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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. Oh lord

    What a pack of crackpots. The only thing about this all that I disagree with is the notion that they aren't hurting anyone. What about their kids? Aren't they having to do without income now? What about their college funds and futures? What about the fact that these fools are scaring them?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  2. Mmhmm

    Batman or Ninja Turtles would win the fight.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  3. Amanda

    I hope they all drink the punch. Less traffic 🙂 Look up the great disappointment. As soon as these people and ones like them realize its not real the better.

    Amanda- Atheist in PDX

    May 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  4. Susan

    So where does it indicate the actual date of the rapture in the bible?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      According to the 1st paragraph in the article, it's supposed to be in Ezekiel 33, except that nobody has noticed it there for the last 2000 years.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Dennis

      Where does even say the word "rapture"? It's all interpretation. Christ will come, but this idea of a rapture may not be correct. At least, it's not something I believe.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  5. jona

    nothing will happen on may 21. but 'it will happen for sure.the judgement day is near! so prepare for the coming of the 'lord'. repent and believe is jesus christ who has come in this world for the second time in 'flesh'.
    please visit
    http://emperoremmanuelchurch.org/art_det_eng.php
    ..

    May 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  6. Pomaray

    Jesus said, when the Fig Tree buds, you know Summer is near. As far as knowing when will Christ return, we are supposed to know the season not the exact hour. The six trumpets have been fulfilled during the Gulf War, Iraqi War, and the coming of a destroyer who is bitter, such as Osama, and a country that ruled the world before will try to reestablish itself at the end of time. The leader of this country is described as a short horn (horn meaning power) with humble looks. The Seventh Trumpet is the Second Coming. It also says that the end will come with a flood. Biblical meaning for flood is people. A flood of people will flood an area of this world and Christ will come to save his followers. He will rapture them to a sea of Glass, where they cannot be reached by this flood of people. What is happening in the world today is a fullfilment of Prophecy. Revelation says, people will rebel against their leaders after they discover that their leaders have lied to them. It also says leaders will sit at the same table to negotiate and will lie one to the other. If you are on the true God's side, you would not be afraid of the Second Coming. Anyway, this earth will turn to hell before God purifies it with fire and recreates it. Remember, as a follower of the true God, you are on the sea of glass when all the burning take place. Peace.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  7. Cindy

    I'am a christian and i do not believe what other christians like that say. The bible says we no one knows when the rapture will take place. The bible says we do not know the day, time, or hour when it will happen. We know the times we live in now is different than it was 10 yeras ago. We are no one to say when the raprture will take place. Jesus will come like a thief in the night when no one expects it.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  8. Total non sense

    Religion, the last resort of idiots......

    May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  9. Joe

    The real disturbing part of this story is, these morons have drivers licenses.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  10. bailoutsos

    21? That is blackjack, it is a winner. I am going to Vegas and hit the blackjack tables.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  11. Ian

    To be honest it's kind of fun watching all these people get ready for the end of the world. Why did they not make this a television series? That would of been Awesome! I hear some of these people quit their jobs & even left their kids & families. The Bible is a horible exuse for stupidity. I've had enough really. –

    May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  12. Steve

    Can I have your money if you are getting sucked up into heaven?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  13. Atrefi

    What are you talking about, Spiderman and Superman? Chuck Norris would round-house kick them into the Phantom Zone!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  14. Dan

    Take this opportunity to re-evaluate your relationship with God. These moments that throw Christianity to the forefront, however radical, is an awakening for you to take a deep look inside and see if your faith and relationship with Him are strong. The end times will be full of deception, false hope and fears. This should come to no Christians surprise. The end will come when His plan is fullfilled, whether you are ready or not. May God be wilth you who reads this. He is knocking on your door and he wants to come in.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Does he have a warrant?

      May 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Oh lord

      Yawn.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  15. Lee Oates

    You don't need religion to realize that we are committing species suicide by our pollution and destruction of the planet. I think that most people in the back of their minds know with some cetainty that things are going to get very bad in the near future. Any intelligent person can understand that:

    (1) The worlds population continues to rise and our resources are declining. Oil has peaked.
    (2) We have built an entire civilization on a non-renewable resource (oil), and failed to seriously consider building alternate, non-polluting energy sources.
    (3) We are polluting the planet's air, water, oceans, forests, and land to the point of ecolgical collapse.
    (4) Our governments are corrupt, controlled by corporate interests, and block serious change.
    (5) Our food sources are declining, creating hunger and civil unrest.
    (6) Human behaviour itself is working against our survival, i.e., deny problems, prograstinate and hope it will go away, and leave it up to a fairy-tale figure to resolve it all in some supernatural way. Above all, a high level of ignorance prevails.
    (7) We are slowly building up to a 3rd world war involving nuclear weapons, which could hasten our destruction.

