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. Richard in Chattanooga

    The only difference between these kooks and mainstream Christianity is a specific date.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  2. coocooforcocopuffs

    These people should be sterilized so the can't contaminate the rest of the world their brainwashed stupidity. I feel sorry for their friends, families, and especially for the children of those morons who abandoned their responsibilities to run off on some stupid caravan of paraniod fantasies. There is no such thing as Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, or Toot Fairy, and the world is not going to end May 21, 2011. Everybody knows it's goin to end May 22, 2011....

    May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  3. Ezekiel

    Well what can I say? These boneheads got it all wrong! If you read the scripture Ezek 33:9 from right to left like Jews do, the correct date is 11/12/50! You still have almost 40 years to repent! Which by the way is a good idea, I've seen hell! It's WAY TO HOT for me!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • ........

      Just read that scriptue.... Ezekiel 33:9 (King James Version)

      "9Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."

      and in ALLL versions. Never once does it give a date. I believe and I believe one day their will be a rapture. But Where are your numbers coming from? Come one people really?

      May 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  4. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Can't wait for rapture, a whole slew of crazies will be gone...

    May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  5. psiho

    What is interesting is that the vast majority of Christians haven't even read the Bible. And the rest who did it (1%?) ignore completely the facts which don't make sense (90% of the book?). I think the non-believers are more aware of what is written in Bible because these people are fact-checkers. BTW, I read somewhere that the term for non-believers is not atheists or agnostics but "brighters". I am happy to be one of them and enjoy life to its full extend, being a good person because I believe in good things and not because I am afraid of Santa or Superman or Bible.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • MrEee

      It's amusing that some 'Christians' are worried about this group making Christianity look bad. Look, people make people look bad by buying into any of this junk. So it goes. Anyway, if they're giving away their stuff, maybe we can all take it and sell it back to them come the 22nd...

      May 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • jefe

      where do you get your 'facts"? check Gallup poll data, Barna poll data, etc.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm |

    i really dont believe this crap,whoever wrote this has no life,since yall wanna use bible verse read this one matthew 24:36

    36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father.-Get your story straigh !

    May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  7. CrowdedPond

    When I wake up on Saturday, I'll check outside to see if it's raining frogs. Otherwise, I'll walk the dogs.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  8. JC

    Unfortunately, poor economic conditions drive many 'borderline' people to join with these cult groups. It's a lot easier to believe in gloom and doom when you're having a tough time making ends meet. The sad thing is, many of the folks in this sort of cult will bounce from one things to another, their belief system not damaged in the least from an abortive Doom's Day incident. Some people have a personality disorder wherein they feel the need to be on the bottom of the pile, and their families end up paying the price.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  9. Nestor

    Christianity: 2,000 years of "any day now".

    May 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Casey Hokenson


      That statement is so simple but yet so correct. Thanks for the good laugh.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  10. Richard Cheese

    Can you tell these nutjobs to PLEASE drink the Kool-aid and eat the pudding?

    May 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  11. PeterCanuck

    Why would they bother to give away their stuff when they believe it can"t be used after May 21 anyway.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • MrEee

      Maybe they traded their stuff from some T&A before the end...

      May 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  12. Schniggy VonFlugen

    Cool! I can hardly wait. If the big man is ready to call me home, I'm ready any time.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  13. Barry

    Regarding this matter, Jesus said:

    “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,but only the Father.

    As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

    “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

    The Gospel of Matthew

    May 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Eva Lucian

      Hey, really? Make sure you send all your money to Jerry...and the other people who make money for absolutely doing nothing but lying to idiots and children.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • princemwh

      Amen Barry. Thank you for actually quoting the Bible. Makes you wonder how they consider themselves Christians if they don't know the Bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Saved

      Thanks barry I was thinking the same thing and your post saved me from having to look it up and post it myself. Fools will be fools and these people will come up with another day when this one doesnt work out for them. it is kind of comical though to see people acting like fools when the bible says no one will know only GOD.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  14. cpc65

    Big party at their house this Friday night! All are welcome and anything goes!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • CrowdedPond

      Will there be women of loose morals and plenty of intoxicants?

      May 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  15. vince

    Why is it that people try to rule or control other people with fear? Do I have to follow someones religion to be a good person? Am I not capable of being a decent human being if I don't do what "religions" tell me? Play nice with each other children and PLEASE.. start taking better care of your real mother..Earth

    May 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  16. Peter

    is this for real? I knew the end was near, but didn't know the full scope of the exact timing, here is something to make the atheist think, there are built in components that make up the human body, these integrated systems for example control the heart beat, you don't need to slow down or speed up the heart, it does it by itself, even when person is asleep...ok! having said that, when a person sleeps his spirit leaves his body, that explains the dreamworld, one enters into subconsciousness state, ever had a nightmare? tried to get out of it? you WERE SOMEWHERE scary as hell! when a person dies this exact thing happens, exept that they can't come back and inhabit their body, it is decomposing...motto? you think with your spirit, not with your body, because brain cells renew ever so often, and you can remember a smell or taste for 30 years. also ever gone to sleep and dreamed 30 minutes worth of dreams in 2 minutes or less, explanation,?? your spirit is in a faster dimension, time is relative....don't be a moron! you don't go away when you die!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Opwernby

      You're ... not too bright, are you?

      May 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Marco

      I guess I haven't gone anywhere since I haven't had a dream since I was a kid. I dunno why, I just don't dream.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • HAHA

      What the hell man you need to go read some real books and knowlege yourself a little before talking crazy like that what a shame

      May 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  17. Doomed

    Well, this is just lovely - I'm getting married this Saturday at precisely 6 PM (for real). I always thought it might be a cold day in hell when I finally got married, but this???! ; )

    May 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • IceT

      It's my wedding anniversary on Sunday the 22nd ... so I didn't bother getting my wife anything. Wish me luck!

      May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Data1000

      Probabably better move up the wedding to 6 am. Then the whole family will be together for the Rapture. Then again, it would be pretty embarrassing to not be selected in front of all the relatives.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • CrowdedPond

      IceT, you may not be raptured, but a kick to the groin from your angry wife will give you a rupture...

      May 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Marco

      B..B..bb...but...but...but Stephen Hawkings said....ahhh never mind.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Tom Turner

      That's funny! Thanks for a good laugh!

      May 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  18. Vicki

    May 21 at 6 pm in New Zealand will still be May 20 where they are in North America. So, won't they know the day before if the rapture/judgement day is actually happening?

    May 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  19. John Schwendler

    So, let's keep an eye on Australia. If they disappear that day, some 18 hours ahead of us or whatever it is, we'll know we can skip our IRS payments. Otherwise.....

    May 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  20. Riley

    If you really believed the world was coming to an end in a few days, would you really just sit and watch TV waiting for it to happen? There in lies the problem...

    May 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • DB

      Wasn't the Russian's suppose to take over the USA with black helicopters and black tanks with all kinds of soldiers dressed in black when we turned year 2000? Those survivalists looked pretty stupid when then didn't happen. I suspect these idiots will have the same look in their faces when May 22ed rolls around. Seems each generation has the doomsday sayer's which only pray on the stupid and dumb folks. Geesh, I mean come on folks, get a brain. You must all be democrats in that they do not use thier brains either. hahaha

      May 18, 2011 at 6:07 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.