May 18th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Tick tock goes the doomsday clock

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - For months they’ve been spreading the word, answering the biblical call of Ezekiel 33 to sound the alarm and warn the people.

Their message, which they say the Bible guarantees, is simple: The end of the world is near.

And now, it’s suddenly really near - so near that if these folks are right, you should probably pass on buying green bananas.

Perhaps you’ve already noticed, what with the billboards and signs dotting the landscape, the pamphlets blowing in the wind and the RVs plastered with Judgment Day warnings weaving through cities. Or maybe, as the birds chirped outside and you sipped your morning coffee, a full-page newspaper ad for the upcoming mass destruction caught your eye.

May 21, 2011, according to loyal listeners of Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting network based in Oakland, California, will mark the Day of Rapture and the start of Judgment Day (which, they say, will last five months). Those who are saved will be taken up to heaven, and those who aren’t will endure unspeakable suffering. Dead bodies will be strewn about as earthquakes ravage the Earth, they say. And come October 21, they’ll tell you, the entire world will be kaput.

It’s the kind of belief that riles up churchgoers who insist no one can know when Judgment Day will come, and the sort that many say does a disservice to Christianity. And it’s the kind of message that delights the types who are planning tongue-in-cheek End of the World parties and are responding to a Facebook invitation to attend a post-rapture looting. Rapture events, including one at a tiki bar in Fort Lauderdale, are being hosted by American Atheists. News outlets, comedians and even Doonesbury can’t seem to resist a good end-of-the-world prophecy.

Billboard battle over Judgment Day

Earlier this year, CNN traveled with a team of believers - all of whom had walked away from friends, families and jobs - as they set out to share this serious message aboard a caravan of Judgment Day RVs. These ambassadors or co-laborers in God’s work, as they see themselves, let us into their world. Along the way we met other supporters, as well as a sea of skeptics, many of them drunken pirates gathered for an annual festival in Florida.

Read about that journey and the roots of this doomsday message

With only days to go, we wanted to know how the ambassadors are feeling now. Are they making special plans and saying goodbyes? Have their convictions stayed strong, or have doubts crept in? Are they at peace, excited or maybe afraid?

“We’ve been a little busy, as you can imagine,” said Fred Store, the team leader on our journey.

Reached at a motor home park in Providence, Rhode Island, Store spoke of the surge of support he’s seen in recent months – the 60 like-minded people (including someone who works for Homeland Security, he boasted) who joined his small crew on the Mall in Washington, and the hundreds who gathered in Times Square in New York.

But at the same time he said resistance from those who don’t believe has grown, too. The more people heard about the May 21 warning, the more they discussed it with their pastors and came prepared to argue.

Learn about doomsdays throughout time

And the media, while they’ve helped spread the message, will be turned away in the coming days. CNN hoped to be with Store and his team on doomsday, but the members said they needed that time to focus on their relationship with God. Perhaps that’s just as well, as an official at Family Radio headquarters pointed out: “What makes you think you’ll be able to get to them? The roads will be a mess," he said, referring to the expected earthquakes. Plus, Store said, even if we got there, there would be no time to edit and publish, so what's the point?

Store’s faith remains unwavering. Come Saturday, he and his team will be in Boston, standing in a spot with heavy foot traffic, passing out their pamphlets – which they call tracts – and doing what they believe God called them to do until the very end.

No longer with the team is Darryl Keitt, who ditched his caravan on May 6. He said his time on the RV was a “gift from God,” but he decided he needed to spend the last couple of weeks focusing on his non-believing family and friends in New Jersey. It was a decision he prayed about for several weeks.

His Elizabeth, New Jersey, apartment is pretty sparse, seeing as he gave away most everything before hitting the road.

“I was able to get my old place back,” he said. “But we only have four days to go, so I don’t need much.”

He’s reaching out to old friends and hoping his family will come around and believe what he says he knows to be true.

“I have not seen any signs that they are believing the message,” he said. “But I can’t read anybody’s heart; only God can. And I’m still praying for them. All I can do is continue to share my convictions.”

Tisan Dawud may not share his older half-brother's beliefs, but he supports the positive nature of what Keitt's doing and is awestruck by his dedication.

"He's trying to spread what he believes is the word of God, and I can't knock him for that," Dawud said Tuesday evening. "I became Muslim when I was very young, and he remained Christian. But I've always had respect for his beliefs, and he always had respect for my beliefs."

And rather than criticize or ridicule his brother, who he said isn't hurting anyone, Dawud wishes people would focus on those who deserve examination and condemnation - those selling drugs, molesting children, raping women or embezzling money, for example.

Keitt spends his days in prayer, reaching out to people on Facebook, listening to Family Radio and walking around his neighborhood in his Judgment Day cap and T-shirt. He ran out of tracts some time ago, and at this point it’s too late to order any more, he said. As for where he’ll be on Saturday: “It’s a good question," and one he's still considering.

He doesn’t like goodbyes, he said, and only told two people in his caravan team of 10 that he was leaving. He gave those two men, one of them Store, a quick hug and that was it.

“Preferably we’ll meet each other again,” Keitt said, “in heaven.”

