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. Rick

    He says the world has undergone judgment.. "spiritually." So, I thought god's people were supposed to be beamed up into heaven? If judgment day DID in fact happen, why was no one abducted by god? And if October 21st is the ultimate destruction of the world, at what point do your followers get saved??? Is there really any reason to even try and understand this man's logic or entertain his ideas?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • MQ

      I am a Christian, I believe Jesus Christ is coming back, but the Bible clearly says, no one knows the day or the hour (Mark 13:32). This man is a liar and a thief who has taken advantage of people who unfortunately have fallen in his trap. He lives a very comfortable life because of the people he has fooled... sad.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:45 am |
  2. MQ

    Mark 13:32
    “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • LetsThink123

      A statement that is always correct is referred to as a Barnum statement. It is mostly used by psychics to always seem correct. Camping said (I'm paraphrasing of course), 'there is a high probability that the world would end in may.' This statement is always true: If it did end, he would have been right. If it didn't end (which is what happened), he is still right cause he said high probability! a good Barnum statement from Mr. Camping.
      Sadly, the bible verse u quoted is the best barnum statement of all time! No one knows but the father when he will return. Hmm...lets see, so if he does return, that statement is right. If he never returns (the most likely case) that statement is still right cause his followers will wait forever! WOW what a great barnum statement you posted there.
      I think that it's sad that you have been fooled by ancient men who wrote this statement.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  3. Marky doo

    Dude, I am super sure he is totally right this time.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:34 am |
    • lacoaster

      Then give everything you have to charity so you can ride your white horse towards the sky at the sound of the trumpet.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:43 am |
    • lacoaster

      Where you at right now, has no fix.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:44 am |
  4. ophu

    I wish I was Harold Camping's psychiatrist. Not only would it be intellectually stimulating, but financially lucrative as well. My professional career would be made, and I could do the talk show circuit. Then I could land that big book deal with Oprah and become famous. : |

    May 24, 2011 at 3:33 am |
    • jellylee20202

      Not until after October 21 you won't....

      May 24, 2011 at 3:38 am |
    • dave

      Lucrative? Nope- you'd be sued for every penny, as he would have a right to confidentiality. Might even be a violation of HIPPA.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:43 am |
  5. Kevin Schuder

    This 'end of the world' business has been funny as hell... but damn, I kind of feel sorry for these people.
    Especially this guys wife.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  6. Airdale

    One of these days, he's bound to get it right. Anymore, it's getting to be a prerequisite to be slightly mental to become a self-avowed preacher.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • Bill

      Wrong – he'll never get it right; Jesus ain't coming back – it's a fraud and a scam – get over it. Follow the money.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:30 am |
  7. Aezel

    Well, for one day people predicted all the stupid possible excuses he would come up with, and it looks like he used them all. Now he's on to try and con people again. Can't we get this guy declared criminally insane already and lock him up?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 am |
  8. Kenny

    Usually, I would ask if this old fool crazy but seeing how people give him their money I suspect they are the crazy ones. Now, having said that, this old fool can't be far off on his prediction as he is 84 or 89 years old so the end has to be near for him. Since he is hell bent on predicting the end of the world but has met with failures, may I suggest he come back on the day after the world ends to let us know. This way he can be sure he has got it right.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:26 am |
  9. bill mcmasters

    that people can believe this stuff and act on it to the detriment of their psychological and financial well-being is really, really sad, pathetic, and scary.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:25 am |
  10. Schmedley

    Hey man, I don't fault the Revrund at all... Hell, if I could spout nonsense like that and keep a straight face all the while convincing people to willingly give me $80M...

    May 24, 2011 at 3:25 am |
  11. The Conundrum

    The reason I recommended this is because as a Christian I think this is GROSSLY irresponsible teaching. I could cite many verses in the Bible to tell him he is wrong but there is only one comment that was made by Jesus Himself to put this man in his place... Jesus said Himself that "As for the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son (for emphasis I repeat..NOR THE SON!!!), but the Father only." (Matthew 24:36). It is there in plain speech. If the Son of God doesn't even know then who the hell does this man think he is? God himself? if he is putting this word out there he is making a false god of himself by purporting to know something that the Son of God (Jesus) didn't even know. Now I am not judging him, his actions are between him and God; but he is GROSSLY OUT OF ORDER!

