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. fergus

    God is not real! wake up people...Jesus was a regular man, a prophet, a teacher. That's it! Someone wrote a book about him that was a fantasy.....Freewill? It is a cop out statement, an excuse for who believe in a man that lives in the sky to keep believing in a man that lives in the sky. When a group of people run their planes into our buildings and kill thousands....ridiculous fools! This guy knows that he could pull all the money out of their pockets because they so strongly believe in a man in the sky.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Willie

      Fergus, where outside of religious literature is there any record of jesus life? The Romans kept records on everything, no mention of jesus, the savior or chasing some baby around in the desert.No mention of his miracles, no mention of him. It never happened, there was no jesus, he was made up to start a new religion. .

      May 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • fergus

      Willie..You are probably correct. But even if he lived, he would have only been a teacher, or, someone with charisma at the most. It's truly unbelievable that humans can't look at the scientific proof and awe that surrounds life on earth and infinite space

      May 24, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  2. HereWeGoAgain

    I'm taking a nap. Wake me when it's over.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  3. Mark from Middle River

    –>"Willie, Interesting, I just checked Foxnews.com and the Camping story is right there on the front page. Looks like you missed more than the rapture!"

    You mean the one way at the bottom next to Oprah .... come on dude , what was at the very top at Foxnews.com and what was at the front and center of CNN.com

    FoxNews is still showing a single headline of joplin ... CNN has the presidents visit front and center and Joplin a smaller to the side pix. Lost on this one *Raises FoxNews flag**

    May 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  4. Steve

    -Maybe Harold Camping got left behind...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  5. Jeff In Illinois

    Forgot to carry the 666.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Scott


      May 24, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  6. jon

    here's something that makes a little more sense: mormon.org

    May 24, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • The Half Baked Lunatic

      Gotta admire any religion who's motto is "I don't care how many you bring, just bring'em young!"

      May 24, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  7. Tracey

    Is he out of his min?. First of all, my belief is only G_d knows when the end will be. Secondly, how can anyone take this man seriously when he keeps revising the date. Perhaps his doctor gave him an end date and he wants everyone else to worry with him. He could also be nuts with a G_d complex. My advice would be to disregard and ban him from speaking with the media.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Free speach rule is in play.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Hey, Mark! We agree again! I've been increasingly appalled by how many people want to sell free speech and freedom of religion up the river over this. Yes, this was a travesty. But if the price of ridding ourselves of this sort of travesty is to put the first amendment through the shredder, I'd rather listen to Camping every day from now till, er, doomsday ...

      May 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • Jeff In Illinois

      Sure, he's free to say anything he likes. The media has no obligation to report it. They do so for ratings. Sadly, that is more important than actual news.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Free press doesn't run by "obligation", either. Corporate media sure has its downside, but I'll take it over state run media any day!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Jeff In Illinois

      I disagree. The obligation is to the bottom line. News divisions didn't used to be required to be profitable. Now that they are, we get precious little news and lots of infotainment. Is that really any more reliable than state run media?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • LinCA

      If there ever was a case for state sponsored, independent media, this is it. Let's double funding for NPR and PBS.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  8. Ron

    Jesus knew better than to give a date, he knew this was bs from the beginning. The only time religion is impressive is when you stand in awe of the stupidity.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Scott

      When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matt. 10:23,
      For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27–28)
      So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matt. 24:33–34).

      May 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  9. steven

    Camping is nuts , He can not predict the future . Better call Dionne Warrick's psychic friends

    May 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  10. John

    Bin Laden did call him before his death and told him that donot let Christians live in peace.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  11. Chuck

    Watch "Zeitgeist on Religion" on You Tube and you'll get an education on Christianity and it's origins.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  12. Jon B.

    "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." - Matthew 24:36 (This is the King James version; feel free to choose whichever version you please, the quote only gets worse for this so-called preacher.)

    It's strange that I, as an atheist, know more about this man's religion than he does. In fact, it's not strange; it's completely unbelievable. Thus the only recourse is to ask: What is this man's agenda? What does he stand to gain? He says he's teaching the Bible and thus bears no responsibility for his followers who ruined their own lives, yet he ignores the verse that tells him in no uncertain terms to sit down and shut up.

    He is obviously using peoples' faith to enrich himself. Follow the money.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • fergus

      Amen!!! It is ridiculous isn't it?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  13. Mikola

    As a Christian I am disappointed that this man is claiming the exact opposite of what the Bible teachers. Please read your Bible before putting your faith in what a man says claims.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Willie

      The bible was written by men too. Better look elsewhere!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  14. Kelly

    Yes what he says is true, and if my grandmother would have had wheels, she'd have been a wagon!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  15. AC Summers

    PLEASE PUT THIS OLD BIRD OUT OF HIS MISERY........He has already established himself as the #1 wacko. CNN roll this story in a corner somewhere.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      If you were a exec at CNN and knew that your online ad budget was based on web-traffic... could you stop it ..would you stop a thread into the thousands/?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  16. Cruxshadows

    PAGANISM: i am moving to Salem Massachusetts and going to find my kind these doomsayers and Christians should be baptized by the fire for scaring everyone they are false prophets.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Baptized by fire? Is this supposed to be turn about is fair play? You are several centuries too late for that.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  17. Brian

    All people that followed this man and actually believed in him should be forcibly "fixed" and lose the ability to ever reproduce again.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  18. Muneef

    Natural disastors make believe nearing of end of life;
    Tsunami Bomb Weapon Reported in
    New Zealand's Top Newspaper
    Earthquake bomb

    May 24, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • John Richardson

      There have been natural disasters since long before the dinosaurs. If the Permian extinction event didn't quite get everything, the wimpy natural disasters we're used to sure won't.

      By the way, Muneef, are conservative Muslims as "end day" intoxicated as conservative (evangelical, fundamentalist plus a few other sects) Christians tend to be? People who are convinced that they are living in the end days creep me out, as the sort of long term perspective that adult responsibility ought to instill in them is pretty much cut off at the knees by this sort of apocalyptic mindset.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Muneef

      John Rich.
      Keep Planting, Even if the Day of Judgment Arrives!
      Prophet saw said, “If the hour ( the day of judgment) is established upon you and in your hand is a plant, if you are able, do not stand until you have planted it into the ground.”
       Never give up! Never lose hope! Continue, even when death has arrived, to command the good and forbid the evil. Hold tightly to the truth. Do not let the world get you down. Be an optimist!

      May 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  19. chris stone

    wow,,,I must be a psychic.....I predicted this was exactly what he would say,......because its exactly what he said last time.....give me a break

    May 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  20. Christopher

    His followers are going to be very disappointed on October 21st when their fairy tale doesn't come true, again. It's the 21st century people. It's time to put away ancient myths. Imagine all the good that money the conman ripped off could have done if donated to a worthy charity like St. Jude's Children's hospital, instead of being wasted on the laughable ad campaign.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You man St, Judes? as in Saint Judes Hospital. this one :

      "Thomas was a struggling young entertainer when he knelt in a Detroit church before a statue of St. Jude Thaddeus and asked the saint to "show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine." Thomas believed his prayer was answered,"

      Yep, Christians have never done anything good for society

      This post takes the cake.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:24 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.