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. Movitar

    Islam may be more violently of a religion; but at its root, all religion is evil and these "end-of-the-world prophecies are a natural order of lunacy and irrational belief. If the Islamic Republic of Terror acquires nukes; they won't hesitate to use them for the fulfillment of their "end of the world" prophecy and the return of "imam mahdi"; the difference is relative, but at its root: religion teaches you to remain a slave and not think for yourself but rather have belief in unscientific and irrational nonsense instead of valuing science, critical thinking, and human progress.

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    May 24, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • Nocordoba

      You have never read the Bible have you? So called atheists who beleive in evolution is not a religion either but guess what? It actually is! Ask any Evolutionist scientist some questions like "where did matter and energy come from you know the stuff which created us come from". They don't know where simply blind faith.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  2. Texas Pioneer

    This guy needs to take his medication, or maybe his followers do.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  3. Ron

    And what about those poor saps who were suckered by this garbage and decided to rid themselves of all their earthly possessions like wealth, home, family and so on. Kinda sucks that they were so easily fooled into this. You know, if you think about it, maybe the world DID end for them on May 21st.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • Steve Edwards

      If god hadn't wanted them to be shorn, he wouldn't have made them sheep!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  4. Robin

    IF GOD EXISTED, He wouldnt Leave us Humans to Fight over him on earth.

    If hes so all knowing and all doing, he would show everyone who he is... and not just to One loon in a dream out of billions of people on earth.


    May 24, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • peick

      Wow, so God is under some sort of moral code, then? Where does this moral code come from? Does it have a divine origin? If not, who is there to enforce it or give it validity outside your own mind? Sounds like you believe in God, Robin.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  5. Blair T

    CNN, stop, please stop giving these idiots ANY sort of attention, coverage, press, updates ANTHING!!!!!!!!! Its unbelievable that this is even news... We need to wrangle all the plastic trash in the Pacific into a large floating trash island and call it MORON ISLAND, and guys like this "prophet" get to go there and be King of the morons, only to be shortly followed by the folks at CNN who keep perpetuating this drivel...

    May 24, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  6. Rick

    The bigger idiots are the people who sold all their belongings and quit their jobs and gave up all their life savings thinking they were going to be "saved".

    May 24, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  7. RNJ

    Why is this news? Please stop giving coverage to this crackpot and others like him. Similar to a misbehaving toddler, any attention, positive or negative, rewards the behavior. Stop covering him, PLEASE!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  8. Jack

    As Bugs Bunny would say; "What a ultra maroon".

    May 24, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  9. proud kaffir

    The guy is clearly talking about his end, he will be 90 by that time. Most likely the doctors have already told him he has 5 months to live. He is leading everyone on.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  10. Jody

    When humanity grows up and deals with all the issues religion presents, these people and others like them, will fade away. He tells stories to scare little kids and get his 15 minutes of fame.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  11. Sy

    This individual should be gone first after the day of May 21 gone by peacefully!
    His followers should ignore him completely by now!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  12. MJ from VA

    Now you all are going to believe him again! What else needs to be told to you all! READ THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF! Jesus doesn't know when The Father will send him back so why are you believing man! Man has "ALWAYS" been wrong about this. The one thing we do know is that He is going to return...

    May 24, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Al Breiki

      Not the Bible not the Torah nor the Quran can tell or Predict when well the world well end. So shut the FFFFFFFF

      May 24, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  13. Polaris431

    When round 2 comes around, I hope CNN doesn't afford this creep anymore free advertising.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Jenn

      October will be round 4.....he has predicted this crap twice before he did it in May and now its October. CNN reported on it then and i'm sure they will do it again.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  14. Sassan

    Islam may be more violently of a religion; but at its root, all religion is evil and these "end-of-the-world prophecies are a natural order of lunacy and irrational belief. If the Islamic Republic of Terror acquires nukes; they won't hesitate to use them for the fulfillment of their "end of the world" prophecy and the return of "imam mahdi"; the difference is relative, but at its root: religion teaches you to remain a slave and not think for yourself but rather have belief in unscientific and irrational nonsense instead of valuing science, critical thinking, and human progress.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:24 am |
    • Al Breiki

      There is no Imam Mahdi and Leave Islam alone why do not you Grow up Islam is not violently of a religion nor Christianity or Judaism where I believe in all three religions and all the prophets.
      لا هناك الأمام المهدي المنتظر و "ترك الإسلام" وحده لماذا لاتكبر الإسلام ليس دين عنف من أي دين أو المسيحية أو اليهودية حيث أنا اعتقادى في جميع الديانات الثلاث وجميع الأنبياء

      May 24, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  15. Silas Botwin

    Judging from the looks of him, I'd say he's being rather generous with himself. I'd say two months.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  16. thespiritguy

    Why not have a one person every day for all time, predict the next day as the end of the world. If "no one knoweth the day or hour", wouldn't that keep us all at least in purgatory?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  17. MannyHM

    The world will end sooner or later. This knowledge as to the exact date will only make one unhappy.
    Let's just live and enjoy and be kind to one another. After all we can't bring anything with us once that happens.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Sandee

      Aptly put. There is a beginning and an end but no one knows when. This guy is just trying to save face right now. The kingdom of God is at hand but not when we say so. Only God knows!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  18. JohnyC

    To take a line from Star Wars, "Who's the more foolish? The fool or the fool(s) who follows it?"

    May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  19. SB

    I dislike the term "false prophet" because it implies that there was ever a true prophet.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      How about false teacher?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • musikpal

      I(Only) if u FINISH reading through this u'll know what we meant the differences between false n true prophet.

      Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Israel carbon dated at least 200 B.C.

      Isaiah 53
      3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
      a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
      Like one from whom people hide their faces
      he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

      4 Surely he took up our pain
      and bore our suffering,
      yet we considered him punished by God,
      stricken by him, and afflicted.
      5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
      he was crushed for our iniquities;
      the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
      and by his wounds(the crucifixion) we are healed.

      Isaiah was one of the prophet in the Bible.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  20. Tecla

    He really sucks. I was planning on doing some post end of the world looting at the liquor store and because the world didn't end, well that pretty much derailed my plans!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • SB

      I know, right!? I actually had to pay for my Bailey's on Saturday. So disappointing.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:22 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.