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. kellygirl

    And how much more can he get in contributions between now and October? Hmmmm. As long as he has people that will follow and give money, he will continue to throw out dates. Probably picks them by throwing a dart at the calendar.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  2. Religion is stupid

    The world will end in a few billion years when the sun absorbs Earth. You religious nuts constantly predicting the end will be tomorrow give us atheists endless entertainment with this scientific fact in mind. Of course humanity could end long before hand, either dying off or evolving into something else first, but the world will be around for a very, very long time.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Nightwyn

      Unless we get hit by a rock from outer space, or have a Nuclear war, or some wacked person get a hold of a virus from the CDC, or pollution kills the ozone layer, or population increases the demand of food to the point it can not be supplied reasonably........ *sigh*

      May 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Nightwyn

      You know this is a pointless to debate, with as many people wanting to kill others off, the population of psycho's the chances of the world ending are quite good, the planet itself can be destroyed if the nukes hit the right fault lines.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Yea, we could elect Sarah Palin and end the world within the next decade. If this moron could 80 million from other religious morons, than Sarah Palin could certainly get more from some of the same morons....

      May 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Loki

      Nightwyn: You mean, the all loving God would let you suffer and not do a thing about it?

      May 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Nightwyn

      The all Loving God..... When humans decided they didn't need God or there wasn't a God or he wasn't God, I believe he said "Ok try it without me for awhile." Kind of like when you get to be 18 and decide your parents are stupid, its not that they don't love you, they just realize your not going to do it anyway, so let you learn it by yourself.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • NC

      Totally agree.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • NC

      I meant totally agree with "religion is stupid"'s comment..

      May 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  3. Michael

    None of you fools is going to get to ride on the mothership with me and little baby jesus without ponying up a few bills. If you want us to beam you up to the Mothership then send money to:
    LBJ Mothership
    PO Box 3421
    Suckerville, Florida 34231

    May 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Satan

      Awesome post Michael.


      May 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Chicken Little

      Loved seeing you in your cute red suit and awesome pointy ears on SNL two weeks ago. Missed the pitch fork, though.
      Interesting that a spirit in hell, with no fingers, can type, and log onto CNN.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  4. Maria

    Remember the Tower of Babel parable? Why do some human beings seem to think that they can or should know more about 'God's plan'? If you believe in God, then you must believe that He is the one in charge. Only He knows when judgment day will come. And therefore it is blasphemous and egotistical to think that you have 'cracked a code' like it's some kind of puzzle. So, to quit your jobs and sell your homes and follow this KOOK, says that you really don't have faith in the Lord. Because I seriously doubt that's what He wants people to do. If you believe, you know He put us here for a reason. We are not supposed to know when the 'end of days' is coming!!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  5. shawn


    May 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  6. NN

    This is just getting ridiculous, how many times is this guy gonna predict an end to the world, i hope his crazy old ass ends up in hell where he belongs for continuing to spread all this nonsense to people.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  7. Geno L.

    OH MY GOD!!!!! Will this old man just shut up? You know he is 89 and what do you do with an 89 year old man that rambles on and on? We put them into to homes where they can get the help they need. Like medicines and someone to watch over them and tell the people around them that he is losing his mind. Does anyone know of someone that could you that kind of help? Well I do and it is this old guy that rambles on about the end of the world.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  8. John

    This guy is a piece of work and a piece of crap. He should be in a class action lawsuit for leading people stupid as they were astray. Typical garbage talk."it's absolutely certain". "well I was only off on the timing not the structure" What a friggin idiot. Anyone of his followers who continues to listen to this fool deserves what they get. Cnn stop giving him any air time or news at all please!

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

      that is true....but if we can find out who really believes him. We can put those people in to the looney bin haha

      May 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      If I didn't know better, I'd say you were posting about Rush Limbaugh... (or were you?)

      May 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  9. tdr

    Pay not attention to the man behind the curtain... What a joke.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  10. briguy

    Anyone that has given this dink any money in the past and that will give him money in the future well your world should come to an end as you are the stupidest people on this earth

    May 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  11. Jay Wilson

    Like almost all modern day evangelists, Camping is a charlatan, a senile octogenarian, using a book of pure fiction to predict the end of the world. What is most surprising is the number of people who buy into his moronic predictions.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • briguy

      well put

      May 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  12. Ed

    Why give this idiot news space! Doesn't CNN have more important news to cover instead of the imbecilic rantings of a fringe guru?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  13. AinPa

    Send more money, I have plenty of long-term investments for my non-profit organization

    May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  14. Michael

    Please comment on Michael's posts – they're really cool

    May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  15. Michael

    Take me home sweet little baby Jesus – i can just seee you in your little manger swingin back and forth sucklin on your momma the Virgin mary with little sheeps and goats in the background with little fairy angels circlin around your barn with cute little golden aura's. I hope those dirty pedophile priests stay away from you LBJ (little baby Jesus)

    May 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • whatsthat

      You had better get off whatever your on.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  16. whatsthat

    The man is a fool and anyone who follows him are even bigger fools.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  17. Roland

    He must be having a second childhood sindrum. He said on May 20 he was called Satan.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  18. john

    I think he should be under judgement...by the Internal Revenue Service.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  19. Jammer01

    The world has been warned from the beginning of time that this system will be ending. I state again(and i am not saying people who do or do not follow this human man are anymore stupid then i believing what i studied) that in the bible it states, the end will come as a thief in the night. Also that men were not ment to lead themselves. And we should follow no man but follow god and his teachings. Also that no MAN knows the time of the end. Like i said, this is what i have learned from my study of the bible and this is what I hold my beliefs in.(sorry my spelling and grammer aren't very good. Typing this in a hurry on my break

    May 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • john

      There are many books. You believe what you want, I'll believe what I want, OK?
      Also, your writing skills will improve when you make it to the 4th grade.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Jay Wilson

      You need to spend your break time "thinking" instead of spouting back the religious claptrap your parents indoctrinated you with. The bible is a great literary work...of fiction. Religion is man's greatest weapon in controlling other men. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that humanity would be far better off without it.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • linDa Fox, M.S.

      the anger of some is amazing! I say, if one is Christian, good! 99% that I know are kind, decent, and good people, so what if a few are off track and doing stupid stuff. I thought doing stupid stuff was the norm for most politicians, gov. officials, and other do-gooders who always jump on this bandwagon of anger. I'd rather be a happy Christian than a miserable hate-monger any day. LOL you guys are the funny ones.... big LOL


      May 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  20. Lisa

    What an IDIOT.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:00 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.