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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. devin

    lol, idiots...

    May 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • McJesus

      So true. An idiot is born every minute. Created in the image of God.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  2. dina

    Oh shoot. I was going to color my hair that day and get a pedicure.Something is always getting in the way of my personal care.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  3. C. Smythe

    These silly end of the world thingies will be the death of us all. What a waste of time and money. Have any of these so called christians spent any time comforting the old or the sick or the dying? That is what Jesus taught. I wish these primitive ancient religions would run their course so mankind can get down to solving real problems like over population and hunger and non poluting energy . . .

    May 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • soulcandy

      I agree, though I will say their are christians who actually do help the poor and sick- real christians that no one every hears about mainly because real christians, unlike Camping, don't seek praise or attention and don't do things to gain anything.

      The so called "christians" you see in the news like Camping, and others who preach hate against everything-gays,abortion etc.. dont represent people who actually have faith and dont go shouting out "I'm A Christian" but let their actions do the talking and dont preach down peoples throats.

      It's pretty sad. As a believer in God I'm embarrassed and disgusted.

      And these so called "christians" wonder why people don't believe in God...

      May 19, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  4. You people are freaking fanatics

    To these so called people who call themselves christians. Do you know the poisiona nd twisted doctrine your spreading. It is bad enough that we can't get people in church because of our poor witness and display of how we act. It is bad enough people are leaving the church because how we behave towards one another. Now you want to twist everything around and make it wors. Who ispushing your buttoms. Satan and his co horts. Can I sell you some swampland in the evergalades and a key to the wierdest farts you can ever smell or hear.

    What kind of mind control are you putting on people. Now because you believe it and really have this obsession. You expect others too. Suppose that day comes and passes and nothin happens. You have goven all these things away and given up things. How are you going to face yourself in the mirror. And it is bad enough we are looked upon as whack jobs. Now, whatever chance we would have had getting people to go, you are screwing it up.

    Were your brains cells deleted by mistake at childbirth. You know what your doing you will reap bad seeds. Your not god and can't make that judgement call. Only he knows that day and hour. Now when this day comes and passes you will be without anything zip, zingo, done. You idiots are so dumb, can I sell you some swampland in the everglades.

    Are your kids ywisted and mentall inept as you. Stop doping what you think is from god and seek him and then let him speak to you. Quit making excuses for your abnormal reactions.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • McJesus

      MY God(tm) is the Real (like the Cheese thing) God(tm). Your God(tm) is the false god because you don't believe in it the 'right' way. My way is right. Your way is wrong. Now.. lets fight who is right and wrong and prove who is the most peaceful merciful and loving of all. He who dies first loses.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  5. constant skeptic

    I hope God is a little late, I've got somewhere to be at seven.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  6. lisa

    Not true

    May 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  7. Kris

    I am planning a garage sale this weekend, so no end of the world stuff okay. Maybe next weekend.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  8. Yossarian

    I need a bumper sticker that says "In case of rapture this car will remain cautiously optimistic." The ones that say "this car will be unmanned" bug me.

    I read all the way through the Bible (Apocrypha included) some years ago. I don't remember any rapture-like events described therein, but I may have missed it. If anyone has the proper book, chapter and verse I'll take another look.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • McJesus

      I prefer "In case of Rapture(tm) GIVE ME YOUR STUFF"

      May 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  9. Jody Haworth

    LOL. How do they keep coming up with these days? These type of people just feed the Atheist with more reason not to believe in God. What do you think they will say on on 5/22? They've been doing this routine for years. Oh well, at least we live in a free country and you can believe whatever you want to believe.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  10. Timmy

    Why Judgment Day cannot occur on May 21, 2011. I guarantee no once can pick apart the sound logic below:

    Judgment Day—What Is It?

    HOW do you picture Judgment Day? Many think that one by one, billions of souls will be brought before the throne of God. There, judgment will be passed upon each individual. Some will be rewarded with heavenly bliss, and others will be condemned to eternal torment. However, the Bible paints quite a different picture of this period of time. God’s Word portrays it, not as a terrifying time, but as a time of hope and restoration.

