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. Jeff M

    Will this guy give up? How can you state that you are a Christian, and yet ignore Scripture?
    Matthew 24:36: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    May 24, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Bruce

      You honestly think that Camping ignored this scripture, that he never addressed it head-on in his writings?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Again... how can that be? The same book says the father is the son! Don't you see that you are as insane and arrogant as this guy?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  2. Doug

    What a bunch of crap!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  3. RD

    What bothers me is that his approach to this subject is that of intelliect and number crunching. He does not at all tell people Jesus loves them and to have a relationship with Jesus. He is more concerned with being right than really helping people, it seems.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  4. jim

    doesn't this guy look like he is already DEAD?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  5. Damion Houston

    the facts that are in the bible are happening as we speak read the bible and look at whats happening people need to wake up im not predicting this , im not even wanting even a dime i think it could be happening right now we just wont even blink that eye even a shutter to see call me crazy but yeah there is supposed to be false profits to bring a date on the matter bt i really think its happening as we speak we are just stuck in this cry wolf situation" to see it

    May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  6. God

    Hi God here,

    There will be no end. I have decided instead that I will just continue to torture humanity with horrible diseases, natural disasters, war, famine and whatever else I whim for I am God and I shall do whatever I like and you shall bow before me and pretend that I am good.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Jesus

      Jeezus, Dad! Do you have to be so arrogant about it?!?


      May 24, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  7. Tevii

    He isnt teaching the bible, he is conning people. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible to support his claims. NOTHING.
    All you morons who gave up everything before May 21, you deserve it. You're morons that allowed yourselves to be conned.You have an opportunity here to LEARN from yur mistakes and abandon this con artist. if you continue to support his lies, you will continue to be victims.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  8. Len

    Why is everyone continuing to give this nut airtime? He should be jailed for disrupting the peace.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  9. Patrish

    Our planets be around billions of years it's not going to end suddenly. Human and animal life may perish for a variety of reason, but this doomsday prediction are getting boring! It people are stupid enough to believe this stuff and sell all their possession, don't expect me to pick up their tab.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  10. Nikk

    I think that CNN should be a tad more serious than to report ongoing stupidities of a virtual nobody... hoping this will be the end of stupid reporting... before 5 months!

    May 24, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  11. somebody

    IF anybody has any sense and know anything about the bible it say in the bible it say that nobody know the day that jesus will return even jesus doesnt know all it say in the bible is that the sun will darken and the moon will become blood red thats all it say it no day no hour second month or year NOBODY KNOWS

    May 24, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  12. Bob

    Only God knows when the World will end and i wonder what POS he is smoking?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Now hold on a goldurn minute! I got somebody saying Jesus doesn't know when the world will end, I got Bob saying only God knows when the world will end, I got the Bible sayin' Jesus is God and got some whacko preacher who has been wrong twice now tellin' me I don't get to trick or treat this year! The only reasonable conclusion is that you all are wrong and need to quit believin' the old fairy tales! Jeezus Jumpin' Jehovah

      May 24, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  13. mfsb525

    OOPS! My bag....got it wrong. Did I say May 21, 2011? I meant Oct 21, 2011..Idiot. For some, their world did end on May 21, 2011. The day they took their last breath. We know the world, as we know it, will end one day. Even the angels in heaven don't know the date or time. Am I to believe this mere mortal has some inside connection that tells him the rapture will happen this day at this time? Wow! This dude is one bud short of a six pack. Next story please....

    May 24, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • rn

      what angels in heaven?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  14. HeIsGod

    This the perfect time for ALL of his followers to abadon this lying false prophet who scammed 80 million dollars from them. How sad that too many people are ignoring the ACTUAL Word of God to follow the tradtions of these type of wolves dressed in sheep clothing. I pray that they will OPEN up theie eyes to God and trust no man, but God alone.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • neeeeext ..........

      Camping is nothing more than a conman & theif & needs to be in jail . Those people need to sue this pos & get their money back .

      May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  15. jane

    This old buzzard needs more to do.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  16. jj

    His EGO is astonishing – and so predictable. That god would take his chosen... just as his life is nearing an end. What timing! And the nietivety and delusion of his sheep – and their own ego – that they are the chosen! Sad.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  17. Bruce

    Hey there, people. FYI, Camping has not only read all those verses concerning the "day and the hour," he has addressed them head on, many times, in his writings. Camping, first and foremost, insists to those who are skeptical and also those who believe him not to take him at his word, but to "read the bible for yourselves" and discover that what he is saying is 100% bible-based truth.

    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?

    May 24, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Pete


      May 24, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Bruce

      Did I stutter, Pete?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  18. mike

    Why do you continue to give this guy airtime? This isn't news reporting. You are enabling crackpots to have a national voice.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  19. deepandcrazy

    first of all, i want to share new ideas. its not the end of the world, its the begining of a newer better life. but to get there requires change. that is why there are natural disasters. our higher self has a way of giving us what we want. we create events outward that project into physical reality. i know this because i have learned to connect with my higher self that everyone degrades with different concepts of god. god is just a higher level of consiousness that we are all connected to.

    we have a quality that allows us to reject the possibility of being wrong. the preacher(just like the rest of us) are afraid to be wrong. instead of trying to be right and project disaster towards us, we should concentrate on accepting eachother and whatever happens is our own creation.

    the problem with christianity is that they teach GOOD and peace. but what they dont realize is that good comes with a cost. that cost is "BAD" and evil... they learn that only god judges, but we all judge ourselves. i learned that not only do we predict future events, but we create them. i put info on my site that will re-awakin dormant gifts and abilitys..

    www dot deepandcrazy dot com

    May 24, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Pete

      Again, what????

      May 24, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  20. greebo

    Honestly, what do you benefit by thinking of the end of the world? How is it even remotely useful to consider it? Can you stop it? What's the difference between THE end, and YOUR end? Everyday the possibility exists that you and/or your loved ones will die and hopefully this spurs you to make better choices in life.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Bruce

      "what do you benefit by thinking of the end of the world?"

      Camping made a fortune off of it–tax free!

      May 24, 2011 at 10:55 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.