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. I'm not a ...

    ... crackpot.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  2. concerned_reader88

    Camping needs to be locked up in a loony bin!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  3. Melissa

    Anyone who would believe this idiotic crap needs to be locked in a nuthouse.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  4. Steve T

    There ya go, Christians at their finest – well when they are not out bashing women, gays, children or killing in the name of God...

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  5. Paul

    No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father and Harold Camping.

    – Matthew 24:36
    RHCV (revised Harold Camping version)

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |


      May 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      If the father is the son then how can the father know, yet not the son? Ridiculous... just like Camping.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  6. Harold C.

    Doh!! I forgot to carry the two!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  7. Vicki

    God is "loving and merciful," and had decided not to punish the humanity with five months of destruction.

    So instead of torturing us for five months he is just going to kill us all in October. Doesn't sound very loving and merciful to me.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  8. Bob'sThoughts

    He's made a living by BS-ing people, and he will continue to do so.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Jason

    If this time it doesn't happen on Oct. 21st Then I think that we should give him his wish

    May 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  10. LOLZ

    Best this he could do is STFU. 🙂

    May 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  11. john

    This is the same type of person that supports eliminating gay people and needs marriage ammendants to feel good about themselves, I imagine he is in the Tea Party. I have no respect for people that think they just magically know better than anyone else and should make public policy on individual beliefs. Get a life.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Ex-Teapartyr

      Spot on!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  12. Burger King

    Someone wants another mansion....

    May 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Ex-Teapartyr

      Yea, but a McMansion, not a Burger King mansion!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  13. DTM

    The Bible even states that no one even knows the time when Jesus will return. But I find it interesting that the guy just comes up with a date exactly 5 months later. Why not October 20th? Hes beginning to show that hes just trying to answer something that no one knows but God himself. Its sad to see that people actually follow guys like this and it gives us Christians a bad name.

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

      The supporters of this Apocalyptic scenario believe the Bible,in Revelations,indicates 150 days from the Rapture(Judgement ) and the destruction of the World

      May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • CJ

      they alsp seem to forget that the "rapture" not only does not happen but in not mentioned in any version of the bible, the verse they quote:

      "...and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:15–7)

      can be interperted many different ways none of which related to the modern concept of the rapture...

      May 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  14. purplehaze

    Maybe if people just ignored this clown and stopped interviewing him, he'll stop with this crap, he's just trying to get publicity for his church, and so far, it's working.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  15. LogicSaysSo

    Soo, the big bang theory, and any other scientific explanation to how the universe began (other than religious opinions) aren't as insane as this guy? Comon man.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • CJ

      Wow talk about compairing apples to oranges,...

      May 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Laughing

      Yes, but (and there is a but) unlike a lot of other theories we are able to look backwards in time to almost the second before the supposed big bang, so our inferrence makes a lot more sense and so is a little more believable. You dig?

      May 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • LogicSaysSo

      It's speculation, just like this false guy. There's no difference.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Relictus

      You don't sell your house and quit your job because of the Big Bang theory.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Relictus: You do if your new job is as head writer on the show "The Big Bang Theory," in which case I would probably quit my old job and then sell my house since I'd be moving to California to be closer to my job.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • LogicSaysSo

      Relictus, whats your point? Those people are ill informed and brainwashed.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • CJ

      If you honestly think science is pure speculation then you were sadly never educated enough to understand how science works. Those who think that a scientific theory is the same as a "theory" don't understand the concept of the scientific method. If your not capable of handeling the real truth that analitical science can help provide then maybe its just better for you to get all your knowledge handed down from second hand unqualified person who is in turn just handing down what they have have been told and so on. Have you ever played telephone? Same concept...

      May 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  16. Roger

    After October 21st passes, hell just say... 2012 Duhhh everybody – I was just messin with ya all!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  17. The Leaky Trojan

    I don't understand why the world always has to end. If you are a believer and you believe you will go to heaven then just wait until you die which is a guarantee to happen. I don't understand why people need to pass away to an apocalypse

    May 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @The Leaky Trojan
      You said: "I don't understand why the world always has to end. If you are a believer and you believe you will go to heaven then just wait until you die which is a guarantee to happen. I don't understand why people need to pass away to an apocalypse"

      Death is scary. Being able to just board the old Jesus Express for Heaven is way better. LOL

      Problem with both thoughts, is that they are just fiction. Like all those Spiderman comics I have left over from when I was 12. Jesus is just another THOR! LOL. He is my hero for sure!

      Look Jesus, a sinner! Quick to the JesusMobile! We're going to get the faithful!

      Sit back and enjoy the idiot believers. Like everything untrue, it eventually unravels. Watch how believers quote scripture and act like it really means something... Jesus won't be coming back for them, any better than He did for the doomsdayers.

      Hey anybody remember the Bibleman series staring Willie Aames? LOL.

      I use to watch that with my daughter. She liked it better than Rainbow Brite.


      May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  18. jed

    hmm.. he said that there wasn't even a possibility his math was wrong about the 5/21 date.. this guy is a fraud.. doesn't follow the bible at all like a real preacher does.. he's a false prophet.. please no coverage when october comes.. he is the reason so many people are without jobs and homes now

    May 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Michael

    Pedophile priests are trying to probe me – take me away LBJ (little baby jesus)

    May 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • schmikel

      you are disturbed

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

      Please answer my Buddhist girlfriends request? What is she supposed to make of all of this? She lives in Thailand and thinks Christians are weirdos. I dont blame her anymore.

      Help me by posting a response

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

      @ michael
      As a fellow Buddhist I can say what she can make of this is that these poor indivudals are all suffering because they desire something that no human can have. When they come to terms and realize that what they desire does not exist then they will stop suffering. They could also without giving up their faith, realize that if they simply accept (what they believe to be happening) instead of trying to influence the outcome, then they would desire less and thus would suffer less. Depending on how exactly she walks the eight fold path she may or may not believe in a higher power (ie pure land vrs zen) in either case what we as Buddhists should take from this is a reafirment that desire is the cause of suffering.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  20. William Miller

    He's a day and a few decades off. EoW happened in Oct 22, 1844.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:19 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.