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. Gingeet

    There is no difference in the kooky beliefs of this yahoo and any other religious beliefs of others. Come on people grow up get over this stupidity.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  2. mat

    I wonder how many fools will follow him this time. He should join the Muslim terrorist recruiters...seems to have a knack for recruiting idiots.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  3. Chris

    Ridiculous. Is the tooth fairy coming back to earth too? Why people believe in fairy tales, I'll never understand.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  4. Sawyer

    Here's how stupid Camping really is. Back in the 6th century, a monk decided to change the way years are counted. Instead of counting from the birth of Jesus, the original Julian calendar was set up on the foundation of Rome – or what we know as 753 BC – that was year 1 in the Roman calendar. Well, he went through all of the math to try and find out exactly what the year was when Jesus was born (in reality, he should have come up with 753 AUC – obviously). Instead, it was found out later that he got the math wrong and that he could be off by as much as 3-5 years. When people found out about the error, they would have to "relive" 3-5 years and no one wanted to back the calendar up. Technically, this year is 2006, 2007 or 2008 since the birth of Christ, but no one really knows. Even if Camping's math were right, he's going to be wrong about October 21st, 2011 and any date given over the next three years. A basic historian would go back and check the math and apparently Camping is too dense to realize that even he is going to be WAY off because of a simple flaw. And then, even if Camping were smart enough to figure in for the calendar error, he can't accurately predict a date because no one knows the size of the error not to mention how many days the error might be – in addition to years. In other words, whatever date he gives is a COMPLETE shot in the dark.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  5. Kmoore

    The Bible also warns of false prophets!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Because they are the same as "true" prophets? I fail to see the difference.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  6. Bobby

    He looks like his doomsday might be in 5 months....but I think I have another 60 years until mine.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  7. Diane Smith

    Hey, I just had an idea! Maybe the 2-3% were already taken up and Harold Camping was left behind with the rest of us. Just ask Joplin if the end of the world came or not!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  8. Blue

    Will he please stop, he his hurting believer's and non believers by his actions. There is no need to name a date, God warns us not to focus on that. This is not for man to know. We need to put of focus on God and focus on what we can do to help other right now in the world in need. Yeah, also thanks for picking my daughters 4th birthday for your next doom days prediction.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I don't know, I don't see the harm and its free public entertainment. Anyone that takes him seriously has enough issues already that this will hardly add to the burden.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Gingeet

      Just face the facts. Yes, facts. Your God or Gods do not exist. Get over it. When has the Bible or any religious book or person been right? Fact, Never.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  9. atomicmiata

    Five and a half billion years from now, our sun will supernova and burn out, and yes, then the world will end.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Diane Smith

      At last! Someone with intelligence posts the truth.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  10. Lacey18

    Third time's a charm??

    May 24, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Diane Smith

      More like three strikes and you're out.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  11. J

    Maybe if we stop giving him national attention he will go away...

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

      Exactly! Why is this news?

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

      Blame CNN. No one else is bothering with him.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  12. Hoofleau

    I wish he had been raptured just to get him out of here !

    May 24, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  13. Steve

    This just in..... Another crackpot religious leader predicting end of days...... Why is this guy even newsworthy ???

    May 24, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  14. Johnny

    Should we build an ark? Quick everybody grab two of each species of each creature on the planet. Take caution with lions, sharks, rhinos and deadly snakes, etc... they can be a handful.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  15. Marko

    No one knows the day or the hour but God. How clear does the Bible have to be?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Diane Smith

      Clear?!? Have you read Revelations?! Sounds like it was written on an acid trip!

      May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • John Richardson

      THe bible is clear that no one knows the hour, except the so-called father. The bible is also clear that the so-called son doesn't know better than anyone else. Hence the bible is clear that the trinity is false. The bible also makes it clear that the son thought he'd be back before all of the first century people he was speaking to had died, which just goes to show that the son really, really did NOT know what he was talking about in this instance. Since what he was talking about is supposedly THE ultimate triumph of christianity, it seems prudent to conclude that it would be wisest not to follow anything that this first century false prophet proclaimed.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  16. Jack

    How much more money dose he need to get it right lmao

    May 24, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  17. Gaunt

    I love these people who claim that without God there is no morality. They seem to forget that 'divine' morality gave the world the reformation, the counter-reformation, a dozen inquisitions and crusades, editcs of genocide and torture, and mass oppression and slaughter on a... well, on a biblical scale. So where do you get of pretending the 'faithful' have any ground to preach morality to anyone?

