Radio Host: 'New Judgement Day October 21, 2011' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Radio Host: 'New Judgement Day October 21, 2011'

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — California preacher Howard Camping says his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on Oct. 21.

The independent Christian radio host said Monday the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted.

Camping, 89-year-old retired civil engineer, says he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true on Saturday that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.

Rather than give his normal daily broadcast, Camping made a special statement before the press at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire that has broadcast his message.

His earlier apocalyptic prediction in 1994 also was a bust, but he said it didn't happen because of a mathematical error.

Camping told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday he was "flabbergasted" his latest doomsday prophecy did not come true.

Gunther Von Harringa, who heads a religious organization that produces content for Camping's media enterprise, said he was "very surprised" the Rapture did not happen as predicted, but said he and other believers were in good spirits.

"We're still searching the Scriptures to understand why it did not happen," said Von Harringa, president of Bible Ministries International, which he operates from his home in Delaware, Ohio. "It's just a matter of OK, Lord, where do we go from here?"

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically — even within faith traditions — about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus' return can be predicted.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels about the end times, recently called Camping's prediction "not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!" He cited the bible verse Matthew 24:36, 'but about that day or hour no one knows" except God.

"While it may be in the near future, many signs of our times certainly indicate so, but anyone who thinks they 'know' the day and the hour is flat out wrong," LaHaye wrote on his Web site, leftbehind.com.

Signs of disappointment were evident online, where groups that had confidently predicted the Rapture — and, in some cases, had spent money to help spread the word through advertisements — took tentative steps to re-establish Internet presences in the face of widespread mockery.

The Linwood, Penn.-based group eBible Fellowship still has a website with images of May 21 billboards all over the world, but its Twitter feed has changed over from the increasingly confident predictions before the date to circumspect Bible verses that seem to speak to the confusion and hurt many members likely feel.

"For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee," the group tweeted on Sunday, quoting the book of Isaiah.

Family Radio spent millions — some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the doomsday message. 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.

Family Radio's special projects coordinator, Michael Garcia has said he believed the delay was God's way of separating true believers from those willing to doubt what he said were clear biblical warnings.

"Maybe this had to happen for there to be a separation between those who have faith and those who don't," he said. "It's highly possible that our Lord is delaying his coming."

___

Associated Press writer Tom Breen in Raleigh, N.C., and Videographer Ted Shaffrey and AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll in New York, contributed to this report.

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