A California religious radio impresario who predicted the end of the world would begin May 21 revised his prophesy on Monday, saying the end is due in October.
Harold Camping, whose Family Radio network paid millions of dollars to promote his prediction, said that Saturday had been “an invisible judgement day” of the spiritual variety, rather than his original vision of earthquakes and other apocalyptic disasters.
In a 90-minute speech, broadcast online and on his stations, Camping, 89, said his company, a nonprofit, would not return money donated by followers to publicize the May 21 prediction. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions —some of it from donations — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 recreational vehicles plastered with the Judgment Day message.
“We’re not at the end,” he said. “Why would we return it?”
Camping said he had no plans to fold his company before his new doomsday date: Oct. 21.
“If it’s the end of the world, God will dissolve it,” he said.
Camping said he felt so terrible when his doomsday message did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.
He apologized for not having the dates “worked out as accurately as I could have.” Through chatting with a friend over what he acknowledged was a very difficult weekend, the light dawned on him that instead of the biblical Rapture in which the faithful would be swept up to the heavens, May 21 had instead been a “spiritual” Judgement Day, which places the entire world under Christ’s judgment, he said.
The globe will be completely destroyed in five months, he said, when the apocalypse comes. But because God’s judgement and salvation were completed on Saturday, there’s no point in continuing to warn people about it, so his network will now just play Christian music and programs until the final end on Oct. 21.
“We’ve always said May 21 was the day, but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning,” he said. “The fact is there is only one kind of people who will ascend into heaven ... if God has saved them they’re going to be caught up.”
It’s not the first time the 89-year-old retired civil engineer has been dismissed by the Christian mainstream and has been forced to explain when his prediction didn’t come to pass. Camping also prophesied the Apocalypse would come in 1994, but said later that didn’t happen then because of a mathematical error.
Monday, rather than give his normal daily broadcast, Camping took questions as a part of his show, Open Forum, which transmits his biblical interpretations via the group’s radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and Web site.
Camping’s hands shook slightly as he pinned his microphone to his lapel, and as he clutched a worn Bible he spoke in a quivery monotone about some listeners’ earthly concerns after giving away possessions in expectation of the Rapture.
Family Radio would never tell anyone what they should do with their belongings, and those who had fewer would cope, Camping said.
“We’re not in the business of financial advice,” he said. “We’re in the business of telling people there’s someone who you can maybe talk to, maybe pray to, and that’s God.”