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. dennis

    I love Jesus but this man has caused people to turn away and not listen. I hope he understands what he has done.
    Then again maybe he knows what he is doing. Kind of makes you think about it doesn't it?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      I'll never take Christianity seriously again after this.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  2. cwjmem

    This old man just want to get an attention before he dies. Nothing is gonna happen to this earth. For those religious blind people, BIBLE WAS WRITTEN BY MEN, not from GOD. In fact, everyone can write their own bible for its own followers. Wake up people, this is the year 2011.

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

      amen brother!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  3. chad

    all that cash he has bilked will take 5 months to put into suitcases....really old or a lot of suitcases?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  4. plzallgetalife

    one of the biggest news company in the world and they waste there time with this moran so people can go on CNN and read it about it and get high rating. i like you guys but this is way too low CNN so please put some intresting news, some REAL stories for example all the bombing in libya but with all the inteligince and atvance military they can not get Gadafi but all the people around it.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • jim

      You shouldn't be reading these stories anyway. You should reenter the third grade and learn English grammar and spelling this time around!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  5. Kingpin

    Matthew 24:36
    "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.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • sbp

      Thank you. You are the 10,000'th person to post this verse.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • jakob

      So in other words it's all just a bunch of phoney baloney. Thanks for clearing that up.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Salvatore

      As much as I am enjoying this I have other, more serious issues to go tend to. Like... watching paint dry and water boil.


      May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  6. Robert Pearce

    I predict.....!.......I predict....Oh lord thy brother Jim Beam help me if you can......I predict the end of this man's credibility in five months.....I predict that Bret Farve is the second coming of Bret Farve! ! Hallelujah Brother....I've been touched by the special one...his name is Joe Pecsi

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

      Joe will clear up that noisy dog problem *snaps fingers* like that.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  7. miles

    You gotta love the arbitrary nature that is religion. No set dates, no timelines, just made up stuff that changes each time nothing happens. Not just the recent folks who think the end of the world is coming, but all Christian and other similar religious beliefs. Religion is man-made, man-run, man-manipulated. The sooner the religious majority figures that out, the better.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  8. Nogod

    At least Camping is predicting his own death by stroke.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  9. James

    It's hard to believe that someone who supposidly reads the bible so thoroughly isn't only aware that ONLY the Father knows the date and hour of the sons reture, but also that he believes he is not responsible for what he teaches. The bible says we will all be judged for how we lived our lives, but that the teachers of the word will be judged twice (once for their lives and once for the lives of those they taught). He is very much responsible, and one day he will see that.

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

      PLEASE stop posting this. It's been done to death. The only person who doesn't know it by now is Harold Camping.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Yeah, we know. Wolf in sheep's clothing, thief in the night, no man shall know the hour. Nevertheless, his followers would kill you and eat you if he ordered them to, and they have 72 million dollars. Just another al-Qaeda waiting for the plane.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      No please , I still wanna know, how he can be part of the deity, (not the bike company), the second coequal person of the trinity, and NOT know something daddy does know.

      May 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  10. william

    this is way past pathetic

    May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  11. SB

    The next person to quote Mathew 24:36 is a retard. Not only is Camping aware of all of the relevant Bible verses (he's a Bible thumper himself you know!) but it's completely hogwash either way you look at it. The Bible isn't any more true just because Camping's sick twisted dreams of genocide and devastation didn't come true. The Bible isn't privy to any special knowledge about how the world is going to end. It's passages are twisted and ambiguous enough to allow for innumerable variations and interpretations. If you can't see this SIMPLE FACT for yourself then, well, maybe you really are retarded.

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

      And yet, the same reference just keeps getting posted. So these people not only can't think, they apparently can't read (anything other than the Bible, I guess).

      May 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Salvatore

      They don't see what mindless sheep they are so they fall back on repeating what has been drilled into them. Funny, most Atheists I know aren't nearly as bad as people think and most religious people I know aren't nearly as good as they think... Haha!

