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. Aeroman

    LMAO, now he's just having fun with this!

    I can see him sitting in his chair watching and reading the news and blogs saying, "Hahahahahaha! Dance puppets! DANCE! Fools.... smh."

    May 24, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • CF

      Sorta like L. Ron Hubbard.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • JSS

      Agreed – Like the koran-burning guy from FL, every ounce of press he can milk is pure gold to him. Well, he hit the jackpot.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:01 am |
  2. JSS

    What a business... $80 million in donations over 5 or so years. Tax-free, maybe?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • JSS

      Oh, and Camping looks exactly like the freaky evil preacher from Poltergeist. Just throw a cowboy hat on him.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Mark from Middle River


      Now I have to unplug all my TVs

      May 24, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  3. Justin

    This guy obviously hasn't actually read the bible because it says the tribulation will last for 7 years. Not 5 months.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  4. Josh

    Media, please stop reporting this f-ing lunatic's rants.
    When you miss 2 times, even if you get it right the third time, that's not impressive. Stop predicting.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  5. ___

    you've all been double-trolled...first by this con man 'preacher', and second, by the troll media (CNN) which commands you to pay attention to useless drivel that has nothing to do with your own lives. idiots.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • CF

      It's fun, that's why. People pay to listen to comedians. This guy is free.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  6. Jeebus

    Do you know why the rapture will never happen?


    Why do grown-ups believe fairy tales?!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Dani

      Real life sucks. Fairy tales are kind of like a drug.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Ed

      Hey, Jeebus...your comment is without logic. This Rapture B.S. has nothing to do with Christianity being real or false. It has only to do with a bunch of cult-like idiots looking for a shepherd to guide them (because they have no backbone to guide their own lives). The fact that most of them claim to be Christian is nothing more than an embarrassing fact causing most REAL Christians to look away and disassociate from. Whent he October "prediction" proves to be without merit, this idiot will fade intot he woodwork until enough people have forgotten him...then he will re-appear and predict some OTHER stupid thing as long as idiot news agencies continue to publish his incomprensibly pathetic drivel. Congrats, CNN – got another intern job for my 4-year old nephew???

      May 24, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • JFairweather

      Christianity is not false, but a lot of the popular interpretations of prophecy are conjecture that evolved into doctrine. Go back 2,000 years and you will see that the prophesy of the messiah getting rid of the oppressor was seen as defeating the roman empire. There are all sorts of oppression, but they decided on one specific interpretation and rejected Christ as an impostor. The same thing could apply to Christianity today. Is he coming in the "clouds" or as a "thief" sneaking into your house at night – they both mean that he would be hard to spot but most choose to see Christ flying in the air like superman. I suggest that if Christians are serious about the return they should research the subject. Who knows, he may have already come a century ago and people weren't paying attention.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • LetsThink123

      Christianity is false. The roman empire did not fall because of Christ alone, but we'll leave that for another lesson.
      Let's focus on the matter at hand, on why is Christianity false.
      1. The basis of Christianity is: Jesus came to earth and gave up his life for all mankind so that through his suffering on the cross, original sin committed by adam and eve and their descendants (us) would be forgiven with the grace of god. Agreed?
      2. Adam and eve is a myth. Agreed? (please don't make me explain to u why it is a myth, u should be able to figure it out).
      With 1 an 2, Christianity becomes false. Why would a god (Jesus) come to earth and give his life for us to save us from original sin committed by mythical characters in a mythical story??? Shouldn't a god know that adam and eve was not real in the first place? A god such as Jesus should definitely know this.
      Feel free to 'interpret' your way out of that one.

      May 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  7. CF

    Everyone listen, this is serious. I once had a rupture, and it was no picnic, let me tell you. It hurt a lot, I worried about my reproductive future, and I was embarrassed with all those people laughing at me for missing the line drive. So when someone give you a warning about a rupture, you better listen.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  8. lol

    i dont know why the media continues to report on crackpots like this one. Is it a slow news day?

    The only almighty this guy believes in, is the Almighty Dollar

    May 24, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • buckup

      something to do with money
      follow the money makes a news story

      May 24, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Eh

      Why does the medis talk about crackpots? They've been doing it forever.

      They talk about religion as if it is real. In fact CNN has a "Belief" page dedicated to crackpots – uh, I mean those that believe in stuff that doesn't exist. Why? Because most people's lives are so downtrodden with stuff that is boring that they believe there was a guy that was the son of some make believe being, died, and came back to life three days later. Just an example.

