When Harold Camping concluded his call-in talk show “Open Forum” on Thursday, May 19, 2011, he said goodbye to his listeners as he anticipated that he would be whisked away in the Rapture on Saturday, May 21.
On the program he said that he planned to spend Friday and Saturday with his family as he awaited Judgment Day. He said that he would be doing a lot of praying and pointed out, “I cannot make anybody become a true believer.” As he wrapped up the broadcast, he said, “I’m going to bid you goodnight…[and] thank you for your patience with me…may God truly bless you with eternal life. Good night.”
Camping obviously had no idea that he would soon be back on Open Forum, addressing not only his followers, but also legions of curious on-lookers who have been eagerly anticipating how he would explain away the non-events of May 21.
As recently as May 17, Camping spoke with assurance about May 21, stating on Open Forum that, “it is absolutely…going to be May 21…the Bible guarantees it.” On May 18 he said that he knew “without a shadow of a doubt” that Judgment Day would be on May 21.
So, it was amazing to hear Camping this evening expressing his thoughts about the Judgment Day that didn’t happen on Saturday, May 21, 2011.
In his opening statements on Open Forum tonight, he told listeners that it would be a different type of show. He had invited the media to Family Radio headquarters in order to ask questions about the failed Rapture. Instead of doing a normal call-in show (which he plans to resume tomorrow night), he spoke to the media, then opened the floor for questions.
As he spoke to the assembled reporters and listeners on his Open Forum show tonight, he stated that it had been a “very interesting weekend” since “May 21…came [and]…all the dire predictions..did not come to pass.” He joked that he’d been asked what his response was to May 21, mentioned that he’d had questions as to whether or not he was going to “shoot yourself” or had gone on a “booze trip.” He then shared that, “When May 21 came and went it was a very difficult time for me. I was truly wondering, what is going on.” He stated that he looked back through the “proofs” and “signs” and prayed. He also acknowledged that the pressure got to him and that he and his wife spent a night in a motel this weekend to escape all of the media calls.
He said that during that time he came to the realization that Judgment Day on May 21 was actually spiritual, rather than physical. He said, “The fact is, when we look at it spiritually, we find that he did come.”
As he has previously stated, Camping again said that the end of the world will come on October 21, 2011. Although Camping all along has said that he is taking the Bible literally, he acknowledged that a letter from a listener caused him to realize that God may be sparing humankind by not causing 5 months of pain and suffering between May 21 and October 21. Instead, he’s now guessing that the large rolling earthquake will take place on October 21, 2011.
He argued that on May 21, 2011 “God again brought Judgment on the world” and although “We didn’t see any difference in the world,” it happened and “It will continue right up until October 21, 2011 and at that time the whole world will be destroyed.”
Camping said that from this point on, Family Radio will no longer be advertising Judgment Day. He said that they will take down the Judgment Day billboards and will stop distributing Judgment Day literature. He said, “The world has been warned. We did our little share.” Camping added that Family Radio will be airing music and educational programming emphasizing, “how to live a life that is faithful to the word.”
When probed by a reporter about Camping’s mistake in predicting the events of May 21, Camping stated, “I’m not infallible.” He added that “if people want me to apologize, I can apologize yes” and said, “I’m not a genius.” Yet the only mistake that he acknowledged is that Judgment Day on May 21, 2011 was ” to be understood spiritually, not physically.”
As the 90 minute session drew to a close, Camping also emphasized the important role that the media has played in communicating Judgment Day, saying, “I thank God for the media.”