Harold Camping, the California preacher who via his multimillion-dollar Christian Family Radio stations had convinced a few thousand followers that the Rapture would happen on May 21, spoke at length for the first time Monday evening since his failed prediction. He spoke on his Open Forum call-in show. It's the same show through which he predicated May 21 Rapture and a later Oct. 21 "end of the world" for the last two years. Read The Huffington Post's updates on his appearance.
Family Radio ads and pre-recorded preaching by Camping is playing.
"Every delay means that more will be brought to salvation," says Camping in one recording, apparently a new one. Old recordings and music had been playing throughout the weekend before today. "Let's hope he comes," he says, referring to Jesus Christ.
"God bless you," he signs off.
Absolutely not, says Camping.
"God says again and again he resists the proud and gives grace to the humble," says Camping, who adds "I am nothing, I am nothing."
He tells the audience to "walk humbly before God" and "give all the credit to God."
A reporter asks him "then why keep predicting the end?"
Camping stops the questions and says he has run out of time.
He thanks the crowd for not asking anything "embarrassing."
Camping declines to offer them help.
He says the country experienced a recession. "Lots of people lost their homes" and jobs. But he says "they survived."
"People cope. People cope," says Camping.
He says job, housing and investment loses during the recent economic decline are far worse than what "the average Family Radio listener" has experienced.
On Saturday, Family Radio spokesman Tom Evans had vaguely indicated the station might give aid to donors who are now without jobs and money.
Camping says "if God has saved them, they will be caught up" to heaven, even "if they are Hinduists [sic]." Camping doesn't believe one has to be a Christian to be saved. "They don't have to know about the Bible, they don't have to know about all the things we learn in the scriptures."
Camping has more to say about this in The Huffington Post's profile of him from last week.
Camping is speaking out against various Christian denominations again, which he believes are corrupted. Mormons are one group that he mentions. He says "what the churches call their Christian religion isn't necessarily from the Bible. Maybe they started, but theologians have twisted it."
"Not one of us has ever gained a chunk of money out of Family Radio. Every nickle has been spent as fairly as possible, as efficiently as possible," says Camping.
He says people are concerned about "greed, greed, greed," but greedy people have been rooted out of his company.
"How much money has Family Radio raised as a result of this campaign and do you intend to return it?" asks a reporter.
"I do not know," says Camping.
Camping says listeners have given because of "their desire to propagate the gospel" and have given to Family Radio "because we can do this more efficiently."
Will he give it back?
"No, that money is still going out...We are not out of business, we've learned that we still have to go another five months," he says.
Earlier, Camping says all billboards and new advertising would stop. It's unclear what donations will be spent on, as Camping has said the donations don't go directly toward the station's operations.
"We are spending it as wisely as possible. Maybe by Oct. 21, we will only have left," he says.
"I thank God for the media," Camping says after being asked about all the attention he has gotten. Camping says he is happy that the media has spread his message.
After being asked again and again if he will apologize for being wrong about May 21, Camping finally does.
"If people want me to apologize, I will apologize...I did not have all that worked out as accurately as I should have had it. That doesn't bother me at all."
Camping reiterates that he still believes Judgment Day came -- just quietly.
"I have never said I'm infallible," says Camping. He says God is never wrong, pointing to "the signs he has given such as gay pride that we are on the threshold of judgment or a fantastic increase in wickedness."
"There isn't any student of the Bible who can't say 'You know, I have made a mistake.'
Ads for Family Radio play as well as trumpet music. A voice says to call 1-800-322-5385 to ask Camping questions, but there have been no phone calls yet, only live questions.
Reporter, speaking of a May 21 follower: "How do you feel about this woman who tried to take her life and her own daughters' life?"
Camping hears incorrectly and thinks that somebody committed suicide.
Camping: "She attempted to? Oh my that makes me feel better because death is terrible. It's contrary to all that the Bible teaches."
Reporter: "Do you take any responsibility for that?"
Camping says he does "not take responsibility. I don't have spiritual rule of anybody, except my wife," he chuckles. "Because as head of the household I have spiritual rule over my wife."
Reporter, after hearing Camping talk about his studies of the Bible, asks Camping if he is saying that "we as humans are not capable of understanding the Bible?"
"You are correct," says Camping. He starts telling a story from the Bible about Saul.
"We don't always hit the nail on the head the first time," Camping says. He seems to be repeating the same points over again. He believes Judgment Day happened May 21 and was "spiritual," not physical.