Dennis Morrell was driving through Jacksonville, Florida, pulling his Judgment Day billboard trailer, when we reached him on his cell phone. He wasn’t part of the caravan of RVs but was among the Floridians who joined in to help Store’s team when they were in the city.

Morell and his wife quit their jobs to focus on warning others, a move that’s left their four kids – ages 17 to 24 – thinking “Mom and Dad are crazy,” he said.

He still hopes God will “open their spiritual eyes,” he said. “But they’re at an age where they love their lives. They don’t want this world to come to an end.”

His faith, though, is as firm as ever, and he wishes others would open their minds and hearts to this possibility.

“Why would you wait to see if this is actually going to happen? You have that option to cry out for mercy,” he said. “I don’t want to die and go to hell. Do you?”

He plans to spend the last days praying, up until the early hours of Saturday - when he’ll both pray and wait for 16 hours.

Why 16 hours? Morrell explained that the massive doomsday earthquake will start at the International Date Line before moving west. New Zealand, he said, will get hit first – at 6 p.m. local time. And then that wave of destruction will roll around the world, wreaking havoc at 6 p.m. in each time zone.

While Morrell expects he’ll reserve Saturday for private time, Benjamin Ramrajie of Ocala, Florida, doesn’t have any special plans.

We met Ramrajie in Tampa after his 7-year-old daughter issued a doomsday warning about how the sun would “turn red like blood.” He stood by and nodded his approval as she spoke about dead bodies and her fears of dying.

“Most of my family doesn’t agree 100 percent, and I don’t blame them because it is far-fetched,” he said. “I strongly believe it’s going to happen. But I just figure I’ll relax, maybe watch TV. If that’s the day we get raptured, great. If not, we’ll move on.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Culture wars • End times

soundoff (6,292 Responses)
  1. Daniel

    Good day for a false flag event.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  2. Beagle

    So we have definitively established that Superman could in fact defeat Spiderman. However, who is more powerful, Superman or Jesus?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Marty

      You and Superman are both going to burn in HELL!

      May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Virtual Banality

      I agree Marty. God would definitely want people like you in Heaven and He would definitely torture Beagle for all time for the crime of having a sense of humor. That is just so evil!

      May 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  3. Sally

    hmmm..until the dolpins leave, I think we are safe. Stupid intergalatic space highway

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  4. Marc Perkel

    When is this blog going to cover the Church of Reality?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  5. jb

    Well, a couple more days.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  6. God

    Don't taze me bro!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  7. Apple


    May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  8. Universal

    Where are these people fabricated?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    So........how are they going to explain what went wrong, when it doesn't happen?

    Humans are so foolish, especially when it comes to religion.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  10. z

    I will be sipping on my margaritas at the beach on May 22, 2011. Please join and keep the lunatics away, maybe the rapture would just take them and leave the world free of some crazies.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  11. DanteX

    "The World Is Going To End On May 21, 2011" – Just Like It Was Supoosed To End 1 A.D. ?

    And 100 A.D. ?

    And 500 A.D. ?

    And 1000 A.D. ?

    And 1500 A.D. ?

    And 2000 A.D. ?

    Right – These People Are IDIOTS And LOSERS.

    And Hopefully THEIR PLACE ON THE PLANET WILL END Come May 21, 2011.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  12. rick


    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  13. Apple Source


    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  14. she79

    can i haz ur stuff?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  15. Matt

    Why is a respectable news outlet like this giving credence to this load of hooey by covering it?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  16. Catholic

    Ok, these so called 'christians' are completely wrong because the bible never says anything about may 21 being judgment day!!!!! First of all the only true religion is Catholicism and second of all why are all those atheist idiots!! They are the ones that are going to be going to the deepest pits of hell when they die!! There is obviously a God there is obviously no such thing as man evolving from monkeys, and our 'greatest scientists' can only explain what happens with matter and mass and eveything else is theory!!! So all you athiest retards, shut up! Oh yeah and you should probably convert before you suffer a most painful death!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • M19

      Catholicism is the only true religion? Ignorant much? New flash: The bible is a work of fiction. It's a collection of STORIES.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • religion unknown

      LOL really??? are you supposed to judge in your religion? "RETARD"? really?

      May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  17. Flora

    I halfway hope for their sakes that Judgement Day does come May 21; otherwise, these people are going to be absolute laughing-stocks (more so than they are now). I don't mind if it does – so far as I'm concerned, I've got all of my spiritual ducks in a row.

    But I highly doubt it will.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  18. SBPHX

    Of course, LeBron leaving wasn't enough..the Cleveland Indians have the best record in baseball and the world ends. I guess it's true, god does hate Cleveland...THE CURSE STRIKES AGAIN!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  19. unowhoitsme

    The bible states in Matt. 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father". So who are you? God? Isn't that blasphemy? You hipocrites...you lead people astray.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  20. ADiff

    Note to 5-21ers: remember, on Sunday God will forgive you your presumptuousness. The rest of us may still think you foolish, however.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • dollar signs

      maybe these people arent crazy and maybe they wont have to explain anything if/when it doesn't happen. maybe there is a bigger plan, are any of them making money off of this, possibly a top few people.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.