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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. Thersites

    wow... so let me get this straight, the Bible says that no man knows the day when the world will end, and yet this bunch says that they do, worse, that they got the info from this book that says that they don't. Somewhere in this there is the makings of a nonsense story worthy of a Lewis Carroll 😉

    May 18, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Hugo

      God will take care of fools and children... On Sunday they will all realize that when they're in their church trying to figure out why the world didn't end...

      May 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  2. Michael

    I'm graduating in june and going to college in july. I have so much to live for

    May 18, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  3. tb63

    Oh cr@p! I don't know what I'm more upset about – the end of the world or the end of Oprah's show.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  4. AllyCat

    I'm pretty sure that there's a quote in the bible that says something like "don't believe people who claim to know the end of days"

    May 18, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  5. PirateJohn

    You're all invited to my barbecue bash on Sunday. I'll make my end-times chili - it's hotter than the fires of hell!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  6. Iman Idiot

    It's NOT TOO LATE to make a donation! WE ARE STILL COLLECTING DONATIONS! Please go to the website and DONATE NOW. Our organization will require LOTS of YOUR MONEY even AFTER the end of the world. What are you going to do with it anyway? Might as well give it to US! GOD will REWARD your generosity with a luxury suite in HEAVEN. If you don't give us ALL YOUR MONEY NOW, you will ROT in HELL!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. DONATE NOW OR ROT IN HELL. IT'S IN THE BIBLE.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  7. dave

    Unlike most of you on this blog I have listened to Camping for the last year and I know what he has been saying and what he has not been saying. Here is the summary and the truth.

    1. Camping has studied the Bilble for years and is very skilled. He could hold his own with most Biblical scholars.
    2. He believes that the Bible is 100% accurate and the word of God
    3. He believes that the scriptures reveal the exact time of the rapture.
    4. I have not analyzed all his calculations
    5. He has not encouraged anybody to do anything but to cry out for God for mercy before the May 21st date.
    6. I believe he believes what he is preaching is accurate.
    7. He will have a lot of explaining to do on Monday. He will have severely damaged a beautiful radio station that has many good songs and God fearing employees.

    Then again he may be right.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • jo jo

      What if he's right the first time??!?! Remember Edgar Cayce prophecy or mother shipton.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • PirateJohn

      He can't be right the first time - he's already on his second try.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Shamrock6

      Dave – you genuinely seem like a nice man. I need you to listen to me carefully. There is ABSOLUTELY, 100%, NO CHANCE of this thing happening this Saturday. I have not studied the bible. I could not hold my own with anyone regarding the bible. I do not believe it is 100% correct and I know absolutely that it is NOT the word of God. Saturday is going to be just another nice weekend day like any other. Please enjoy yourself and do not give any creedence to this person.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Iamgod

      No! he's a liar. It want happen.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Nonimus

      So what happened to Camping's first prediction of 1994?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • HFM

      This sanctimonious clown thinks that he is the only human being out of 6,000,000,000 on planet earth who has figured out something that the bible, the very book he claims expertise in, the very book he claims is god's word (though god lacked a word processor and did not write any of it....mere men wrote it and, more importantly, carefully edited it to favor one church and put women at a disadvantage.....what a coincidence....
      I have heard several people ask good ole Camping how it is that though his favorite book and collection of scriptures state categorically 'no man shall know the hour and the day...etc etc...' how it is that he, Harold Camping, is the exception...but he deflects these questions with a lot of his usual double speak and reinterpretation of different verses, mostly trying to disguise his babble for what it is.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Bob

      Dave,

      One thing you failed to mention. In the same bible that Campbell studied, there is more than one area that states that no man shall know the day and time.

      That kinda blows a hole in his own theory.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  8. johninmemphis

    OH MY Fiddle-dee-dee.
    " I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

    May 18, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  9. Swav

    Well i get off work at 2pm so i'll have 4 hours to injoy myself if it comes, if not well i got to go to work Sunday lol....

    May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  10. m

    It's going to be fun watching nothing happen. It will even be funnier when the world continues just like any other day and they start to "recalculate" the new Dooms Day. This has been going on for centuries and nothing new about this group of nut jobs other than they have kids with them that may be harmed.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  11. jo jo

    Matthew 24:7 (NKJV) "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Nonimus

      Okay, at what point in time was this *not* true?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • PirateJohn

      And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

      May 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Mac

      This happens everyday...

