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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. Don

    The Bible is clear that there will be a rapture. That's a fact, but the rest of this is just a joke. I feel bad for the guy in charge of all this because if there's any conviction on his heart, he's probably ignoring it. I mean, imagine the guilt he's going to feel w"hen people all over the world commit suicide, murder, steal, and simple just stop caring. And by now it's not like he can say, Oh never mind guys, just never mind.." Everyone close to him would turn on him. If you're a true follower of Christ then you know HE"S COMING LIKE A THEIF IN THE NIGHT and that this May 21st thing is just a promotion gone wrong. May we be led by the spirit to pray for the people in charge of this, everyone involved, those who believe this is going to happen, and everyone who is scared to death of this Saturday. GRACE will lead you home.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  2. Kool Aid

    Man o man.........Party at my place!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  3. HiddenShadows

    I wonder which time zone they are looking at? I can't wait till Sunday! If it wasn't so crazy I might feel sorry for them.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  4. Jim Jones

    Anyone know if they all bought a one way ticket to Guayana?

    May 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jef

      Yep and they all are wearing purple running shoes as well.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  5. Ana

    What's funny is the same group of ppl that predicted the end of the world in 1994 are the same ppl saying it's gonna end now. Nope, you had one chance, and ONLY one chance, you will be wrong again. The only thing I will be worried about on Sat, is if my husband and his basket ball team make it to their championship game. Oh and taking my daughter for a swim 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  6. Allah

    ?.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  7. Jaynicia

    Did anybody bother telling George Clinton that the Mothership is finally coming?

    May 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  8. lucas

    Matthew 26:.....

    May 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Jamie

      Ezekiel 4:12 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jef

      Macallan 18

      May 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  9. william adkins Name*

    how can anyone say may 22 2011,is the last days no 1 knows but god .

    May 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  10. John

    Try reading the Bible No one knows when the end will be except the Father.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  11. Gary

    BOO!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jef

      I'm sceered.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  12. Tim Rigney

    Wait a minute there's people walking around Times Square with placcads saying "the end is nigh!" ? ? ?
    Had this ever . . . . HAPPENED before??? :-0

    🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jef

      I wish they would speak in modern English

      May 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  13. Brando

    Simply put, another example of just how stupid and naive some people can be! My god, really??!! People are quitting jobs and leaving homes...um um **cough** even their own children to spread word about an event that will never happen!!??

    May 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jef

      Well the Clapper made a lot of money on late night TV so I'm thinking people can and are very very ignorant.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  14. Jef

    The truth is God loves us all.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Satan

      Not me. I'm taking him down. Bwahaha.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Jef

      GiddyUp

      May 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  15. Admonition

    Their very late! all the crap their talking about has already happened and it was not worth it at all!. if these sonsuh beitch's arnt going to get busy in the right way there will definitely be more atheism. and I'm all ready there. it's best not to have so much faith in things people obviously don't even care to understand cause what they're calling god is merely demonic sorcery of ultra secret demon-ocracy that is never good enough and it rarely get's the real culprit.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  16. WisdomSays

    I read that whole article...shaking my head the whole time... then to get to the last paragraph and it says:

    ""“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.<<<<<<”""

    What in the world? "IF"? You just quit your job, left your house and kids for an "IF"?? Instead of preaching "DOOMSDAY" Preach JESUS!! The Gospel has nothing to do with "DOOMSDAY"" but the resurrection of Christ; humanity being REDEEMED. That's how true Christians reach the lost; with the Love of Christ; not the fear of DOOooooOOOOoooOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  17. Michael Cronin

    Thank god the world is coming to an end: http://thedailyturducken.blogspot.com/2011/05/end-of-world.html

    May 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  18. Tracy

    I would rather boil in the lava of Hell than live forever with a God who would destroy everyone. But, more likely, I'll be going to see "Bridesmaids."

    May 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • WisdomSays

      Hello Tracy, I would be more than willing to discuss your post. You in?

      May 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Jef

      You better jump in Tracy because as you see Wisdom is talking...

      May 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Probably these guys have told by North Koreans that they will throw some nuclear bombs all over the world..... Which is not gonna happen.....OH GEEZ... THESE PEOPLE ARE JUST BRAINWASHERS AND THEY TRYING TO GET ATTENTION FROM OTHER PEOPLE... WE CALL THAT, K.S.P. "KULANG SA PANSIN"! LOL.. Google that sentence to find out what does that means? ...LOL

    May 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  20. RichardSRussell

    Really, is any of the rest of Christianity any LESS nuts than this? No, they've just learned to avoid things that are so easy to test.

    Still, anyone who believes in completely invisible, evidence-less things such as souls, heaven, hell, angels, and life after death is not playing with a full deck.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • WisdomSays

      So what do you think happens after death??

      May 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Doug

      Yes this person yammering on about May 21st is not correct at all. Even the Bible tells Not even Jesus knows the day or time only God does. However its amazing how close Revelations follows today's events. Everyone will be RFID tagged on the planet. Right now LOL all ya want, but its coming. The Koran and Bible mirror each other in every when they speak about end times. What are the odds of that?
      Our time on Earth is but a test and its pass/fail with no retakes. All the answers are given in the Bible, but its up to you to decide if you want to use them or not.
      If the atheist are correct then nothing happens when you die, but if the Christians are right you have all eternity to realize you was wrong. So of the 2 which has more to lose at death if your wrong?

      May 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Lin

      People mocked the guy who invented the microscope because they thought that if they couldn't see something with only their own eyes, it didn't exist.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • SherryK

      The bible says, "no man knows the DAY nor the hour when the Son of man will return to earth". I believe the rapture WILL take place soon, but as for May 21, 2011, I'm not saying it will take place then. Richard, I hope you realize that there IS a heaven, hell, souls, angles, & that God IS real and alive and living in His people, or ANYONE that will call upon Him, repent & be baptized in the wonderful name of Jesus, & recieves the Holy Spirit. The Bible IS real and is the "alive" Word of God.
      Please read the Book of Acts in the Bible, it will tell you about the Day of Pentecost, and how it got started, & this church is still alive, growing and well today.
      I wish you the best and will be praying for you & all that don't believe in God, the Bible or heaven, or for His soon return to rapture His church, when EVER that will be, it WILL happen.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:21 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.