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. Bible Clown

    The world didn't end on schedule, thanks to Seal Team Six.

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

      Thanks for the comment, it made me laugh harder than the actual story did 🙂

      May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  2. saved not perfect

    fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  3. Shakeel

    Why is this even news. After 5 months he will revise again and the saga will continue.

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

      It does make for a good laugh though. Friends and I have had a great time making fun of the whole thing. The news needs to just quit posting his crap and making him a headline.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  4. Jenn

    Can someone please just commit him to a facility where he can get some help? How many times is he going to "predict" the end of days before people realize that there is just something not quite right with him? This is the 3rd date he has given for the end of days and the first 2 didn't pan out so i am guessing the 3rd won't either. And if the news would quit egging him on by posting his crap everywhere it wouldnt be such a big deal.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  5. Scott

    "doomsday math" I don't think so. The headline should have said "doomsday myth"

    May 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  6. Rich

    So based on how much damage this guy has caused in people's lives due to the idiots who ran up debt, didn't pay bills, even as extreme as murder in some cases, can he please be put in jail and locked away for the rest of his short pathetic life so he can't spread his filth around?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Jenn

      I do feel it was stupid for him to do this but it was even dumber for these people to believe him. It was the 2nd time he predicted this and was wrong so if people wanna go and do stupid things like that then all i can say is that maybe they didnt quite think it through.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  7. Jim

    atthew 7:15 (King James Version)

    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

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

      AMEN to that!!

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

      Considering the radio station broadcast raised $80 million in 4 years, I'd say your quote is pretty accurate.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  8. Crystal

    And yet it seems this man has just completely disregarded Matthew Chapter 24. You know, the part that says no man, not even Jesus Christ himself, will know when the rapture is going to happen. It will happen in a "twinkle of an eye" when nobody expects it to happen. This man just needs to go hide in a hole somewhere and never come back out again.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Leucadia101

      Crystal-I wouldn't be as worried about this idiot-moreso his followers-what a bunch of retards!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  9. Leucadia101

    Come on world! Just End Would You? I'm a miserable old man with lots of money. I've had my fun. Now END!!!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  10. EricTheRuler

    It should read " D-Bag forgot to carry the 1 The end not so near 5 more months of Debauchery" here's 2 hoping for him to stroke out in 3 months

    May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  11. Mr. Magoo

    Oh, for the love of Pete...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  12. Shinea

    In the mean time keep sending your donations.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  13. m

    This guy needs to go away. And he needs to return the money he stole or go to jail.

    He's essentially as bad as Bernie Madoff.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      What he did is legal. You can also say a man in the sky will kill the world, and it's a good thing, but you have to pay taxes on the money you get from it and he doesn't.

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

      We should ask Fidel Castro since he's about 190 years old when the end will come. And he wont take your money.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  14. Chris Stallings

    As a Christian this makes me sad. Jesus himself doesn't even know when he is coming back to get his own. The father will one day say go get my children and he will return. To have someone claim to know better just brings doubt to some who may want to believe and that is exactly what Satan wants. Believe what the Bible teaches, not some mans interpretation.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Thoughtful3424

      Just remember that the bible was written by man. And man as we all know is flawed. Therefore any inturpretation of "Gods word." Will be flawed in its regurgitation. Unless the bible you read was hand written by god himself and lowered down on magical beams of light im afraid your not getting the full subscription. Instead live a moral and honorable life and revelation will come upon your return to the earth. Not before. I pretty sure were not supposed to figure everything out before we pass on. Ruins the surprise.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  15. Jay M

    The more you believe in religion, the lower your IQ is. Once everyone recognizes this, we'll ALL be better off....

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

      My IQ is pretty high, but thanks for putting all people of religion into a general category. This man isn't a representation of a true Christian. Don't get things too confused in that brilliant mind of yours.

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

      Crystal clear Ms Crystal.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  16. Dave

    To be completely honest, Camping never said the world would end on May 21st. He said that was the day of The Rapture, when the faithful would be rescued by God. His prediction for the EOTW has actually October 21st for quite some time now, so nothing really has changed in that regard.

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

      Yeah, great point. Since he's 0 for 2 on any predictions...period.

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

      maybe he was right and no one was saved 🙁

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

      You, Dave, are an idiot. The rapture didn't happen so what makes you believe the rest of this loon's story? Furthermore, what makes you believe some senile grandpa in California knows more than Jesus? You sir are the reason we have warning labels on diapers.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Dave2

      You seem to be still following him blindly. It is the same faith and brainwashing that jihadists are under.

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

      Maybe we were all saved and just dont know it or we're in deep denial. Anyway back to my yard work.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Tony

      Yes and the man is just as wrong as ever. This guy is a fraud trying to bilk the public and I doubt he even believes in God.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jenn

      He predicted this in 1994 and it didnt happen, he predicted it again in May of 2011 and it didnt happen again. Are you starting to see a patern with this or should you be locked up in a padded room with this guy?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  17. Hopeful Humanitarian

    I truly feel sorry for Mr Camping as well as all of these people who spent their life savings and now altered their life for the worse because of their need to follow anyone and anything who provides so called "answers" to questions that none of us will ever have. It's one thing to have blind faith and believe in something because it makes you sleep better at night, but it's another thing to devote so much of the little bit of precious time we have in the only real world that any of us TRULY KNOW we have...which is our life on earth. It's a shame that so many millions of dollars were spent on a fruitless campaign that could have been used to help real people with real problems (torandoes in AL and MO anyone, lots of hungry and homeless people, etc). Humanity has it's own problems and we are the only beings in this or any other universe who are going to have to solve them. Such extreme efforts and resources spent towards something not known to exist unfortunately diverts those efforts and resources that could be much better spent.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  18. neil richmond

    surly CNN must have someone on that can read, why not have that person study the holy bible!, this would be the most likely place to find the truth of the bible. by the way, it does say that no man knows the day or the hour when this event will take place ,not even the son of god. ps. if there is a job opertunity i am interested, thankyou

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

      The Bible also said it would happen in Matthew's generation. Ooops.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Kim Reynolds

      Hmmmm, you sarcastically snipe that CNN needs to learn to read but you obviously can't spell. Yet you want a job opportunity. What a world of morons we live in . . . sigh.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Kim Reynolds

      Let me correct you:

      "surely" "opportunity"

      Can you spell "illiterate?" Can you spell "short bus?" Can you spell "narrow-minded?"

      If there is a rapture, will they take all the closed-minded, ignorant, racist, right-wing extremists? Then I will stay here, thank you.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • GhostofGeorgeCarlin

      Don't quit your day job just yet Neil.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  19. jeremy

    "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." Matthew 7:15
    His people should really read the bible a little more than just listening to him.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    The old man is just butthurt over the fact that he ended up looking like a total jack@$$!

    Stop saying ridiculous things from your fan fiction version of the bible and shut the **** up!!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:27 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.