      Thanks for the heads up.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Joe Bob

      Those things have been going on every day somewhere in this world since history began.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • LandofOz

      This is a new phenomenon? Really? You might want to research history, including accounts of wars between kingdoms in the OT, and come back prepared for class. War has been going on for as long as humans have inhabited the planet. According to most biblical historians the wars began around 4000-3000 B.C.E. and have been going on ever since (read Genesis for the first account of a war, albeit a small war, between Cain and his brother Abel). Modern history - according to the bible and other written accounts - offers evidence that wars, famine, natural disasters and the like have been around since time began. I studied theology for over 7 years because I went to a private "christian" school during my entire middle/high school education and went to theology class every day and chapel twice a week. Biblical history was drilled into my head, including the accounts of wars between all the "kingdoms" of the OT. Then along comes this verse in Matthew, how prophetic. I took it upon myself to study other religions because all other religions - except Christianity - were cults that used fear and lack of education to prey on the weak. You know what I found out, they all use the same tactics, including Christianity. You might want to check out the histories of war, politics, international relations, philosophy, and religion. You will find that these things have been happening since human history has been kept and many of these wars are/were fought out of fear of the other civilization/religion becoming too powerful.

      Deu 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Steve

      Well I could quibble with the "kingdom against Kingdom" bit as there are very few kingdom's left. Now if the bible said democracies or republics then it would have held more weight to today. Also I have not noticed any famines or pestilence for quit some time so our movement to "the end" must be regressing rather than progressing.

      The main criticism of this scripture though is the typical lack of context shown by Christians today. Jesus is talking to some of his disciples when speaking of "this generation"..did he mention to them it was a generation 2000 years from now? Does that really make sense? He also mentions in his time that some now living will not "taste death" and he mentioned 3 cities, one of them capernaum, which rejected his teaching (or perhaps John the Baptist's teaching) and will be destroyed worse than sodom and gommorrah. Would this make sense in the context of now when the people to be punished are long dead?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  12. Div_Dawson

    this will most likely lead to a mass suicide on sunday....

    May 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Bruce

      I see you like to make predictions as well... 😛

      May 18, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • eric

      Why?
      This is his third prediction. These people don't kill themselves. They just move the date and do it all over again.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  13. louis

    What are these people going to do when Sunday comes around?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • PirateJohn

      Same thing they always do - make up some lame excuse.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  14. HamsterDancer

    Sonuva#%@#!!! I DID just buy some green bananas! Now what am I gonna do?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Bruce

      Pucker up! 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  15. Enrique Pagan

    When the rapture does come we will be wishing for the begining of the end of time to be completed and the devil himself will be chained for a thousand years but were not even close to this happening, there will be far more devilish things happening and the anti-christ will appear to fool many people into going to hell, he will come and we will a temporary peace averting a world war and many will fall for this so-called man of peace and if you thought President Bush was evil you ain't seen nothing yet, he will lie, cheat, cajole, minipulate to the point of no return and many world leaders and followers will fall until the return of our lords GODS only begotten son Jesus Christ returns, then and only then will the end of the evil one come to pass, so if you have any plans for this coming weekend please do not cancel especially if you had to save the date with a hefty down payment because you will lose your deposit for sure.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  16. mojo

    Does anybody have an email list for these people? I'd really like to contact them and see if they are selling stuff cheap – or giviing it away for that matter!? Can I have whatever money these idiots have left over?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  17. required

    Lawllll, All book mark this page. Saturday night I will be playing video games online laughing hard about this. No one knows when the world will end, No one has this knowledge. if this prophacy does not happen, these people should immediately leave their faith, as they have been following a lie.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  18. Tom

    i think 12/21/2012 is a better date gives me more to to enjoy my self. but i cant really beleave all this would actully happen. just enjoy life. some people just make stuff up. it might be in the bible but it dosent mean its going to happen.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  19. Dead Man Blogging

    Tick Tock goes the Doomsday Cuckoo Clock

    May 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  20. Santa Claus

    I guess it doesn't matter that the bible was written by people long after jesus and the apostles died. Or that the books attributed to the apostles weren't written by them. Or that the bible is made up of a selection of books a council of old men sat down and cherry picked. so much for it coming straight from God.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • real

      Not really...

      May 18, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • D

      Exactly!
      People love to claim that, if it wasn't literally written by 'god', then at least the authors were 'inspired by him'.
      But I have to wonder: were all the copiers (a manual process back then), editors, translators and distributors 'inspired' as well? C'mon!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • eric

      Did you know that this May 21 date comes from a math equation that Harold Camping invented?
      This is the equation....
      5 x 10 x 17 squared = the amount of days since Jesus was crucified, over 720000 days, which comes up on May 21.
      5 represents atonement, 10 represents completion, 17 represents heaven according to Mr Camping. Not sure what the "squared" symbolizes.
      And this earthquake that follows the (man-designated) time zones is not only geologically impossible, it's just completely rediculous.
      God promised the next time would be fire, not shaking and noone knows when. These people are insane and they deserve everything they will get. When they wake up on the 22nd with no possessions, no jobs, nowhere to go, and noone to blame but themselves, I will not feel bad about it. And I might even file a lawsuit against Family Radio for terrifying my 9 year old daughter. She can't even eat she is so nervous about this.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
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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.