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. Toy

    Dude has no idea that he is committing blasphemy. He is using the word of God against man which is a deadly sin. And dagblammit he's 89yrs old. The world will probably end sooner for him than it will for us. It's the "End of the World" for everyone who has died. dummass!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  2. Jane

    Glad I am not his wife.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  3. PJ

    What a senile old man!! And his followers have brain damage.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  4. Jason

    He's NOT to blame for everyone else's predicament. They are just as idiotic as he is. And what's this crap with his last quote?? He rules spiritually over his wife as head of the household?? People like him should be shot.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Todd

      Ephesians 5:21-33 ... moron.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • CH

      "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands." (Ephesians 5:22-24) That actually IS in the Bible, in simple, easily understood terms requiring no mathematical gymnastics.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  5. william

    Please don't stop reporting on this moron and his followers. I haven't had so much fun in a long time. Thank you, CNN!!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  6. Captain Bill Miller

    The reason 7th day Adventists and Jehovah Witnesses are not one denomination is because I kept setting end of the world dates.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Mark


      May 24, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  7. shawn

    it is time to ban religion

    May 24, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • thefurious

      time to ban YOU!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Mark

      He is making a good push for it isnt he! Religion is no diffrent than Terrorism and its making a case to have it all shut down! The day is coming when the nations turn on religion because she is a harlot and good for nothing!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  8. Erik - SA

    I feel that Mr Camping should stick to what he does best. Listening to the sound of his own voice. How could anyone even listen and follow this person? He made two predictions in the past, one in '94 and one most recent, and was terribly wrong. He used his own mathematical equation to get these dates, that were wrong again, to inform everyone that the World would be ending soon. First of all, he's not a Mathematician and Second, he's a self taught Pastor/Radio Jockey. I honestly think that he should stop now while everyone is figuring out why they got rid of all their belongings to follow and spread the word of a simple man with a simple plan. To Make Money! Let's face it. Preaching is good money. Maybe we all should quit our jobs to teach ourselves the word of GOD, while looking in the mirror.

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

    I know when the day of the Lord's return will happen – NEVER. I know it because I live in reality and I use my mind.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  10. Emvaz

    I love how he threw in the whole "I have spiritual dominion over my wife because I am head of the household" thing at the end. It's like icing on the cake, or a cherry on a sundae.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Todd

      Read Ephesians 5:21-33 ... all your questions will be answered.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Emvaz

      I don't care what some man-made text says about how women should behave. I'm just laughing at the fact that people actually believe that an omniscient, omnipotent God would endorse such blatant misogyny. It's nothing new though, practically every religion has misogynistic controls built into it that subordinates women to men. Further evidence that all religions are man-made.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  11. citizenUSA

    He doesn't look like he's going to make it for 5 months. Should've done 3.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  12. Craig

    Aren't we overdue to reduce the number of gods being worshipped? Polytheism went out of style quite a while ago, how much longer until this monotheistic fad is over and we're reduced to just us? People are really delusional enough to think there is anything special about humanity? We'll be a very brief skidmark on the history of this planet before we end up wiped out. It's a lot more likely for the 'rapture' to be an Independence Day style alien invasion. I just hope Will Smith is around.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  13. Mark

    Will someone please explain to me what a RAPTURE IS? I am just so confused because the bible doesnt even mention the word .I have even studied the original hebrew and greek texts the bible was written in and have yet to find the term RAPTURE???! Could this be a man made term from Christendom? How is it that terms like Rapture, Easter,and Christmas are not even in the bible but they are apart of Christian tradition? Was it not traditions of man, that Jesus condemned when he spoke to the religous leaders of his day?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Emvaz

      Are you suggesting that the Hebrew texts you've studied are the literal word of god and the Christian interpretations are false because they came from man?

      Do you really believe the creator of all the universe (assuming he is even able to be personified) would debase himself to a point as to involve himself with a miserable race such as ourselves?

