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. Sha' Boy


    May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  2. Jota Squared

    Looks like we have 5 months to build a big fire extinguisher!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  3. Raymond

    I know what it is.

    Camping has been discovered to be a fraud, and a charlatan. He's now deflecting. His prediction didn't come true on Saturday, so now he's making lame excuses.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  4. PR

    Maybe he just thinks, "if i keep guessing, maybe i'll get it right next time." Neither he, nor anyone else will know the end of days, his followers are all to unitelegable to realize that the bible tells us this, so how could one man defy the word of God. The lord would not hve given you that power if no one was meant to know. And the only thing you all who say the rapture is happening because of storms and volcanos failed to do is take a journalism class, every teacher will tell you that when you run out of things to report on, make fear your new story. Just like the year of the shark. We have the same storms every year, they are just not all covered.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  5. atypical

    nunti sunya

    May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  6. Cupping hand over face

    A smart prediction this time. He'll be dead by then. And the lemmings that followed him off the cliff? Let's just hope the government doesn't put them on welfare because the shallow end of the gene pool and believed in this crap.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  7. teepee


    May 24, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  8. MarkSu

    Mr. Harold Camping, have you gone back and review MARK 13 in your bible? We cannot deny the end times is coming but I'm sorry to say the word of God clearly mentioned "not even the angles from heaven knows when Jesus Christ is coming back. Just keep praying...

    May 24, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  9. Will

    Harold Camping is obviously a false prophet. He isn't even man enough to just admit he was wrong. He now says that world will end in one day on October 21st. There will be no suffering, or plagues, or natural disasters.

    Basically what Harold Camping is saying is that the Bible is wrong, and his interpretations, based on the Bible, is right. The Bible specifically spells out the Tribulation, the plagues, wars, and famine that proceed the destruction of the Earth; the years of suffering and peace. The rise of the anti-christ, and all the other facets of revelations.

    Now Harold Camping says throw all that out the window. God has changed His mind. He isn't going to end the world that way. Harold Camping guarantees it.

    If you are a Harold Camping cultist, you must ask yourself this question now. Do you believe Harold Camping, or do you believe the Bible? Because after his forum on Monday, the two are not one in the same.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  10. Bucky Ball

    If this isn't THE most convincing evidence against intelligent design, I don't know what is.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  11. bretgs

    Ohh, I forgot to carry the 1, and divided by the square root of 2, and should have multiplied. Let's see, that equates to .... I am insane.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  12. Dan

    The old saying applies here.

    "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

    However, I think this guy has made his doom's day predictions before. Therefore I suppose all those who bought into this on May 21st 2011 should be ashamed of themselves. That is if they had the spare brain cells to figure it out (which they obviously don't).

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


      May 24, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  13. Christina

    SHUT UP ALREADY!! We heard enough of your stupidity!! The only reason you are saying October now is because all the people who were stupid enough to donate money to your stupid cause want it back now and the only way to keep them off your back is for a new date! Sorry buddy but this place has been around a lot longer than any of us have and it will be around a whole lot longer when we are all gone too. Put a lid on it.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  14. Jonse

    Nobody is responsible for the lying of this weird man, except himself and his father-DEVIL. He will be with his father in HELL at the end of his life.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  15. Jay

    Why does the media keep giving this clown free publicity? That's really all he wants. Well, that and cash from the poor gullible people stupid enough to believe him. Just ignore him, CNN! (And the New York Times, and NPR, and Fox News, and ABC and CBS and ... )

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

    May 21st,Oct.21st.......both moot points as the Bible clearly states that no man knows the day or hour of the coming of the Lord. And to Really????........It will happen and accordimg to Bible prophecy.......not too far from now. Just viewing world events points the way. Any time a date is attatched to the rapture or second coming is false.

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

      "For I will come like a thief in the NIght" "No one will know the exact date or time, Not Jesus, Nor the Angels in heaven" (may not be verbatim so excuse me) So If God is telling us one thing its he isnt even going to tell his only begotten son, so its totally belieavable he left "code" for a geriatric radio host from Cali to decipher. Ha...Not.
      Camping can predict the date of Jesus's return about as good as I can predict the exact minute my baby is going to be born, 6 mos from now. Its the kind of thing that we beleive will happen, but the exact day and minute will not be known untill the time has come. Camping needs to give it up. This is coming from a man who has studied the bible as a math problem, he is not a minister, preacher, or priest. He apparantly is ignoring those important parts in the Bible and trying to pull a date out of thin air. It's laughable and embarassing to true Christians who await the day of our lords return.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  17. Patrick

    "If he was preaching and reading the bible, he would see that it says "no man knows the day or hour" This is just a get rich scheme and it's pathetic."

    See you all October 22nd..... and the entire bible is nothing more than fiction written by men to control other men and women and keep them as subjects. It is entirely written to keep you under control.

    Free your mind.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  18. Connor

    This guy is such a sore loser.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  19. Ricote

    October 21th? That is a long time, can we do some to make it faster. What about a gay pride parade evry afternoon on the summer? Will that work? Tell me what, I am really willing to get these 3 billion Christians next to their beloved Jesus, I really wish they are happy. Also, if they can invite along to other irrational people from Islam, Judaism, etc... great. If they are happy, I am happy, is a win-win situation. Just for a better world!

    May 24, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  20. LeeCMH

    The money Camping makes is false prophet profit.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:12 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.