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. Dr. B. Good...

    This guy does a disservice to the Christian faith with all this non-sense. Just learn to love, and forget about all the rest of the made-up crap.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  2. mike

    this guy is a joke

    May 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  3. chris

    He didn't want to give an interview on Sun. because he needed a day to come up with his "spiritual judgement" twist. Of course, he claimed there was going to be a rapture followed by a tribulation followed by the end of the world. I guess now he is doing away with the tribulation period because he would rather change things as he goes than just do the honorable thing and 1)admit he was wrong; 2) give a genuine apology; 3)refund any donations he hasn't already spent on those billboards; 4)stop making predictions lest he lead more people into ruin and 5) direct people back to their churches and out of his cult. That is the way for him to get right with God.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • dan

      He knew what he was going to say long before Monday. He knew it when he first made his prediction. And he knows what he will say on Oct 22nd.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • chris

      You may be right Dan. This implies that his "flabergasted" response on Sun. was all part of the act.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  4. Sam

    Religion . . . the root of all evil and the sheep that follow it!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • krissmith777

      No more or less the root of evil than atheism

      May 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • J.C.

      A-MEN BROTHA!!!!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • J.C.

      i think someone does not know what atheism really is. please read a book.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  5. Dr. B. Good...

    Someone is winding the cuckoo clock again!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Steve - Dallas

      Poor old thing is obviously ga-ga.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  6. Bruce

    Just in case you didn't notice, Camping has pulled out the ultimate "get out of jail free" card by dropping the term, "spiritual" into the mix, and contrasting it with "physical."

    This is where it always ends up. On October 22, 2011, if he's still alive to tell us, he will use that term again to explain to all of us that all of his predictions have come true 100% as-predicted, and he won't recant one single word.

    I'm becoming less and less convinced that this guy is insane and more and more convinced he had this "spiritual" move planned from day one of his campaign.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  7. Michael

    iif these nutballs end up on the mothership with me and Little baby Jesus i'm gonna freak out – i'm gonna throw these looney tunes off the Mother ship and Leave Them behind dang it. Just me LBJ (Little Baby Jesus) and some red hot smokin ladies with Lynyrd Skynrd – that's All – no pedophile priests or other weirdo's

    May 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Baranga the Great

    We're still paying attention to this guy? First-responder rescue workers are getting struck by lightening trying to save victims buried in rubble in Joplin, Missouri, and this guy gets onto CNN's webpage?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  9. Hank

    Does any of this really need to be reported? Too many people are selectively listening to people who frankly are not contributing to the welfare of our society. Be done with them please and don't rehash the same news in October when the end still doesn't come for Camping. Shades here of the crazy, notoriety seeking preacher in Florida who caused the death of innocent NATO personnel by burning the Koran. Without publicity, that burning would have been a non-event no one knew about and that preacher would have fallen into oblivion as he should have. And no one might have died needlessly.. Or with Camping people might not have felt a need to impoverish themselves and ultimately likely have the rest of us step in to help them.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Gary

      Actually, I think this story does need to be reported, for one simple reason: Those who choose to follow this "can of nuts" may in the end decide to "leave" this Earth life early either because he tells them to or because their belief in him causes them to want to cross the river styx....as it were. In its own small way, broadcasting this story of a severely demented dude may help cleanse the gene pool a small bit thus making life better for everyone else.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  10. Believer

    Only a imbecil will follow a decrepit such this. He should stop this nonsense.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  11. Chuck

    Religion does nothing other than to keep people ignorant and discourage them from questioning the foundations of their beliefs. It brings the human race back to the middle ages and keeps us from advancing through science. Many wars in history have been and are being fought due to religious intolerance (including the current wars in Iraq / Afghanistan) . Although we are supposedly over there to fight terrorism (it's really for resources) , it's being fueled by religious hatred and intolerance.

    Christianity is based upon old Egyptian religion. Even many of the symbols are based upon Egyptian symbols. The Christ story is based upon astrological observations the Egyptians made about the sun's movements against the horizon in relation to the constellations. It's an old story that's been told numerous times in history. They noticed that the sun would stop going south along the horizon on Dec. 22nd, hold position for 3 days and then "rise again" toward the north by 1° on Dec 25th. Hence we have the "sun god" Jesus dieing , being dead for 3 days and being resurrected on the 3rd day. The sun going north by 1° signaled spring was coming and "life" would be resurrected again.

    Jesus' 12 disciples are based upon the sun's movement throughout the year among the 12 constellations. Each disciple represents a constellation.

    The "end of the world" as this misguided preacher is using to take advantage of his people, is really stated in the bible as the END OF THE AGE.. Each age represents the constellation that the sun rises on Dec 25th. Our current age is the age of Pisces (Hence the Jesus Fish you see, it is the symbol for Pisces). Eventually, the end of the AGE will occur when the sun moves into the constellation Aquarius. Then a new "sun god" would take his place.

    These are all Egyptian stories that were incorporated into our current religion Christianity.

    It's all a story people.. . wake up!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  12. SS

    May be Camping believes he may not survive that long and therefore he does not care a damn!!!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  13. stonedwhitetrash

    As anArchist I am so disappointed that we are not going to have five months of turmoil before the end i was looking forward to it.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  14. Maria

    The world will be ending soon for him, and he is having a hard time understanding that it WILL go on without him.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  15. S.O.D,

    Just another example of how well known it is that Christians have poor math skills

    May 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  16. Reminds me of Sarah Palin

    Just in it for the money. Other people's money that is.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  17. Lauren G

    –Anyone who for one moment takes this nonsense seriously, you need help! This guy is a nut job and all of his followers are the same. The world is not going to end in October, 2011 and not on December 12, 2012. The whole rapture thing is complete and utter idiocy.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  18. Chosen

    Well, Jesus did come ... we did leave.
    He just wasn't on the list. Sorry.
    Heaven Rocks! Free Wi-Fi, HBO, and lots of cheetos!!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  19. Kerry Berger

    Why doesn't this guy just admit he's a charlatan, apologize, refund money to his followers before he ends up getting accused of fraud.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  20. Butch stewart

    I think it blasfamy to try to predict the end time as God says no one will know the time, not even Jesus or the angels. Why would one dare to prove God wrong by predicting something God has said is unpredictable? Sounds like the same pride that turned lucifer from worship/ obeying God? Maybe?

    May 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Paul

      Butch, i believe you just hit the 'ol preverbial nail on the head. I would agree, it's pretty idiotic to declare you know the mind of the creator and yes, in my opinion blasphemy. although, God will always use things like this .....perhaps it's got a lot of people thinking about what will happen the day their life in this world ends????

      May 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • logicnrsn

      God didn't say anything of the sort. You're refering to the works of prehistoric story tellers that were later revised by midevil leaders to get the stupids to do what they want. Also, imiginary friends dont actually say things.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:49 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.