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. IDIOT

    Clearly he does not read the bible... it CLEARLY says "not even the angels in haven" would know when the day of judgement would be... Does he really think that he is the chosen one or something?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Bruce

      You know, you could go to his website where he asks these very questions and answers them very confidently, with "evidence" from the bible to prove his point.

      Or you can sit here and accuse him of ignoring those verses.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Stevie7

      It's odd to me how many Christians ignore the three verses from the gospel where Jesus clearly says that his generation will not pass before his revelations will come true. Yet here we are, many dozens of generations later. Perhaps god should revise his timetable. Or Christians should stop being hypocrites accusing others of ignoring certain verses while they themselves do the same.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  2. Bruce

    LOL so many comments here saying "I can't wait until October 22nd when the world doesn't come to an end." They sound an awful lot like "I can't wait until May 22nd when the world doesn't come to an end."

    On October 22nd, you will be saying "I can't wait until [insert new date predicted by Camping here plus one day] when the world doesn't come to an end." That is my prediction. So mote it be.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  3. Mike

    The article says Camping has received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009. This guy is smarter than we thought! I need a career change. How does one get started in manipulating people out of their money?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • gestroud

      Get a job in politics

      May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  4. willie

    this conman needs to go to jail. How many millions has he conned out of simple minded people? Why don't fraud statutes apply to him since he's taking peoples cash?

    May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  5. Kay

    Reminds me of those tele-vangelists who live in multi million dollar homes, have 17 cars, jets, etc. etc. etc. and bilk this money out of honest people. They laugh all the way to the bank... But oh yes, DO buy this jerks book. Had a cousin who bought one of those stupid Tammy and Jim vacation packages. They had a son in dire condition with Spina Bifida, but they bought into their scam hook line and sinker.... and never got a thing for it. But good ole Tammy got a nice new car, a million dollar house, and some new jewelry, oh, and another tractor trailer load of eye makeup to boot. LOL. GREAT. Scam artists, all of them.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  6. Phil

    They've been saying ANY DAY NOW since man created the idea of god. When are they going to learn that religion is a big sham?

    I'm what many consider a "strong atheist". I don't believe in the existence of god. I haven't for nearly 20 years. I've done a lot of reading over the past two decades to understand both sides – and each time I come to the conclusion that god is nothing more than an imagined character created in the mind of a primitive man to influence and to frighten people.

    Visit http://godisimaginary.com/ and really read through these things... It might just clear your head of all these delusions.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Sarah

      So you're saying that humans made up the whole idea of God, and that we shouldn't believe in it because of that reason... but that website you linked is just another website that humans made up. So since we shouldn't believe things that humans make up, we shouldn't believe that website either, or anything that you type. Because you made it up. Yeah, your argument is hugely flawed. Feel free to come back when you have a real argument instead of some random BS you found on the internet.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Phil


      Why believe in something that left ABSOLUTELY NO PHYSICAL PROOF? Look at what religion does to people. It scares them into compliance and causes them to be intolerant of others.

      Religion is flawed – the whole bible is full of holes. Don't just read a few versus, read the WHOLE thing and analyze it without your belief playing a part in it.

      Suppose religion never existed until this very day (Tuesday May 24). Out comes some guy with a book and he's trying to convince you that this book proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that miracles can happen and that this character called god can answer prayers and cure people just by believing in it.

      When your prayers go unanswered, every single time...you'd start to doubt that this so called "creator" existed. But that guy would just come back and tell you that you must not be praying right – or thousands of other irrational excuses to get you to convert.

      And to top that all off... Give him 10% of your earnings...because we all know that god just can't get enough money.

      Clearly, Sarah, you aren't living your life the way the bible tells you to live it. Perhaps you should go back and read it cover to cover – because you must have missed that very important part...living in poverty. You obviously have a computer, pay for an internet connection and must live in an apartment or house. Things that, 2000 years ago would be considered unimaginable wealth.

