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. HAHA

    I cannot believe there are people still believe in this or follow a book that was writtin thousdans of years ago a book claim the earth is flat and its ok for slavery and marry your rapist after they pay the fee, what the hell people wake up and enjoy your life, how is that do you any good when u wake up every day feel like a sinner and desirve to go to hell what a misrable life, then u say Jesuse died for me.. well now did he die for you or traded life on earth for life in heavens which accourding to you its much better, then u say he suffered .... well let me ask you that will you suffer for 3 day to gaurnteed life in heavens forever, of course you would and anyone would, wake up people and get rid of the myth and look forward for a bright future for us and our new generations

    May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Eric

      The Bible actually does not say the earth is flat. In Isiah, it says that the world is a circle (or in three-dimensional terms a sphere). It also says that the heavens were stretched forth by god, which explains why the universe is expanding. I will respect your beliefs as I hope you would respect mine. I just hope you make sure you know what you're talking about first.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • HAHA

      @ Eric
      I actually know what am i talikng about do you?
      Here something for you hopfully it will help
      1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”

      Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ...”

      Psalm 96:10: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable ...”

      Psalm 104:5: “Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.”

      Isaiah 45:18: “...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...”

      May 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • HAHA

      @ Eric
      Oh i forgot there are some more, sorry about that ... Enjoy
      the Earth rests on pillars
      (I Sam. 2:8)
      the earth does not move, But satnd still
      (I Chron. 16:30)
      the Earth has ends and edges
      (Job 37:3)
      the earth has four corners (Isa,. 11:12, Rev. 7:1).

      May 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  2. lucas

    If is true some of the preacherdid not understand the word of God.But if is not true,we will forgive him and ask him to review what God's told and repent

    May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  3. Religious sects

    Where's the Delusion Blog on CNN?!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  4. Brad

    lol @ false prophets

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  5. LMJ

    No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
    Mathew 24:26

    That says it all. Only GOD knows when the world will end. Not even Jesus will know until its time. People should REALLY pay attention to the ENTIRE bible.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • HAHA

      you need to do the same thing because if you pay attention to the ENTIRE Bible you will be an Athiest, good luck

      May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  6. Robert

    I am one to believe, if enough people simply "think" of a thought, collectively, believingly, then that event can actually manifest itself to happen, whether we wish it or not to happen. Sure, there will be millions of us laughing at all the doomsayers, but what if such even does occur because of this collective thought that alters events in our time?

    In anycase, I will lol at those that die on May 21st from irrational behavior that they brought onto themselves. Good riddance, bunch of lunatics on both sides of the fence.

    Oh, I would like to bet the entire world population, $10 that the world will NOT end. Hahaha, I could become a billionaire overnight. WHAT HAVE I GOT TO LOSE?! epic lawl.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  7. anonym

    How do these jesus freaks acquire their beliefs?

    seems like a product of poor education and ignorance .

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  8. Dave

    These people are only marginally less rational than the average Christian.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  9. Canyoneer

    Start at the international date line? Isn't that a rather man-made construct? Why would God start at an arbitrary line drawn on maps by man? And the line is crooked; does this Apocalypse follow the line precisely? Will eastern Siberia be struck, but the Aleutian Islands (west of parts of Siberia, but east of the date line..) only taste the Rapture 24 hours later?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  10. Ironhouse

    I thought it ended in 2000...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  11. charlie

    Rapture huh!? Isn't that what they said about Y2K, The Super Moon and December 21st!? The world is ending and there's nothing you can do about it but all I see is propaganda. And if the end will commence this Saturday will it be Eastern or Pacific Standard Time? Just curios, I want to get my pre Rapture pop corn ready! Fear mongering at it's best. Save yourself all the drama be kind to each other, learn that we are all one and learn to love one another, it's really that simple! Peace and Love! It really is all we've ever needed.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  12. CommonSensePeople

    There are people and there are group of uneducated lemmings. Which one are you??

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  13. Gregory Faith

    I'd like to file a lawsuit against this person for terrorizing my children. They are very upset that they will be dead after being made aware of this nut job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Mike

      How did your children hear about it............your responsible for them?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  14. RCPorter

    Even the bible says no man shall know the time of his demise

    May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  15. Eternal Infidel

    Man, these Jesus peddlers have a real mental issue that they seriously need to address. They're supposed to be reasonable, responsible, productive adults in society. But, instead, they're waving signs and carrying on in public like a bunch of mindless morons. This illustrates the danger of religion: making already weak-minded people completely stupid and useless.

    How many times in history has the human race witnessed the utter futility of charlatans making silly religious predictions? They never come true...not any part of them, and not even accidentally or by simple coincidence. I bet there won't be any noticable earthquakes at all on Saturday, anywhere on the planet.

    Put your bibles and korans away, people - there isn't any useful information or knowledge in them.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Chris Brown

      thier is useful information in the bible and it says people or prophets will decieve many in the end times like we see now, so the bible is very usefull.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  16. Dobro

    Maybe if all these wise guys get raptured away together and out of this common world, there is still a chance for humans to develop into an intelligent species.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  17. Brandon M.

    I feel as if people get too religious and they say, "oh no, the world is going to end, lets praise god and quit our jobs, give up our kids" or whatever the case may be... The world won't end this weekend. Plus, I have been to earthquake research centers and saw all the data. The reserch center shows a 95% chance that an earthquake is going to strike the world in one whole piece. Plus, there are many plates within the earth, and only where the plates meet is where earthquakes happen. So explain to me how an earthquake can reach all the way from Austrilia to Maine, while reaching across India, Spain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Antartica. Face it religious peeps.. It's not happening.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Brandon M.

      sorry it should be is not going to strike instead of is going to strike. sorry for the error

      May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  18. Bruce

    if they are so sure the end is coming then why are they still soliciting donations Do they not have enough money to make it through to Saturday? And what if they are right? Will they say "See? We told you so"

    May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  19. bobby

    on sunday the next morning are they going to church to ask forgivness for spreading false prophet lies

    May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  20. sasquatch

    i wish the staff at CNN would get raptured.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • abcxyz

      What a retarded bunch. They're NOT Christians, what they're professing is not even Biblical. In the Bible it says numerous times that no one knows the day or the hour. These people call themselves Christians, but they possessed by Satan. Even quitting their jobs to tell others before 5/21? hahahahHAHAHAHHAHAHA! Won't they feel like a giant A$$ when Sunday 5/22 rolls around...

      May 18, 2011 at 6:08 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.