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. Eternal Infidel

    The old geezer is an idiot but it's easy to understand why he's getting so much coverage. The vast majority of the people in this country are exactly like him. They love jesus and run around saying that he will return in a second coming soon enough.

    Lunacy and silly beliefs may usually be harmless, but these people mobilize their cult to elect politicians like dubya, to pass laws to outlaw abortion and doctor-assisted suicide, to stymie science and medical research (stem cells), to force schools to teach bible fantasies to our already dumb kids, to bomb clinics, and to otherwise harm our society and freedoms.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  2. Juan


    May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • JZEE

      never mind about stone to death, his brain is half way dead any. What you expect to believe from an 89 year man?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Trvsmart1

      So now that this person with to much time and even more money he will able spend before his end is near says, 2 – 3% will be taken up to heaven and the rest will be left to perish and suffer unspeakable punishment? Ahhhhhhh, he's still here, does that include him. I guess he didn't make the cut and that makes him a sinner as well? or is he delusional and thinks otherwise? Oh well, sucks to be you Mr. Camp, Welcome to hell..

      May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  3. Nonyo Bizniss

    AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA now he's saying he got the math wrong? I love it! Keep making yourself look credible guy.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  4. JZEE

    Camping said, "The fact is there is only one kind of people who will ascend into heaven". In his mind, he think that God is still working on Hybrid Wings, so Camping's followers can stay longer in the air while the earth continuous to erupt.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  5. Joe R.

    While it is generally not a good idea to make assumptions, one safe assumption you can make is that anyone claiming to know the exact date and/or time of Jesus' return is a FALSE PROPHET and is NOT to be trusted.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  6. Raphael

    Our favorite prognosticator would be more credible if he chose October 7th, 2 weeks earlier. Here's why: An avid Christian Bible-study friend once told me that in his numerology class they concluded Jesus would return on a Yom Kippur. This year it falls on October 7th. Not being a believer, but nonetheless interested in the topic, I had to agree. After all, Jesus was and died Jewish, so it would make sense that he return on the holiest day of the religion he was born into, the Day of Atonement. To state the (not so?) obvious, if Jesus is interested in any calendar, it's the one that was in place PRIOR to mankind unilaterally tampering with it. Now, I personally don't believe anything earth-shattering will occur on that day. Just suggesting ways to base unprovable faith on a bit more fact.

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


      May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Careful about setting dates! I will say that spiritually significant events happened around Jewish holidays. As an example Jesus died and rose again around Passover. Read Exodus and you will see the orginally passover and you will see the significance of the blood of a lamb. The Holy Spirit first came during Pentacost (approx 50 days after passover). The law of Mosed was given 50 days after the original Passover! Significant events do seem to happen around Jewish holidays and festivals BUT do NOT set a date!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  7. Dobro

    Can somebody please speed up the end of his own world? But not tell anybody so we don't ever have to hear from this guy again?

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

      Send in Seal Team Six.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Bible Clown
      Send in Seal Team Six.
      Too late for that as Disney ia attempting to trade mark that name. Team Three? Maybe. Team Six? not so much!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  8. XpuppychowX

    I think we should leave the end of the world predicting to the scientists, not some crazy guy who thinks he sees messages coded in the bible.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  9. b

    The Great Disappointment was a major event in the history of the Millerite movement, a 19th century American Christian sect that formed out of the Second Great Awakening. William Miller, a Baptist preacher, proposed based on his interpretations of the prophecies in the book of Daniel (Chapters 8 and 9, especially Dan. 8:14 "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed"), that Jesus Christ would return to the earth during the year 1844. A more specific date, that of October 22, 1844, was preached by Samuel S. Snow. Thousands of followers, some of whom had given away all of their possessions, waited expectantly. When Jesus did not appear, October 22, 1844 became known as the Great Disappointment.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    Sources claim a "great terrorist attack like 9/11" will occur 11-11-11 (November 11, 2011).

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

      Hogwash.. can't you read? Aren't you listening? the man said the world will be destroyed on October 21.. What would be left for the terrorist to attack? I swear you people can't even do simple math....

