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. Mr. Honest

    UPDATE: Navy Seals have located Camping in a compound in Pakistan.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  2. buckup

    multiply himself by zero would be dead on.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  3. Beam

    Hate to sound mean here, but I think its time for the nursing home for Camping...I mean honestly..none of this stuff he is saying is in the bible at all. In fact it says the opposite..no one knows the day or hour of Christ's return. And he had to know his followers were spending all their money on this too! I hope they sue him (if he is even of sound mind). Which I don't think he is frankly...either that or he is reading different bible then the rest of us have...

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

    Shame on CNN for continuing to give this idiot any coverage.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  5. Iwontlietoyou

    honestly, this guy is old as hell, he is going to die anyways. He's going to be wrong every single time. He is not God and only God knows when this day will be, even the angels do not know this day. I am not saying I am right about everything, but this guy is getting all this media attention only to make a fool of himself and scaring people for no reason. There's more important stuff going on out there then to put him and his lies and how many ever times he was wrong about the apocalypse on CNN. Give me something worth to read about then this old fool.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  6. BigMac

    LoL LoL LoL..... So much for the world ending. Fail preacher.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  7. Joe

    If you go to his webpage, wecanknow dot com, he takes several bible verses totally out of context in making up the excuse that we should know the date. I feel sorry for people who follow him. The bible also tells us to examine the words ourselves and make wise decisions. Just blindly following some seudo prophet is just what the Bible warns us not to!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  8. Kim B

    Awesome...October 21st is my birthday. I'm thinking I will party hard on the 20th, since I will be in hell on the 21st anyway. Might as well be hungover too!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  9. John Dunn

    The guy is nothing more than a con-man. He would not know God if he stood in front of this fool.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  10. gary

    Camper is a psycho, a charlatan, a cheat, a liar and a fraud ... to his followers; "A sucker is born every minutes".

    May 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Curious Cat

    There's one born every minute and somebody to take advantage of them.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  12. wimanf


    Mark 13:32 (New Living Translation)

    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 2:29 pm |
    • Bruce

      I just called Camping and read him that verse you just quoted. He said it was the first time he had ever heard of it, and then immediately recanted all of his predictions. Yay!

      Who thought it would be that easy?

      May 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Mr. Honest

    I don't know why this clown gets one more minute of air time or concern from anyone. Let this liar rot away and I feel badly for those he duped, but then again, one cannot be taken advantage of without giving consent in one way or another.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  14. Horus

    The earth will likely end in a fiery fury, long after our species has been extinct, when the sun reaches a mass sufficient to generate enough gravitational pull to suck the earth in. At that point, the earth will, quite literally, meet it's maker....the Sun. Unless of course a few astroids between Jupiter and Mars happen to break Jupiter's field, head for the Sun, and collide with the earth. Both of these scenarios are matters of physics, not divine intervention. And both are far more rational, and likely then any rapture. Science has proven the stuff we are made of are the elements created by stars, like our Sun. So in a way, it is our creator, not some cultural construction rooted in thousands of years of man's quest for an answer to our unique "awareness"...or lack there of in some cases. Embrace life here, now...stop worrying about fantasy land.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • wsome001

      Ummm, you will never read this, but oh well. I can't hear bad science and not reply.

      Firstly, the sun is NOT gaining mass. The sun is a large fusion reactor, and expells mass by converting it into light, x-rays, infrared, etc... How much mass does it lose? E=mc^2. That much for every fusion reaction that takes place.

      Secondly, it is not gaining gravity. The death of the sun will occur as follows: The sun's medium amount of mass dictates the following – First, the fusion reactions will consume a large amount of the sun's mass, and gravity will decrease somewhat. The outward pressure of fusion burning will overtake the force of gravity, and the sun will expand dramatically and cool down. In that process, it will expand beyond earth's radius, and consume the earth in a fiery ball. (You got that part correct.) Eventually, though, it will cool and expand enough that fusion will slow down, and the gravity of the remaining mass will overtake the fusion pressure, and the sun will collapse into a smaller, hot, but non burning dwarf star.

