this psychotic drivel is something like Peppermint Patty on the other end of Charlie Brown's phone. Wocka wocka wocka......WOCKA!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  14. John in Canada

    The Bible gave fuel to the belief that the Earth was at the center of the Universe, that the sun, planets and stars all moved about the earth and that the earth was flat. Religious fanatics would execute any who said otherwise, why else would the Bible speak of a "Sun Rise" or "as far as the east is from the west" or make mention of the "corners of the earth". Today we are "enlightened" on Earths place in the Galaxy. The problem comes down to trying to interpret the Bible putting a meaning into something that just is not there.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Joe

      The idea that the Earth is the literal center of the universe, galaxy, or solar system or that it is flat is not bibically based. The phrase "four corners of the earth" of the earth, simply means "everywhere". With a sphere, there are no edges, so you can't really say, from this surface to that surface. A map is flat, however, and does have corners, and as representing the earth, it does make perfect since to go to the "four corners of the earth". As for "sun rise", well, how else would you really describe it? When looking out, the sun appears to rise over the horizon. THis is a term still used today, and is probably just the simplest, best way of saying this. And for "as far as the east is from the west" this also makes sense with the earth being a sphere. THink about it, if you started traveling north, you would eventually get to a point when you would have to start traveling south again if you were to continutally travel along the same path. But if you started traveling west, you would never reach a point in which you began traveling east. If you wanted to travel east, you would have to turn around to go the other way. The bible uses this analogy to describe how much our sins are forgiven by God when we turn to him. They are are as far away from his mind as the east is from the west, in other words, infinitely.

      The Bible never once claims that the earth is flat. And for the religious fanatics that would execute "heretics" for saying the earth was round, I would argue that they were acting In God's name WITHOUT God's approval. Many can do something in the name of God, but that doesn't mean God approves of it.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Steve

    I think CNN is right for reporting the latest utterings of this nutjob. The best way to expose a fraud is to let them speak. I also lost a bet with someone. I bet that when the world didn't end, Camping would say that because of his followers were do pious, God changed his mind. My friend was the one who said he'd claim the math was off. 🙂

    May 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Bruce

      But Camping didn't claim his math was off. He hasn't backed away one iota from the math. In fact, he has proclaimed victory in terms of May 11th. He only said that the earthquake he predicted turned out to be a "spiritual" one rather than a "physical" one.

      So you didn't lose your bet. You were both wrong.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  16. Reality

    Camping is insane as was JC. JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself."

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694................................................................

    May 24, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D.

      So If this preacher can contact me I am willing to shoulder the burden of not being taken to heaven by graciously accepting grant deeds to all of the homes and other real property presently owned by the church and its members. Because I just can't wait for my molten brimstone bath, I am also available to receive all of the money presently in all of the believers; bank accounts. Its not greed, it is simply my desire to help the deserving and the demented git "movin'; on up" into their "Dee-Luxe apartment in the sky." In exchange I offer these magic beans, some Kool-Aid (They will have to supply their own Cyanide), and some tinfoil hats left over from the Hale-Bop Comet event. I will also assist them in changing the beneficiary on their life insurance policies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  17. Tbone

    Worst of all, he gives Camping a bad name.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Urang

      Posted on Good write-up, I'm unchanging celalr of one's web site, say up the glorious operate, as well as It is starting to be the unchanging celalr for the extensive time.

      March 4, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  18. Kevin K in TX

    sounds like their rapture was raptured before it could rapture... lol

    May 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • myesh

      More like ruptured. ;-p

      May 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Alex Lifeson

    This clown is mentally ill, and is an embarrassment to all Americans! Mortal men wrote ALL religious books, tomes, and manuscripts throughout the ages, not some 'god'. No one knows when our world will end (whatever that means), but human extinction will be brought about by other forces (disease, pestilence, asteroid, ice age, etc.), not some fairy tale 'rapture' or messiah coming!

    May 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Ryan

      Crazyness....and religious people in general scare me. Loss of rational thought is what we are surrounded by and no one who is religious or believes in a diety will babysit my children EVER.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  20. non......fiction book

    Most of our politicians swear by the bible. Can rational thought be combined with faith? If not, then stop electing politicians based on their religious values. Stem cell research was temporarily halted due to this conflict of interest.

    May 24, 2011 at 4:49 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.