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. jimmy benaducci

    "But now the world has been told, it's under judgment."
    Thanks for the tip slick.
    And just exactly how did you come across that little tidbit of information?
    Ohhhhhhhh – God told you eh.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  2. James

    Why on God's earth does the media continue to focus on this idiot???? It gives him the attention that he obviously craves. He has made millions off this ridiculous stuff and will continue to do so as long as he is put on the national news. We are all sort of tired of it actually.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  3. Jon

    I just spoke with Jesus and he said he doesn't want to come back to Earth. He said he is just fine where he is. He just told me that Camping is full of himself and said to tell his followers to stop giving him your hard earned money. Jesus also said you are giving your money to a man who isn't a real honest man. And, when someone isn't honest is just plain evil. you are giving money to an Evil person. The Devil is making Camping take money from people to help him with purchasing. new homes under ground so STOP!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  4. Lisa

    In honor of Rev. Camping's re-RE-revised doomsday prediction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHyXm77Aek4

    May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  5. Frogist

    Did Camping say he doesn't have spiritual rule over anyone EXCEPT HIS WIFE?! But there's no misogyny in Christianity at all, right? Geez.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  6. LetEmSquirm

    seppuku if he is wrong

    May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • CLG1081


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

      Hey, how do you upvote this? Is there some sort of "like" button I can hit or some such thing?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  7. Tags

    Must be pretty good money in being a doomsday prophet what with all those donations and support to get the "Word"out. This guy must have just a few more payments on something, that's why we have only a few more month's left.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  8. Joel

    Dude! Seriously... it's my birthday on Oct 21st!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  9. Jim5k

    Dear Mr. Camping. I said I eagerly looked forward to your next Armageddon prediction. I was kidding. But keep up the good joke.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  10. jjk

    Mr Camping obviously does not have St. Matthew's gospel in his copy of the Bible.

    Jesus says this about the end of the world:

    "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    Matthew 24:36 "

    May 24, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  11. Barna64

    ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..................................................

    May 24, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  12. VA-BON

    WILL SOMEBODY SHUT THIS OLD, DEMENTIA FILLED KOOK UP!!!!!! He is REALLY making Christians look bad. Athiests, non-believers, and agnostics please stop trying to lump all Christians in the same category with this crazy old man. Authentic Christians know that NO ONE knows the day nor the hour....(not even the Son of Man). HE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ALL CHRISTIANS. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BELIEVE THAT IS YOUR BUSINESS, BUT DON'T USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE!!!!! YOU KNOW THIS DUDE IS CRAZY!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Crystal Epperson

      I totally agree!!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • John

      News flash! This guy's wacky ideas are no wackier than the rest of the crazy crap mainstream Christians believe; like the literal story of Adam and Eve, the virgin birth or the resurrection (and many other fairy tales). Camping's beliefs may not have quite the cult following as these others, but his ideas are no less detached from reality.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • .....o.O.....

      Authentic Christians? Is that like authentic mexican salsa?

      May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Bobby

      The hell are you talking about? It's going to be in October. 😉

      May 24, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Whatever

      Agreed. This man does not reflect the beliefs of most Christians, but his idiotic ideas have given people another excuse to criticize and poke fun at Christianity. I am a Christian and I don't take everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally. Most of it is meant to be somewhat symbolic. However, Christianity has done more for humanitarian causes than any other group or government in recent times. The positive contributions of Christians in the world are never recognized because idiots like camping generate a media frenzy which overshadows all else.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  13. working

    this guy is an idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  14. Jaxon

    I don't know how this guy is not being investigated for fraud!!!! Where is the call for that CNN!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Bible Clown

      What he's doing is legal, because he is a Church©.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Bobby

      Separation of Church and State...unfortunately. What he is doing is promoting his religious beliefs, and he has the legal right to do so. Same with the Westboro Baptist Church and their protests of military funerals. It's sick, but legal.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  15. conradshull

    Stupid *UC*

    May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  16. Diane Smith

    With the degree of 'tribulation' I've had in my life so far, I fear nothing – and I laugh at the bible and this idiot's teachings – or that of any other religion. If this so-called 'heaven' is managed by the same supposed supreme being who 'watches over all' I'll pass, thank you. Meanwhile, I suggest The Home for this poor old man, who is obviously senile, and I suggest stop feeding his frenzy and he'll vanish like the sharks in the ocean when there is nothing to feed on.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  17. Irrationally Irritated

    This guys has a lot of balls. He's nothing more than a criminal. What's worse? I feel nothing but pity for his followers. They are sheep lead by a wolf, not by a shepard. The money that has been spent on alerting the world could have gone to better use... tsunami relief, fighting hunger, aid to those in need. THAT is true self-service; not this bizarre belief that preaching about the end of the world. Death is an inevitability. If it's today... well that would suck... it's it's tomorrow, the day after, next week, month... and so on. There's nothing we can do. Enjoy it while it lasts, don't hang up on a saving yourself for your beliefs. Nothing you can do between now and this 'proverbial' time will save you; it's not like you can say a bunch of Hail Mary's and suddenly redeem yourself. My opinion, they'd be more likely to achieve heaven or "Rapture" by donating their time selflessly to better causes... i.e. feeding the hungry, serving at homeless shelters... and so on. Don't be a follower, be a leader.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Diane Smith

      Well said!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Rob

      Couldn't agree more!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  18. trixen


    May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  19. ridemywave

    CNN – why do you even post this garbage??? This is not even news. This guy is a wacko. Take his voice away from him and he will no longer have the ability to influence the weak and the hungry.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  20. Lisa

    So when the next date comes and goes without incident, what's he gonna say next? What a joke.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Next, he'll say the angels didn't come because the president's black, or because Angelina Jolie has tattoos on her fanny, and his cultists will go shoot someone. Dangerous people are always newsworthy.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:36 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.