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. Greg Gilbert

    This is just as dumb as Zombie Jesus day which most of us celebrate on Easter.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  2. admat97

    Let's put this guy in charge of tax collection day and let him recalculate away.......

    May 24, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • Pat

      That's the best suggestion I've seen yet!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  3. Jon

    I Predict that Camping needs to borrow a gun rent 1 bullet and take his own life. My predictions of the world ending is 2073. Sounds like a good time for the world ending. Also predicting the worlds end has been going on since the 60's

    May 24, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  4. Ronnie

    So it didn't happen this time. Oh well. Just come up with another date to keep all those idiots sending him money. What a racket. I'm just wondering if his "ministry" will use those milions to support the jerks who gave everything up for him. I say no public assistance! What would be even funnier is that he passes away Oct 21. His own private Apocalypse! HAHA!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  5. Kreamowheat

    People, and evidently pastors do not understand end times. As mentioned in several other posts, Jesus says that no man will know the hour. Only God. That pretty much says it all there, but there are signs of the closing age. First there must be an abomination of desolation. which means there will be a great destruction and pillaging of the temple in Jerusalem. but right now, there is no temple in jerusalem. So one must first be built. This prophecy is cited by Jesus (matt 24) as well as Daniel 7. Also, babylon must be united. Babylon or Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan is hardly united. This prophecy comes from both revelation and Jeremiah. Camping is a false-prophet. Anyone claiming He has returned or the world is at an end, Jesus clearly states do not listen to. Many times as a matter of fact. People who follow are ignorant and unfaithful to the one true God.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  6. Pat

    Of course they're not going to take out ads and public notifications this time. That way when the date comes and goes, there's not such a huge public spotlight on the sham that he AND his ministry are!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  7. cm

    I am sure mother earth will breathe a sigh of relief once the human parasites are gone.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • britt

      The earth is not a living, breathing organism. The earth is a collection of dirt, rock, water, etc. The earth has no feelings, does not have a conscious, cannot think.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Canadian Knight

      Mother Earth created us you fool! True Humans will ensure she never has to breathe a sigh of relief, and honestly Mother Earth is far more powerful than you obviously can`t understand! No matter what we shall save Terra, and one day leave in order to fully accomplish this... You really do need to fully educate yourself `CM` otherwise don`t bother commenting... don`t waste the time of those who truly believe in Humanity, for we shall decide the fate of ourselves once and for all someday :)))

      May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  8. Indeed

    There needs to be a definite IRS or Justice Dept. intervention if this moron preacher is getting wealthy off of these stunts. It clearly states in the Holy Bible that he uses in his so-called ministry that no man knows the time when Jesus will return. Anyone professing to be Jesus or claiming to know the day of his return is either a liar or a false prophet. Either these donations need to be returned or in the least, taxed at the highest rate under law. I believe this entire family should be imprisoned for fraud.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  9. JT

    You Christians who keep saying "no one knows the hour" are just as crazy as these nuts. You're no different than these nuts except you aren't giving a date.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Hello

      Even science says the earth has an expiring date.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • Sybaris

      Correct, just move the goal posts and use the Almighty Caveat

      May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am |

    Why doesn't this moron just give up already! It's like a little kid trying to explain why he is right even though he got the answer wrong on a test. IF these people were TRUE christians they would know the bible says the day of the rapture is known to NO MAN! Stop trying to sell your radio show with doomsday predictions and oh i dont know, maybe do something to help people effected by the recent tornadoes?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Sybaris

      Love that, "true Christians". No such thing as a TRUE Christian. Just another divisive phrase conjured up by one of the most divisive religions in history. These people believe just as vehemently in your dogma as you do, they just have a different interpretation. What if YOU are wrong?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  11. MrOpinionator

    CNN, now you fail by keeping this non-story going. Really disappointing.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  12. bluemax77


    May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  13. Matt

    Jesus clearly expected the world to end in the lifetime of his apostles. He was wrong. It's been over 2000 years. He isn't coming back. Get over it and get on with your life.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Norm

      And can we please stop giving this lunatic media coverage?
      Believe it or not, there are other people out there getting hysterical over predictions like this.
      I think a little responsibility and integrity are journalism is required here.
      CNN is turning into a super market tabloid.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • gg

      For some people the world ended a long time ago. Their bodies move and act like the living but inside they are dead. They've seen enough to know that they live in a big world wide trailer park of theives and thugs, who's landlord for life is J.P. Morgan. For them to hear that the world is coming to an end gives them the joy of a Jihadist.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Sybaris


      If this Jesus man were alive today he would be in the same circle as Jones, Koresh, Camping, Applewhite et. al.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  14. Rob III

    LOL, some people just dont give up... keep throwing days out there retard.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  15. Merle Odessa Wright

    I am not considered the brightest crayon in the box or the sharpest pencil in the case. I do know that if the world were coming to an end and everyone and everything would be destroyed, to whom am I giving and/or selling all my worldly possessions. People wake up, the Bible clearly tells us in Matthew 24:36 that only the Father in Heaven know the day and hour. Read your Bible and don't be directed by man. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • UncleM

      Ignore the bible. Don't be directed by fairy stories.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Norm

      Hey Uncle......
      How about you live your life...your way and stop telling other people how to live theirs.
      What are you....a republican?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  16. Nocordoba

    I understand what you are trying to say you are saying that because these other gods are not true then yours is not either. But that argument has no ground to stand on you can't prove that my God does not exist just as you can't prove matter and energy created this vast universe filled with thousands of stars molecules each so complex and not one of them is built wrong all are in the right place.My grandpa was not a monkey...And never has there been found that missing link that science needs. Where did all the people go? If man started 30,000 + years ago and in the last 1000 years the population has grown over 2,000,000,000 then add that up and even with all the death and suffering you could think up (the last century was the deadliest in history) that would still be at least 20,000,000,000. The evidence is there now you see why I dismiss your god the god of science and death. Your belief give a reason to do what Hitler did "I can kill all I want because there is no one to stop me and it doesn't really matter there is no need for a moral code we should all act like animals" is what your belief teaches. richunix I understand what you are saying and if you continue to beleive this I am warning you when you find yourself being thrown into hell you have no excuse.