      May 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • JZEE


      May 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    I love how so many people were trolled by this old dude! Makes me wish a rapture would actually happen!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • solus909

      On the contrary. It's a rare opportunity to be able to make fun of an old person.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  12. UCFKnightman

    People don't rise from the dead.

    There are no male-gendered omnipotent narcissistic deities. They do not exist. The universe and multi-dimensional space does not exist solely for our souls to be subjugated by one of these deities.

    No one has any way of predicting the future, anyone that says they can is an obvious liar.

    This is sound, concrete, logic firmly rooted in math and physics. This escapes about 90% of the population.

    People wonder why I'm borderline misanthropic...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Matt Shipley

      UCFKnightman – I couldn't have said it better myself.

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

      Get over yourself.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Yes, but this much I will concede: If there WERE a male deity, he'd almost sure be a narcissistic jack@$$. Seems to be a male power thing.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • antichristianleague

      Humanity is one huge disappointment, with their religions as the leading cause of despair.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Trvsmart1

      NONSENSE, ENOUGH with this idiot. He's right, the end is on Oct 21st, his end. He's pathetic and has made milllions of those that choose to believe him. but who's worse, the fool or the one's that follow the fool? STFU, plain and simple. Mr. Camping you need to get out more, how about doing some camping? get some fresh air. You have more money and radio stations than 1 person can know what to do with. Donate the air time t constructive projests instead of distructive predictions. Be a real person do for the community, serve it at your best before your end is near. You only get one crack at it, if and when the world does end as we know it, you nor I will be here to hear you say, I told you, I was right. WROOOOONG...

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

      What people wonder that?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Objecttothis

      Wow, you're just as dogmatic as the next guy. How do you know God does not exist? As a follower of Jesus I think this guy is just as much of a nutcase... not because he believes that Jesus will return and every man will be judged. I believe that too. I think he's off his rocker because he's clearly teaching something that the Bible says he has no authority to know.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  13. Time Traveler

    When it does not happen on October 21, 2011, Harold, you give me $10,000. Put your money where your mouth is. What is going to be the excuse when it doesn't happn on October 21, 2011 Harold? Hmmmm!?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  14. ThulsaDoom

    Seal Team 6, seriously deal with this guy. kthainxby

    May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  15. PW

    This is tabloid fodder. Is there absolutely nothing more useful to report on than this crap? For shame CNN. I'm in shock of your following of this demented Pied Piper leading his band of adult-children into the Rapture, oh wait, now it's the end of the world, what will it be in October? There are good people doing good things in the world. Devote a little more time and space to them, it'll do wonders for your credibility.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  16. kite005

    I'm glad here cleared that up but couldn't he have done it earlier? Last Friday I partied like it was 1999 and then I woke up Saturday hungry, thirsty, and with blurry vision.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  17. cds

    I don't agree with the guy, but let's at least get the facts straight. 1) he did not revise his math–he is revising his interpretation of his math. 2) he is not suddenly saying the end will come on October 21–he said that from the beginning, and he always claimed October 21 will be the end of the world; the difference is that now he is saying that May 21 was a spiritual event, not a physical event. Like I said, the guy is a blight upon the church and such ramblings should be denounced. But if you're going to report what someone says, at least take a few minutes to get it right, or not bother. Oh, I forgot... this is CNN... never mind... carry on as usual. 🙂

    May 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Chris

      There is no defense here. This is a silly story from a silly man. Who gives an F about what he says. . .its still creative reading. I for one, won't be changing my xmas plans.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Trvsmart1

      Actually he said earthquakes would ravish the earth on May 21st and it would be a ripple effect and the end of the world would be May 21st. You really need to practice what you preach or better yet, read it again. One thing for sure, I'll be home for Christmas..

      May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  18. Shannon

    Seriously, CNN, if you keep publishing the crap that this guy spouts I'm boycotting your news station completely. No more publicity for him please. Let him tell his followers on his radio station and keep CNN for real news not the ramblings of a cult leader.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  19. The Lord

    Shut up old man, I'm getting tired of your nonsense

    May 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  20. ricardo

    cnn, you call the rantings of a mentally challenged nut news?!? really cnn?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137
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.