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. Kay Pee

    What I find funny is why this man (and his followers) are disregarding a KEY scripture in the Bible. The Bible SPECIFICALLY says in THREE places that NO ONE CAN PREDICT WHEN THE LORD SHALL RETURN!!!!!

    Matthew 24:36 – No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father

    Mark 13:32 – No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    Acts 1:7 – He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

    So I would really like to know what Bible they are reading from!!!! Stop spreading propaganda and start spreading the true and HONEST word!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Louis


      May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  2. sfcanative

    Only the Mormons really know when the end will come. They were given modern day revelation through a living prophet about all of the special details no one else knows.

    Mormons will build a temple and city in Missouri called New Jerusalem, where Christ will personally reign. According to the Book of Mormon, the American Indian carries a curse, and their skin will become white indicating they have become righteous and respected. They must rise up to become a righteous and respected people.

    Also, according to the Mormons, Adam-ondi Ahman in Daviess County, MO, is the site where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from the Garden of Eden, and will be a gathering spot for a meeting of Mormon leadership, including prophets of all ages and other righteous Mormons, prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., taught that the Garden of Eden was located in the vicinity of Independence, MO, and that after Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, they went to Adam-ondi-Ahman.

    Mormon prophecy states that before the Second Coming, Adam will convene a meeting there to officially turn the governments of the entire world over to Jesus Christ who reportedly heads the Mormon Church on a daily basis through Thomas Monson in Utah. The Mormon leadership is overseeing the many events leading up to the Second Coming and eventual takeover of all governments of the world–starting with the White House in 2012.

    Read the full narrative here by a leading BYU professor of ancient scripture!


    May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • J

      Jesus wasn't a mormon or a moron for that matter so enough with this stupidity...

      May 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • J

      Didn't you get the memo.. Stephen Hawkings says THERE IS NO GOD...

      May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Paul

      Brought to you by special plates in a hat that you aren't allowed to look at!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      So your are willing to place your very soul on the line that this is true. Indeed you already have!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Like Catholics, Mormons are going to hell unless they turn to Jesus's Truth.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • J

      Heavensent, thanks for the heads up this catholic will put his fire suit on then....

      May 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent


      Heavensent, thanks for the heads up this catholic will put his fire suit on then....

      I speak Jesus's Truth and I am a Jesus Warrior. Sometimes the truth hurts.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • J

      warriors come out to playyayy

      May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Scott

    "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." Here we see the essence of all religion and why it is a LIE!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  4. jon

    Of course, he's a looney. However, that doesn't mean there won't be an end to the world, and a return of Jesus to judge us all. If you have a bad judge it does not mean there is no justice system. A bad teacher does not mean there is no such thing as education. So, the "logic" does not follow, that because he's wacky, there will be no second-coming. It'll happen but we have no idea when.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Paul

      This idea brought to you buy fanatical Christians since 100 AD.
      The end of thy world is coming any minute folks!!!
      The Book of Revelations is an allegory you stupid jackwagons!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  5. cindy

    This gentleman is making us Christians look bad. It clearly states in the Bible in the book of Revelations that no one will know when the 2nd coming will take place and when the Apocalypse will begin. So all who are reading this garbage and might be beliving it, need to read the Book of Revelations in the Bible.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Paul

      Yeah people need to read it and realize that it is JUST AN ALLEGORY ABOUT THE ETERNAL STRUGGLE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. It is not actually a prediction of the end of the world, just a story about how good will always triumph in the end. Christians have been misinterpreting this book since it was written which is why the first church leaders were to include it in the Bible in the first place.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  6. J

    Just because your old ass is about to go don't try to bring the rest of us down...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  7. GE

    Well what will it mean if Mr Camping dies before October 21? Its funny this guy thinks he knows when the end will come but can't predict his own death.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  8. Happy

    Oh, OOPS! Miscalculation. Bad calculator! Earth to God – you're coming .... when?? Oh, only God the Father knows. Well, this little predictor certainiy isn't that. Guess we'll just have to go on living our lives then..

    May 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  9. Diane

    And on Oct 21, he will say his calculations were slightly off and the real date is Dec 21, 2012. And on Dec 21, 2012, he will say wait, no, it will be Dec 21, 2022. Any by then he'll be dead and won't be around to explain why he was wrong again. I would like to know more about how this man thinks he can predict the end of the world. Where in the Bible is he supposedly getting this stuff? Like several other people on here, I had always read that nobody will know or be able to predict the rapture. This man just wants attention.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Paul

      attention and money. what does he need all the money for if the world is going to end? can someone sue these people so they lose their tax exemption? at what point does religion just become a blatant scam?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Diane

      @Paul – Agreed. He wants money too. If he is asking people to give money to his church or his cause, I'm sure he is benefiting from it in some way. I hope some of these people that gave up all their money do sue him. But then, they would have to go into court and admit they were dumb enough to give away all their possessions and life savings because a man said the world was going to end. Plus, they would probably be heckled by other followers for speaking out against their "prophet".