    Further, Jesus spoke harshly against 'false prophets' in Matthew 24:23 – 27 (and you can read on a little further in this chapter). "If anyone tells you at that time 'Look, the Messiah is here' or 'He is there' do not believe it..." No, Christ's job is hard enough without these people spreading their folly! When the Time comes, there will be no warning, save for the Signs we have been told of to watch out for. I think these sort of people are foolish and dangerous and should be ignored! The Christian message is clear and that is the only message that should be taken to heart!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • Sathyavrath

      If anyone believes in the rapture as a literal event are no less crazy that this guy Harold Camping. The rapture is awaking of the Sahasrar Chakra. "Father in Heaven". It is also referred to as the Guru Chakra or the Command and Control Chakra. This is the reason the texts refer to as the "father in heaven"

      May 24, 2011 at 3:37 am |
  12. Don

    Also he says he isn't responsible to anybody, does that include God. He is overstepping if thinks he has no responsibility to anyone. Man is responsible to God. As a believer in God he should know this.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  13. Gaunt

    His maths were wrong? No, harold Camping's maths skills are excellent. He can count the over $100 million dollars in donations his Family Radio company has recieved in the last decade, including over $13 million in just the last year. he can count the value of his 'family Radio' media empire, estimated by the IRS to be worth $72 million dollars. His maths skills have been trained by sitting counting his money every day, laughing at the gullible and the desperate who KEEP sending him thier money, and giggling over the fact that, because he hides behind religion, its unlikely he will ever be charged with fraud.

    What is worse, according to the IRS, Camping and Family Radio have over $30 million dollars invested in long term bonds and stocks, which produced a profit of just over a million dollars last year. LONG TERM stocks and bonds. Think about that for a second.

    Camping and Family Radio are con-men, this isnt about religion, its about milking foolish people out of tens of millions of dollars. No wonder he keeps revising his doomsday date backwards: if he just admitted he was wrong, the money might stop pouring in...

    This man and his entire clan should be rotting in jail.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  14. Don

    I have now figured him out. This person does not know how to say I am wrong. I'm a believer myself. You can believe and be wrong. It has happen. It happen to Apostle Peter when he tried to make gentiles into Jews and Apostle Paul confronted him about it. Someone needs to confront this guy and tell him it is Ok, if you don't know. You don't have to know everything. It is ok to be wrong.
    Since his job was an engineer, I'm assume from his behavior in this, he was one person who need to solve things no matter what.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • lacoaster

      Still is a social engineer.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:28 am |
  15. DGH

    what and ass he is.......

    May 24, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • ArrestThePreacher

      Arrest him for yelling, "FIRE!" in the Earth.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  16. CTYank

    The only real question to me is if the "Rev" is also self-delusional. Bring in the polygraph.

    Some of these bible-thumpers have made a real industry of rapture-prep. They've got nothing to do with Christianity. Merely carney-barkers, same as televangelists. Where's the bunko squad?

    Remember the Bakkers? The suckers keep sucking on it.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • miller

      There's no "bunko squad" that can ever touch this guy... The last time I checked: you can still defraud people legally and spread all kinds of pain and suffering across the USA as long as you call yourself a religion.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:31 am |
  17. Mike

    They don't call their flocks sheep for nothing! Bahaaaaaaaaaaa!

    May 24, 2011 at 3:17 am |
  18. Johnny Walker

    Is it wrong to want to hurt this man?

    May 24, 2011 at 3:16 am |
  19. lacoaster

    What's under judgement is the man's possible use of acid and/or mushrooms in the name of the lord while feeding paranoia to monkey see monkey do victims. Should get a real job and a real life. I have no doubt the man is surely camping, but that free ride hopefully won't last him forever.

    May 24, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • lacoaster

      Simon says!

      May 24, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  20. Peter

    seems the gent has a couple screwsies losies....dam I figured he'd hide for the rest of his life, hell...he's back within a day making new forecasts....bwahahaha

    May 24, 2011 at 3:16 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.