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. James

    This man is a liar and a lunatic who spits on the beliefs of actual Christians, and on the words written in the Bible its self. Not very Christian, if you're asking me. Disproving his claims on both a logical and scriptural basis is child's play because of how overtly wrong, contradictory, and inconsistent they are.

    May 27, 2011 at 4:24 am |
    • jimtanker

      Disproving the claims of christianity itself is childs play.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  2. Phil in Oregon

    Been a Christian for 30 years, and all I've said about him all along is "Well, let's see it..." still waiting(but not holding my breath.)

    May 27, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  3. Lucsoren

    I do not like this Harold Camping man based largely on his belief that he can lord over his wife simply because he is male. I also do not like the fact that he is doing nothing to help his followers who gave away everything they owned for him.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • jimtanker

      You dont follow the teachings of your bible very well then do you?

      May 27, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Peter

      lol at jimtanker
      are you a harold camping follower?
      because if you are you got owned pretty hard and you will be getting owned each time you listen to his predictions, screw harold's rapture,i said that on may 21st and guess what? im still here, screw harold's october 21st and guess what? octoebr 21st will be just a normal day 🙂

      May 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Peter

      after lol at jimtanker is not a message from you it's a message for harold's followers

      May 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  4. midaham

    This Harold Camping guy sound like a William Miller replay. Google William Miller 1844

    May 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  5. jose

    not even our LORD JESUS CHRIST has said no one can exactly predict as to when He will be coming again, and that b4 the judgement will happen, only the GOD THE FATHER knowa it.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Got to school, learn english, THEN post.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  6. Becareful what you wish for

    I really. really. really. hope you people do not act this way in real life. There are psycho's out there, and you my eventually trip the wire of the wrong one with your incessant whining and then they will decide the only way to convince you God exists is to kill you and let you meet him yourself.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  7. Tim

    No man knows the hour!

    May 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  8. Muneef

    They will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [2:37] Then, Adam received from his Lord words, whereby He redeemed him. He is the Redeemer, Most Merciful.

    [2:38] We said, "Go down therefrom, all of you. When guidance comes to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will have no fear, nor will they grieve.

    [2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [2:112] Indeed, those who submit themselves absolutely to GOD alone, while leading a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord; they have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [2:262] Those who spend their money in the cause of GOD, then do not follow their charity with insult or harm, will receive their recompense from their Lord; they have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [2:263] Kind words and compassion are better than a charity that is followed by insult. GOD is Rich, Clement.


    [2:274] Those who give to charity night and day, secretly and publicly, receive their recompense from their Lord; they will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [2:277] Those who believe and lead a righteous life, and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), they receive their recompense from their Lord; they will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [3:169] Do not think that those who are killed in the cause of GOD are dead; they are alive at their Lord, enjoying His provisions.

    [3:170] They are rejoicing in GOD's grace, and they have good news for their comrades who did not die with them, that they have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [3:171] They have good news of GOD's blessings and grace, and that GOD never fails to reward the believers.

    [5:69] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, and the Christians; any of them who (1) believe in GOD and (2) believe in the Last Day, and (3) lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [6:48] We do not send the messengers except as deliverers of good news, as well as warners. Those who believe and reform have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [7:35] O children of Adam, when messengers come to you from among you, and recite My revelations to you, those who take heed and lead a righteous life, will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [10:62] Absolutely, GOD's allies have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    [39:61] And GOD will save those who have maintained righteousness; He will reward them. No harm will touch them, nor will they have any grief.

    [46:13] Surely, those who say, "Our Lord is GOD," then lead a righteous life, will have no fear, nor will they grieve.

    Is that too much for us to do? Or is that too wrong to listen to?

    May 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • jimtanker

      How many times a day do you cut and paste that garbage? Please try to say something original.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Muneef

      What more original than the words of God that been transferred from generation to generation from the ancient....? What junk talk you consider original talk?..here am giving you what God has promised with those above verses to those who obay that they will have no fear nor will they grieve...!!! If you are a believer you should be glad but if you are not a believer then why bothered even to write your comments asking for original talk when nothing can make you believe?

      May 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  9. Truth Teller

    Why do all the frauds, receive so much attention, and the genuine mesengers from God get skoffed ?

