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. Mark

    This posting is because people are afraid. Everyone is afraid of what's happening to the earth and mankind acting like animals- killing each other, that they think they can push God into bringing the end. God has a set time for this and no human is going to tell him when to do it. And another thing, you can tell God you're going to heaven because you're good. He makes that decision. You can't be where you're not wanted. Besides, most of these "religious" people accuse Him of being sadistic- burning his creation forever. Not even a human would do that to his own offspring. Stinking accusers of God if you ask me.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Alright lets say you made a robot that was quite amazing and you give it the freedom of choice to serve you or to to go against you and disobey you completely. It chooses the latter. What do you do to it? Destroy it right.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Mark

      I think I'll send that robot to hell so he can suffer forever to show him that I hate his guts, but if the robot doesn't suffer, it doesn't count. (That little jerk will pay) I will forever be happy on his eternal suffering? Not even I would do that to an animal.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Mark

      Check this out. "They built high places to Baal in the Valley of Ben-hinnom, and immolated (To kill or destroy often by fire) their sons and daughters to Molech, bringing sin upon Judah; this I never commanded them, nor did it even enter my mind that they should practice such abominations." Jeremiah 32:35. Something God said. The old prophets are giving clues that it is us who are twisted in our thinking. Hell is something evil religious leaders have put into the minds of people once the last Apostle died. (John)

      May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  2. Timbuck2

    And in my mind, the rapture happens everytime an individual dies...I have yet to hear of anyone leaving and saying so ahead of time...hmmm

    May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  3. Wow

    wow. ill be honest. anyone who believes this guy, is as psycho as he is.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  4. Good God!

    He doesn't have anymore money to put up any type of advertising. He probably lost some followers too.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  5. E.Conti

    For a mear 5 million bucks I will provide you with your own personalized end of the world date, call me.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  6. SC

    5 months is too long to remember. Your (the preacher) reminder tweet on the day before Oct. 21 would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  7. CatS

    This is just good capitalism, folks! He's giving the sheeple what they want – and they pay him for it! Supply and demand. If he wasn't providing the service, someone else would. The man is making money, leave him alone. If there wasn't a demand for this type of escapism then they wouldn't pay him so much for it.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  8. Chad

    See, what I don't understand is this: by claiming that he is able to predict when the world will end, he is outright going against what God has told us about the end times in the bible.

    To say that one thing is true even though God's word says something different is to invalidate what God says, making God a liar. Which, in turn, contradicts with God's character, invalidating the entire faith. By claiming to be able to predict the end of the world, he is "debunking" God.

    It's clear what God has told us in the bible that no one knows when the time is, except for God. And that it will come like a thief in the night. So just relax, everyone. This man is wrong.

    The end times will happen, but no one knows when, and to worry about it is pointless. All we can do is live our lives like we are supposed to.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  9. Peter

    What complete and utter nonsense. This man is a charlatan. Oh, and 80 Million in contributions in four years? Just what does he do with all that money? He is smug about his followers selling everything based on his "rock solid" information. "Hey, once again I was wrong....so what?" And what's that crack about ruling his wife? How anybody with 2 ounces of brains follows this strange man and keeps him filthy rich is beyond me.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  10. Josh

    Harold Camping. you are being too negative!!! who wrote that bible that you are holding??? Not God's hand... probably YOU did wrote that fake bible!! I would suggest him to get different job!!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  11. DB

    If he can collect 80 Million in only one year we need to elect him President in 2012 and he will be able to balance our budget, the budget in Europe, calm the mideast, stop wars in Africa, stop the devistation around the world, as he must have a Red Line to God himself! Conman supreme!

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  12. Dee

    This individual is no longer worth reading/listienng to..........he makes no sense. Camping: read the Book, the entire Book and then explain how you are so special to be told WHEN, despite the Bible saying noone, not even the Son knows. As is stated, beware of false prophets, at least you and your nut jobs are spending money to stimulate the economy. As a Christian, I find this continual preaching of end times tedious. Get back to talking about God's Grace.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  13. Dave

    Can someone please buy this guy a calculator?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Josh

      LOL good one!

      May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  14. Susej

    He just does not want to return all the money he stole from unsuspecting fools.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  15. Sammy

    This guy is off his rocker, big time. Even if we dismiss all the end of the world crap he is still off his rocker.
    It is not written anywhere in the bible that people will be taken to heaven before the great tribulation of Satan.
    That is right, the great tribulation is not Gods wrath. This guy needs to read his bible. HAHA
    Just look in Matthew, There is a great tribulation like never before, then AFTER that, Jesus returns.

    The great tribulation is not the wrath of God. It is written "Ye shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer I have overcome the world." Notice it does not say, "Ye shall avoid tribulations because pastor nutcase says so."

    If you have to donate or give any money to someone who is trying to convince you he is some sort of mouth piece for God. "RUN" Of course if you want to kick him in the nuts before you run, I would not be bothered by that. HAHA All these nutcases keep guessing the wrong date for Jesus return. Anyone who knows anything, KNOWS it will be in 2039. Now send me all your money and I will tell you which day.

    Bless your heart.


    May 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Chris

      Delicious irony is delicious.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  16. rikcyd

    Camping is right and I support all his followers! Unfortunately I know I won't make the cut and will remain on Earth, so I am more than willing to help any of his followers that need to get rid of their cars, boats, electronics, jewelry, etc. Just drop me a line and I would be happy to swing by so you can sign over all those pesky earthly possessions of yours.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Susej

      I just want camping to turn over his assets to feed the poor. Every last penny he has taken from his followers – straight into a food pantry. Or better still – put it into a science education program to "deprogram" fundamentalists and teach them the basic ideas of the scientific method, and maybe fund an online course on basic logic.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  17. Hostillicus

    Glad he cleared this up. It all makes sense now.

    May 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  18. Logic

    That moron cant predict 6:00 at 5:30 let alone Judgement Day...why does the media keep giving that loon air time?

    May 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  19. musikpal

    (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 old testament of Bible(before Jesus was born).

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

      look up wiki, it was discovered in 1947 n 1956.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  20. Hmm

    Does he assume if he predicts the end of the world, knowing the Bible tells us that God is the only one who knows, then the world cannot end? Basically, it can't end because that would mean he's either God, or God couldn't let it happen on a day when "man" claims they knew it would happen since it would mean the Bible was wrong. Of course....it might just be that the guy is nuts.

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

      Good post Hmm. "...God...The designer and maker of the earth who established it, Not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in..." ISAIAH 45:18. The word "Rapture" is not even in the Bible. People want to go to a place they don't belong.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
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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.