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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. You people are freaking fanatics

    You people who profess too be christians. Are you homicidal maniacs in drags. What kind of hysteria are you conducting. Is satan pulling your strings and setting you up for failure and you can't see it? Let me tell you something it says biblicaly that we don't know the hour or day when he willbe here. Only god knbows when he is coming back. You people are freakingt whack jobs.

    Where is all this mind control coming from? How many people are you going to confuse that is considering salvation? Instead of bring them to god, you will be chasing away from god. We want to bring the people in and as well the athiests. This is going to drive a bigger wedge.

    What are you going to do when the day comes and goes and nothing happens? You have nothing and you will look p[retty stupid. If you want to poison your own minds that is find. But leave innocent people who still want to make decisions and totally hear from god, before they persue such craziness. Shame on you for blaspheming the word of god.

    Your sick and you need major deliverance from lying spirits that god your mind beliveing this junk. This is not the way god wants them to come to him on his throne to worship him. Shame, shame, shame on you. For twisted things wrong and around so it will suit you and you believe this and you want others to believe this that don't.

    Youpeople are weirder than weird. Have you been sniffing ostrich behinds, they eat everything up and they are gullible also.
    Stop infecting people and pushing people away that are considering a god relationship. If you value your actions stay away from me and the radio station that supports you needs a enema up thier butt and stay away from me.

    You are the sickest most used person by stan to bring confusion to the body of christ.

    Get a healing, deliverance fro whackiness.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  2. Kevin

    A sad, but perfect example of what happens when a group of idiots believe they only need to read one book to know everything...

    May 18, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  3. rather die with the sinners

    One of the many great things about living in Canada (pls don't even try to bring up socialism), is that religion is NEVER an issue with politics. No one cares, and no one asks. We only vote for who we believe will best lead our community.
    With regards to these poor people, I hope that come Sunday, they take a good look their pastor/church/mentors and re-evaluate whether or not these people are a:sane and b: have their best interests in mind. What a waste of the past few months of their lives!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  4. Ron

    This is all just such a farce and will be proven in a few days. How will they hide then?
    We have a bit more time yet....

    May 18, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  5. x factor

    no human knows when....you might have an idea.... do you know the exact time you would die ? why do some get killed in war and others live? none of this will matter to you in 100 years... live a good life today...

    May 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Kugaf

    Such a shame. Hundreds of posts and so few serious responses to a serious issue. I read Family Radio's literature reluctantly and I believe it will happen. Very sad responses but we'll all see, won't we?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  7. yoyoma

    come at me bro

    May 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  8. joe

    I hope this turns out to be true.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  9. Mfred

    I'm sure we'll be seeing the say guys with the same signs at the 2012 "rapture"

    May 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  10. Ken

    What kind of drugs is she on anyway. I want some of those drugs. She has no idea what she is talking about. The book of Revelation tells it all and it is not like what she said. Has she had a personal conference with God that she knows dates and time. I trhink not. She is a whackooooo.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  11. Agent47

    We need a new Supper Nova in our part of the sky and restart all the lame post on here!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  12. HaHaHa

    Come on CNN...Why is this even on the news?!? Guess that's what happens when you have to fill the time with something for 24 hour "news" TV. I want to ask those people if I can have their house?

    And then people on here taking about rapture...no Christian really believe in the rapture before 200 years ago, because it's not in the Bible. People really need to study Apocalyptic literature before preaching “end of world” scenarios.

    Written by Paul from Corinth, about 50 or 51 A.D., less than 20 years after the death of Christ, 1 Thessalonians is commonly considered the oldest book of the New Testament. It is clear that these earliest Christians were eagerly expecting Jesus’ return in glory at the end of the world. As time went on and this was delayed, timeing was one of the pastoral problems addresses in these lines. For he question of when. Paul tells them that they “know very well” that we do not know the time of the end; it will come like a thief in the night. This becomes a truism throughout the New Testament, appearing in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt 24:42,44; Mark 13:21-23, 32-33; Luke 12:39-40; 17:20-24; 21:34-35); Acts of the Apostles (1:6-7); the Letters (our passage and 2 Peter 3:9-10); and even in the Book of Revelation, not once but twice (Rv 3:3; 16:15)! Needless to say, this clear teaching has been consistently ignored by many up to the present day.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  13. RazMor

    Chris, I'm sorry to hear that from you. If there is no God, who are you to say that there is no God.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Chris

      I'm sorry you are incapable of seeing things as they really are!

