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Judgment Day prophet resets doomsday clock

Rapture now 21 October, insists unapologetic Harold Camping

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California preacher Harold Camping is unrepentant following his second unsuccessful attempt to predict Judgment Day, and now says true believers should pack their bags for ascension to heaven on 21 October.

Camping's first stab at nailing the Rapture advised Christians to get their earthly affairs in order before 6 September 1994. When the world failed to end, due to a "mathematical error", he reset the clock for last Saturday at 6pm EST.

Christians expecting a rapturous elevation to glory were once again left twiddling their thumbs and their Bibles, but Camping now says he simply misinterpreted the word of God and 21 May "was not really the end of the world but the spiritual beginning of the physical end", as the San Francisco Chronicle explains.

The founder of Family Radio said yesterday: "We're not changing a date at all; we're just learning that we have to be a little more spiritual about this. But on October 21, the world will be destroyed. It won't be five months of destruction. It will come at once."

Speaking to reporters at his Oakland HQ, Camping said Family Radio would now drop its high-profile countdown to the Apocalypse, and concentrate on "religious music and God's word". He said: "We don't need to talk about it anymore. The world has been warned – my it has been warned. We have done our share and the media picked it up. The world has been warned that it is under judgment."

The press failed to extract an apology from Camping for the inconvenience his erroneous interpretations had caused, and he merely commented: "I have never, ever told anyone I'm infallible. But God is infallible."

God's infallibility will surely be some comfort to New Yorker Robert Fitzpatrick, who blew most of his $140k life savings on a poster campaign promoting the end of the world, but was left firmly standing in a drizzly Times Square at 6pm on Saturday, with the jeers of tourists rather than a fanfare of celestial trumpets ringing in his ears. ®

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