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. Drabkikker

    Why is that lady yelling so loudly?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  2. Burstbubble

    I confess I only read a couple of sentences. This is way too funny......... This cult is making way to big of a deal of this whole thing... God is about loving others as yourself, it's not about fear. What these people seem to be preaching is FEAR? If so, it isn't of God.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Horus

      Are you incapable of loving others without the injection of a God?

      May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  3. ReligionIs4Dolts

    Just ask George W. Dolt since after all HE had that mainline connection to "god" who "told" him to strike at al-Qaeda and Saddam. Surely if "god" shares doomsday dates, then "his" "servant" Bush would know. Speak up Georgie! What? Don't know? Don't hear from "god" any more now that you're not "President"?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  4. fred

    this is where the wing nut tea party gets its inspiration? What idiots!

    May 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • krow101

      Sarah Palin can see the end of the world from her porch you know.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  5. Steve

    Maybe it happened and he wasn't part of the 2-3% saved.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      2-3%? That much? I thought it was only 144,000.

      May 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  6. Jettle

    Someone who is religious is changing stuff as they go along so they may continue to believe without feeling silly? ...Thats weird!!

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

    maybe this guy should be commited for hearing little voices

    May 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      You mean like George W. Bush did? .. claim to hear voices.... that is

      May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  8. Julie

    In my opinion this is all about getting attention and having people know who he is. Its working. The Bible clearly states no man knows the day nor the hour not even Jesus Christ.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • sbp

      Is that what the Bible says? Good thing, I wasn't sure from the other 100,000 people who posted this. Did you know it also says, "every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings....?"

      May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Antoinette

      Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

      May 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  9. obethetimes

    This man is hurting Christianity.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • drew

      Christianity hurts christianity... its all make believe nonsense

      May 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Jacks

      And Christianity hurts humanity and always has. It causes nothing but conflict, hate, killing, abuse and weak-mindedness. I do not fear death, therefore, I do not need religion. I do my best to be a good person on a daily basis and I do not need a book to tell me how to do that. I am about equal rights and the Bible is not. I could go on and on, but talking to religious people is like talking to a 3-year-od who is POSITIVE that Santa is real.

      May 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mike

      @ Jacks
      " I do my best to be a good person on a daily basis and I do not need a book to tell me how to do that."
      What if your best is not good enough?
      All religions can be good or bad, teaching morals, or killing non believers. All religions teach that you have to do good to get to heaven or at least do more good than bad, so the good is enough to cancel out the bad. Christianity, or one that follows Christ, was never meant to be a religion, but man made it that way. If you follow Christ and His teaching, it is Jesus who gets you to heaven by His sacrifice for man. You can’t be good enough on your own so God made a way and that is what makes true Christianity different from all religions. God gets you to heaven, not you or any other man. Read the words of Jesus in the New Testament and not what you think or what any man might teach you. Blessings, mike

      May 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  10. Someone

    So, whats the over/under on one of his nut job followers taking him out?

    May 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  11. Mark

    so how can a guy predict the end of something maybe he can predict his own demise hahahhaha

    May 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  12. Bruce

    I just called Camping and read him Matthew 24:36 because I read it here in the comments. 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 2:53 pm |
  13. Machiavelli

    http://www.wecanknow.com Harold Campings website. Good humor! Pass it on.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  14. Jacks

    Although I do not believe in this garbage, I have to say, I was quite disappointed that Jesus didn't come and take this jerks away...I mean, imagine how much better traffic would be with all of those people gone?! For 5 months, anyway...

    May 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Mark

    so how rich is this guy i hear he has a fortune and probably lives in a gated community

    May 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  16. anony

    If some of these people actually are going to be applying for jobs again. I wouldn't hire them, maybe they will be smart and not mention as to why they left their old job and why they had no job for 6 months to a year. most of them up and quit at a moments notice to "spread the word of a psycho" I don't need that type of atmosphere and such at my work.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  17. krow101

    Keep dancin' preacher. It's all a crock and you know it.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  18. Mark


    May 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  19. Chuck

    If going to heaven means that I would spend eternity with the likes of this idiot and other right wing nutjobs, I would gladly line up to go to hell for an eternity of torture, as being with them if they even had a voice in heaven would make it like hell only not as much fun.

    May 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Jacks

      Apparently, now they're saying that there is no Hell and that on October 21st the world will just burn up and all of us sinners will just die and our souls will too...which is what I'm expecting after death anyway...Yet another contradiction within the religious community – one of MANY. I'll take nothing over spending eternity with those fools anyday.

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

    maybe this idiot should run for president NOT

    May 24, 2011 at 2:50 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.