      You were born into this world as an atheist. Religion was shoved down your throat by either your parents or schools...and you were told that if you didn't repent and pray that you would BURN IN HELL FOREVER. Yeah...that would scare any kid into believing.

      Do you believe in the tooth fairy, santa claus, easter bunny etc? Probably not...because you realized at some point in time that these things are imaginary. So is god...but people don't want to accept that – because that leaves them feeling empty inside.

      Free your will, free your thoughts and open your mind to the possibility that what I'm saying could be true. You never know.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Stevie7


      Do you believe that the Egyptian gods were created by man? The Greek gods? Those of the Romans or Hindus? If you believe that those were constructs of man – many older than the god of Abraham, why do you think that your god is not?

      Given that there is zero evidence of god(s), the only logical stance is to assume that there is no god. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that a man-made god was necessary to the development of modern society. Essentially, we needed some way to keep the masses in line before rigorous systems of law and justice were in place. The idea that some being is watching them will tend to keep people in line, as has been proven in scientific studies.

      If you have faith in spite of, and while recognizing that there is a total lack of any concrete evidence, I completely respect that. But such views are not in any way rational.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  7. JLW

    Mr Camping sounds like a crazy old man. Very sad.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • HotLips

      Only in America would people send money to some idiot and believe in whatever crap they hear. Pathetic.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Kiltlifter

      I think he'll be looking at the pearly gates sooner than he thinks!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  8. Illalung

    He is right, all he is saying is that JESUS IS COMING BACK, this is a strong reminder that we should be so keen and aware of
    Jesus returning. In the BIBLE it states no one knows of God's return, not one.
    God Bless all the people who are repenting and accepting Jesus as their personal Saviour as time is running short.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Phil

      Isn't that convenient? "he shall return – but we don't know when"...therefore live your life in fear and pray to the almighty magic man in the sky. God isn't returning because he never showed up in the first place. You can't return if you never existed.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  9. CULT

    Mark 13:33-35 (New American Standard Bible)

    33"Take heed, (A)keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.

    34"(B)It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.

    35"Therefore, (C)be on the alert–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or (D)when the rooster crows, or (E)in the morning–

    May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  10. Zosen

    Camping: 1 People who believed: 0
    People who say he should burn in hell (if there is one): 923452345234592385720345872340582349057239048572903485723904857234890572340597

    May 24, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  11. Carla

    This talk is more dangerous than any other 1 single force in our world. I grew up listening to doomsday crap; the world was always ending tomorrow and at 52 all I have to show for it is missed opportunities. We are here to love people not scare them. The purpose of a christian to bring peace not turmoil. This is not a warning that brings any good with it it's living in fear, which the bible speaks against. Maybe you shouldv'e been sucked up in the tornado since your message is what spreads fear and dread to people too willing to listen

    May 24, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Sarah

      Excellent message Carla.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  12. Nathan

    This report says that he claims only 2-3% of the earth would go to heaven. Many people pass away every second of everyday. No one knows if they are going to heaven and when this time will come, but what if he is still here it might be because he is not in that 2-3%, and In my honest opinion he needs to be put in jail.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  13. Mateo

    All I'm asking of Mr. Camping is that if he is going to state that his predictions (with exact dates) are in the bible, at least provide the references like any real bible scholar would. Oh and good luck with that sir.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  14. sgot29

    You can't fix stupid

    May 24, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Kiltlifter

      And there seems to be a whole lot of that!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  15. tkessler45

    What amuses me is the number of people who are angered and surprised over this...i mean....Really?!??!? If you became emotionally distressed over this, or if you spent all your money or gave away your belongings then its your own fault...get over it, don't believe BS, and you'll be good.

    A fool and his money (and emotions) are soon parted...

    May 24, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • RAWoD

      Sadly, a fool and his money are soon popular.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  16. RapierPoint

    The guy is a scam artist of the highest magnitude. It doesn't help that people are such sheep. If you do research, you will see that people have been doing this same thing for centuries. Claiming the end of the world and then falling back on the "calculation mistake" when it doesn't happen, then revise their dates and start the process again.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • RAWoD

      Self taught minister and scam artist. Isn't that the same?