    At Revelation 20:11, 12, we read the apostle John’s description of Judgment Day: “I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” Who is the Judge described here?

    God is the ultimate Judge of mankind. However, he delegates the actual work of judging. According to Acts 17:31, the apostle Paul said that God “has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.” This appointed Judge is the resurrected Jesus Christ. (John 5:22) When, though, does Judgment Day begin? How long does it last?

    The book of Revelation shows that Judgment Day begins after the war of Armageddon, when Satan’s system on earth will be destroyed. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:19–20:3) After Armageddon, Satan and his demons will be imprisoned in an abyss for a thousand years. During that time, the 144,000 heavenly joint heirs will be judges and will rule “as kings with the Christ for a thousand years.” (Revelation 14:1-3; 20:1-4; Romans 8:17) Judgment Day is not some hurried event lasting a mere 24 hours. It lasts a thousand years.

    During that thousand-year period, Jesus Christ will “judge the living and the dead.” (2 Timothy 4:1) “The living” will be the “great crowd” that survives Armageddon. (Revelation 7:9-17) The apostle John also saw “the dead . . . standing before the throne” of judgment. As Jesus promised, “those in the memorial tombs will hear [Christ’s] voice and come out” by means of a resurrection. (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) But on what basis will all be judged?

    According to the apostle John’s vision, “scrolls were opened,” and “the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” Are these scrolls the record of people’s past deeds? No, the judgment will not focus on what people did before they died. How do we know that? The Bible says: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7) Those resurrected thus come to life with a clean slate, so to speak. The scrolls must therefore represent God’s further requirements. To live forever, both Armageddon survivors and resurrected ones will have to obey God’s commandments, including whatever new requirements God might reveal during the thousand years. Thus, individuals will be judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day.

    Judgment Day will give billions of people their first opportunity to learn about God’s will and to conform to it. This means that a large-scale educational work will take place. Indeed, “righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn.” (Isaiah 26:9) However, not all will be willing to conform to God’s will. Isaiah 26:10 says: “Though the wicked one should be shown favor, he simply will not learn righteousness. In the land of straightforwardness he will act unjustly and will not see the eminence of Jehovah.” These wicked ones will be put to death permanently during Judgment Day.—Isaiah 65:20.

    By the end of Judgment Day, surviving humans will have “come to life” fully as perfect humans. (Revelation 20:5) Judgment Day will thus see the restoration of mankind to its original perfect state. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) Then a final test will take place. Satan will be released from his imprisonment and allowed to try to mislead mankind one last time. (Revelation 20:3, 7-10) Those who resist him will enjoy the complete fulfillment of the Bible’s promise: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:29) Yes, Judgment Day will be a blessing to all faithful mankind!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Chucks

      Thank you for your sound knowledge of the bible... I wonder why people keep believing in these falsified events when God said Jesus Christ will come back like a thief in the night

      May 18, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  11. Zombie Hunter

    I hope rapture comes in the form of a zombie outbreak, that's the way I would want to go out.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • MarkyMerlot

      You'll be OK as long as you have "The Zombie Survival Guide"

      May 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • M

      Hell yeah. I'm going to suplex me a zombie, go all Ricky Steamboat on those brain eating freaks, chance given!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  12. SHATONFULLAS

    THERE WAS ONCE A MAN WHO WENT TO THE MOUNTAIN TO KILL A MOUNTAIN LION. WHILE WALKING AND THINKING ABOUT HIS 2 VERY LARGE PIT BULLS AT HOME A NEARBY MOUNTAIN LION GROWLED AND
    FRIGHTENED HIM, CAUSING HIM TO LOSE HIS BALANCE AND ROLL A LITTLE WAY DOWN THE HILL STRIKING HIS HEAD ON A ROCK AND RENDERING HIM UNCONTENTIOUS. WHEN HE AWAKENED HE SAW THAT THE ROCK WAS SHAPED LIKE A LOAF OF BREAD, AND HE REALISED THAT HE HAD BEEN CALLED TO BE A PROPHET OF GOD AND HE PRAYED ABOUT IT WITH HIS DOGS AND GOD SAID GO AND START A CHURCH CALLED THE ROCK OF THE BREAD OF CHRIST. HE BUILT A VERY NICE STUCCO ROCK LOAF SHAPE CHURCH.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  13. Sue

    Don't worry. Goku saved us from Majin Buu, so he'll definitely save us from God.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • eastsidechican

      Yea right,

      How is that possible when God is the creation, though I know this Saturday will come and pass.

