An unapologetic Harold Camping made a new prediction Monday: the rapture is actually on Oct. 21, not May 21 as he originally proclaimed.
Camping offered no sincere apology when he spoke publicly Monday for the first time since his failed May 21 Judgment Day prediction. He insisted that his predictions have been right all along, only that his interpretation was more literal when it should have been spiritual.
Judgment Day on May 21 did come, said Camping. However, he clarified that the Judgment Day arrived in a spiritual sense rather than manifesting physically.
"On May 21, this last weekend, this is where the spiritual aspect of it really comes through. God again brought judgment on the world. We didn’t see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day and it will continue right up until Oct. 21, 2011 and by that time the whole world will be destroyed," he proclaimed.
The president of Family Radio said he agreed to speak because many people have been asking and that he had to "honorably" face that.
"Are you ready to shoot yourself or go on booze trip or whatever?" Camping said of people's questions to him
"I can tell you very candidly that when May 21 came and went, it was a very difficult time for me, a very difficult time. I was wondering, 'What is going on?'" he said, speaking from the organization's headquarters in Oakland, Calif.
The 89-year-old radio broadcaster said he prayed and reviewed the Bible and concluded that he had been looking at the Bible more factually than spiritually.
"The Bible is a very spiritual book. There are a lot of things that are very factual, very factual, of course, but there are a lot of things that are very spiritual. How to know whether to look at it with a spiritual understanding or a factual understanding is hard to know," said Camping.
"The fact is when we look at it more spiritually then we find that He did come."
Camping then firmly stated that Oct. 21, 2011, is still the date of the End of the World.
On May 21, "God brought Judgment Day to the whole world. The whole world is on Judgment Day. It will continue to Oct. 21, 2011 and at that time the whole world will be destroyed."
It was Camping's first official statement to be released post-May 21.
His comments Monday were broadcast live, beginning 8:30 p.m. ET during the Family Radio's "Open Forum" program, by radio through the organization’s FM stations and by television on KFTL Channel 28. Members of the press were allowed to sit inside the Family Radio office and listen as Camping delivered his statement.
During his statement and in the Q&A session with reporters that followed, the soothsayer strongly defended the accuracy of all his previous Judgment Day predictions.
He broke down each of his predictions, saying they were all fulfilled: May 21, 1988, judgment came upon the churches; Sept. 7, 1994, judgment continued on the churches; then on May 21, 2011, judgment came upon the entire world.
"We are not changing the dates at all. We are just looking at it a little more spiritually but it won't be spiritual on Oct. 21 because the Bible teaches the world will be destroyed altogether. But it will be very quick," said Camping.
Camping remained undeterred in his beliefs while speaking to reporters. He admitted that he was "wrong" in his interpretation of the spiritual aspect of May 21 but refused to accept fault for the timeline of his doomsday predictions.
"We have not made a mistake as so far as the timeline, the unfolding," he said.
Camping's latest predictions had resulted in chaos among his followers and others who believed him. Some quit their jobs, others sold all their possessions before the rapture date, and one mother tried to kill her two children.
Despite being asked several times whether he would take responsibility for the incidents that transpired, Camping deflected every time, saying he was just a "humble Bible teacher" who was merely relaying the message found in the Bible.
"I don't have any responsibility. I don't have any responsibility of anybody's life. I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm simply saying, 'This is what the Bible says.'"
Camping also took no responsibility for those who gave up everything based on his predictions.
"We at Family Radio never tell anyone what [to] do with their possessions. That's totally between them and God," he said.
But before Oct. 21, Camping said he will not sell any of his possessions, pointing out that he still needed a place to live and bills to pay until five months from now.
"Whenever Christ comes, whatever I have left, I will just leave it behind," he said. "Until then, I still need to live."
Camping did offer a half-hearted apology, only after being pressed by a reporter.
"If people want me to apologize then I can apologize, yes. I did not have all of that worked out as I wished I had it. But it doesn't bother me at all because I'm not a genius. When I make an error, I say, 'Yes, I was wrong.' I said that already," said the Family Radio president.
Camping said Family Radio, which is listener supported, is still collecting donations and that the organization "can get way more mileage out of a dollar than you ever could for yourself."
He said Family Radio has no intention of returning the money to donors.
"No, that money is still going out. We're still in business. We still have another five months," said Camping.
"Why would we return it? It's been given to get the Gospel out. We're spending it as wisely as possible."
He stressed that he has not received any salary and that they’re not trying to garner anything for themselves. There is no greed at Family Radio, he stated.
“We're spending it as wisely as possible and maybe by Oct. 21 we'll only have $10 left.”
Speaking on the kind of person that will be raptured and ascend to heaven, Camping commented that being a Christian plays no role in salvation.
"It has nothing to do with religion,” he said, noting Hindus and those of other faiths can be raptured. “If God has saved them then they're going to be caught up."
Citing the biblical passage stating "the last shall be first and the first shall be last," Camping said salvation belongs to those whom God has chosen and those who ask mercy from God.
"The last are those who know the least about the Bible. If God has decided to save them ... they don't have to know all about the Bible ... They just have to know God has spoken."
Prior to Monday's address, Camping had refused to grant any interviews to respond to his failed prediction. To the few media outlets that managed to reach him, Camping said very few words and indicated he needed time to think before responding.
On Sunday, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he was "flabbergasted" the Rapture didn't happen. Speaking to International Business Times, which caught him at his Alameda home, Camping called the fallout over the May 21 date a "big, big deal" and something he had to “live with."
Leading up to his Judgment Day date, Camping had boldly predicted that the Rapture would occur at 6 p.m. at May 21, 2011 and that the world would be destroyed five months later on Oct. 21, 2011.
A regular speaker on Family Radio programs, Camping claimed that he had decoded numbers in the Bible to predict the End of Days. Based on his calculations, he concluded that the Rapture would take place 722,500 days after Jesus was crucified on Golgotha.
The co-founder of the Christian radio network with 66 stations across the country also predicted that on May 21 there would be earthquakes around the world and that approximately three percent of the world’s population would be raptured while the rest of the world would endure the tribulation until Oct. 21, when the whole world would be destroyed.