      May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  17. JamesCoco

    There must be somekind of misunderstaning! There must be somekind of mistake. I've waiting here for hours.....

    May 24, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  18. Mitch

    There are several verses in the Bible which say that nobody know the date of the return of Christ. The only clue to the actual date that I have been able to find is in the book of Matthew.

    Jesus says, in Matthew 16:28: 'Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.'

    Which means that some of the people who listened to him preach would still be alive when he returned. It's kinda hard to argue against such a blunt statement from the Son of God, right? He wasn't being very mysterious.

    Of course, that means the world should have ended before 100 A.D., and it didn't. After all, we're still here, 1,900 years later. So, here's my prediction:

    Jesus won't come back. Ever. But jokers like Camping will keep preaching their garbagem and gullible rubes will keep falling for it. If Jesus were going to come back, it would have been when HE said that he was going to return; within the lifetime of some of his followers. Well, he didn't. And that's just more proof (from the Bible itself) that the whole mythology is a bunch of bull.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • i have a perfectly good explanation for that

      there were vampires in the crowd.... he was referring to them 😛

      May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Bruce

      Mitch: If you look at what Jesus (allegedly) predicted, and look at what actually happened between that day he (allegedly) made those predictions and about 40-50 years later (when the gospels that record these alleged predictions were written), you will find that–arguably at least–everything came true according to his predictions.

      The Romans sacked Jerusalem. Jesus came back from the dead (so we're told, at least). It's easy to make someone into an accurate prophet if you write their predictions AFTER the things they predicted came true...

      May 24, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • maggie

      in order to understand what Jesus meant when he said "this generation will not pass away until all the things he said comes true." You need to understand what does the generation means? Jesus made a covenant to a group of people to rule in heavens with him and the number is still being compiled so we do not how many heads is still short of that number.

      AFTER Jesus’ final meal with his apostles on the evening before his execution, Jesus promised to reward them with a place in heaven. He said: “In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) Why would Jesus provide them a place in heaven? What will they do there?

      Jesus had in mind a special assignment for his disciples. During that same evening, he said: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom.” (Luke 22:28, 29) God had promised Jesus that he would be the King who would provide for one of mankind’s greatest needs—good government. Jesus will save people from affliction and will crush those defrauding them. Although Jesus will have subjects extending “to the ends of the earth,” his throne will be in heaven.—Psalm 72:4, 8; Daniel 7:13, 14.

      However, Jesus will not rule alone. Hence, he promised his apostles a place in heaven. They were the first ones chosen to “rule as kings over the earth.”—Revelation 5:10.
      How many go to heaven? As in any government, the rulers in God’s heavenly Kingdom are few in comparison with all the people who live under its authority. To those who will rule with him, Jesus said: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) That “little flock” will finally number 144,000. (Revelation 14:1) That number is small in comparison with the millions who will enjoy endless life on earth as loyal subjects of the Kingdom.—Revelation 21:4.

      Thus, not all good people go to heaven. About good King David, the apostle Peter plainly said: “David did not ascend to the heavens.” (Acts 2:34) John the Baptist was a good man. Yet, Jesus indicated that he would not be exalted to rule as a king in heaven. “Among those born of women,” Jesus said, “there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.”—Matthew 11:11.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  19. Mike F

    Looks like the GOP finally has their front-runner. Just send more money to 'family radio.'

    May 24, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • wishwash

      This idiot Camping is ike the GOP or the Democrats, they promise the same BS over and over and nothing ever happens. Same BS different shovel. The changes we get for believing.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • nathan

      Palin/Camping would be the best lol

      May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • HotLips

      Palin and Pelosi. The bulldog with lipstick and the dog's tail.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  20. mister

    It's going to be really sad if he continues to have people follow his beliefs.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:41 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.