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. oneeighthundred

    I've predicted over 2,000 dates that the world would not end and every single one has been accurate. CNN should report on me instead, I've clearly got a better track record.

    May 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  2. toxictown

    My God is a tardy God.

    May 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  3. NewsReader

    Is CNN in the business of publishing and broadcasting news – or nonsense? A preacher who has a history of wrongly predicting the end of the world predicts the end of the world – again – and you publish it as a news story. This is not a news story. This is a nonsense story. It belongs in the tabloids, not in the news.

    "Oh, where for art thou, Journalists." Did anybody bother to check " his calculations". Are there any calculations? As long as you keep publishing and/or broadcasting these predictions, he will keep making them. This preacher is not famous for anything – other than claiming that he has calculated the date the world will end, erroneously. Failing to require a basis – checking the facts – before publishing such an announcement is tabloid journalism, not news journalism.

    On October 22, 2011, when he is determined to be wrong again – will you publish and broadcast yet another story about him – with yet another prediction about new date for the end of the world, with yet another admission about his "wrong calculations": "But this time I am sure I got it right." Who is going to stop first? Do you think he is going to stop creating nonsense media announcements as long as you keep publishing and broadcasting them? More likely, he will just disappear, again, if you – and the other real news outlets – stop publishing his nonsense. Leave the publishing of the nonsense to the tabloids.

    It is very hard to watch CNN or Headline News when the people who choose the news stories get confused between the news and the nonsense. If you want to be taken seriously again as a News Publisher and a News Broadcaster, discriminate, seriously, between the news and the nonsense. There are plenty of other outlets for the nonsense. We need a good outlet for news. Please be that again.

    May 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  4. Muneef

    Jesus and the End of the World*
    [43:61] He is to serve as a marker for knowing the end of the world, so you can no longer harbor any doubt about it. You shall follow Me; this is the right path.

    [43:62] Let not the devil repel you; he is your most ardent enemy.

    [43:63] When Jesus went with the proofs, he said, "I bring to you wisdom, and to clarify some of the matters in which you dispute. You shall reverence GOD and obey me.

    [43:64] "GOD is my Lord and your Lord, you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path."

    May 30, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Muneef

      [55:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

      [55:1] The Most Gracious.

      [55:2] Teacher of the Quran.

      [55:3] Creator of the human beings.

      [55:4] He taught them how to distinguish.

      [55:5] The sun and the moon are perfectly calculated.

      [55:6] The stars and the trees prostrate.

      [55:7] He constructed the sky and established the law.

      [55:8] You shall not transgress the law.

      [55:9] You shall establish justice; do not violate the law.

      [55:10] He created the earth for all creatures.

      [55:11] In it there are fruits, and date palms with their h-anging fruit.

      [55:12] Also grains and the sp-ice-s.

      [55:13] (O humans and jinns,) which of your Lord's marvels can you deny?

      [55:14] He created the human from aged clay, like the potter's clay.

      [55:15] And created the jinns from bla-zing fire.

      [55:16] (O humans and jinns,) which of your Lord's marvels can you deny?


      May 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Kim

    Didn't Jesus told us that NO ONE knows exactly when he is coming again?
    Beware of Satan and its followers, they will make all sorts of false claims.

    May 30, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • queenbee

      At 89, EVERY DAY is a potential rapture day. somebody better point this guy to what scripture says about the false prophets who will continually predict the end over and over again and be so wrong that they cause the world to be complacent when the real rapture comes.... He seems like he is really sincere–so surely he would not want to be a patsy or be a false prophet.

      something indeed WILL be happening this year–but ol' boy needs to sit his wrinklay butt down....LOL

      May 31, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • toxictown

      Face it people, we're just not that important. All of existance isn't going to die just because we do...humans will just fade away w/o fanfare like every other animal and new ones will come up. We really are full of ourselves!

      May 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  6. scotonfire

    I'll wait till the end is here, then your welcome to my stuff.

    May 30, 2011 at 5:39 am |
  7. coopdogggg

    Ha what a freaking idiot. Someone just end this guy's world.

    May 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  8. Muneef

    Well just only if interested to read the signs as per haddith of prophecies;

    May 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  9. S

    I find it hard to believe even one person recommended this HOGWASH of an article – let alone nearly 30 THOUSAND idiots!

