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. Jesus

    what an a$$holle

    May 24, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  2. jul

    Maybe he's just predicting his own demise.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:42 am |
    • jake

      THANK GOD!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  3. Factstruth

    I'm going to take a Dump at 9:21
    Send money

    May 24, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  4. Cleveland

    Then end of the world is a big deal. Preach on brother. Since the end is surely coming, I would like to help you and your congregation by accepting all of you money since you won't be needing it. I imagine that all of us sinners will be buying & selling right up to the end, and I for one would like to releave you of the trouble. Besides, I saw the new SLS this year & have a pretty good idea that I could have it if all of you paid for it.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  5. Adam S

    I can't believe anyone is so full of themselves to think that they can predict the end of the world, let alone all of the people that believe him. If & when the world just randomly ends, there's nothing any of us can do about it so what's the point in getting bent out of shape? To make another point, the people with feeble enough minds to think that some 2% of the world will be "saved" because they read the bible, went to church, blah blah blah, I can almost certainly say that within those 2% there are probably some FAR worse people than in the other 98. Case & point Harold Camping.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • Zia

      i belive everything your saying there adam when the world ends it will end why make such a freaking big deal about it?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  6. Mike

    If the end of the world doesn't happen, he should be arrested for being a waste of our time and money.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  7. Richard Cheese

    Is it really going to take the Rapture for Christians to go away. Can't they just take a hint?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • bob

      True Christians aren't the enemy. IT's the terrible things that have been done in the name of Chrisitianity! Matt 7: 21-23.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  8. Dave

    so sad that people like this give christians a bad name by saying that this is what the bible says...It says no one knows the time or day...this guy is an air head and a false prophet...

    May 24, 2011 at 6:34 am |
    • bob

      ... Mot to mention that it teaches that the Earth will remain forever. Psalm 37:29 speaks of the righteous residing upon the Earth forever. Many other scriptures back this up as well.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • Althea

      Yes it is sad. God wants christians as His disciples to go out and spread His word so that all will be saved...not to spread lies and His word says no one will know the day nor the hour. He gives us absolute signs and we are also to be on guard against false teachers and prophets and to pray for discernment. Satan has many ways of fooling man and it is sad.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  9. joe

    The WISEST people on earth, know God is real – but it's when you're in your room, door closed, sitting alone in the dark – that His presence is the STRONGEST. Either that or you feel depression, loneliness and fear.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • Risskia

      No, Joe. YOU do. Alone in the dark in my room, what I mostly feel is sleepy.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • joe

      Wonder why most people need drugs to cope with life? But "happy"pills don't work all the time – the loneliness, depression, and fear just keeps coming back. Oh well, there's always the gun.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:38 am |
    • joe

      Sure Risskia – wonder what goes through your mind when you can't sleep? Like I said – there's always the gun.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:40 am |
    • UncleM

      Get some help Joe, seriously

      May 24, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Risskia

      Actually, I don't have insomnia. Again, you are assuming that because YOU do, everyone else does.

      I'm not on any drugs except levothyroxine for a little thyroid issue, but otherwise, healthy as a horse and happy as a clam.

      And an atheist.

      Sorry about your fear and dependency problems. Like you said, there's always the gun.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Risskia I admit joe is going about this the wrong way and yeah he needs help. Christians don't tell people to commit suicide. Bu being you being an atheist is just wrong. We could not have come about through random chance. Its simple our bodies and the world we live in is to complex to have just made itself. Another thing if this is so where did the matter and energy come from that made us? It doesn't make sense do you know the chances involved it absolutely crazy. People who believe evolution don't even know what it is or where life came from which ruins their whole THEORY. Not fact.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • Risskia

      Nocordoba: Yes, Joe really has hit the wrong, note – but he may be a troll.

      On the other hand, my being an atheist is no more wrong than your belief system. I'm not going to address your points about science because you can grab some geology, biology, astrophysics, and anthropology journals (the professional kind ) and read that answers to your questions better than I could explain them in a little box.

      Science doesn't base its value in know. It bases its value in asking, exploring, and learning, which I like. You prefer your belief system (not assuming I know what it is). We are both just fine as long as neither tries to restrict the other.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Risskia

      Ergh – early in the morning here – "Science doesn't base its value in knowING."

