Believers waited and waited for May 21, 2011, Judgment Day. Some said goodbye to their children; others maxed out their credit cards. Listening to the advice of radio host and preacher Harold Camping, they prepared for the day there would be a rapture and the believers would go to heaven, and the rest would be left to be killed off by natural disasters.
Saturday came and went. No rapture.
Now, Camping says he got it — slightly — wrong. In a 90-minute speech broadcast from Oakland, Calif. on Monday, Camping said May 21 was actually "an invisible judgment day" in which a spiritual judgment took place. The real apocalypse will be five months later, on October 21.
"We've always said May 21 was the day, but we didn't understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said, according to the Associated Press. "May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."
This is the second time Camping has gotten the apocalypse wrong. He initially said the end of the world would come in 1994. When the date came and went, he said he made a mathematical error.
Camping's Family Radio network spent millions to promote his prediction of May 21 through billboards and other outreach, the New York Times reports. He said during his speech he would not return the money, mostly donated by followers to spread the message about May 21.
“We’re not at the end,” he said. “Why would we return it?”
Most Christians disagree with Camping and reject the idea that someone can decipher or predict when Jesus will or might return to the Earth.