Evangelist says Rapture date was off by five months

May 24, 2011

(RNS) Radio evangelist Harold Camping, who predicted the Rapture would
occur on May 21, now says his calculations were off by five months.

The 89-year-old president of the Family Radio network in Oakland,
Calif., said life on Earth will continue until October 21.

"At that time the whole world will be destroyed," Camping said
Monday (May 24) in a broadcast and news conference. "God had not opened
our eyes yet to the fact that May 21 was a spiritual coming, whereas we
had thought that it was a physical coming. But he has come. He has come
in a sense that he now has the world under judgment."

Camping, who erroneously predicted Jesus' return in 1994, had
expected Jesus to return on Saturday, sending some 200 million righteous
souls to heaven and leaving the rest of humanity to suffer months of
tribulation until Oct. 21.

Pressed by reporters, he acknowledged his misinterpretation of the
May date.

"If people want me to apologize, I can apologize," he said.

But he said any error of interpretation did not bother him.

"I'm not a genius," he said. "I pray all the time for wisdom."

His predictions had prompted some supporters to give up their jobs
and donate their savings accounts to his ministry, but they also gave
atheists an excuse to hold parties when his prediction did not come
true.

Prior to May 21, his ministry's website ran warnings that that date
was "Judgment Day" and quoted from the biblical book of Ezekiel: "blow
the trumpet ... warn the people."

By Tuesday, it carried a picture of the globe with the verse from
the Gospel of Mark: "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel unto
every creature."