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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. ouy

    I don't know what these people been smoking but it must be harmful to you're health..

    May 19, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  2. Observer

    The "tick tock" sounds are just in the heads of the wackos.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  3. The Agnostic

    I and my buddy, Sasquatch, were sitting around making some fresh tinfoil hats when we read this. I don't know about you, but we think these guys are really out there!

    May 19, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  4. DANIELLL

    Is that you GLENN BECK?

    May 19, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  5. Guest

    Pator Camping is a man God. It is highly likely this will happen. We should prepare spiritually.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Observer

      Please sign over all your possessions to me or charity right now. It won't matter after Saturday, YOU say.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  6. SAVED BY THE BLOOD!!!!

    JESUS said no man knows the hour of the end not even the angels in heaven. All we all need to know is that he will come again! Are you ready? Where will you spend eternity? I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND LIGHT AND NO ONE COMES TO FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME! That statement should speak to every one of us. I have no better friend than my saviour JESUS CHRIST!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  7. George

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

    May 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  8. Guest

    I listen to the man and the man is a man of God. We should fear God. We should pray hard, seek forgiveness from our sins. Read the Bibile, accept Jesus Christ as your God and saviour. The end could be near , I have'nt learned it yet but. I believe the pastor. It might be 3 days before the judgement day it could be a month from now, it could be a year from now. Only God knows. The Bible already foretold it on the Revelations. Only Pastors likke Pastor Harold Camping may have interpreted it. We should prepare spiritually and physically.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • soulcandy

      Really? The guy is hardly a man of God. A real man of God has faith Jesus will return; by him searching for the date, suggests he needs proof which is not faith at all. It's just an old 80-something year old false prophet making money off of idiotic people who have no common sense.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • exfedagent

      It would seem he might just be a false prophet. Put this situation in perspective. God told only THIS group the world was going to end but didn't tell Billy Graham, David Wilkerson, James Robison, Kenneth Copeland or Charles Stanley (just to name a few of the significant protestant pastors, ministers and leaders in the world – I could name more. Other than the pope, I don't know who is spiritually significant in the Roman Catholic faith), not to mention the godly saints who are persecuted in Russia, China, Africa etc. God just told this one guy and this guy's group? Right...! Is it even remotely possible that spiritual pride is at work here???

      May 19, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  9. alicia

    36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father."

    May 18, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  10. Dan

    humans are dumb animals.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  11. DoodleSheep

    Idiots. If they've already bred, their children need to be un-brainwashed. If they haven't bred, they should be castrated.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  12. Rachel

    You know, it probably won't happen but at least those people are going to the street trying to save others. It's a nice thought when you think about it. Although getting your daughter to talk about the rapture is a bit creepy.
    Anyways, no human can tell when judgement
    day comes. Only God knows (pick up a bible
    and read), therefore it is impossible to predict
    when it will happen.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  13. Jay Griffin

    I was in third grade (I'm now 60), on the school bus headed to my elementary school Christian Baptist , I saw a man with long hair and a beard in a white robe holding a sign on which was written repent the world will soon end. Asking my teacher and with (I was freaked out) is the world was going to end I was told that the man was wrong, and that everything was ok, Whew!
    Why do these people continue to scare children with their myths? It didn't happen the many times the "believer's" said it would and it won't happen now. I do know a great spot here on the Oregon Coast where they can jump off a cliff and find a Rapture for themselves ( just kidding you know)

    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  14. Patrick

    It is tragic that Christians would waste their time going around the country trying to save each other...I thought Jesus did the saving. Moreover, it is written that not even Jesus would know when the end was coming...how could we ever imagine that we would know?

    Dispensationalism (which is basically what this is) is a joke perpetuated by people who have the need to feel validated and noticed, usually by those who are too ignorant to know the truth for themselves. What's more, Daniel, Revelations (the two main writings behind dispensational ideas) and the like must be read with a historical context as most of these writings were written in an attempt to encourage believers and not to predict the end times.

    As a Lutheran pastor, please allow me to ask that we not lump all Christians together. There is a healthy number of us who are progressive forward thinkers who believe both in science and our faith. I believe in evolution, but I also believe that it is a part of God's work in the world. I believe that Jesus did in fact die and rise from the dead for the benefit of the entire world, though I don't know how (scientifically) this can be true...doesn't matter. It doesn't matter whether or not I understand it...it's a part of God and a mystery to me. But just because I don't understand doesn't mean I can't believe it. That would be arrogant of me to say that something can't be true, just because I can't wrap my mind around it–I'm human.