    May 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  10. Sue

    "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."

    Oh woe is me....I don't have anyone to rule over me. Guess I'd better go right out and get myself a man so I won't be a poor, misguided female who doesn't know which way to turn without a man to tell me how.

    Cynicism aside, I'd be happy to have a man to be a friend and partner, but that old "man must rule the roost" thing...give me just a small break. I've been ruling my own roost for years and have done so quite successfully, thank you very much.

    May 29, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  11. kyle

    this guy just needs to go away.

    May 29, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  12. Teri

    Oh man, this guy is ruining my kid's halloween!

    May 29, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  13. Bucky Ball


    May 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  14. Bucky Ball


    May 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  15. Muneef

    The Reality of Death
    By Dr. Saleh As-Saleh
    From Oklahoma & Islam
    © Daar Al-Bukhari 

    Life in this world has an appointed term, and the end of the term will definitely come...
    The righteous will die and the wicked will die...
    The worriers for just causes will die and those who run from death will die
    Those who busy themselves with correct belief will die...
    and those who treat people as their slaves will die...
    The brave who rejects injustice will die, and the coward who seeks to cling on to the life at any price will die...
    The people of great concern and lofty goals will die, and wretched people who live only for cheap enjoyment will die...
    Wherever we will be, in a fortress or in a tent, we will die...
    All will die:
    Allah (God) says:
    Everyone shall taste death...
    [Quraan 3: 185]

    No one will escape death. Allah says:

    Say: Verily, the death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allah), the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you what you used to do.
    [Quraan 62: 8]

    This life is a period of trials and tests. Allah says:

    He (Allah) has created death and life, that He may test which of you is the best in deed. He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.
    [Quraan 67:2]


    Death: An Ultimate Reality
    By Prof. Shahul Hameed
    Throughout the ages, mankind viewed death as something gruesome and frightening, something that should be postponed indefinitely or abolished if possible, once for all.

    This was because of two reasons. First, death cuts short the life of this world. Second, there was no "proof" about the chance for a new lease of life in a world to come. Death is, as Shakespeare's Hamlet said, "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns" to tell us their story.

    All the same, there was also the belief among religions that death served as a kind of passage to another more important arena of life.

    From the Islamic point of view, death is a reality of life, a certainty from which no one is exempt. God says in the Quran what means:

    [Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved from the fire and admitted to the garden will have attained the object (of life): for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.] (Aal `Imran3:185)

    As it is mentioned in the verse, there is going to be a Day of Judgment one has to face after death, when each will be paid in full the fruit of what he or she has earned in this life.

    Those who sowed evil will reap evil and those who sowed good will reap good. All the allure and glamour of this world would then prove to be of no real worth; what is of enduring value would be provided in that world to come.


    May 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  16. Muneef

    Do although feel that this Preacher is a Reminder, a Warner and not a gambler with such allegation...after all how long "Noah" had to warn his people while building his Ark in preparation for the date....!

    This Respectable Preacher must be saying that with the way all things are handled globally and the over growth of Fungus on man's beliefs beside the over breed of strange Mushrooms of Idologies,Cults,Clans terrorizing innocence on the plant earth... What he says it seems time is closer and nature will have to clean it self by several dooms days for each nation that if not the one big final doom date that comes before the judgment date where all the earthly livings that existed on earth from creation would be judged and condemned for "Punishments or Rewards" for it's deeds during it's earthly transitional life...

    May 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Amused

      There is no judgement date, no final apocalypse, no rapture. Random natural disasters will continue to happen all over the world no matter what we humans do and no matter whether or not we survive. These random events have always happened and will continue to happen long after mankind has ceased to exist. The real reasons for living an honest and benevolent life is so that we can all get along in this world, love one another and make this planet a better place for the children we leave behind. Mankind may very well die and disappear off the face of this earth someday, but it will be due to random disasters or perhaps our own self-destruction and stupidity. It will not be at the hand of imaginary gods. Good and Evil are not forces that control us. Good and Evil are concepts that only exist in the hearts and minds of people. Only people have the capacity for selfish behavior and the opportunity to choose selfless behavior instead. The consequences of our actions are often predictable and just, but not always. Sometimes virtuous people suffer and sometimes malicious people reap rewards. We like to think that people reap what they sow, but that is not always the case. Heaven and Hell are concepts created by mankind and we have the potential to create either for ourselves here on earth. The choice is ours. Do we hate one another such that we create our own hell or do we live in love and harmony and turn this world into heaven? It is up to us... which will it be?

