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. musikpal

    Here's an evidence of Intelligent design.
    See n think 4 ur self . No matter what u choose 2 believe, u should @least b informed.


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

      Hoo, boy – more oxygen for this one!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  2. ep to

    Don't be so quick to condemn him. His prophesy actually did come true. The reason we don't see it is because nobody in the world was worthy enough to be accepted into heaven. He only made a miscalculation about how many people would be accepted. In the meantime, we've had tornadoes, a volcano and in many places scary thunder storms. It appears God has decided to wipe the world clean of this human virmin and start over – or maybe not even bother starting over. Maybe he's going to retire and take it easy. In any case, we're all going to hell in a hand basket. Onward Harold, onward. Lead the way.

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

      Please – just go home and gibber in yer closet, as your "holy" book instructs you to do; enough of this silliness.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Ross

      Yes, tornadoes, volcanoes, and "scary thunderstorms" are definitely a sign of judgement day. If only we better understood these spiritual phenomenons.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • HaliGirl

      Are you on crack?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Connor

      Oh please. Camping would have gotten more Merritt for his doom saying if he gave this prediction just before Hurricane Katrina. I don't know what Bible he's teaching, it certainly isn't the one I've read.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  3. IxNay

    stubborn like a mule

    May 24, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  4. Shamrock6

    Unbelievable. There just aren't words. This man is deeply, deeply disturbed. It's now no longer funny. The media just needs to stop covering this guy. It's pitiful and pathetic. He truly needs help. I can't watch this any longer. It makes me feel dirty.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  5. Beth

    I'm all for freedom of religion, but this is fraud plain and simple. He and the corporation he established to solicit donations needs to be sued for fraud and put out of business. Its not just the adults that get duped that suffer, its also their kids, families and society that now have to support them because they gave all their $ away. PLEASE put doomsday churches out of business via prosecution!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  6. skeptic

    I am really upset by this.
    I was under the impression that all the "true believers" were going to ascend leaving the rest of us here.
    All I can say is:
    I wish you would. We need the room. Plus, we wouldn't have to put up with you idiots any more.
    Bring on the rapture!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  7. T

    The bible also said you are allowed to kill your children if they act out against there parents. I hope you don't teach your followers that one.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Connor

      Many of the rules taught in the books of law were only applicable to Ancient Israel. Killing kids and witches don't apply to us anymore.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  8. RV

    Is it not a Fear Psychosis that he is creating?? Is it anything short of PSYCHO TERRORISM?? If no such thing happens ( and it would not) who would be responsible for the lives and minds affected by these preachings?? Shouldn't there be any laws to regulate such utterances??

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  9. CHHoosiers

    Has no rule over anyone except his wife? What a jerk. She must be a real loser as well.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  10. Julie

    There will be a last war. This has not happened. It will be Russian and China that are involved in this terrible war. Then Jesus willcome and reign on Earth for 1000 years before Armagedon.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Connor

      You shouldn't take speculation as facts. It never says "Russia" and "China" in the bible, it does say North and East. It could be them but we can't know for sure. and Armageddon is when Jesus makes his second coming, following the millennial kingdom. After THAT is judgment day.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • rev_cletus

      Poor, poor child – step away from your "holy" book, and go get ye a real dose of reality...

      May 24, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  11. Phil in Oregon

    Before anyone puts another nickel in Camping's collection plate, or writes a check to Family Radio, they need to consider THEIR responsibility in spreading false prophecy, and the damage they are doing to the church as a whole.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • richunix

      Why? I'm just about to send him my son college fund....it will help with his math

      May 24, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  12. musikpal

    We've seen evidence of false prophet, here's an evidence of Intelligent design.
    See n think 4 ur self . No matter what u choose 2 believe, u should @least b informed.


    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • SB

      Get an education please.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  13. yeah

    enough with this guy cnn

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  14. Satan

    Why doesn't someone ask him what he did with the $80 Million??

    May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  15. Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

    Three strikes, and you're out, Mr. Camping.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  16. Ned Bare

    This guy should be put in a nursing home and tied to a chair.
    Sad thing is that these fools will continue to believe him and throw their money at him.. I'll bet that he didn't give up all of his (stolen) "life savings" before this past Saturday.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Phil in Oregon

      GOOOOOD POINT. Does he still have money saved? For what? I still wonder if he had a sermon prepared for Sunday.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  17. xasthur

    What a loser this guy.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  18. David

    I wish some of his followers would read Deuteronomy 18:22. Wackos like these who think that God speaks to them are nothing but decievers. I hope they can read back to 18:20 and see what the pusnishment was for such a lunatic.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • richunix

      Tell me again your god name?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Colin

      Sooo, they should read an Iron Age myth from the Middle East in order to get the truth. And that makes them NOT wackos. Yeah.....

      May 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • SB

      Yes, use the Bible to prove how much these Bible thumpers, who believe deeply in the Bible and traveled around the country preaching the Bible and spent millions advertising the Bible, don't know about the Bible. Just brilliant.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Phil in Oregon

      Neither he nor anyone else is still under that system of punishments, otherwise being gay would still be a capital crime.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • montyhalll

      David – sure it appears Camping is unfortunately mislead but for me I'll choose to pray for him. Praying for him and his followers to find peace in their lives and calrity in their hearts. As I pray the same for myself and all of us who read this article and our posts. : – )

      May 24, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • George

      While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1Thes.5:3

      May 24, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  19. Jarko

    Wasn't this an episode of the Simpsons?

    May 24, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  20. Matthew

    Why would the dog get left behind? Everyone knows All Dog's Go to Heaven.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:05 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.