    May 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      There are no gods so there cannot be any genuine messengers. All religious leaders are hypocritical charlatans peddling pure crap. Yes, my opinion, but you nor anyone else have anything to prove your case or that I am wrong.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • KingdomWork

      That's how you can tell the true messangers... the evil one snuffs them out...they become martyrs for their King.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • Muneef

      Truth Teller.
      That was the "Bull's Eye's" question...a very wise one...
      We have a saying that goes; "No one can Con the Gready but the Lier"...
      Messengers brought what those thought of being boring or non beneficial to them or does not goes with their wishes therefore rejected it....but if a Lier comes as a messenger and give them as per their wishes and wants then that they would consider the right thing...!

      [5:48] Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD's revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you. For each of you, we have decreed laws and different rites. Had GOD willed, He could have made you one congregation. But He thus puts you to the test through the revelations He has given each of you. You shall compete in righteousness. To GOD is your final destiny – all of you – then He will inform you of everything you had disputed.

      [5:49] You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD's revelations to you. Do not follow their wishes, and beware lest they divert you from some of GOD's revelations to you. If they turn away, then know that GOD wills to punish them for some of their sins. Indeed, many people are wicked.

      [5:50] Is it the law of the days of ignorance that they seek to uphold? Whose law is better than GOD's for those who have attained certainty?

      May 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  10. Richrd

    So why waste web space space and video resources covering this idiot?

    May 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  11. RKEM

    On October 21st, when the Earth's destruction does not happen, Harold Campings stands will be that, it did happen, however it was a spiritual destruction and not a physical destruction. These charlatans have a way of explaining away their mistakes and the followers will continue to believe him even after that...

    May 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  12. thomas mc

    Religion is the seed of mental illness.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Rob II

      You are the seed of GENETIC illness!!

      May 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  13. Muneef

    Guys seems the end of the world already started boiling up starting from Mideast...Sanaa the capital of Yemen has over heated and it's populations are moving out to safer regions...all regions suffering scarcity in fuels,gas and electricity....all can be got in black market increasing price...Sanaa air port is closed,flights diverted to other region smaller airports...

    Finally I just heard over the news that the dollar will drop down against the other currencies as did Humpty Dumpty...meaning we might go back to barter...??!

    May 26, 2011 at 6:52 am |
    • Ricnaustin

      Sanna airport closed due to fierce tribal fighting not from heat.

      May 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Muneef

      Sorry for not being crystal clear about it but that was what I meant by heat or over heat or boiling...all intend to show some unrest or conflict.... Air port is not closed but no flight will land or take off with out risk of being targeted by any of the tribal clan or wicked ones...

      May 26, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  14. Chalmers

    Link to the Rapture Day Parody Video featured in this blog.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  15. guitarharry

    So... NOW the end will come in October. I wonder what kinds of odds the Vegas boys are placing on this prediction?

    May 25, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  16. guitarharry

    Camping should be arrested and held accountable for inciting public mayhem. Exactly the same thing as yelling "fire" in movie theater. Punk.

    May 25, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  17. guitarharry

    Organized religion (and all the crazy people like this man whom it creates) is the downfall of humanity. If organized religion disappeared tomorrow, half the serious problems in this world would be gone. Yes, there is a God, but it has nothing to do with this insanity.

    May 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • pete

      You claiming there is a god when you cant possibly know is the same insanity

      May 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  18. vicky

    ok honestly this is ridiculous !!!!! no one knows when there will be the end of the world!!! and when there will b we wont see it !!!! im sick and tired of these retards predicting stupid things !!!!! how can you make a mistake about something so big and say there will b the end of the world "may 21st" why are we still alive??? what happened??? these people who say "the end of the world is coming " are psychos!!!!!!!!!

    May 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  19. Steve

    Let's get some perspective:


    May 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  20. Karin

    It use to bother me that CNN and other online news channels ran with the camping articles. But, now I have a term I use for most religious individuals and that is; I state they all have 'Camping Syndrome'. Sure most religious individuals do not have a set date in mind for the rapture. Though most believe that this planet is a temporary holding area prior to ascending to a magical place in some unknown location. Thereby holding pretty much the same dogma this guy is spewing out. These articles serve as a gentle reminder as to how outrageous the belief system is...

    May 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • KingdomWork

      It gets outrageous when you serve an outrageous God that has created the UNIVERSE, yes! True statement, Karin!

      May 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • News Flash

      That's alright I see the 'New atheist' kinda like "New Coke" A version that is really unwanted by the public and proved nothing more then a bad imitation.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • RealityLITE

      @News flash
      I couldn't help it I admit I laughed.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:06 am |
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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.