      Thinking the world is going to end on October 21 is just as crazy as thinking Jesus Christ is the literal sun of God is just as crazy as thinking that God actually came to Earth and spoke to us, which is no crazier than any other religion.

      Learn the world for yourself; the truth is not going to come from your political leaders, or political leaders from a couple thousand years ago (as is the source of all religious texts; no religion can survive without the eventual patronization of the wealthy ruling class).

      May 24, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Mark

      Emvaz, you are right,you are miserable. Please dont comment to me unless you answer the question. All knowing one that you are! You are so smart for your own good I can see by the way you commented. Where did you study to get so smart and see how all religous texts came from politicians?..lol

      May 24, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Emvaz

      I did answer your question: all religion comes from man, because nobody has ever spoken to God. Believing in "Rapture" or that God cares about you is just as legitimate is believing in a flying spaghetti monster: Both ideas come from man, so who is to differentiate? Mass religion is created by the ruling classes, legitimized by the state, and then used to control the masses, and always has been throughout history.

      P.s. It's kinda hard to follow whatever points you are trying to get across. Try complete sentences next time.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Emvaz

      And I learned that by paying attention is history class, Mark, and by deducing with common sense. As the ancient mystery schools may have put it: I used the light of God within myself (i.e. my intellect) to illuminate the truth.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  14. Acaraho

    Hey, maybe he was right all along on Saturday and God decided no one was worthy of the rapture. (tongue in cheek)

    May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  15. Frdu


    May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • kg

      Rich Idiot,
      He covinced people to give him about 20 million dollars last year and has assets of over 100 million that was claimed on his tax forms, But of course he is a non profit, so he didnt pay any taxes

      May 24, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  16. Wayne

    Beware of those demented people who claim to know god

    May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  17. Suz

    "I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household."

    Well, if that doesn't lend him credibility, I don't know what will. : /

    Seriously, though, I feel really bad for the people who were duped enough to give up everything they had to preach the end times. Some even euthanized their pets. It makes me angry that people could be so stupid.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Todd


      Ephesians 5:21-33

      If you don't think him ruling his wife is Biblically correct. Because he is right for saying such. A Christian wife is suppose to submit to their husband.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • jean2009

      They think one follower even killed her young son....sick and sad.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Horus

      A fine example of why the Bible is not something to follow; unless of course you are one of those insecure little men that has the need justify their need to feel dominance over something in their failed pathetic lives.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Bruce

      @Todd: Why is it that, in spite of the exaggerated example of Camping and how this "read the bible for yourself and see what I'm saying is true" technique failed both him and his followers, many Christians still insist that the answer to everything is precisely this technique?

      And you appear to be against the Christians, but you, too, are offering up an answer in the form of "if you read Ephesians for yourself, you will see that Camping is correct about the wife submission thing." Why do you buy this nonsense? Why do you feel qualified to opine on what is correct and incorrect when it comes to Christianity, based only on the fact that you have "read the bible for yourself"?

      Seriously, people. Let it go. Theology is not easy. Theology is not for everyone. It's okay for you to withhold your theological opinions, or to defer to the experts, rather than "read the bible for yourself" as Camping suggests you do.

      May 24, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Emvaz

      Horus, practically every major religion makes an attempt to subordinate women to men; Christianity is nothing special in this sense.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  18. jean2009

    Maybe his followers should cut off funding until he gets it right. LOL!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • SMG2007

      So what's his excuse going to be when he fails again in 5 months? Maybe he should just keep his overwhelming prophecies to himself. We would all be better off! LOL

      May 24, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  19. Brian

    Talk about crying wolf!!! WOW!!!! This guy is senile.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  20. BarkTwain

    I don't recall Elijah or Ezekial ever needing a 'do-over' on their prophecies.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Bruce

      That's because their prophecies were written (or altered) after the facts of history were known, in a way to make them look like they foresaw what was coming...

      May 24, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Emvaz

      **gasp** you mean God didn't speak to them?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:00 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.