On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

One of the RVs that traveled the country

The Rapture actually did happen May 21, explains doomsday prophet Harold Camping.

We just missed it.

During a rambling 90-minute broadcast on Monday evening, May 23, Camping explained that while May 21’s Judgment Day had slipped by, nobody will miss the total obliteration of the Earth on October 21.

He seemed to contradict himself a number of times during the broadcast, which included a question-and-answer session with reporters in the studio, saying that it is pointless to preach anymore since nobody else can be saved, then later saying that the delay would allow more people to come to Jesus. At one point, he said that Hindus can be saved without becoming Christians.

What did Jesus say about those who predict the day and time of His return?

After his broadcast, “the end is still near,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle, “the date has just been adjusted to Oct. 21.”

One of the thousands of billboards

“We’ve always said May 21 was the day,” Camping told listeners, “but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning. 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.” 

“Camping, the 89-year-old preacher who gained international fame with his prediction that the rapture would come at 6 p.m. Saturday,” reported the Chronicle, “said that he misinterpreted the Bible and that May 21 was not really the end of the world but the spiritual beginning of the physical end.”

“Were not changing a date at all; we’re just learning that we have to be a little more spiritual about this,” Camping said. “But on Oct. 21, the world will be destroyed. It won’t be five months of destruction. It will come at once.”

25 times in the past when Judgment Day prophecies have proven bogus

Camping apologized for not having the dates “worked out as accurately as I could have.”

Nevertheless, he explained that actually, he had been right all along. He explained that instead of the “rapture” in which the faithful are swept up to the heavens, May 21 had instead been a “spiritual” Judgment Day, which places the entire world under Christ’s judgment.

Harold Camping

He didn’t explain exactly what that means. He did say at one point that since there’s no further point in trying to save anybody, his radio network will now just play Christian music and programs until the final end on Oct. 21.

For months, Camping had “absolutely guaranteed” that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven as terrible disasters began to strike the planet on May 21.

Camping offered no details about Family Radio’s finances Monday. He said he could not estimate how much had been spent on getting out his prediction nor how much the nonprofit had made on the event. In 2009, the nonprofit reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.

His rambling broadcast began around 8:30 p.m. Pacific time. Camping started off by telling listeners:

What should we expect from cult leaders such as Camping when their prophecies are proven false?

 “Now this last few days has been a learning program believe you me. Actually there are four days that are very crucial at this point in time. We have talked about all four of these days in the past and we are not making any changes in these four days except for in the emphasis. The first part the end of the world began on May 21, 1988.”

Camping has repeatedly taught that all churches were invaded by Satan on that date as well as by the gay rights movement.

The next important date, he said was September 6, 1994, which he had proclaimed would be Judgment Day with Jesus returning in the sky and the righteous rising to meet Him in the air. Camping proclaimed that he had been right about 1994.

“It is true, there was judgment in a terrible way and there was salvation in a wonderful way. The salvation came because in the previous 2,300 days virtually no one could be saved in the entire world. We didn’t even know how bad it was. Family Radio was broadcasting in those days and we had no idea what was really going.” 

Camping pointed out that this “judgment” in 1994 was “spiritual, not physical.” He admited that Jesus did not arrive on Earth.

So, why did we pay any attention to Camping? CLICK HERE

A camper parked in NYC

The next important date was May 21, he said.

“On May 21 this last weekend, God again brought Judgment on the world. We didn’t feel any difference, but we know that God brought judgment. The whole world is under judgment.”

The fourth important date, he said, is October 21. On that date, the world will end quickly without any build up.

 Then he began to take questions.

“How much has Family Radio spent to publicize May 21?” asked a reporter in the studio.

“I don’t know,” responded Camping. He said he had “not kept track of that.”

 Listeners then could hear reporters jostling to ask the next question, attempting to out-shout each other.

Rather than answer them, Camping quoted an unidentified listener who he said had written him that “the great earthquake and the universe melting in fervent heat will all happen on the last day, Oct. 21, 2011.” Camping said Family Radio will investigate that prediction, but admitted “we have been saying it was going to happen on May 21” and that “the great earthquake didn’t happen on May 21, because no one would be able to survive it for a few days or let alone five months to suffer God’s wrath.”

Camping then began repeating some of his teachings, such that there is “no eternal hell” and that all churches are corrupted.

Camping took a break while organ music played in the background. At 9:01, he was back.  “Harold!” a man in the studio called. There was silence. Camping seemed to have forgotten he was on air. “Okay, I want to go on with this monologue,” Camping responded after a short delay.

“The world has been warned. My, has it been warned!” said Camping, who added that in preparation of the October 21 doomsday, there will be no more billboards or street preaching.

“Our task is done,” explained Camping. “The whole business of Judgment Day and all the terrible things we have been saying in the past will all be gone.”

Because of that, Family Radio will return to gospel music and Bible readings as programming, he said.

An unidentified follower with a flyer

Camping then began referring to Greek and Hebrew texts, mentioning to a 35-volume set that he refers to do his Biblical numerology. He says certain Greek and Hebrew words can have many meanings.

A reporter then asked: “On Oct. 21, will you give away all your worldly possessions?”  

“I still have to live in my house,” responded Camping. “I still have to pay my bills. I still have to live until the end. The end is five months away.” 

Will he give everything away on the day before, the 20th, asked a reporter. Camping replied: “What would be the value of that? If it’s Judgment Day, it’s the end of the world.”

