Harold Camping may have found some way to rationalize to himself why his May 21 rapture prediction did not occur but his followers, presumably now ex-followers, are still finding a way to cope with the failed forecast.
Those who follow the doomsday preaching on Family Radio truly believed that on May 21 they were going to ascend to heaven that day while the unsaved remained on earth until the final destruction of the earth on Oct. 21.
But on May 23, Camping took to the airwaves of Family Radio, where he serves as president, to adjust his prediction. He said he was mistaken that the judgment on May 21 would come in a physical way when it actually came in a spiritual sense.
However, the 89-year-old broadcaster maintained that the end of the world would still occur Oct. 21 and that the five months of predicted suffering would actually be condensed on that eventful doomsday.
But for many of his followers, too little came too late.
In the days leading up to the predicted "Judgment Day," Camping followers took drastic measures to prepare for their rapture. Some quit their jobs. Other sold their possessions to finance billboard campaigns announcing the May 21 date.
And still others, like the caller to Family Radio Monday, have lost something of even greater value: faith.
The unnamed caller told Camping that over the 35 years he has been listening to Camping, he has followed him through two rapture predictions: one in 1994 and the second on May 21, 2011.
But now that Camping has been wrong twice, the Open Forum caller has struggled to keep faith in God.
"I've been studying the Bible with you all those years," said the caller Monday.
"I thought nothing would shake my faith that I would go through all the tribulations and all that. But now that I see that it didn't happen once again, all I look at is disappointment from our Father."
The caller commended Camping for "staying faithful" but expressed his own lack thereof.
"In my case, I don't know what it means to be faithful anymore because I am really disappointed," the caller said in a saddened voice.
"I was one of those 200 million, Mr. Camping, that was praying for that day to come, not only to finally go be with the Father but also to finally see judgment like you said in the Good Book."
Addressing the caller and those who voiced similar concerns, Camping said that while he made a mistake in interpreting May 21 as a physical judgment, God used the faulty prediction to "accomplish his purposes" and "get the Gospel to the whole world." The radio preacher pointed out all the media attention surrounding his prediction that helped inform the world of imminent judgment.
"We were mistaken in looking at it in a physical way when actually we should be looking at it in a spiritual way," Camping reiterated Monday. "[But] God uses that in order to get his work done."
The Open Forum program Monday included a mix of callers, some condemning Camping for his false teachings while others expressed their continued support.
One ex-follower was so upset over Camping's failed prediction that he threatened the doomsday speaker with violence and used profanity to address him.
"You're really pathetic, you know? I wasted all my money because of you. I was putting all my money and my hopes on you," an angry caller told Camping.
"Do you understand? I wish I could see you face to face, I would smack you."
Camping attempted to explain himself but the caller sounded like he had enough.
"Mr. Camping, you always say a lot of (expletive). I lost all my money because of you, you (expletive)," said the caller.
Despite the verbal attack against him, Camping proceeded on with his broadcast, the sound of his voice unaffected.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear your question. We've lost the caller. Shall we take our next call?"
Repeated calls to Family Radio in Oakland, Calif., inquiring about the future of Camping's role at the non-profit have not been returned. Camping receives no salary for his work for the radio network.