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. Menza

    I'll predict Camping ought to be dead of natural causes in 5 months. Good riddance!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  2. Fareeha

    Thats when people dont use the mind that God gave to them and follow others blindly..their faith is like a spiders web..very weak

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  3. Sean24609

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32)

    Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • 900-foot-tall Jesus

      No such thing. Any crazy person is welcome to make up some Scripture.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  4. DUH

    He obviously doesn't read the Bible...

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • 900-foot-tall Jesus

      Easier to make stuff up, and more profitable.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  5. Jerry

    HAHAHAHAHA!!!!! The limits of idiocy know no bounds.Why would anyone want to know when the end of days comes anyway? I'd rather just have a firey comets smack me on the head and that's it.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Menza

      Only because his scare tactic makes people shed their wealth...and gives it to his Family Radio scam.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  6. Colin

    This guy is mana from heaven for we atheists. Keep going my deluded friend, predict, predict, predict....

    No matter how they try and fight it, this has to open some Christian minds to the thought that perhaps, just perhaps, other aspects of their supernatural beliefs are questionable.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Allen

      Kind of like Jeffrey Dahmer is the gift that keeps on giving for atheists? Come on man, I don't believe all atheists are cannibalistic serial killers any more than I believe all christians are apocolyptically obsessed nutbags. Anybody that does has failed themsevles intellectually.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • 900-foot-tall Jesus

      So Dahmer is the only atheist you can think of? Man, you must be really dumb. How about Dick Cheney?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  7. Brent

    Okay, NOW I believe him!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  8. Mark

    Hey this is great! I will be sure to tell my six year old son! I sure he will be comforted by this.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  9. DD

    I will think better of this group when I hear they gave all their donations to ease suffering of people in the HERE and NOW!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  10. Daniel

    He postpones it enough times, eventually a catastrophe will happen and he'll be like 'There it is! It's happening! Told you so!'.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  11. JStevens

    One thing I agree with the preacher about is that the bible is very clear concerning the coming of our LORD. The Bible clearly states no man knows the day or the hour. He will come as a thief in the night

    May 24, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Colin

      Now that's what I call a religious prediction!! Incapable of disproof. Jesus got it wrong and Camping got it wrong, when they set dates. That made it verifiable and we know the Christians hate that.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  12. NewzJunkie1

    Of course the end is coming, but that man doesn't know when it will be.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  13. JF

    What a troll!

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  14. xeno

    He said "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible." Does this bother anyone else? An individual being followed by people with a need to believe in something so badly that they are willing to sacrifice their families, homes and jobs thinks he has no responsibility? Anyone that reads any text and then feels compelled to tell people what he thinks it means has responsibility for how those people react, especially when it comes to something as persuasive as the ever after.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  15. james bond

    Camping is a sanctimonious shiiteating piece of human waste and is a perfect poster boy for abortion.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  16. Osobien

    So the shake down of the duped continues. "Keep sending money....the world will end....no I am serious...it is ending soon. BTW, keep sending money.....need a stamp? Just put the pen to the check and write. Lots of zeros....that is right.....Yep ending soon....."

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  17. Henry neeser

    None of these people are true Christians.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Bible Clown

      That's what Franklin Graham said about Obama. It's not up to you to decide who's a Christian and who's not, my friend.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  18. Mike

    I thought Christians read the bible?

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  19. Basil999

    I don't think I'd be doing a concerted advertising campaign either.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  20. Really????

    He just wont give up will he? This is one of the reasons I don't belive in God and Jesus. It is because of all the nonsense that these people put out. Its ridiculous. I mean give it up already. Its not gonna happen. It never will.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Really????

      I mean how dumb can you be to actually belives this idoiot.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Mike

      @really don't think because of one man that he represents the rest of us. If it happens someday then it happens. If it doesn't then it doesn't. Who cares really. People have tried to predict this and never read their bible. In fact almost ever religion out there predicts a end. But with all the evil in the world there has to be a God. Just remember there is no such thing as a atheist in a fox hole....

      May 24, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • 900-foot-tall Jesus

      "Just remember there is no such thing as a atheist in a fox hole" I've been in that foxhole, and I'm an atheist. Just remember when a bomb goes off, everyone calls on their god, and apparently most people's god is poo.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:35 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.