      As for Camping. He is clearly more intelligent than most of us, because he is a multi-millionaire, and most of us are not.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  15. Mark

    http://www.wecanknow.com This is the website where you can see a video of Camping explain how we can know when the end will come. LOL I mean the guy is a fruit loop! I lierally got nothing out of what he said and he never bothered to explain his mathmatical calculations as to how he got to October 21st 2011

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

      (5 x 10 x 17)^2 = 722,500, therefore May 11, 2011.

      There you go.

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

      Bruce is correct except that points us to July 4th which is when the real fireworks will start!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Mark

      That doesnt tell me where the man got his info from! Where did he calculate this info from the bible?

      May 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Bruce

      It's just strange. He goes through a pretty decent, somewhat clever, exegesis of selected scriptures to show a reasonable doubt to those who claim we cannot know, leaving a strong possibility that scripture supports the idea that we may be able to know, and moreover that God plans to warn us before it happens (but God didn't warn us 1978 years ago when Jesus was here because it was too far into the future so that explains Matthew 24:36).

      Then he drops the arithmetic which seems divorced entirely from everything else, some numerological "trick" (actually it's too absurd to be a trick) that apparently tells us how many days there are between the death of Jesus and the beginning of the end of the world.

      My guess is that he needed a specific date in order to proclaim his predictions with a kind of authority and confidence and bravado that demanded our attention, so how he got there really doesn't matter. He had, I think, this whole "spiritual" versus "physical" distinction planned from the get-go, and is only now claiming that he was "mistaken" by the image of an earthquake.

      This guy is not as crazy as people think he is. He's playing us all like a well-tuned fiddle.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  16. Diogonese

    Perhaps we should pause before showering ridicule on Rev. Harold Camping’s doomsday prediction. Was not ridicule heaped on Jonah and Noah, too? Doomsday indeed did befall untold innocents on May 21: victims of war and prejudice, aborted children, alcohol and drug abusers, and the list goes on and on. Take a moment to reframe Camping’s message. It points us to a loving and merciful God who only wants the best for us. Maybe our failings and inhumanity are in fact the pending doomsday. Just maybe, we should be thankful that someone had the foresight, compassion and ability to remind us.

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

      That's not what he meant and you know it. The guy is a huckster and a fraud. He scared innocent and naive people and took lots of money from them – not to help those who you refer to, but himself.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Mr. Honest

      Thanks for the lulz!

      May 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • cvd1230

      This man stole money and duped people out of their life's savings, their homes, and his followers for over 100 million dollars. That is not an attribute of a Christian. The right thing to do would be to give it back to those who gave him everything only to be fooled by a liar. He knows exactly what he is doing and is unapologetic. Like many high profile evangelicals, his God is money.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Mark

      The difference is Noah preached up until the flood.........he wasnt given a date like Camping here...He didnt calculate anything from the bible to arrive at his flood. Camping is giving dates and making himself a prophet of God, so its no wonder why people are mocking him. A true Prophet comes in the name of God and all of his prophecies come true....So form the first predictionon this man has proven he is not from God.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • JT

      And you're as crazy as your fellow Christian nuts with whom you disagree.

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

      Yes, ridicule was brought on two imaginary people, who conducted feats beyond the realm of even today's technology...yes, I know it's because God was involved...right...Science, and many "mythbuster" types have proven the impossibility of the Ark. And if you believe the other fish story, well, I've got a bridge for sale...

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

      Nice. What he did was embarrass the entire Christian faith in the most public way possible. The damage that he has done to the reputation of Christianity is not a mortal blow, but a heavy slap nonetheless.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  17. cvd1230

    Just don't give this guy your money this time around. He makes Christianity laughable. He is an embarrassment. He teaches Campingism, not Christianity. Christ taught people how to live their lives in love and service to one's fellow man and woman. He did not teach fear and he certainly didn't dupe people out of 100 million dollars.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  18. Camping is a False Teacher

    The only rapture that has occurred is that of Mr. Harold Camping's "BRAIN"... and it occurred long before May 21st, 2011

    May 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  19. rj

    CNN's studio camera operator needs to lay off the juice!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  20. Bruce

    It's amusing how many Christians in these comments are absolutely convinced that neither Camping nor any of his followers have ever considered the implications of verses like Matthew 24:36.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • JT

      Yes, it's the same mantra over and over. But...that's the nature of the Christian, spew bible verses as if it were fact and assume no one's before heard these bronze age interrpreted texts written by sheep herders.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:44 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.