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. Jen

    Does Jesus take American Express or just Discover?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • Fox Mulder

      Visa. It's everywhere you want to be. In the afterlife.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  2. Jerry Springa

    Harold Camping definitely looks like dead man walking already, his doomsday will come for him soon..maybe less than 5 months.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  3. Fox Mulder

    I guess he forgot to carry a one or something.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  4. Red79


    May 24, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  5. Marge

    Isn't there some way this guy can be made to stop. I know he shouldn't be taken serious, but the last time he predicted this people killed themselves. Can't he be arrested for inciting murder. He is only in it for the money how can people be so stupid.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • Chaos411

      Because unfortunately, the general public as a whole is stupid.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Chaos411

      "are" stupid haha.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Thomas

      @Chaos411...Actually, it is "is stupid." You generalized everyone into a singular "public" and therefore made the group singular.

      Not to be a Grammar Nazi or anything... 🙂

      May 24, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  6. Chaos411


    May 24, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Nightwyn

      Actually it is up to IV. and might have more sequels then the Land before time movies....

      May 24, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  7. P

    All this crap is like reverse psychology... just because the world didnt end doesnt mean its all in one piece.. in fact. its pretty much doomed anyways. id rather it end in one instance than undergo a slow and painful death....

    May 24, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  8. The Green Man

    Somebody PLEASE!!! put this Moron out of his misery.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Thomas

      What misery? This guy is rolling in money thanks to his predictions. I wish I were as miserable as him.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  9. Proof

    Dear Mr. Harold Camping,

    You missed a verse in the Bible.....Matthew 24:36 states “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in Heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”

    Yours truly, Christianity

    May 24, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • LetsThink123

      Dear Proof,
      A statement that is always correct is referred to as a Barnum statement. It is mostly used by psychics to always seem correct. Camping said (I'm paraphrasing of course, 'there is a high probability that the world would end in may.' This statement is always true: If it did end, he would have been right. If it didn't end (which is what happened), he is still right cause he said high probability! a good Barnum statement from Mr. Camping.
      Sadly, the bible verse u quoted is the best barnum statement of all time! No one knows but the father when he will return. Hmm...lets see, so if he does return, that statement is right. If he never returns (the most likely case) that statement is still right cause his followers will wait forever! WOW what a great barnum statement you posted there.
      Yours truly,
      A thinking person

      May 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  10. jon

    The sad fact is that the only difference between this clown and mainstream churches is that Harold gave a specific date and time, but the churches say any day now, just around the corner, wait for it wait for it....
    They've been waiting 2000 years now.
    All religions have a common denominator, you must suspend your rational thoughts and believe in some mythical creature that you cant see, and to get info on said creature you must talk to someone who has an inside connection, for a fee of course.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • The Green Man

      Don't Pray in my school and I will not think in your church, eh? I almost wish the "rapture" had happened then the rest of us could get on with life without being pestered all the time.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  11. No Doomsday

    The world will end October 21 2011...ah man you mean no Trick or Treating! come on push it back to November or something.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • Cassy

      Or at least move it up to Christmas..or New Years..lol

      May 24, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  12. beelzebubba

    This guy, who has defrauded people of 72 million dollars is sticking by his guns. That is surprising? At least he can serve as a bad example and help keep future evangelical candidates from getting elected.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  13. Efi

    LOL what a total moron. Anyone who follows this nutjob is even dumber than he is.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Thomas

      I beg to differ. His "predictions" have helped him rake in over $70 million in donations. While I do agree with you that his FOLLOWERS are idiots, Harold Camping himself is a friggin' genius!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  14. Cassy

    I wonder what his excuse will be when this next so called rapture hits...'uh..miscalculated again, back to my abacus'

    May 24, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  15. Nightwyn

    But, but, but, I really mean it this time, how can you not believe me?................

    *long sigh*

    You know my ex does this all the time, don't believe him either.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  16. Grafight

    How come I have the guts to lie in my resume, lie about my age, lie to my mother-in-law about being available for dinner, etc. etc. BUT I can't bring myself to tell the lies which will generate me 80 freaking million dollars???

    May 24, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • Thomas

      You need to seriously reevaluate your priorities. 🙂

      May 24, 2011 at 2:43 am |
    • CTYank

      Aw, go and jagov yourself.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  17. dan van

    10 11 11? sounds like a binary code

    May 24, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • YBP

      10 21 2011. Not anymore.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  18. A humble suggestion...

    The only appropriate response to this toxic nonsense is to ignore it. This is that last that I will comment on it, or spend any time on it. I humbly recommend that you, reasonable people, do the same.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  19. SDN

    " I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household." The guy is still dreaming.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • YBP

      He owns her. She's chattle. Pig.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  20. Chainyanker

    This preacher should take a bunch of math courses before he does his next Doomsday/Judgement Day calculation, it might help. There's going to be another mis-calculation in his next prediction too, trust me. Amazing that there are fools that believe this guy, it's a legit way to separate them from their money...now I need to think of one too. Maybe that old geezer isn't too dumb after all, LOL, anything to make a buck.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • YBP

      How about just a basic science class and drop the religion entirely.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:39 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.