    Is it any wonder that the human species is slowly going insane as it faces the consequences of their behavior. Its all just a matter of time. I'll give us anywhere between 10 to 50 years. You can expect many more doomsday predictions in the near future as people are forced by circustances to acknowledge a dawing reality. In typical fashion, we will do our best to kill the messanger of bad news.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  16. RichardSRussell

    Y'know, if you're one of the loons who really believes this BS, and May 22 arrives without any Jesus in sight, you could STILL try to get to Heaven the old-fashioned way. Just sayin'.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Misty

      Agreed....

      May 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  17. Jeffrey

    Be careful about mocking. I stand on Jesus stating that nobody will know the day and time. However, God has changed His mind in the past about some things. So......

    May 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Dennis

      First, Jesus didn't say no one WILL know. He said (in the present tense) no one knoweth. That doesn't mean that the day and hour can't be revealed at a later date. That said, I read Robert Fitzpatrick's Doomsday Code which explains all the numbers that lead these people to believe May 21st is the date. I'm intrigued by different interpretations of the scriptures, but their numbers are horribly inaccurate. They basically force specific interpretations so everything fits. For instance, when one scripture gives a number of days, they argue that that particular reference means years, whereas another scripture that speaks of days really does mean days. That's not all, but I'm not going to go into every obvious error (at least to me) of another religion. It's their right to believe as they will. Hopefully, when May 22nd comes along, they'll realize that that particular interpretation was incorrect and they'll continue to seek the truth elsewhere.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  18. clarke

    what do they do if it doesn't happen, get together and drink kool aid.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • kmhowe72

      i know I would lmao and I will, is that going to be california time or New york time

      May 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  19. No Fear

    I wish these Dooms-Dayer's would either get a life or get off the planet. The Mayan's were loser's, and a corrupt people that practiced blood sacrifice. If anyone disappeared, it was them. So let's see now, why don't we dig out their old calendar and buy into their predictions. Even the Bible state, " No Man Knoweth The Time ". So then how do the Mayan's know? Even if it were tomorrow, the saved man would have no fear. Besides that, every man will live and die. Big deal. Nothing would make me happier than if God came back tomorrow and destroyed all the evil people on the planet... Earth would be a much better place to live on.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • sam62

      Before JESUS CHRIST it was required by the Mosaic laws to offer GOD a blood sacrifice to redeem our sins. Thanks to our LORD and SAVIOR who paid the ultimate price for all of us, we do not have to offer any of those sacrifices also remember when he said I never wanted your burned offerings all I wanted was your love. The BLOOD of our SAVIOR washes away all our sins . By the way sacrifices under jews laws were not human.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  20. jay_dog

    It is sad that this Harold Camping is at it again. He unfortunately is what makes spreading the gosped for Christians so hard. I see many people on here that reject Christianity and it is people like Harold Camping and his looneys that make it difficult to take a true Christian seriously. I do believe that the Bible says that Christ is coming back but the Bible also states that we do not know when that will be. Also he will come as a Theif in the night. However, Christ commands us as Christians to continue to live lives worthy of Christ. That does not mean to quit jobs, buy expensive cars, leave families. That is not Christianity not even by a long shot. I remember Harold Camping predicted the 1994 and it came and went and I had friends that even went so far as to buy a brand new car stating they would have to worry about the car payments because they wouldnt be here. Well 1994 came and went and those former friends have a nice car payment to work with. I just hope that those that are looking for true Christians are not looking at Harold Camping or his followers as examples of what a Christian should be.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      So you feel superior to Harold Camping because you believe Jesus IS coming back, just not this weekend?

      That's like holding tight to your lucky rabbit's foot while laffing at someone for wishing on a 4-leaf clover.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Steven

      So true. People like this give Christians a bad name

      May 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Jeffrey

      @Richard...You missed the point. He doesn't feel superior, he just believes Jesus spoke true.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Brittney

      Christ said in the last days Christians would be persecuted for his name sake.. Quite frankly, I'm appalled at the number of posts that outright and brazenly mock the beliefs of Christians. It's like they won't even for a moment consider the possibility, as if they know some absolute truth about God's existence contrary to and despite the centuries-held beliefs of countless.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Brittney, funny thing that you should mention "centuries-held beliefs". This is about the 8 millionth time over the centuries that somebody has said the world is coming to an end, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAS BEEN WRONG, starting with Jesus's promise to return during the lifetime of his own disciples! When will it ever sink in that COMPLETE AND CONTINUED FAILURE is pointing in 1 and only 1 direction: it's a scam! You've been duped. The Bible is fiction.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • sam62

      "But of the day and hour no one knows,not even the Angels of Heaven, but MY FATHER only. Mattew 24:36.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:20 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.