    As Christians we have better ways to use our time and resources than to travel around the country on the "Jesus Freak Express" The real work of Christians should be about fighting poverty, ending the ridiculous hatred that so often comes from us, refraining from judging our neighbors and loving them instead, and working towards a dialogue that embraces all ideas of faith and even all ideas surrounding our doubts.

    With floods, storms, and other cataclysmic events that have already happened to this world should we be focusing on how to help that worrying about something that may or may not happen?

    Anyway, the thoughts of a Lutheran pastor, an academic evangelical.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Hunter

      Very well said, Sir.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • Timmy

      Ummm...Lutherns also allow Gays to be clergy. Maybe forward thinking but unbiblical as well.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Nancy

      Thank you. Well said.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Bret

      Interesting that in the same paragraph you spoke about tolerance you called these guys freaks. I'm just a simple Baptist preacher, but that doesn't seem very tolerant to me...

      May 19, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  15. Lucky Louie

    We were planning to go to a piano concert at my church on Sunday. Dang, I was really looking forward to it! Well, at least my wife won't have to bake cookies.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • DANIELLL

      BAKE THE COOKIES

      May 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  16. HatersBeHate'n

    I'll wake up Saturday and the whole world will be in chaos. I sit down at my desk and take out a top and begin to spin it. It keeps on spinning, SO ITS A DREAM! I wake up and nothing changed.
    Reality: 1
    Bible: 0

    May 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Tchr89

      Actually, scoring a 0 for the Bible indicates to me ignorance of what the Bible really says. These people who are predicting "the end" don't seem to know the Bible, either. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Matthew 24:36 WE don't know when. But Jesus will return. We just need to be ready! Search the Bible (I suggest you read the book of John). Don't scorn the Bible–it's the people who are wrong, not the Bible!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  17. SAVED BY THE BLOOD!!!!

    People, When will you wake up and stop dening the king that bought you? Do really think that the desciples would have countinued to follow JESUS only to be crucifed and murdered because of him if he did not rise from the dead? Of course they would not have. if he would have stayed in that tomb, then they would have went on their way not to be heard from again... It is ok the road to damnation will be wide and many will follow that path. God save you soul before it is everlasting to late!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Timmy

      Amen.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Dave

      Learn to spell properly and use correct punctuation if you want to be taken seriously.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • DANIELLL

      I like magic, witchcraft and voodoo also!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • DMC

      I love reading crazy rants like this, since it just pushes more and more people towards atheism, agnosticism and free-thinking. You are doing science and logic a service by showing the rest of us what bible beaters and religious nutjobs are really like. Keep on spewing your loony talk!

      May 19, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  18. Jody Haworth

    I don't think my first post came through.

    Anyway, what do you think their excuse on 5/22 will be?

    "Um, we meant 5/21/2015. Sorry."

    LOL

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • exfedagent

      I agree with you. When the world DOESN'T END, they will have only three possible answers: 1) We miscalculated; 2) God changed his mind; 3) We...were...WRONG! I'll wager they will answer with 1) or 2).

      May 19, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  19. h4abworld

    Mathew 24:36 Know one knows the day or hour of my coming. Not even the angels in heaven. Only the father and son knows.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • PhaReal

      Thank You! At least somebody reads the bible instead of reading the DiVinci code

      May 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • drowningsid

      You are crazy. Tell me now your excuse when it does not end. Jesus, the make believe god, said no I will later? It is religious people like you holding this country back w your arcane thoughts while other countries like china and india pass us by.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Laura

      Nevertheless, there is a very striking statement in the Bible. It is recorded in Ecclesiastes 8:5. There God declares:

      Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth [better translation: will know] both time and judgment.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Dee

      Amen....so many people put thier trust in the word of man and not the word of God. No one knows the day or the hour.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Floyd Johnson

      36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

      I grew up on the King James version of the Bible. I still cringe when I read other versions. The modern translations sacrifice the accuracy, rhythym, and beauty of the 17th century for access and readability. Luther would have embraced your version, Lancelot Andrewes would have protested. The "no..., no, not" conveys the message more profoundly and deeply than your version. Also intrigued to see the variation from "my father only" to "Only the father and son knows." That usage simultaneously reduces the familial bond between Jesus and his father ("my father" to "the father") and the blatant addition of "and son" to the origional content to appease to modern christian philosophy.

      There, I said it, I don't like your bible.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  20. paul

    I have a tee time at 7.45am on 5/21/2011. Please let me finish 18 holes first ok. And if nothing happens, I will play another 18 holes.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Mark

      May 21, 2011 is NOT Judgement Day: http://www.realtruth.org/articles/110514-001-prophecy.html

      May 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • FOX NEWS TO COVER IT LIVE

      Glenn Beck will host live 24-hour coverage Saturday. Aluminum tin hits required for proper reception.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:57 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.