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. anonoymous

    I am to totally flabbergasted by the depths gullibility,stupidity and delusion in this nut his followers and those of their ilk .They have been putting on the same dog and pony show for the last 2000 yrs and predicting the end since they started have not been right yet have they?We all have to remember names like Jim Jones.David,Koresh, Applewhite. lets not encourage stupidity buy giving fools publicity. Wise up people! The world has enough mindless sheeple . Don't become one.Can we say con, scam ?The end of the human race will not come because of their predictions but from their mindset.Rather than taking responsibility for their own lives they wait for rewards and bliss an their imaginary heaven. All based on a 2000+ yr old book they say is infallible. Poor deluded fools.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • InFormed99

      I'm not surprised at all. And $80 million worth of donations shows you just how many of them there are. Some weak minded people will believe pretty much anything you tell them.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  2. CanIGetAnAmen

    At least Harold Camping has the balls to admit publicly the nonsense that he believes. A lot of Christians have distanced themselves from him even though they believe this event WILL occur someday. They just have a problem with the timing of it.

    I would like to ask Christians to REALLY look at their book that they assume is the word of god. Read it, cover to cover. Observe its contradictions. Understand that a lot of it originates from previous traditions and religions. Jesus is far from the first to be considered the son of a god, born of a virgin, resurrected, etc. All of these were "borrowed" from earlier beliefs. Realize that someone else decided which written texts should be compiled together and which should be discarded entirely. Christianity was spread like a disease to subjugate the masses (much the way Islam is today). Don't regurgitate rhetoric. Do your homework.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • InFormed99

      Amen. Seriously, this has also all been said before. It's a well known FACT that the creation of the bible by the various rulers and church over the years was designed to wield power and control over the weak minded and literate. It may have started innocently enough as some sort of bronze age advice column.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  3. bri

    Good thing he doesn't have rule over anybody.... except his wife as head of the household. POS Christian Taliban. Disgusting.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  4. CNN Loud Mouth

    I'm all for free speech, but this is no different from yelling FIRE in a crowded movie theater. There are a lot of mentally disturbed people in the world, and children, who he is preying on and scaring. He should be free to make these claims, but if they don't come true, he should be penalized dearly. He is a menace to society.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  5. Charles

    Quote "both moot points as the Bible clearly states that no man knows the day or hour of the coming of the Lord"
    Amen Sister.... I appreciate his dedication to his faith but this is crazy to just keep pumping out end of world dates......

    May 24, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • JustSayNo

      Awfully convenient that way, isn't it?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • InFormed99

      I do not appreciate his dedication to his faith at all. He's just trying to scare a bunch of people so he can collect even more followers and listeners

      May 24, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  6. Devil Incarnate

    The wolf! The wolf! The wolf!

    Could we place this guy in the loony's hall of fame? Just remember to give him a tight shirt, padding on the walls and perhaps a TV where the only channels that broadcast show "Armaggedon, 2012 and the day after"

    May 24, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • ralph

      His poor wife.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  7. JamesJust

    Grasping at straws… If he is a man of G-D he would have realized his error (not his mathematical error but his error interpreting Scripture) and repented. No man can force another man to repent, all you can do is pray for him. Now it is time for the media to totally ignore this, you have had your fun, now it’s time to move on. If the media hype continues all Christians know without a doubt that the media WANTS to run with this story to do nothing more but to ridicule Christians.


    May 24, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • JoeyE

      The reporters in the Media are vultures! what's new?

      May 24, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • claybigsby

      get off your soap box.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • InFormed99

      I don't think the media needs to help the Christians make fools on themselves. They appear to have that skill well in hand.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  8. furious

    Let no man believe that he can predict the end of the world if God has said that no man will now the day or the hour. This guy is full of himself and science cannot stand in the place of the bible. Those of you who are following his word are not true believers because you should know what the bible says about the end of time. For you to trust in Numbers and math to solve the bible you are trusting in man's ability to think he is smarter than God. Because just as God has said before, "he will not let you know when he is coming for you".

    May 24, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Bruce

      @furious: Camping was not using science. Not at all. He was using the same heterodoxy approach to "the bible" that you proscribe.

