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. nodat1

    Sunday morning I was driving in SC and I saw a wacko family radio network billboard on Hwy 501 with the May 21 X out and ? in its place.... .

    May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  2. RckyMtnGrl

    The thing that amazes me the most about this story is the fact that the media is still giving face time to this delusional, self-serving, greedy, ignorant d-bag. *Yawn* moving on...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Madtown

      I agree, but they give him face-time because of all the buzz the story generates. Look at how many comments are on this story! CNN will continue to publish these stories, as long as there's such a reaction. It's about the bottom line, and advertising dollars.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • RckyMtnGrl

      @Madtown-I certainly agree with you. I give way too much credit to mainstream media outlets for reporting for the sake of news, not the sake of numbers on quarterly reports. I guess it's off to npr.org for me...

      May 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  3. opinionated

    He is not representative of mainstream Christians. The bible says that no one knows the time of Christ's return. Christians need to put their attention toward doing good and living our Christian commission. Ther rest will take care of itself.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  4. Roger

    "IF" he turns out wrong again, Yes I said "IF" then he should agree that we can beat him like the Roman's beat Jesus, since he is so sure of this Oct 21st date which will come and go. I would be the first in line to give him some of those beatings.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  5. Jeff

    I am a local volunteer for my town that helps keep it clean by picking up trash along the roadways. I am also part of the 'Adopt-a-Highway' program in my area. I am requesting that this group of people that have been going around the country in RV's plastering illegal signs all over the place backtrack through the country and now remove all the signs. At least in NY state there is a 'sign law' that says it is illegal to place signs on utility poles and road signs. These people were breaking the law and need to make amends for littering the countryside.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  6. downsouthml

    this guy is not very smart at all. People like him are ridiculious and does not know anything about the Bible and when God will return. I do not know what Bible he is reading but surely not the Holy Bible. So please stop making a mock of God.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Nocordoba

      God will do his will in all things. This guy needs to watch out God may be slow to anger but after so many false predictions....

      May 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

    I still have 5 months to finish my spaceship! Whew, what a close call!

    May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  8. dave R

    there was no rapture because there is no god...when will people stop the blind faith following...you are all idiots

    May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • L.G

      your disbelief in God is as much a religious belief as the those that believe in God

      May 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Stevie7

      I'm particularly a fan of the hobby of not collecting stamps. And I love watching the sport of not football on Sundays.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  9. Chuck

    Hilarious.. I'm sure he'll be taking more people's money all along the way. Why isn't this guy being arrested for fraud? I don't care if he's a preacher, put him in jail. He's ruining people's lives and taking all of their money.


    May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Jace

      Why do people want him put in jail? If Christians had the good sense to read the book they swear by from front to back, they wouldn't be falling for such nonsense, would they? I mean, if you're going to "sell your soul" to some invisible man that wants to micromanage your life, shouldn't you read all of the fine print? He should hardly be punished for the sheer stupidity of other people. If they had the sense to educate themselves, they wouldn't fall for his lines....again.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  10. Hootie

    This guy is a nut job and so are his followers. There is no God, never have been, never will be. It's Western mythology, it's for sheep.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • razmataz

      Not that I disagree with you, but how is something that was essentially born in the Middle East, Western mythology?

      May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  11. Richard

    Someone show this dude how to use a computer. Maybe he will get it right this time. I setup my Rapture Out of Office reply at work and everything and nothing happened. Now I have to explain to my management why everyone who emailed me was told that I won't be in the office for eternity due to judgement day.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  12. FrankWest

    Belief in God and judgment day is not just for loonies.
    Newton the father of Physics spent more time looking for the day of judgment day in the Bible than he spent developing Physics and Calculus. Newton actually predicted from the Bible that jidgment day would be 2060 AD

    May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Carl_Seitan

      Yes, keep on referencing a site that takes quotes out of context as tries to to use them as evidence for the existence of god.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • PETER


      May 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • JLR

      Newton was schizophrenic. Brilliant, but schizo.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  13. ben

    anyone who believes in this guy is retarded and only allah knows the end

    May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  14. Dave

    This guy is a joke, and all the people who believe his nonsense are idiots. Let's have a contest. On October 22nd when these morons realize they are still here, what date will his next revision point to?

    May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  15. JimBen

    Read this article and imagine all the quotes being made by Donald Trump. They all fit! For example,"he would not admit that he bore any blame for his followers' predicaments."

    May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  16. JLR

    This was all a publicity stunt to promote his new rap album.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Stephanie Powell

    and the Bible even says , "NO MAN KNOWS"

    May 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • No

      Yeah, I think that fact has already been mentioned about 1,000,000 times now, thanks.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  18. Matteo

    What's really funny is that if you READ the bible, it says :
    Matthew 24:30-40 (King James Version)
    30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

    So how can he justify "knowing" when the end will come, when in fact, the bible even says that we will not know until that time is upon us. He screams at the interviewers saying "READ THE BIBLE! IT'S ALL THERE!" and yet he picks and chooses what to use...

    May 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • densie

      Well said

      May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Dan

      Precisely! I, however, do not have time to read so I have blindly put my faith and fate in the hands of a senile nonagenarian religious nut with poor math skills.

      May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bruce

      It also says that "this generation shall not pass" which means it needed to happen before the end of the first century.

      (Here's the kicker, if you read history, you will find that what he predicted did indeed happen before the end of the first century...)

      May 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Bruce: And conveniently the 'predictions' came true after the events had happened. If I write a book and said that sixty years ago some guy predicted 9/11, I think people would see right through my claims.

      May 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  19. densie

    Why is this old man making news. Really CNN give us news that is important, not someone I believe to be in a cult.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  20. That Guy

    The bible says you will not know the day or hour of Yahshua’s return. The fact that this idiot gives both and then says he’s only quoting the bible is a paradox in itself.

    May 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Bruce

      You could read what he has to say about those specific verses, you know.

      Or, you can take the easy pot-shots and pretend like you can read the bible better than Camping can...

      May 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
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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.