May 23, 2011— -- Harold Camping, the radio evangelist who predicted the apocalypse would begin Saturday, May 21, 2011, said today his understanding of God's plan was just a little off.
Speaking outside the headquarters of his media empire near the Oakland, Calif., airport, Camping said his prediction that the Rapture would occur Saturday might have been wrong, but he stands by his prophecy that the world will come to an end as forecast on Oct. 21.
In a rambling discourse to reporters outside his Family Radio International office, Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer, indicated he had misread the signs in predicting that the faithful would be lifted up to Heaven Saturday, leaving sinners to suffer through five months of disasters until the Earth was consumed in a fireball on the End of Days.
God did "bring judgment on the world," on Saturday, he said, but there will not be any terrible buildup to the end. When it comes, it will happen quickly, he said.
"We have to be looking at all of this a little bit more spiritual, but it won't be spiritual on Oct. 21," he said. "Because the Bible clearly teaches that then the world is going to be destroyed altogether."
His radio station will no longer preach about the end of the world, he said, because God's judgment has already come.
On Sunday, after the Rapture failed to occur Saturday as he had predicted, Camping was "mystified" and "a little bewildered," an associate of the California preacher told ABC News.
Tom Evans, a board member of Family Radio International, said Sunday that Camping's wife told him her husband was at their home and had no intention to speak or issue any statement for at least two days.
However, the evangelist did speak on Monday, saying he had been disappointed by the apparent failure of his prophecy, so he and his wife had gone to a hotel room so that he could sort out what had happened without distraction.
"When May 21 came and went, it was a very difficult time for me, a very difficult time," he said. "I really, really was praying and praying and praying, 'Oh Lord, what happened?'"
Camping had pinpointed May 21, at 5:59 p.m. as the exact time the Rapture would occur, when those chosen by God would ascend to heaven while cataclysmic earthquakes would begin to rock earth.
He spread the word on billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.
"I am utterly absolutely, absolutely convinced it's going to happen," Camping said last week.
It is not the first time Camping was mistaken about the end of the world. He once predicted the End of Days to be Sept. 6, 1994, but later said that date was a result of a mathematical error.