      Man kind would rather argue things that don't exist then fight for things that do exist.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  9. buckup

    tax him
    show him some accurate arithmetic
    senile fool

    May 24, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  10. zoundsman

    There's thousands of nuts preaching all kinds of horseradish. That's not the phenom.
    It's the nuts that believe, and sell their house, empty their bank accounts, etc.
    That's the real mindblow.
    I suppose some people are missing some kind of spirituality in their tanks and will drink from any source.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  11. Danie

    Okay, really? This man is clearly morally bankrupt. I think the only human capable of predicting the end of the world would be an astronomer watching a Texas-sized mass of rock on a collision course with Earth, then I'd be concerned. I don't understand how these people get sucked into this, because if they've read the Bible it states that only God will know the end date. Logically, they should be telling this guy to get lost, but that is right logic isn't a very high priority in most religions it seems. The only ending I'm hoping for is the downfall of a religion based mostly on seriously flawed human perceptions and a near constant manipulation of the original texts to better control people using fear.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • LetsThink123

      Well said. If logic were a high priority in religions, then they wouldn't exist. Religions like christianity claim to know the 'truths' to how man came to being (adam and eve). with today's since we know that they were wrong by a long shot. however they continue to stay alive by 'interpreting' everything away (i.e., no logic needed).

      May 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  12. JP

    Hey Camp, try preaching your prophecy in China... See if you can pursuade them first... if you do, then travel to North Korean and preach more.. if you survive then, MAYBE I will give less then Half of my belief in you.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  13. joe

    This man should be thrown in prison.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • JP

      JOE is right.. why isnt there a law to prohibit non-sense psycho like Camp messing with innocent people's mind? He def. needs to see constantine or exorcism!! Just let him have all his own temple IN HELL!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Mike in PA

      What law has he broken? He has freedom of speech just as anyone else does. If we are going to throw Camping in prison for proclaiming things that haven't come true, then what about many of those whom we elected to political office?

      May 24, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wow Mike...dead on target direct hit. Geez no one would be in Wash DC, State houses, ... heck I think the meter-maids would be in SuperMax prisons around the country.

      Only thing we would be left with to run the country would be the school crossing guards.... hmm... might work.. "Everyone for say I...against raise you hand held stop signs..." 🙂

      May 24, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  14. ????

    I cant believe anyone would listen to this guy

    May 24, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • How to Buy Ann Coulter's Panties

      You're talking about Jesus, right?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Jenn

      No, the freaking idiot trying to get his dumb followers money.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
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      March 2, 2012 at 5:34 am |
  15. steve

    this guy is a fruitcake and needs to be strapped down and his mouth shut up with duct tape
    he is nothing but a lunatic wanting some attention in his dying days
    good riddens you bag of bones

    May 24, 2011 at 1:47 am |
  16. ab_contador

    He wants five more months of cash eh? What a wacky religion–when you think about it, he is no different than any of the other christian churches in this country, he just happen to pick a day rather than just say 'someday' –same logic though

    May 24, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • ba_contador

      What he meant was, is that there are Christians, and there are idiots like you.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Eh

      No, Cantador, all those that believe in fiction are a bit...well crazy or stupid. God was created by man, and the bible was written and rewritten by men for thousands of years , cashing in on the stupid.

      Didn't you get that memo.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  17. Water to Whine

    People should stop giving this man money. His radio station will take a hit, and rightfully so. There are good Christians, and there are guys like this.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • ab_contador

      I think what you mean is that there are good christians and even dumber christians right?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • Eh

      No there are Christians that actually believe in some fictional being. There are the slightly smart ones that use the church to social network. There are the politicians that say they believe because they want votes from the less educated. But at the end of the day, those that truly believe are the fools.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  18. VelociRapture

    I hope people predict a rapture everyday for the rest of eternity, that way, "god" can never come back, because someone will always predict it, which no one is able to do. Oh, and the fact that Jesus died, will also make it impossible for him to live again. Because he died. And once you've been dead for thousands of years, you stay dead.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • Badger Bob of the Mounties

      So if I am only dead for a few centuries, there is a possibility that I might not stay dead? It's only after thousands of years that you stay dead? These zombie rules are so confusing.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  19. ClearVision

    I feel sorry for his wife. She must be a fool.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  20. Ben

    He's a narcissist - afraid that he will pass away before anything of any Biblical significance happens in his lifetime.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • Menakshi

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      March 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
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About this blog

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.