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. RGeneration

    He may revise his estimates. But I stick by to mine: "He's an idiot".

    May 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  2. Jeb

    well, the only thing I can say is, "what a nut case".

    May 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  3. Anthony R.

    I do not understand why CNN and all the other media outlets for that matter, keep giving this nut the time of day. He is seriously mentally ill and needs help.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  4. Daniel

    Math can be a cruel mistress indeed.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Alientech

      Math? They are perfectly happy to believe 4 billion years equals 6000 years.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  5. Veritas

    He didn't collect enough money from the christian idiots I guess, so he is milking them for some more cash.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  6. Travis

    These poeple are Crazy with a capital C. 80 million dollars between 05 and 09. Do something with that money instead of making false prophecies. And all you cult members.......sorry about your luck but you are going nowhere on October 21st either. You all need to take your crazy pills.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Veritas

      Needless to say, all "prophecies" are by definition false, but assume you knew that.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  7. rofl

    Bernie Madoff got put in jail for scams, why is this guy allowed to scam people?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Veritas

      Because he is christian and we cannot criticize people of faith now can we?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • rofl

      awesome so all i gotta do is make up some stupid story about how people are going to be punished for their sins and i can get money from old people for free! love this country

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Brent Curry

    so me and my buddies just got a killer hang over for nothing lol lol lol

    May 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  9. cpc65

    Hey, third times the charm! One of my coworkers said his girlfriend's due date is Oct. 21st. I asked him if his child will be the Antichrist.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  10. Chuck

    The "Three Kings" stated in the bible story "follow the star in the east" to find Jesus. The three kings refers to the three stars in the belt of Orion. These stars point to the north star (Sirus) on Dec 25th and line up exactly with the point where the sun rises on that day.

    So important were these three stars in Egyptian history that the pyrimids of giza are lined up in the exact same configuration as the three stars in Orions belt.

    See the connection yet? The Jesus story is copied from Egyptian mythology based allegorically on astronomical observations.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • airwx

      You obviously know nothing about the religion of the Magi....who followed his STAR (singular). A star birth meant a royal birth. How could this star be from eygyptian lore???? You discredit your premise with faulty data.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Veritas

      The entire bible is just an anthology of ancient myths from around the area we now call the middle east. Fairy tales and nonsense.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • airwx

      Oh... and shepards would not be in the fields on Dec 25th... the stable would have been full of sheep and shepards!

      Oh yeah... and add that the Magi visited the babe in the HOUSE, not the stable...probably 1-2 years later

      Shall I go on?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Chuck

      I suggest you read about the pyrimids of Giza and it's correlation with the stars of Orions belt....

      The stars of Orion were associated with Osiris, the "sun-god of rebirth and afterlife", by the ancient Egyptians. The SUN GOD of rebirth and the afterlife (similar to GOD's SUN Jesus). Through the hope of new life after death Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year.[8] Osiris was widely worshiped as Lord of the Dead until the suppression of the Egyptian religion during the Christian era.

      "... Until the suppression of the Egyptian religion during the Christian era..." The Egyptian "Pagan" religion was supressed by the church because they were concerned that Christians may see the similiarities and question it.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Chuck

      airwx- The star Siruis IS the star of Bethlehem. The "three kings" of Orion's belt "follow" the star in the east (Sirus) to visit Jesus in the manger.. Isn't that the Jesus birth story?

      It's based on the alignment of the stars. The Three Kings refers to the three kings of egypt buried in the pyrimids of Giza..

      See the resemblance yet? There's just too many connections here to be considered a coincidence.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  11. Robert

    God's talking to me right now...........................................He's saying you should repay all that tax free money you took......Wait.........What';s that God???..........................Oh God also says you should jump off the nearest bridge.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Greg from Grand Island

      This guy is the biggest idiot of all times. So in 5 months when the world doesn't end what is his excuse going to be this time? More bad math. He should has at least put the date out past his life span. So he won't have to make up excuses again and embarras all those who actually listen to this crap. Get a life.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  12. Mark

    uh oh, what's that saying... "the third time is a charm". O/w, this senile fool sure gets a lot of PR Must be a slow news day...

    May 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  13. Matt

    Someone should seriously sue him for being a total buttnugget.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  14. Easter Bunny

    The bible says noone knows when the time will come. So anyone making that claim is either a fool or a false prophet. Never mind the people who follow their words without consulting the written word.....

    May 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • mark in nyc

      you are so right!!!!!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Veritas

      The bigger fools are those who actually don't realize that the bible is just old nonsense.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Alientech

      Doesn't it also say that false prophets must be stoned to death? Let's give him to the Iranians, they still have stoning.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  15. Rick1948

    This idiot is laughing all the way to the bank with the notoriety he's getting.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  16. kite005

    I don't have time for this stuff. Can't CNN make all the comments for all the sections work better? Or the same way at least? I wanted to see if there were any responses to mine and I can't page through 20 pages to check it out. Some sections won't even let me comment. Get it together CNN when it comes to this.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Shane G

      I do agree with you Kite005..I would like an easier way to see my responses. They should have a little notification kind of like facebook when you are logged in to let you know if anybody replied to your comment. Then once you click on it, it takes you right to your post. I hate always digging through pages and pages of comments to find mine and reply to the people who left me a comment. CNN does need to make this change.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  17. asdf

    Honey, get my ear horn. i think gods telling me to say it was just the psychological end of the church. GOMFCK!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  18. bluemax77

    Camping‘s just a goon who wants his 24 hours of fame, it’s all the goons that follow him that blows me away – What sad, desperate, insecure and insignificant little people they must be...!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  19. Born Again Skeptic

    These people are morons. In the same year we're finally able to help a paraplegic walk with the help of medicine and technology, most of the world is still staring up into the heavens expecting a male figure to reach down and help them. Wake up! There is no god, there is no evidence for god, and the gods who have long since died are called "myths." there's no more reason to believe in Jehovah or Christ or Abraham than there is reason to believe in Thor or Zeus. The bible is riddled with factual and logical inconsistencies (see http://www.youtube.com/user/NonStampCollector?blend=1&ob=5#p/u/1/RB3g6mXLEKk for numerous hilarious examples), the most religious people are the ones we are all most afraid of, and moderate religious people are simply betraying both reason and fairy tales. Wake up, folks. The end of the world is only coming because religious morons rule the world and would like to see it come to pass. If you're born in America, you'll believe in God. If you're born in Saudi Arabia, you'll believe in Allah. If you're born in Tibet, you'll be Buddhist, and if you're born in China, you'll be an atheist. What does that tell you? Use that front part of your brain that's gotten us into so much trouble now...the part that says, wait a second, where I'm born seems to have an impact on what I believe...could it be that I only believe in certain things because I was raised that way? DINGDINGDING! We have a winner! Instead, why don't you all try a healthy dose of questioning and skepticism. And relax, because there is no hell, and there is no heaven, but there is the now–and frankly, the now could use a lot more attention that we're giving it.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • MQ

      Dear Born Again Skeptic... you get your Biblical knowledge from YouTube? The Bible says there IS hell and there IS heaven. Do you really think we should take your word over the Bible's? Do you really think Born Again Skeptic's word is true and the Bible is a lie? If you are serious about your position, do an honest research, so you can either prove your point or realize on your own that you may actually be wrong. And don't do your research on YouTube.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  20. John Jamerson

    Why are you giving this senile old man air and print time he should be in a home not all over the media scaring people

    May 24, 2011 at 6:47 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.