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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. TampaMel

    Why is it that every nut that has a 'Cristian' revelation hold that it is a negative revelation, either for every one or just the 'unbelievers' ? Let me understand this, God, a being greater then ourselves, it going to cause the eternal punishment of people who either do not believe in a God or who do not believe in a God fashioned the way a certain doctrine dictates? Only levels of insanity or hubris could cause people to believe this. My sympathy goes out to all of you and do not forget to go to church this Sunday.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  2. Mark Yelka

    Failed End-of-the-World Predictions: http://www.religioustolerance.org/end_wrl2.htm

    May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  3. Dee

    I got a jar of coins – quarter's dime's, nickels & pennies, could not care less if they are here or there -------what do you think i should do with them, any suggestions ?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  4. CFA

    Ridiculous...these have come and gone before. Poor ignorant schmucks...

    May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  5. Tim

    I am really surprised someone who knows the Bible inside out would put himself out there like this; I believe in the second coming of Christ, and judgement day but I dont believe anyone will know. We have to live as close to a Christ like life as we can, and do what we can to earn his love and forgiveness. I dont know why he would put out a date like that down to the time..It even says in the Bible not even the Angels or Christ will know; only the Father.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  6. Greg

    Is anybody watching these whackos to make sure they don't do something to "take us all with them"? Please tell me somebody is watching these nutters.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  7. tuffgong71

    God observes the totally arbitrary, human-created international date line. That is awesome! You convinced me, I am a believer!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  8. Mike Brown

    Saw one of these trucks with a doomsday sign plastered on the side of it driving through the city today. The driver had to stop because the sign fell off and reattached it. Maybe that's God's way of telling them to shut up?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  9. fact

    if this isnt the end ill stop believing in god!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  10. Sylvia

    It can get u a little scared but if it makes them closer to the lord and Jesus and they r not hurting people then let them do what they want it is a free country. Maybe I will try not to say bad words or lie or talk about people a little more just to b on the safe side. it's not such a bad thing

    May 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  11. Peter

    If you want to comprehend the meaning of the symbols of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and The Second Coming of Christ, simply visit your local Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  12. Scott F

    These folks are major Republican donors. This is the target audience for the GOP–morons and whackado's.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Sarah

      Yeah, no thank you!!

      May 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  13. Zilzal

    That's what makes us unique amongst the earth worms, trees, and mountains, that we poses the ability to create our own illusionary world and live in it happily with dooms day(s).

    May 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  14. J.C.

    I find it shameful that those of you who do not believe take such great pleasure in admonishing the faith of others. The lack of tolerance, forgiveness, and understanding in this world are the reasons that this earth Ehall come to pass.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • bigjilm

      Shame on you for giving any credibility to such prophecies. They're preaching the end of the world -that means everyone will be killed, which would be the most evil thing imaginable. Forget you and the horse you rode in on. Such bloodlusted Christians (or of any faith) should be ridiculed as should you.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  15. Ben

    It's long past the time when religious believers should be treated as the mentally ill people that they are. We need to go on a mass expansion of building mental hospitals and remove all these sicko's who are unable to do away with childish fantasies.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • pockets

      I could not have put it any plainer. Thank you.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  16. Mark Yelka

    More than 40 "end of the world" predictions have failed. The key thing to remember if you issue such predictions is to tell everyone that the prediction did, in fact, come true. It's just that everyone misunderstood that it came true.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • fact

      what do you mean "more than 40" haha dont you mean every single one? people that believe in rubbish 0 – Jesus not coming back 345645435345435345 and counting! soon to be 345645435345435346 after this sat.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  17. Mark Tully

    I agree that this hurts Christianity and won't happen. I have answered Mr. Camping's claims in full here: http://restorus.org/articles/religion/rapture-wont-happen-may-21-2011

    I think that Mr. Camping and certainly his followers mean well and are serious in their attempts to understand God's word. Of course, my argument is that they have misunderstood it in very profound ways.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  18. Jamie

    If all Christians really were taken off this planet, our world would be a much better place.

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

      really? really?! That's as dumb of a statement as saying the world will end this Saturday. If all Christians were taken off this planet then I sure would Miss my Mom, Grandparents and the rest of my family. i am a Non-christian, but I would miss MANY Christians that are in my life if they weren't here. Not all Christians are bad and closed minded.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • pockets

      Sighhhhhhhhhh, you have to feel very sorry for these people to think that they can actually breed. The snake oil salesman have done a good job at ripping them off and taking their money and fill their minds with nonsense. All woo woo. Incredible stupidity. Religion is pure POISON.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Jamie

      Maybe you'd be lonely, but that doesn't prove that it would not be better for most of the rest of the planet. And your family will be in a happy magical fairyland with all the angels for all eternity, so just be happy for them. 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • lostmind

      Only if all the religions leave

      May 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • lostmind

      Please read deeper Saturday just starts the five months of the rapture, the world does not end till October 21. Of course if you go by what the Mayan's say it does not end until December 23, 2012. Take your choice. :-).

      May 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Jamie

      @lostmind – Good point!

      May 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • bert

      Hey no need to hate on Christianity not all of us are freaking crazy u bunch of morons

      May 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  19. Jef

    I see a number of people heading into an existential crisis soon.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  20. Mrkah

    To all of the idiots that think the world will end this Saturday! Please send me all of your money, you won't need it because according to you the world will end this Saturday. Thank You.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Herome

      no, SEND IT TO ME.. ILL PUT ALL PAYERS ON MY SPACESHIP TO MARSS... last chance to live!

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

      I am a Christian and know that Jesus said no man knows the day or hour when Jesus comes. Only the Father God. So these people who set dates on God are totally not following the Bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

      me too! plz

      May 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • pockets

      It can't end, the Stanley Cup finals are on and Leaky Luongo makes the sign of the cross before he gets on the ice, he things that God is going to be there to watch the game, sooooo based on that the world can't end. But then again I seen a basketball player after hitting a long shot, point his index finger to the sky and thanks jesus for assisting him in making the shot. Anything and I mean anything to justify a belief system in the name of an invisible diety.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • pockets

      Perhaps they should try masturabation as a subsitute.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:29 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.