      Don't you understand your beliefs are a function of where you were born on this planet? It's only a coincidence you are (I assume) a Christian.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  14. Ben Dover

    What I would like to know is who is going to support these people starting Sunday when we are all still here?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  15. SHATONFULLAS

    IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS WATER.THEN CAME THE EARTH AND IT WAS GOOD. ALL FORMS OF LIFE DEVELOPED AND IT WAS GOOD. ONE DAY A VERY BUSY BIRD ATE SOME PLANTS AND THEY WERE GOOD.
    THE BIRD DROPPED SOME SEEDS ONTO A VERY HUNGRY CATEPILLAR WHO WIPED IT ON MANY OTHER PLANTS
    AND IT WAS GOOD. THEN A VERY COLORFUL BEE POLINATED THE PLANTS WITH VARYING POLLENS AND FURTHER CHANGED THE MIXTURE UNTIL ONE DAY A LOVELY GREEN AND PURPLE PLANT WAS FOUND BY
    CREATURES WHO LIKEWISE HAD EVOLVED AND THEY DECIDED TO SMOKE IT AND IT WAS GOOD.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Mike

      And it was very good. Amen Brother. *cough*

      May 19, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  16. Z

    “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father." 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 the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives. 2 Peter 3:10-11

    for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2

    May 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Chris

      Ever read Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World?

      You really should! Personally I grow tired of all this talk about demons, devils, angels, holy spirits and all the rest of the stupid magical crap! I'm sick of it!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Jon E

      Z.....you just missed it......twice! Look at both of those verses again, but instead of stopping at the end of the first statement, keep reading a few more lines, taking special note of the words "But ye brethren, are not of the darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" and in Matthew, note how it says that "they did not know until the waters came"..........but we all know that Noah did. Notice anything?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Ed

      Stay focused on the work of the Lord. When He comes back is His decision. There's no time to waste, running around predicting the end. Do someting useful and practice Matthew 28:19-20. And forget the silliness. You're making fools of yourselves. As for me and my household, we plan to be at work come Monday morning, doing God's bidding. See you there.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  17. Valerie

    Um I don't see anyone posting the scripture in the Bible about Christs return that makes this guys claim a lie. Here it is!!

    “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

    —Matthew 24:36-44

    May 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Chris

      Awesome! Your going to quote the bible to demonstrait how this guy doesn't know what he's talking about!

      Just brilliant!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Jon E

      Valerie.....thanks for posting.....see where it says "As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be" and likewise "They didn't know until the flood came and swept them away".......but here's the catch, Noah did know! We can clearly read that in Genesis. The confusion here concerns who this message is for......this is one of the many passages that actually supports this claim. Valerie, I would encourage you to take about 30 minutes to look into the literature that family radio is putting out.......I was skeptical at first, but now very shocked because the whole claim is supported by the Bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • williamjones

      Yes that is true! Sad for his ministry I liked all that he said and he was no flowering speaker and that's what I liked about him, but this prediction will be the end and judgment for him and his ministry

      May 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  18. Flagrante Delicto

    Yeah, on Saturday I will be riding on an empty highway on my Harley because everyone else wil be on the big mother spaceship in the sky. Buh-bye!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  19. dan

    see u guys may 22.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • aaron

      with all the horrors in the world this is what cnn reports?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • JohhnyRock30

      Absolutely. This, like most religions in general, is complete bull.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • AmX15

      I discussed this with a priest once, I don't think the Bible even mention the word Rapture. Either way, May 22. Sounds good!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  20. american

    Sad will be the day when anyone is not aloud to have an opinion, or free gathering and practice of beliefs in this country. No, we are not always going to agree, but isn't that the point of a democracy? When we get to the point of trying to silence those we don't agree with, we will choke the life out of our great country, not improve it.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Flagrante Delicto

      Yeah, aloud is when you are talkng on your cellhpne in a movie theater. Allowed is when you are permitted to speak aloud.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Chris

      Then why is it that during every election I got hear hear how the canidate is "a Christian"?

      An atheist could NEVER BE ELECTED PRESIDENT!

      Does this not bother you?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Warren h

      Saturday will come. And go. And nothing is going to happen. You can have an opinion, but get realistic. The biggest probability of disaster, is that Sunday will come, the world will still be exactly the same, and some of the members of this group will despair over this not happening the way they think, and they will do something to harm themselves. We have seen too many doomsday cults who find this brand of delusion irreconcilable and some of them may commit suicide. That will be the real tragedy. When you spend that much time preaching death, some of them will make sure some of it arrives. And then every network will be covering this story. There will be questions about why something wasn't done to stop this, and then the debate about respecting someone's opinion not matter how nutty, will look a little dumb.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Stager

      Chris – "One nation, under God....." Atheists not believing in God would go against what our founding fathers believed in. Just my take on it. I tend to agree with the idea considering how many people have faith compared to those who don't.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • sleepytime

      Stager: "Under God" was added to the pledge in the 1950s. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Founders.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:11 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.