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. Admonition

    Let's all remember when the preacher's in the 1970's 80's and 90's preached that all ga y people are going to be destroyed and just the opposite happened. I mean the H omose xuals and the ga y's all flourished into a mass cacotopia the the Gerent Acculturation's of Yeomen&ette's made G ay parades happen for twenty years and then it went into the legislature for another twenty years. maybe this uprising of ignorant christians is the people who will be avenged for all of that, maybe they're tie kin of all the malice paromologists, etymologist's that recklessly engineered the obloquious zygnomic control that caused all the chaos and malice profiteering from the jacobin private defense contractor manufacturers.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Admonition

      there's a malice cnn moderator that is messing up my messages, or there is something wrong with the comments blog cause it's always doing something weird.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  2. Jack

    Any of you loonies have a BIG screen LED tv i can have ?> Oh and your bank accounts house and money you have since you won;t need it anymore?

    May 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  3. AB

    Can someone call Jesus and ask him to move it to Monday? I'm really looking forward to resting this weekend. If the end of the world is coming might as well be on Monday...

    May 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  4. Colin in Florida

    Can't end on the 21st-Gaga's new album comes out on the 23rd, and I've pre-ordered my copy!

    PS I saw these people shopping at my local Costco a few months ago-a whole caravan. I wonder why saving money was important to them, when they won"t need it after Friday, unless .....

    May 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  5. Bob

    If you have to radically change your life because you think Doomsday is ahead then you are not doing Christianity correctly. Christianity is supposed to be lived as if this is your last moment on this Earth and live in the community your are in, trying to do what God wants you to do. If God wants you to do something else but you are waiting for some "end times" to do it then I say do it now. Tomorrow is just another day that will come and go but tomorrow might not be here for you.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  6. SBPHX

    I need to hit up Scottsdale Fashion Center Sunday to take advantage of the 'end of the world' sale at both Barney's New York and Louis Vuitton..everything you can find in the rubble at an astounding 100% off. From now until October 21st only so HURRY on down to the remnants of old town Scottsdale in what used to be the Valley containing the crater called Phoenix.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  7. Toby

    "Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense." –
    - Chapman Cohen

    May 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  8. icedawg

    According to God's word the day of judgment and justice is approaching. It also says that only God the Father knows when that day or hour is. People's attempts to figure the timing out is mere speculation. It's nice for the media to hype it up because any suggestion of such throws a lot of people into a dither and the media loves to report on people who are dithered. 🙂 Those who are not in a dither look down upon those who are and feel good about themselves for not being that way. But the Bible has this to say to you, 2 Peter 3:2-7 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Jamie

      Deuteronomy 23:1 "No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord."

      May 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  9. Interplexer


    I look at my hand infront of my face, therefore I know it's real, I look into the electron microscope, and I can see tiny particles being affected by yet what seems to be other particles I cannot see. I can infer the existence of something I cannot see.

    Now Try this with religion, sure there are wierd happenings from time to time, but when studied carefully can be explained. For the things that cannot be explained, there is lack of repeatability. Which is very important when trying to prove a theory one way or another.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  10. Toby

    "Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense." – Copy to Clipboard
    - Chapman Cohen

    May 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  11. Chris

    Science will fly u to the moon, religion will fly you into a building.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  12. Crowned

    None of this is scriptural...the 21st will come and go...one thing special about it though, it is the Sabbath Day....

    May 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  13. Dj

    All I wanna know is this: WILL IT BE TELEVISED?

    May 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  14. Carlos

    Family Radio listeners, you are idiots. I know you don't believe me. Please re-read this comment on May 22, 2011. Perhaps, then, you might be more inclined to believe what I just wrote. Then again, you are such idiots, I am sure you will find some way to rationalize why your May 21, 2011 prophecy did not come true.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  15. Aaron

    I hope these half-wits that quit their jobs don't qualify to get any public assistance. The Bible says that it is not ours to know the time of the end. They should leave it at that and find something constructive to do, like keep their jobs and raise their kids not be loons.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • James

      Fortunately, people who voluntarily leave their jobs are not eligible for unemployment security benefits. I'm not sure about other benefits.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  16. Ed

    The only comment these Doomsdayers warrant is this: You are STUPID!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  17. Hmmm

    So all the religious fundies are going to be gone by the 22nd? That is something worth celebrating.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  18. Kathy

    Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13:32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Jamie

      Ezekiel 4:12 "And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man."

      May 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Trudy

      I agree with you. The bible states, that nobody knows the day or hour, not even the angels or the Lord himself only God. We are suppose to be ready everyday. The Lord spoke about those who say the Lord is here or there not to pay attention to them. Read the bible everyone. We are to be ready for his return. Don't listen to those who say there is a day or time for him to come. Just be ready.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Daveid Johnson

      thank you!

      May 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  19. Taylor

    This story really shows how pathetic CNN has become.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • joe

      CNN IS SMART. there trying to make the Christians look really bad. they know that its not gonna happen so there trying to make the world hate the Christians.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Timsul

      Taylor, give up your CNN hate. Turn on Faux and I'm sure they will be covering the same story.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  20. joe

    if anything happens its the BLUE BEAM PROJECT. BE AWARE. YOUTUBE THAT

    May 18, 2011 at 6:18 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.