Camping is referring to news reporters about public tax statements that say Family Radio is worth tens of millions of dollars.
He says reports that Family Radio has lots of money are inaccurate and says the company uses much of the money to "spread the gospel."
He says he is a "full-time volunteer" and that the station is not trying to make money.
A reporter asks the question and Camping says "I don't know." He says he has "not kept track of that."
Reporters are cutting each other off to ask Camping questions. It sounds as if there is a sizable crowd at Family Radio.
Most questions seem to be from reporters instead of calls from listeners, which is the usual way that the Open Forum radio program on Family Radio runs.
"If we found that we make a mistake, immediately we will correct that, of course," says Camping, but he says he was not incorrect his in math, just his interpretation about how May 21 would play out. He calls the day "an invisible Judgment."
"The timing, the structures, the proofs, none of that has changed at all," says Camping.
He is sticking to the numerology he used to determine the May 21 and Oct. 21 dates.
"All I am is a humble teacher. I search the Bible. I search the Bible," he says.
"It is true that a few people have" quit jobs or depleted life savings to donate to Family Radio or spread his Judgment Day message, Camping says, but he says he never told people to do that.
"There are people who for example that have given up their jobs...to work for Family Radio, given their time, and they do because they love the Lord."
A reporter at the Family Radio station: "On Oct. 21, will you give away all your worldly possessions?"
Camping: "I still have to live in my house...I still have to pay my bills...I still have to live until the end. The end is five months away."
Reporter: "How about on the day before, the 20th?"
Camping: "What would be the value of that?...If it's Judgment Day, it's the end of the world."
Camping is talking about Greek and Hebrew Bibles, referring to an unnamed 35-volume set that he refers to to analyze the Bible and do his Biblical numerology. He says certain Greek and Hebrew words can have many meanings each. He's referring to his belief that most modern Bible translations have been corrupted.
"Our task is done," says Camping. "The whole business of Judgment Day and all the terrible things we have been saying in the past will all be gone." Family Radio will return to gospel music and Bible readings as programming, he says.
"It won't be a five-month terrible difficulty...that we have learned," said Camping. Instead, he says, the world will end quickly on Oct. 21 without any build up.
Camping says there will be no more billboards or street preaching, but the world is still ending Oct. 21.
"On May 21 this last weekend...God again brought Judgment on the world...We didn't feel any difference," he says, "but we know that God brought Judgment" on the world. "The whole world is under Judgment."
"Harold!" a man says. Camping seems to have forgotten he was on air. "Okay, I want to go on with this monologue," Camping responds after a quick delay.
Camping is taking a break while organ music plays in the background.
Without apology or elaboration to his followers about last week's incorrect prediction, Camping continues going over dates he deems important in church history. The next year he points out is 1994, which is the year he had previously predicted would bring the world's end.
"It is true, there was judgment in a terrible way and there was salvation in a wonderful way. The salvation came because in the previous 2,300 days...virtually no one could be saved in the entire world. We didn't even know how bad it was. Family Radio was broadcasting in those days and we had no idea what was really going," he says.
Camping clarifies that this "judgment" in 1994 was "spiritual, not physical," and says Jesus Christ did not arrive on Earth.
"Now this last few days has been a learning program believe you me. Actually there are four days that are very crucial at this point in time. We have talked about all four of these days in the past and we are not making any changes in these four days except for in the emphasis...The first part the end of the world began on May 21, 1988," he says.
Camping is referring to his belief that churches have been corrupt since that date and have been invaded by Satan by the gay rights movement and growing denominational differences.
Camping is now repeating some of his beliefs, such that there is "no eternal hell" and that churches are corrupted. These are beliefs that led many of his followers to leave mainstream Christianity.
"Every congregation had a plan where they would show people how to become saved. You have to accept Christ, you have to do this, you have to do that. You know, if you join our church and follow all that we are doing, you can know you are a saved person and when you die, you are going to go to heaven. It really was a terrific club the churches could use to bring people into their congregation," says Camping.
Camping quotes a listener who had written him a letter at an unspecified time. The listener wrote he believes that "the great earthquake and the universe melting in fervent heat will all happen on the last day, Oct. 21, 2011."
The preacher says that Family Radio will investigate that prediction, but admits "we have been saying it was going to happen on May 21" and that "the great earthquake didn't happen on May 21 because no one would be able to survive it for a few days or let alone five months to suffer God's wrath."