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. Observer

    My stupid desktop calendar completely missed that Saturday is Doomsday. I got revenge. I threw away the rest of the pages after Saturday.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  2. Jonboy

    I worry about a Heavans Gate type scenario with these people. I wouldn't be surprised if a few kill themselves.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:59 am |

    OK, seriously now let's talk about what Christians have asked us to believe: 1. That god loves us each, and that we are precious to him. 2. That he knows every thought and every action we have 3. That he sent his only begotten son to die for our sins. 4. That we are created in his image. I am sure there is more but those are the major points. So tell me again why there is no help for us and why we must be killed. Please explain to me why an all knowing, all loving, all powerful god would punish his children for being human. If it is true that we are created by him in his image then we are like him. People seem confused about the books that they read, who authored them and more confused about how their own god relates to them. I have a feeling that when the dust settles from this nonsense and all the other crap going on in this world" It will probably boil down to one human helping another in order to survive...

    May 19, 2011 at 12:58 am |

      What you do with the time you are given on this earth is your choice. God lets us make our own mistakes. not everone is going to come Jesus, as a matter of fact at the end we will killed and hated because of his name. When Jesus said you know not what hour I will return he is not just talking about the end of the world he is talking about the end of you or me! As a theif in the night. That is why is so important to trust in him! repent and come to know the saviour that bought you with his blood!

      May 19, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Ashrakay

      Um SAVED BY THE BLOOD!!!!,

      Sounds like somebody already came as a thief in the night and stole your sanity and replaced it with brainwashing. Any original thoughts left in there or are you forever lost to the human race?

      May 19, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  4. myklds

    I found nothing in the bible that mentioned the exact date of the end of days.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  5. Ashrakay

    God, I hope they are right, so they'll get the hell off of our planet.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  6. MalibuChick

    So does this mean I don't have to go to work tomorrow??

    May 19, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Observer

      Sorry, but you'll have to report to work as usual if your job normally requires you to wear a hazmat suit.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • Sam

      Yes... you have to go to work tomorrow but you can have Saturday off to go on your trip.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  7. Mike Thompson

    These people are really not much different than the global warming lunatics, just a different flavor of religion. We are all gonna die, repent!

    May 19, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  8. lisa

    Not true!!! Interesting this is my third post,why is it not being posted.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  9. Observer

    Can we hold the end of the world off until Monday? This is going to ruin a good weekend.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  10. Faux Paws

    My main problem with THIS Saturday is gonna be the Preakness. Are they going to let me do my exacta box with a WPD option so I can actually make some money if the earth quake happens during the home stretch with a Win/Place/Doom option ? What IS this world coming to anyway ?

    May 19, 2011 at 12:47 am |

    Just because you can read and memorize a book does not mean you know more than the average christian! it is understanding that is the hard part! it is ok not everyone will have that understanding of GOD the Father,God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! I would love to help you to know Jesus!

    May 19, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  12. thinkfinity

    It will happen. But to as to "when it will happen," no one know...not even the angels know (as said in the bible.) I know what they will say come May 22...they will say they "made an error in their calculation" and will revise their dates again.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  13. Zach Pate

    I just turned 15 on the 13th of May, and im in need of a job. Looks like it won't be hard to find one sunday.

    Hell yes.

    Dumb Christians.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • culater

      Not all Christians believe this. Generalizing all Christians as members of this group is not an adequate method of determining who Christians are.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  14. williamcowling

    We need to have these people read the scriptures....reference Mathew chapter 24 "and when the fig tree gives leaf (a synbol of Israel becoming a nation, 1948), that generation will not pass away till Jesus's return". The Bible also states a generation is estimated at 70 years so add 70 to 1948 and we have 2018, give or take since it is based on God's mercy.
    And after God's return a major war occurs "Armageddon" and then God sets his kingdom up for a 1,000 years on earth as an example of what He had wished mankind would of accomplished, but because of their innate sin nature, did not. See you all May 22nd!

    May 19, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  15. Cate

    I call them 'Doomtards".

    May 19, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • AreWeThereYet

      "Doomtards!" I love it! ROTFL!!!! 😀

      May 19, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  16. Dave

    Crap..... and I really wanted to do a vacation this year! Why didn't someone tell me... I would have taken it earlier.. 😉

    May 19, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  17. Mike

    I agree that there will be a massive earthquake as well other calamities in the coming days. But to give a date of the Lords return is ridiculous . The Lord says in His word; that no one knows the day of His coming. I agree we should not be ignorant of warnings or the signs of times, but we have to Gaurd ourselves against the temptation of being gods by giving exact dates. For only one knows the hour in which the Lord will return, and this is GOD alone. But instead of running ror the hills we need to repent and accept Gods grace, trust in JESUS , repent, and get our house in order while there is still today.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Sam

      Mike... Perfectly stated!

      May 19, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  18. jorline

    How are these people going to explain the gap on their resumes come Monday morning when they start looking for work again?

    May 19, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  19. 4bc

    This is my 8th or 9th doomsday LOL !

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

    To appreciate how wacky all this really is, see Melynie T. Gibson's "Meet The Antichrist" (http://www.amazon.com/Meet-The-Antichrist-ebook/dp/B004YQD9XQ ) wherein Antichrist Maas Reredef states that on May 22 he'll hold a press conf to explain why the Rapture didn't happen, and why it isn't going to happen.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:26 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168
About this blog

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.