      May 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm |

    If they want to leave Earth that bad then hand them over to Alqaeda. Both the Alqaeda nuts and the May 21st nuts can both go to heaven leaving Earth a more peaceful place.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  11. Rob

    When will the press stop giving these lunatics coverage??

    This man, his followers, and anybody who puts religion over proven science are just cowards afraid of the REAL world!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  12. Salvatore

    For all of you religious people making fun of Mr. Camping with your self righteousness; From the outside you look like a bunch of Bigfoot believers telling a Lock Ness Monster believer that he's an idiot. LOL. The "what" of this whole thing is by far more ridiculous than the "when".

    May 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • John

      "Amen" to that! I was going to make that very point... but you have done it for me.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      There is nothing funny about what he is doing! it is against scripture, he has set a 3rd date. People have quit jobs, frightened children, given away and sold all they had, given Camping money! According to scripture, he is a false prophet . Nothing funny about but it must be challenged and exposed for the deception is it!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  13. Erol

    Stop giving this guy coverage

    May 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  14. Paul


    May 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm |

    I can find a guy on the side of the street in every city that preaches the coming of Christ....What makes this guy so relevant....By the way, since the world was ending, why didn't he take his millions and help the less fortunate??

    May 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "What makes this guy so relevant.." 72 million dollars and followers who would pimp their sisters if he ordered them to. He could be more dangerous than Mullah Omar, and he may still be.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  16. Fidei Coticula Crux

    Funny. 97% of the people polled (to include Christians) didn't believe this guy... and yet, the atheists are blaming Christainity/Religion for all this. That goes to show atheists are not the free thinkers/open minded individuals they claim to be.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Proves nothing of the sort. The only meaningful difference between this nitwit and conventional conservative Christians is the naming of a specific date. The laughability of May 21st is really the laughability of the Rapture generally.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Well, where did he get this from? If there weren't millions of people who believe the same nonsense except for specifying a date, how many would he had pulled in with this stunt? Christianity was the set up for this specific con and many, many more like it.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Salvatore

      This guy is an idiot completely separate from his beliefs. However, what makes his interpretation of the bible so much worse than any other? If you truly believe that love and peace and giving are good, why do you need a god to tell you that? You are selfish and afraid. If there was no ultimate punishment in your mind would you suddenly become a hateful mean person? No? That's right, you would not. The god and punishment factor are all that keep you from being an Atheist. What makes "your" religion the right one? How do I choose? I want to be right. This is my one life, I don't want to get it wrong.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Eric of Reseda

      Well, gee, this preacher is espousing traditional Christian thought, derived from the Christian Bible, and the people victimized by this jerk are a whole of Christians. So who IS responsible for this scam? Buddhists?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Every Christian I hear from says the only thing wrong was the date, so I guess that proves all Christians are the same. Aw, why can't I just make stuff up like you do?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      So are all cons based in religion?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Fidei Coticula Crux

      Hi -Fidei

      I am not sure that your assertion that 'all' atheists are blaming christianity on the attempted prophecy of Mr. Camping is actually true.

      However, at the same time, in my opinion, there really is very little if any difference between Mr. Camping and his followers and the christians who actually believe that there will be a 'rapture.'

      It's all a matter of 'when' for you guys. The only difference really is that Mr. Camping picked a date... and you true bible believing christians just 'know' the bible is 'truth'... and it 'will' happen someday, "just a matter of time." And it's just a 'matter of time,' and the reason we don't know, is because..."Only God knows, etc..."

      Again, you guys are basically two sides to the same coin in reality, in my opinion.



      May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • LinCA

      Fidei Coticula Crux said: "So are all cons based in religion?"

      No. But all religions are based on cons.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      You can choose not to hate and yet you do... is that because man is sinful in nature?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • LinCA

      Fidei Coticula Crux said: "You can choose not to hate and yet you do... is that because man is sinful in nature?"

      We don't agree with you, but that doesn't mean that we hate.

      Like it, or not, Camping professes to be a devout christian. That puts him squarely in with ALL others who claim the same. Whether or not anybody picks a date for the rapture is largely irrelevant. The fact that people actually believe there will be one is what flies in the face of reason.

      Pointing out an unreasonable position should be expected.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  17. Sundowner

    When will they ever learn? Instead of repenting for bringing disgrace on himself and his followers Mr. Camping invents a not so new teaching. So, Christ didn't physically return to rapture his church. He returned spiritually to enter into judgment. Too bad Mr. Camping didn't connect with Seventh Day Adventists who invented the same false teaching. Well, at least now the 7th Adventists won't stand alone in this silliness. Now Camping and the 7th Day Adventists can ride off into lala land together.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      The world didn't end, Jesus just moved to a different apartment.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  18. enough!!!


    May 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  19. JVinAustin

    What a nut! I don't remember seeing these dates in my bible, think I'll look again. (not!) Why is anyone giving this guy his 15 minutes of fame. Better yet, why am I even responding?? 🙁

    May 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • John


      May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  20. Rickie

    Why on earth would you even give him the time of day not alone put him on CNN??

    May 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
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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.