      May 24, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • Kathleen

      Alone in a dark room...sad....depressed or whatever is ailing our heart. That is the time we are most vunerable to believe that god if there. But wishing doesnt make it so. If the world is too complex to have been created by god, then how is it that god, who is supposedly far more complex than the whole universe came to be by accident? If I could get a logical answer to this question, I might believe that god exists.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Risskia I have read a lot of books. Science books. History books and many times I have wondered if what I beleive is true but every time that happens I can find an answer to that question. Look of Answers in Genesis you will find that this religion of mine is not false and there is no proof otherwise. You can't explain the universe with out God its simply that. Why are there blue stars if the world is billions of years old? What about the way a galaxy is shaped how do you explain those arms or tentacles which would not be there if evolution was true? And there are lots more questions were that came from.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Kathleen God is infinite did not come by accident and has always been there there is an absolute power in this universe and
      He is it.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  10. Mike S

    It's a sad state affairs when people can't muster the ability to think for themselves.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:33 am |
  11. Mike

    Why is the press still giving this idiot air time???

    May 24, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • Cassandra

      So we can laugh.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • Chris

      Because people like you are reading it and posting comments about it.......

      May 24, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  12. Hal

    The end of the world will be yesterday. No, wait. Today. And if not today, then tomorrow. Now give me money! I hold spiritual authority over my girlfriend as head of the household! And other women because, after all, they're just made out of my ribs anyhow.

    What a dope.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:29 am |
    • Risskia

      You noticed that, too, huh? Guy has some power issues – little bit of megalomania.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  13. Mike

    Can we stop giving this nutbag any airtime at all!?!?!?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:28 am |
  14. Mick Travis

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

    May 24, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • George

      Really you were fooled once? Who the hell believed this basket case.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  15. Pope John

    Get this guy some help. The bible says no one will know the time. What part of that does he not understand?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:24 am |
    • joeblow

      Get Pope John some help.. he believes in and quotes the bible.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • Jesus

      the bible is a fairy tale. it's make belive bs for people that are not leaders, for followers, for sheeple

      May 24, 2011 at 6:46 am |
    • bob

      He believes in the Bible, just doesn't accurately teach it. The Bible is not a fairytale. I've seen it improve millions of lives. Its the inaccurate teaching of it by s\ome that has caused true damage!

      May 24, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Alright first all our founding fathers believed in the Bible. Weren't they leaders? They were great men and devout Christians.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:54 am |
  16. scott

    nobody knows when.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  17. Dave in FL

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Oh, wait. May 21st WAS twice. So, golly, we get to see how many idiots still follow him. One thing I'll say for these Fundie nut cases, they're consistent. Hey, if Pat Robertson got his start 40 years ago pulling these stunts, I'm certainly not one to argue with tradition.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  18. johnmenacherjr

    So when is this nutbag running for the Repugnican presisdential nomination?

    May 24, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  19. bu

    Religion is a DISEASE!!! Be part of the solution, not the problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:20 am |
  20. Matt

    The smartest people on Earth are already aware that God is make believe.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:19 am |
    • Halleluljah

      Interesting. So air doesn't exist cause I cant see it? The cell of all living life splits and divides and each part knows where to go but is it just by chance? ...... ....... ......... ......... ..........

      May 24, 2011 at 6:29 am |
    • SB


      But we can see air. We can swish our hands around and feel it. We can capture some in a bottle and run through a machine to determine its composition. Can we do that with God? No.

      Concerning cellular mitosis, no it does not happen by chance. Mitosis is a chemical process, are all cellular functions. We can adjust the chemistry of the cell to determine what chemicals are involved and how they affect the process. We can introduce modified genes into the cell and observe how protein synthesis deals with DNA/RNA packaging. Is it complex? Yes. Is it miraculous? No. Does it require an invisible outside force like God? No.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • Risskia

      SB: You do realize that ole Hallelujah up there won't even begin to be able to understand what you just said, dontcha?

      I wish there was hope for people like him, but there's really not.

      May 24, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • bob

      Can't see gravity either, but you would say that we can measure it by its affect. After all it is scientific truth that for there to be an effect, there must be a cause. We can't see God but logic must prevail when we see the effects of everything around us. Creation. Its orderly and incredible. Yet, you would probably say it came about by mere chance or accident. If this is true, ewhy can't we with our intelligence duplicate something that came about by accident? Why can't we create something from notheing? Why can't we create life from nothing? Wow, which takes more 'blind faith'? Believing something happened by chance just so perfectly to result in this universe- something we can not duplicate, or admitting that htere is someone alot smarter that mankind that has done this?

      May 24, 2011 at 6:57 am |
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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.