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. DB

    What is a televangelist? A conman who prays on the weak, gullable, and feable minded lemings of society. These men are constantly revealed to be depraved in one way or the other. How people can fall for these Carnival atmosphere shows is beyond me.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  2. John

    It just goes to show exactly how much trouble one man can cause, and how far someone will go when they won't think for themselves. Although I think they don't deserve it, I have to wonder if his so called church will buy back all of the things his followers sold to help spread is so called word.

    "Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money. "

    From the book of George Carlin 05/12/37 – 06/22/08

    May 24, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  3. Jeff

    Oh good lord, i wish these idiots would drink the kool-aid already so we don't have to hear, wait no, it's actually 2012, i did the math wrong again!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Jenn

      He can't take credit for the 2012 prediction though, the no longer existant Mayans already claimed that one lol

      May 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  4. Ron

    Wouldn't it be a hoot to find out that Mr. Camping has Dyslexia and what he thought was musings on God ended up being a short story about dog?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  5. Atheist

    This is why i am atheist. But hell if he is willing to pay me $135 to send my pet to heaven, i'm sure i can muster up some of the neighbors pets as well .. let the money roll in. Man in his own stupidity will delete the world, look at the nuke weapons .. one button and we are history. lol

    May 24, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • TheWiz71

      You're an atheist because of fundamentalist wing-nuts like this. Wow, that's a good reason. Try actually seriously studying religion and its history, and you might be led to some different conclusions, maybe.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • SB

      I partly agree with Wiz on this. Religious crazies are a poor reason for atheism. Religious fundamentalism is what most of us tend to see at a very young age. Whether we understand it or not, we know it doesn't jive with reality. But as we mature this actually becomes a less important reason than upholding humanistic values sullied by religious behavior. And that's what atheism is to the older generation. It's not a lack of anything. Atheism is the reformation of concern for human welfare, values, and dignity based on a rational evidence based understanding of the world.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  6. PC Wizard

    Hey.....THIRD time's a charm!!!! This guy is more than a few cans short of a Six-Pack!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:43 am |

    Religious wacks! Shut the F up!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  8. jesse

    People like him and Phelps at Westboro Baptist church in Kansas somebody please just shut them up they give religion a bad name I hate seeing this stuff.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • TheWiz71

      Hear, hear!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  9. jeebus69

    I farted an apocalytic phrophesy about tater tots and it came true.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  10. Polaris431

    The cost of rapturing 200 million souls at the moment would have been prohibitive due to the high cost of fuel, hence the delay until October when fuel prices should be lower.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • Jeff

      LOL no that's funny, i don't care who you are 🙂

      May 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • DB

      Was that Diesel, Lowlead or hightest? Maybe it was Bush or Obama's fault, or the Republican or Democrats fault too!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  11. Salty Bob

    Jesus Christ return to Earth for this idiot and any willing to follow him. I do so hope he dose come soon take all the morons with him so we can get our country back.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  12. Sarah

    This guy is a crackpot. The only bad thing happening near October is the release of the latest Twilight movie. This "end of the world" stuff is getting old. Move on dude, you've had your 5 minutes of fame.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  13. Wally624

    Speaking as a Christian myself, all I can say is – SHUT UP MR. CAMPING, WILL YOU JUST SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  14. olga

    Nobody knows the day the Son of God is coming. The only person that know's is the Father not even the Son or the angel's of God. The world will end when God send his only Son.
    Matthew 24:36 (New International Version)
    The Day and Hour Unknown
    36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • UncleM

      Olga – you are just as crazy. It's all made up. There will be no rapture – we'll destroy the environment or a meteor may get us.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • SB

      Camping: I'm right, the Bible says so.
      Olga: Camping's wrong, the Bible says so.
      SB: You're both roughly equally insane.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • Susan

      You are not crazy Olga. You just have done your homework. Good job.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Barry Welker

      I agree with you , this is what the Bible says about His return to earth. I feel sorry for people who believe in these false prophets.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • TheWiz71

      @UncleM – Nowhere in her message does olga mention the "rapture". There is virtually no basis in the Bible for the "Rapture" as many evangelicals have come to believe it. However, for Christians, yes, the Bible teaches that time, and the created order as we know it, will come to an end with the return of Jesus. But, as olga makes clear, when that will be is unknowable by any person. The main thing for us is to simply love God, and out of love for God, love our neighbour, and everything will be fine.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • SB

      Susan, actually no, she hasn't done her homework. She's merely quoted common phrases in the Bible repeated time and time again. If she'd done her homework then she would have studied Camping's actual argument and noticed that he has a host of excuses for Mathew 24:36 that he claims allows him to make these predictions. What makes Camping's round-about interpretation of Mat 24:36 any more crazy than your literal interpretation, when you choose round-about interpretations of other portions of the Bible that Camping takes more literally? Do you see the hypocrisy in your thinking here?

      May 24, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • TheWiz71

      @SB – what other passages of Scripture could possibly allow anyone to take Camping's so called predictions more literally? Name one. That isn't the only place where the Bible declares that the time at which this current age will end is strictly the knowledge of the heavenly Father. See also Mark and 1st Peter. The overall sense of the Bible is that things as we know them will come to an end, but only at the precise moment when God knows it needs to happen, not a second before.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  15. DB

    Come on CNN, stop this thread and stop this nonsince of giving these wacko's a stump to preach from. It is absolutely crazy to allow mentally deficient wacko's a place to waste our time and cyberspace on. Are you going to allow every other wacked out religeous cult to post as well? IN the name of God, stop it!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  16. Susan

    This man hasn't read John 3:16. Oh yeah, he doesn't seem to be too good with numbers.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  17. TOM

    I hate to say it but there is one nut case in almost every family and it doesn't seem to have anything to do with education, age, or upbringing. I have an aunt who is obsessed with the rapture and she donates money to every hatemongering televangelist on the planet as if she is "doing it for Jesus". The message the bible really intends in the book of Revelation is one of inner transformation. That is what the "rapture" is about, not about being jeanie blinked up into the sky.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Brenda

      Rapture referrs to the term "caught up" 1 Thess 4:17 being caught up in the clouds is more than a inner transformation. The Bible says that no man knows the day or the hour, so Harold Camp why do you think God would tell you something he didn't tell his own son.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  18. Susan

    Maybe it would be nice if God did just make people like this vanish. Poof! No more whack jobs.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  19. AmyJ

    This man is a flipping moron! Can he not find a place to play a challenging game of bingo instead of continuing to pull this crap?! I don't pity one bit the people who get wrapped up in his malarkey. Matthew 24:36

    May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  20. Ken

    Come on CNN, is it really necessary to keep promoting this lunatic? Get some class CNN.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • AmyJ


      May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137
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.