Preacher: I was wrong about the world ending

Harold Camping headshot, as Family Radio Worldwide founder

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - A Northern California preacher who spent millions last year to publicize his message of impending global destruction has for the first time acknowledged his apocalyptic prophecy was wrong.

In a letter posted on his independent ministry's site on Thursday, 90-year-old Harold Camping told his followers he has no evidence the world will end anytime soon, and he isn't interested in considering future dates.

"We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ's return," Camping wrote. "We humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing."

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Camping's Family Radio International continues its broadcasts from the nonprofit's headquarters in a squat building near the Oakland airport. In recent years, the organization spent millions of dollars, some of it from donations made by followers, putting up thousands of billboards plastered with the Judgment Day message.

After global cataclysm didn't occur on May 21 as he had originally forecast, Camping revised his prophecy, saying he had been off by five months.

Followers were crestfallen in May when the Rapture did not occur, particularly those who had quit their jobs or donated some of their retirement savings or college funds for the more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

Camping was later hospitalized after suffering a mild stroke, but continued spreading the word that natural disasters would destroy the globe through his website and his weekly "Open Forum" radio show.

Thursday, Camping alerted his flock that he had stopped looking for new dates, and would concentrate on deepening his faith through rereading the Scriptures.

"God has humbled us through the events of May 21," he wrote. "We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date."