      June 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  17. Peter

    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 8:32 pm |
    • george kerr

      this nonsense is typical of mindless followers.

      Get it straight. There is no god. The bible is a collection of fairy stories. Learn the facts.

      Live your life without the silliness of religion.

      May 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • nate

      Or more importantly, when will this flake's 15 mintes of fame end??!!

      May 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  18. Peter

    this is ridiculous, when october 21 comes harold camping will just say "my bad, it was a math error, the real rapture will happen on may 2012 and the end of the world will be on october 2012!"
    and so on until he dies
    Stop following trolls

    May 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  19. Nonimus

    Sorry, didn't see this reply until today. You said:
    "Again we have to ask the question of why we do the things we do... is it to look good or because we are following Jesus and what He is directing us to do... Solomn was of great wealth, as were ohers in Bible... The three wismen brought Jesus & His parents great gifts of wealth... "
    "why wouldn't they be asked to be poor?"

    Are you asking me to rationalize my own interpretation? Okay, I'll give it a shot. First, Jesus never said to acc.umulate wealth, that is a trap that "prosperity gospel ministries" fall into. God/Jesus has always asked humans to be first and foremost concerned with God, then others, and finally ourselves, for example, how many Commandments are for our own benefit directly? None, I think. Wasn't it said somewhere in the Bible, "if asked for your shirt, give your cloak, too" and "turn the other cheek" and "how can you eat while others go hungry" (last one may not be Biblical), also weren't the Israelites supported by manna in the dessert because of faith, weren't the ma.sses feed by fishes and loaves because of faith. Oh, Ye of little faith, depend not upon the things of this world but upon the love of your Lord for He sustainth all.

    Second, your claim of Jesus speaking in parables seems weak to me since he was responding to a specific question with a specific answer. There was no story, allogory, metaphor, or similie, just a direct question and response. "What can I do?" "Do this." Although, Jesus did speak in parables as you stated earlier, like the parable of the good samaritan or the prodigal son, as far as I can tell no scholar accepts this as one, but I could be wrong about that. "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    However it is not important for me to rationalize my interpretation, my point is that almost any interpretation can be rationalized if given enough time. So the original posting of, "really teaching the Bible," is almost useless because ultimately no one can agree on what the Bible really says.

    May 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Joe

      Harold Camping YOU'RE NOT a Christian. A REAL Christian doesn't predict something and then freaks people out! One day, Harold, God, I assume, will judge you falsifying the end of the world...Poor, poor, Harold. No wonder you live alone!

      May 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • KingdomCome

      @ Nonimus
      "God/Jesus has always asked humans to be first and foremost concerned with God, then others, and finally ourselves"

      I like this! I like being "concerned with others."
      You are right when you say that teaching the bible is useless, but if I can get someone to rationalize their thinking behind their beliefs than maybe they are teaching themselves!?!?!

      May 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I guess I wasn't clear, "my interpretation" was for the sake of the argument, not a personal belief. My piont being, if you can rationalize any interpretation from the Bible who's to say that Camping is wrong o,r Fred Phelps, or Terry Jones, or Jim Jones, etc.?
      Something that provides a justification for anything, provides a justification for nothing.

      May 28, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  20. EDallas

    Stop trying to predict the return of Jesus Christ and just live right every day. if you are trying to predict from the Bible, then remember this verse: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back–whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" (Mark 13:32-37)

    May 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Joe

      I agree. No one knows the exact date of the end of the world, so Harold get a life and stop predicting something that you have no control over. You're not God. I bet when October 21, 2011 comes nothing happens. I'll prey nothing happens, because due to the lack of knowledge of God Himself, and the fact that MOST Christians are still here, nothing WILL happen. There are thousands and thousands of people alive today who don't know God yet, and WILL know Him, but it won't be October 21, 2011 I guarantee it! Life WILL go on...and on...and on...

      May 27, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      E Dallas Those that don't know god are the lucky ones..they are living life delusion free...The god you have all invented sounds a bit of a callous dude.. I wish you could have dreamed up a better hero for yourselves.

      June 2, 2011 at 11:42 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.