    The easter bunny never existed and that is easily proven, did it ever right a book with no errors or show with proof that it exists? No so there you have it, it does not exist.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • UncleM

      Your ignorance of science is truly scary.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Gaunt

      Possibly one of the stupidest posts I have ever seen. nocordoba, you know nothing about science, demographics or biology, and are literally spouting made up absurdities you just pulled out of your sphincter. The 'no missing link' claim has been debunked for over 30 years, try and keep up. The population explosion of mankind is the last 60 years (before ww1, the population of earth was 2 billion), and the bible is FULL of errors, faults and contradictions, its rife with them and if you claim otherwise you have clearly never read the bible.

      Its amazing, nearly every single thing you said was factually wrong. Thats almost impressive.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Gaunt I said the population increased 2,000,000,000 at least over the last 1000 years and no the "no missing link" has not been debunked try to prove it you will find it hard. Prove it is full of errors I read it I have read it very much and am yet to find an error.
      Everyone keeps on saying you know nothing of science but give me no proof they say you know nothing of biology but give me no proof. I look at the demographics before posting things like this I never pull random facts out of the air.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Dude impressive? Honestly not so much when you hear i am only some kid much far from 18 posting these comments. Honestly I think you just humiliated yourself.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Kim

      Nocordoba, you sound like you're seven and have never had an English class in your life. Stop believing everything your parents tell you. The stars are all perfect and none are wrong because physically they require certain elements to exist, when those elements cease to exist, the star goes away. It's really that simple. Look beyond a book written by man and translated dozens of times.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Nocordoba

      What on earth is wrong with people I don't beleive everything my parent tell me in fact I disagree with my parents on several religious things. You seem like you aren't even reading what I am saying oh and sorry about the grammar I have been posting comment for over 2 hrs. My fingers are tired. The stars? I am saying those physical requirement for them us this planet just "happen" to be right the chances all this just "happened" around 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  17. Free

    Does this guy honestly think that anyone will believe him now? What am I saying, of course they will!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • Norm

      He already talked how many people into selling their homes and possessions and giving him the money.
      Maybe he's trying to hold them off for another five months, hoping he will expire from natural causes before they string him up.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  18. Tony

    Since I am not a religious person, though I do try to live a good and honorable life....I do know a little about the Bible. All that sticks out to me now is "Beware of false prophets"!

    I have no doubt the end is coming...I don't know when, I just know I have to live my life as if it is tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after. I believe THAT is the spirit of the verses. T

    May 24, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • Derp

      ALL prophets are false.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  19. hingedlwnb

    I almost hope the world does end on 10/21 just to get rid of this guy.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:19 am |

      Okay, that was too funny! I've had my laugh for the day. Thank you!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  20. Eric

    I love how all the christians that are saying this guy's beliefs are crazy. You need to realize how you feel about this guy's beliefs is how I feel about yours. They're just as crazy. You loose me the second you claim that snakes and donkeys can talk. And that 6 people took car of a million animals for 6 months on a boat. And Revelations is beyond an acid trip.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Mehgann

      @ Eric, is that really necessary? I'm as agnostic as anyone, maybe even athiest, but if someone else wants to believe in talking donkeys and Revelations, I say all the power to them. They aren't harming anyone, and for some people, religion is good for them. I would explain, but it gets too personal. Now, THIS dude harmed people. He scared children into believing that they were going to die. He made an ass out of a whole lot of adults. WHOLE different thing. There are also other evangelicals who watch too much Fox news and want to tell everyone else what to do, and in my opinion, they are also a different story. But believing in a higher power in general doesn't make someone crazy.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am |

      If you're going to be nasty for the sake of being nasty, at least learn to spell first.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Nocordoba

      I have been up for an hour posting comments and arguments against things like this I have been typing so much my fingers are starting to hurt and they are getting sweaty. I really do not want to post another comment proving what you are saying wrong I am only a kid and I cannot imagine how stupid some people are look at the facts and there you have it there is no other explanation for why the world exists look up answers in Genesis. You will get answers for all your questions.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Dave

      That Christians feel this guy is crazy should show you just how crazy he really is. He's an extremist, and extremists exist in all walks of life. Jeez, there are even extreme athiests who take their cause of proving God does not exist to unhealthy levels.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Whatever

      @ Eric Please try to understand Christianity before you attack it. The Bible is not meant to be taken completely literally; most of it is symbolic. If you would have bothered to do a little research before passing judgment, you would have seen this. And yes, Camping is and idiot and an extremist. He makes all Christians look bad in the same way that Islamic extremists are an embarrassment to most people who follow Islam . Religion is not inherently bad; but it does become distorted when taken to the extremes. However, this is true of most things in life.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:47 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.