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

      Crusades? The Crusades were to (mainly) stop muslims from advancing any farther. Oh and all those things that Christianity has supposedly caused could never equal what Atheism has caused. Holocaust of babies. Hitlers killing of jews. Stalin's Russia. All these things atheism gave excuse for.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Gingeet

      Atheism had nothing to do with the Holocaust or Stalin. That just shows how ignorant to the facts you are. You will believe anything that some yahoo on a pulpit will tell you. Get a glove and get in the game. By the way Hitler got all of his ideas about antisemitism from the writings of Martin Luther and Hitler was a Catholic. Yes, these are facts and I know how hard it is for you to admit that you are wrong and your "beliefs" are nothing but gullibility. Oh well, good luck with that. Maybe you can grow up and just admit that you're wrong and move on with it.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • Nocordoba

      Gingeet you are pretty crazy. Stalin was atheist Hitler was technically speaking not but what he did he did because of atheism. The makers of Communism were atheists and so because of them Hitler was able to do what he did. Because we are animals we should have the choice to kill babies. I do look at the facts.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Jake

      Nocordoba – Hitler was not "technically" not an atheist. He was not an atheist. Period. And your statement that Hitler "what [Hitler] did he did because of atheism. Is as indefensible as it is nonsensical. Then, you say "The makers of Communism were atheists and so because of them Hitler was able to do what he did." What? When did Hitler become a Communist?
      I have seen ignrorant people posting on here – but you, sir, take the cake.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Nocordoba

      No of all the people you do.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • 215phi

      First, the Rapture doctrine that Christians cling to is not even in the bible. READ the book of Revelations and you'll notice that Christ does not return until after the destruction of Babylon and other disasters and then we will be "caught up" given new bodies to fight the battle of Armageddon. Sorry but we will all go through this hell together.

      As for the Anti-Christ he and all of his family and friends are already here. You see them on your TV everyday. 1 John 2:18 "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time". So stop waiting for just 1 man. Use your head, anything that is against the Most High is Anti-Christ. WAKE UP!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  18. toad

    LOL. Does anyone still believe this fraud? He's making millions off their stupidity.

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

      Isn't it ironic this "preacher" contiues to collect money and build his empire while concurrently predicting the end of time. he should be arrested for fraud.

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

      Cherokee, why is his fraud any worse than all the other money grubbing "preachers" out there? There are thousands upon thousands of able bodied men and women supporting themselves off the superst.itions of the masses. I fail to see the difference.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  19. PritTX

    So that gives him another 5 months to spend what's left of his idiot followers' assets.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  20. David

    Okay so What I don't understand is, in Harold Camping new statement the End of the World is now Oct 21, and not May 21. Which is fine I guess, but Spiritually It started May 21 and it will last until Oct 21? According to Mr. Camping Now is the time of judgment so I'll only be judged between now and Oct 21? And not for anything I've done for my church? In the last 30+ years of my life, or anyone else did that has lived and died before May 21 2011? Harold Camping What I don't understand and what I don't think you understand is. You can't predict it. What I think you are Harold Camping is a Terrorist. Here’s the Definition for it


    1. The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. (Check-mark Harold Camping did this)
    2. The state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization. (Larger Check-mark Harold Camping did this)
    3. A terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government. (Check-mark Harold Camping did this)

    So can we consider him a terrorist?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Bible Clown

      He is a Church© and doesn't even have to pay taxes. Isn't this a great country? Your tax money is making this sideshow possible. It's not illegal in this country to say an invisible sky man wants your money or he'll kill you.

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

      No, he's not as terrorist. He's a con man. That's pretty common in his line of work (and I'm not referring to engineering).

      May 24, 2011 at 8:44 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.