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Radio host says Rapture actually coming in October

Harold Camping speaks while holding the Bible, in San Leandro, Calif. (AP-Yonhap News)
Harold Camping speaks while holding the Bible, in San Leandro, Calif. (AP-Yonhap News)

OAKLAND, California (AP) _ California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on Oct. 21.

Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions _ some of it from donations made by followers _ on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

But Camping said that he's now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.

Saturday was ``an invisible judgment day'' in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.

``We've always said May 21 was the day, but we didn't understand altogether the spiritual meaning,'' he said. ``May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment.''

It's not the first time the independent Christian radio host has been forced to explain when his prediction didn't come to pass. He also predicted the Apocalypse would come in 1994, but said it didn't happen then because of a mathematical error.

Rather than give his normal daily broadcast on Monday, Camping made a special statement before the press at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire that has broadcast his message. His show, ``Open Forum,'' has for months headlined his doomsday message via the group's radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website.

When the Rapture didn't arrive Saturday, crestfallen followers began turning their attention to more earthly concerns.

Jeff Hopkins had figured the gas money he spent driving back and forth from Long Island to New York City would be worth it, as long as people could see the ominous sign atop his car warning that the End of the World was nigh.

``I've been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I've been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car,'' said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, New York. ``I was doing what I've been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I've been stymied. It's like getting slapped in the face.''

Camping said Family Radio would never tell anyone what they should do with their possessions.

``That is between them and God,'' he said.

But he said he wouldn't give away all his possessions ahead of Oct 21.

``I still have to live in a house, I still have to drive a car,'' he said. ``What would be the value of that? If it is Judgment Day why would I give it away?''

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.

<한글 요약>

종말론 목사 10월 연기설로 또 망언

5월 21일이 세상이 멸망하는 ‘심판의 날’이라 주장했던 미국 캘리포니아 목사 헤롤드 캠핑은 자신의 예측이 빗나가자 실제 지구 종말은 10월 21일이라고 말했다고 AP 통신이 보도했다.

심판의 날에 지구가 멸망하기 전 약 2억명의 기독교인들이 휴거될 것이라고 예언했던 목사는 그의 예측이 빗나가자 집을 떠나서 모텔에서 부인과 숨어 지냈다고 한다. 그가 창설한 종교단체 ‘패밀리 라디오’는 이번 ‘심판의 날’을 대비하여 수많은 신자들의 기부를 받아 5천 개의 옥외광고판을 설치하고 20개의 레저용 자동차를 구입해 심판의 날 메시지를 붙이고 홍보했다.

그러나 캠핑은 종말이 5개월 후인 5월 21일에 온다고 말하며 이 날짜는 원래 자신이 예측한 날짜라고 주장했다. 그는 전에 10월 21일 세상은 불덩이에 의해 타게 될 것이라고 말한 바 있다.

그는 5월 21일이 바로 그날이라고 알고 있었으나 우리는 심판의 날이 갖는 영적 의미를 미처 깨닫지 못했다고 말하며 지난 21일은 일반사람들 눈에 보이지 않는 ‘영적’ 심판의 날이었다고 말했다.

그러나 대다수의 기독교인들은 여전히 예수님의 재림의 정확한 시간을 예측할 수 있다는 사실을 부정하고 있다.

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