      Just because he multiplied several numbers together does not make what he did into "science," or even mathematics for that matter.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • claybigsby

      god never said those things in the bible, man did.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • InFormed99

      The world WILL End, but in about 4 BILLION years from now. That's a FACT. All this other hogwash that is spouted by religion is just scaremongering.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  9. George


    May 24, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  10. Horus

    He doesn't have spiritual control over anyone...except his wife, because he is the head of household...What century does this guy think it is? Line up all these tough-guy head-of-households, who rule by beating, and verbally abusing their wives and children into submission using the Bible as a justification, and let's see how tough they really are. Like the rest of them, he is a scared little insecure man at the core. I married a woman with an intellect, and respect her for such. She's also a 2nd Dan in Aikido, so I'd love to see Mr. Camping, or the like try to "control" her. We work together to manage our household equally, and openly. We have well-mannered children, and neither of us has ever laid a forceful hand on them. As Ron White states so well "you can't fix stupid".

    May 24, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Paul

      Right on, Horus! Speakin some good stuff there.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Todd

      You obviously don't understand anything about the Bible and what it says about Husbands and Wives... it clearly states

      Ephesians 5:21-33

      If you don't agree with what the Bible or Harold Camping says about Wives being submissive to their husbands, then you sir are wrong and shouldn't pretend to be a Christian.... Your wife is suppose to be submissive as you are the head of the house. She took on your last name for a reason and her father gave her away to you for a reason. You are responsible for your wife and she is to submit to you as you are to the Lord. This is why Harold Camping says only 2 – 3% of world's population would be raptured is because most of the world doesn't agree with the Bible because it was written a long time ago... If you don't agree with the Bible then you aren't a Christian. Having a submissive wife doesn't mean beating her or controlling her, it means you have the final word in all matters. Harold Camping is a false prophet and a fool at that... but he is right about the wife thing... any real Christian married couple will tell you that.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  11. BIGRED

    "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible." So whatever bogus speculations Camping spews from his mouth he has no responsibility. This is like yelling fire in a crowded theater and then say that god made you do it and you have no responsibility. CAMPING you are an idiot.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  12. louis

    when the world quits believing in "Religions" it will be a safer and more peaceful place.More people have been killed in the name of religion that anything else.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • cb

      religion was created to provide a means to control people. It works!

      May 24, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  13. Enough

    They raised $80 million dollars. Think of all the good they could have done here in america with that money . What fools they are.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  14. Geo

    "I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible." Having grown up in a family of judgmental religious nutcases, I am well acquainted with this kind of detachment. Another form is, "it's not ME saying all of these bad things about you, it's GOD!" Must be nice to wreak so much havoc and yet bear no responsibility for your words or actions.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  15. M


    May 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Todd

      Thank you for your comment. It's nice to know someone else feels for Tacos as much as I do...

      May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  16. laura

    I personally think there should be criminal charges on him..he should not be allow to be frigthening people by making up these dates..he seriously needs to be checked...

    May 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Madtown

      Yes, BODY checked! 🙂

      May 24, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  17. I'm Outside

    To be fair, it's no no more crazy to believe the end of the world is coming on a set day than it is to believe in some guy up in the sky who helps people win Survivor but let babies die of starvation. Is it?

    May 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  18. getnerdone


    May 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  19. PNDich

    Why don't you realise this is a cult because it contradicted Jesus teaching: "No one knows the day & hour!"

    May 24, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Bruce

      PNDich: You think he never came across those verses, that he never addressed them, that he simply ignored them?

      May 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  20. Billy O

    When this guess-timate is wrong he will have another that his followers will joyfully gobble whole. The whole concept of "faith" is that it is not based on reason, fact or statistics. When you have faith that is enough for the faithful. Maybe a handful of his followers, the ones that quit jobs, sold off all their possessions etc... will have a second thought before believing in this load of bs and just maybe try to enjoy the only lives they have.

    May 24, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • mike

      steps required to predict when the world will end:

      1. drink a fifth of whiskey.
      2. blindfold yourself
      3. aimlessly throw darts at a calendar

      the day the dart lands on is the day the earth ends.

      May 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
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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.