      Rapture,apolcalypse, Jesus will come when He says its time, not when man say it's time. But the signs are there, if you know how to read the signs that we are in now. Doesn't take science or magic or people to tell you just look and hear around you.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  14. Bob

    Very reminiscent of the Jehovah's Witness' in the 70s

    May 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  15. Joe citizen abroad

    Arguing with these people is pointless. The argument will be settled by Saturday. I hope, instead, that christians spend their time thinking about how to reach out to these people after May 21 comes and goes. They will be depressed, their faith will be shaken, because they devoted themselves to a false prophet. They will be embarrassed and humiliated in front of their friends and family and the world. They will have more questions than answers. The army of God is the only army that routinely buries its wounded. And these people will be wounded. So let's not do that to them. These are clearly good people of strong faith and conviction. That faith just happens to be misplaced right now.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • amen

      Very well put. I couldn't have ever said it better. Lets hope the media will not hurt these people either!!!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  16. james cash

    Check out the book .......Valley of God by James Cash....... when you get a chance, its also an end of the world book if your into that type of stuff. my comment towards the topic is " this is the funniest thing ever to me", this guy makes me laugh, im thinking ....if he's right then my Smith and wesson stocks should go up....lol....

    May 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  17. TG

    To The Bobinator

    "Now that you've written all that, can you prove which bits are valid and which ones are not, given the bible does in fact have sections that contain forgeries (Snake handling for example)."

    The account that you refer to is at end of Mark 16:9-20 is not a Scripture, but is an addition by a later hand, appearing in certain Bible manuscripts and versions of the fifth and sixth centuries C.E. But they do not appear in the older Greek manuscripts, the Sinaiticus and Vatican MS. 1209 of the fourth century. Dr. B. F. Westcott, an authority on Bible manuscripts, said that “the verses . . . are no part of the original narrative but an appendage.” (An Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, London, 1881, p. 338)

    Bible translator Jerome, in the fifth century, said that “almost all the Greek codices [are] without this passage.” (The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark, London, 1871, J. W. Burgon, p. 53) The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) says: “Its vocabulary and style differ so radically from the rest of the Gospel that it hardly seems possible Mark himself composed it [that is, verses 9-20].” (Vol. IX, p. 240) There is no record that early Christians either drank poison or handled serpents to prove they were believers.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  18. Carbon Copy 1

    We are nothing, but Carbon Copies Of The Reflections Of Reality.Wake Up Humanity You are Still in The Dark...G.O.D= Go On Doing... G.O.D = Go On Dying... Which do you Prefer The Dead Bury Dead Or The Living Creating Life..

    May 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  19. james cash

    Check out the book ......Valley of God by James Cash ............when you get a chance, its also an end of the world book if your into that type of stuff. my comment towards the topic is " this is the funniest thing ever to me", this guy makes me laugh, im thinking ....if he's right then my Smith and Wesson stocks should go up....lol....

    May 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  20. miguel

    guess whos blasting the end by the doors this saturday

    May 18, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • George

      What is really scary is these people vote! I have no reason to believe their judgment selecting candidates for office or voting on referenda is any better than their judgment evaluating doomsday theories.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • McJesus

      I think I need to start looking at this sort of thing in a different perspective. Yeah they are idiots. But they have cash... cash that they think they don't need any longer as 'any minute' they are going to fly off into the sky magical-like to happy la la land. Well. We should use this to our advantage.. soak them for what they are worth. Profit off their fear. Let us help ensure that the meek do not inherit the Earth. For if they did... we'd be in for one heck of a world of hurt. Imagine a world led by an army of George W. Bush's. Now THAT would be an apocalypse.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:53 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.