      May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  12. NotSurprised

    What's he going to say on October 22nd? Doomsday has now been postponed to December 21st, 2012?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  13. Joe Fletcher

    Why would you give this guy more publicity?
    He is a fake and taking advantage of people and you are doing his marketing for him!
    The best thing you could do would be to do stories on all of the people he took advantage of.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  14. Mike

    I wish this guy could make up his mind. It's tough to do any planning when he keeps moving the day.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • jacomo1025

      HAHAHAHA!!! Good one.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  15. Salvatore

    Ok. An honest question to the religious;

    Is there a single believer here that would do everything the same way as your god has? Can you not think of one thing that you would change? Are there not several things you see that you could do better? The number one answer to the question "if you had the power to do one thing in life, what would you do?" is World Peace, followed by Feed the world and Cure all disease. Since your god does have this power what is it's excuse?

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

      I don't know.

      Its kinda hard to top giving yourself as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for humanities crimes with your own blood.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Salvatore

      Uhhhh, yeeeeah. Let me put my spirit into a human form and use him as a scapegoat for the evils in the world, which I created. Hmmm. Whatever let's you sleep at night, I guess. And P.S. you are begging the question here because you are assuming that there was a Jesus/god/spirit to begin with, Stupid much? then again I am arguing about cartoon characters here soooo...

      May 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • sheetiron

      Either way, your question was asked out of arrogance. You are a mere carbon unit living on a tiny rock orbiting an insignificant star on the outskirts of a single galaxy in the vastness of the cosmos. Who are you to question God Almighty? You barely have a good understanding on how your own body works, and your going to question why the designer, creator, and maintainer of the universe does what he does? Sounds a bit conceited to me.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Salvatore

      We are all mere carbon units living on a tiny rock. Whenever it was that that became not good enough and people had to find something to make them feel like they were better than others, I do not know. Who am I? I am the only Me that there is. I am a kind, loving and giving person. I don't need a god to tell me what is right and wrong. So don't stand there on your crutch and call me lame. Shall I float around in my boat and let the waves take me where they will, or shall I take the oars and get there myself?

      May 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "giving yourself as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for humanities crimes with your own blood" Yeah, that is kinda weird. I'd sacrifice someone else for humanity's crimes if it was me.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "carbon unit living on a tiny rock orbiting an insignificant star on the outskirts of a single galaxy in the vastness of the cosmos" But isn't the world flat, and there's no such thing as a galaxy full of stars? Get your story straight. We stand still and the sun rises, and stars are holes in the bottom of heaven. You used to KILL people who wouldn't say that was true, and now you presume to lecture us on astronomy? It still moves, no matter what you say.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  16. Lily in Texas

    I agree with 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."

    I also think it's time to pull the tax exemptions from these false prophets and use the money to help the poor, as Jesus would do.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  17. B-Bomb

    This guy is not the idiot. He's making a killing. Its the people that follow him that are idiots.

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


      May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • i2h

      no, he's definitely an idiot as well...since he's the one spending money on adverts.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • MindoverMadder

      What's interesting is that I was in Mexico on vacation when all this nonsense was to take place. I noticed no one even worried or taking about it. Life went as normal for these folks as ever. Is it only in America that we are that dumb and gullible? We send money by the bundles to some idiot and not even question it? Are we that far removed from our own senses? The world is still here and they are laughing their butts off at us. Those Crazy Americans.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  18. Nicole

    Why are we wasting our time on this? This man is clearly disturbed. I have no idea what book he thinks is the Bible, but my Bible says no man knows when He shall return. And anyone that does not come in the name of Jesus is a false prophet. We christians need to open our Bibles and read the Word for ourselves.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  19. chris

    Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me three times? What could be more pitiful?

    BTW, he said yesterday that he is not an authority. He said the bible is the only authority. Problem is that he advertised that the bible guarantees his predictions. He should stop trying to interpret because he has been proven incompetent. He won't stop though and some fools won't stop listening.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  20. meh

    His world will end by Oct 21st with a stroke!

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

      Yeah after he finds out how much taxes he has to pay from all that money he took from folks.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:09 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.