Another reporter asked if Camping will give donors’ money back — or help out those who sold or gave away everything, believing that they would be raptured into heaven on May 21. 

“It is true that a few people,” he responded, “have quit jobs or depleted life savings” to donate to Family Radio or to spread the Judgment Day message. However, Camping said, he never told anybody to do that — they did it on their own.  “There are people who for example that have given up their jobs to work for Family Radio, given their time, and they do because they love the Lord.”

Camping then reiterated that on May 21, Judgment Day actually occurred, but “It was just spiritual.”  

“The timing, the structures, the proofs, none of that has changed at all,” said Camping.  He is sticking to the numerology he used to determine the May 21 and October 21 dates.  “All I am is a humble teacher. I search the Bible. I search the Bible.”

At the Texas State Capitol in Austin

Ordinarily, the questions on his Open Forum program come from telephone callers. However, it sounded as if several reporters were in the studio, all jostling to ask questions. One of them asked whether he erred in his prediction.

“If we found that we make a mistake, immediately we will correct that, of course,” said Camping, but added that he was not incorrect his in math, just in his interpretation about how May 21 would play out.

He repeated that the day was “an invisible Judgment.”

“This business is God’s business. He’s the C.E.O. and I’ve tried to be as faithful as possible,” said Camping in answer to reporters’ questions about public tax statements that say Family Radio is worth somewhere between $73 million and $150 million. Camping responds that any reports that Family Radio has lots of money are inaccurate and says the company uses much of the money to “spread the gospel.” 

He said he is a “full-time volunteer” and that the station is not trying to make money.

A reporter asked him about statements he had made that May 21 would be very physical — and not a “spiritual judgment.”  

“We don’t always hit the nail on the head the first time,” Camping said. He then repeated several points, such as that Judgment Day did happen on May 21 and was “spiritual,” not physical.

Another reporter then asked Camping if he was saying that “we as humans are not capable of understanding the Bible?”  

“You are correct,” says Camping. He started telling a story from the Bible about Saul.

Another reporter, speaking of a disillusioned follower, asked, “How do you feel about this woman who tried to take her life and her own daughters’ life?” 

“She attempted to?” asked Camping. “Oh, my, that makes me feel better because death is terrible. It’s contrary to all that the Bible teaches.” 

“Do you take any responsibility for that?” asked the reporter.

Camping said he does “not take responsibility. I don’t have spiritual rule of anybody, except my wife. Because as head of the household I have spiritual rule over my wife.”

Camping took another break at 9:30 p.m. Ads for Family Radio played as well as trumpet music. A voice said to call a toll-free number to ask Camping questions, but there had yet been no phone calls broadcast, only live questions.

When Camping returned, a reporter asked if he will apologize for being wrong about May 21. 

“I have never said I’m infallible,” responded Camping. He added that God is never wrong, pointing to “the signs He has given such as gay pride that we are on the threshold of judgment or a fantastic increase in wickedness. There isn’t any student of the Bible who can’t say ‘You know, I have made a mistake.'”

After another question about whether he will apologize, Camping answered:

“If people want me to apologize, I will apologize. I did not have all that worked out as accurately as I should have had it. That doesn’t bother me at all.” 

Camping then reiterated that he still believes Judgment Day came — only very quietly.

“I thank God for the media,” Camping said after being asked about all the attention he has gotten. Camping says he is happy that the media has spread his message.

“How much money has Family Radio raised as a result of this campaign and do you intend to return it?” asked a reporter. 

“I do not know,” Camping responded. Listeners have given because of “their desire to propagate the gospel” and have given to Family Radio “because we can do this more efficiently.” 

Will he give it back?  “No, that money is still going out. We are not out of business, we’ve learned that we still have to go another five months.”

Earlier in the broadcast, Camping had said all billboards and new advertising would stop, so it was unclear what donations will be spent on, particularly since Camping has said the donations don’t go directly toward the station’s operations. 

“We are spending it as wisely as possible,” he said. “Maybe by October 21, we will only have $10 left,” he said. 

He then became defensive about his and the radio network’s finances.  

“Not one of us has ever gained a chunk of money out of Family Radio,” he said. “Every nickle has been spent as fairly as possible, as efficiently as possible.

He then said people are concerned about “greed, greed, greed,” but greedy people have been rooted out of his company.

A reporter asked what will become of the “Jews, Hippies and Christians of the World” during the end in October. Camping has used the phrase in the past.

Camping responded “if God has saved them, they will be caught up” to heaven, even “if they are Hinduists.”


“They don’t have to know about the Bible,” said Camping, “they don’t have to know about all the things we learn in the scriptures.”

What about people who depleted their life savings to promote his message of warning.

Camping declined to offer them help.  He says the country has experienced a recession.

“Lots of people lost their homes” and jobs, but “they survived.” 

“People cope. People cope,” said Camping. 

Harold Camping, not looking his best

He added that job, housing and investment loses during the recent economic decline are far worse than what “the average Family Radio listener” has experienced. 

Reporters asked: Has Camping hurt the credibility of Christianity? Why should he keep predicting the end?

“God says again and again he resists the proud and gives grace to the humble,” answered Camping, who added, “I am nothing, I am nothing.” 

He then told the radio audience to “walk humbly before God” and “give all the credit to God.” 

A reporter asked him “then why keep predicting the end?” 

Camping said the radio program had run out of time.  He thanked the crowd for not asking anything “embarrassing.”

Family Radio ads and a pre-recorded sermon by Camping then were broadcast for the rest of the evening.

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