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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. Wendy

    Please stop calling this group of people Christians. If they really were Christ followers, then they would know that no man knows the day or the hour of the rapture.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  2. MikeTheInfidel

    1 in 6 Americans.

    That's how many of us think Jesus is coming back during our lifetime. ONE IN SIX.

    The only thing that makes Camping and his ilk crazy is that THEY'VE SET A DATE.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35TbGjt-weA

    May 19, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  3. mick

    Doomtards. Cristian-a-holics. Alcoholics. Drug Addicts. OCD's. Born Agains.

    What do all these people have in common? None of them know how to moderate and they all need outside influences to govern their lives. They are too stupid, too weak minded, too ignorant to manage their own lives. They always are hypocrites, and when they fail, they blame someone or something else, then fall to some other outside force to fix it for them. Its the kid who fails at school, jobs, does drugs. Gets off drugs and goes to rehab. Then becomes a chain smoker because this is the answer, and drinks into a stupor. Then they go to AA, smoke a ton more, but stop drinking, maybe just for a while, and all the sudden discover god. Then they go "all in" on the church and god concept, same as they did with drugs and alcohol. Now all of the sudden these are the experts everyone should listen to. The ex druggies. The ex alcoholics. The chain smokers. The people who have to get degrees from scam universities and then go on to lie about having an education.

    These are people who cannot moderate in life. And our entire republican party is listening to these fools for one reason. They bundle religion and corporate perks into one party. "Get these votes by giving them something they want, and we will get what we want" says the politicians and corporations. Ignorant fools. These addicts who scream the loudest to be heard are the last people we should listen to.

    Sound familiar? I just described every born again ex druggie alcoholic in america.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Rachel

      Does it make you feel good to put people down for their beliefs??

      May 19, 2011 at 5:08 am |
  4. notebook

    I don't care. Im still not going to school.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  5. 66Biker

    If I had freaked out every time someone has said "The end is near" during the course of my life, I probably would have had to check in to the Rubber Room Suites by now. I mean, come on... They're just wingnuts. Why pay any more attention to them than you do any other wingnut? And if you do, which one of you is the bigger wingnut?

    May 19, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  6. JW

    Making a big deal out of nothing. There are far bigger issues to be worried about. Far bigger things to mock people over. If they want to believe this, oh well. Not the first time. It would be nice if they would at least implement the rest of the teachings of Christ, like loving your neighbor, and not judging your neighbor. But really, this movement is just a drop in the bucket that will pass with time. Probably won't be the last. Will the Earth end on Saturday? I doubt it. But hey, if they are right, well, a large majority of the rest of us won't be around to realize it, so their rejoicing will be short lived and heard by few.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  7. mac jones

    End times a comin, Get it while it's HOT, get ALOT. Us damned, are gonna party like it's 666

    he he.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  8. Roland

    Whatever happen we should be calm, do what we do, place the trust in God and accept Jesus Christ as your God and saviour to be safe.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  9. mick

    Doomtards. Cristian-a-holics. Alcoholics. Drug Addicts. OCD's. Born Agains.

    What do all these people have in common? none of them know how to moderate and they all need outside influences to govern their lives because they are too stupid, too weak minded, to ignorant to manage their own lives. they always are hypocrites, and when they fail, tehy blame someone or something else, then fall to some other outside force to fix it for them. Its the kid who fails at school, jobs, does drugs. Gets off drugs and goes to rehab. Then becomes a chain smoker because this si the answer, and drinks into a stupor. Then they go to AA, smoke a ton more, but stop drinking, maybe just for a while, and all the sudden discover god. Then they go "all in" on the church and god concept, same as tehy did with drugs and alcohol. These are people who cannot moderate in life. And our entire republican party is listening to these fools for one reason. They bundle religion and corporate perks into one party. Get these vites by giving them something they want, and we will get what we want" says the politicians and corporations.

    Sound familiar? I just described every born again ex druggie alcoholic in america.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  10. Conspiracy Theorist

    This is the government's way of planning something really bad for this weekend and blaming it on that cult!!! Watch and see!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 1:18 am |
  11. Peter in NYC

    I agree with Mike = the hour is NOT known.
    I'm fed up with false prophets who will have egg on their face.
    Faith is one thing – unguided prophecy is another...

    May 19, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Rachel

      The bible pretty much says that in the end times there will be a number of false prophets.Harold Camping is just one of them.

      May 19, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  12. Shawn

    Man we have too many religious crackpots in this country. These guys should go drink some kool aid along with the Westboro baptist morons.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  13. Alex

    LET POLICE BE ALERT ON 21. 05. 11. Those people may commit mass suicide. Here in Uganda, a doomsday cult burnt 500 & buried 500 more in 2001. It was led by JOSEPH KIBWETERE.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  14. monique

    Read john 3:16, Romans 10:9-10 it's about salvation. How to get save

    May 19, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  15. SHATONFULLAS

    We should more fear the alien species that are controlling our minds, and plan to steal our stuff. FEMA has a plan for this stuff dont worry. Does anybody know how much child support Arnold will have to pay.... oh and one more thing will my friends who get raptured up auto matically unfriend me?

    May 19, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  16. Jonboy

    I've always wanted to know this. maybe a christian can answer. If NO man knows the date etc. as it says in scripture and their is always a whackadoo somewhere in the world saying the world will end tomorrow, would that mean that somebody is bound to know the day? Or does the fact that somebody will always think its tomorrow, shoot prophecy in the foot, making it to where this supposed rapture can never happen?

    May 19, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Todd

      There is a difference between knowing something and guessing something. You can get an answer right in a multiple choice test that you don't know...does this mean that you knew the answer...nope you guessed and got lucky. It is different.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Rachel

      There are false prophets and there is blind luck..Jesus said "no man will know the hour..only my father" he meant it.People like to guess these things because it makes them feel better and more in control, and some like to cause panic and misdirection.Others misinterpret or pick n choose sections of the bible ,ignoring the fact that there is far more to it then just Revelations.

      May 19, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  17. MJ

    You know, I am a Christian. A Christian defined as a follower of Christ. I love the teaching of Jesus Christ. I try and fail to live by his code. It is a great code to live by! When I read my Bible and pause to think and understand these words I never get a message of hate. I never get the message that I should carry a gun. I never get a message of prejudiced. I never get a message of crazy....So many American Christians are just totally crazy! It is shocking to me. Do they not read the Bible? So many leaders are out to further their own best interests. Christians blindly follow them. Follow them, I am afraid to their doom. When will these Christians of convenient thought wake up? I suspect never!

    May 19, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Patty R.

      I totally agree.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Sean F

      well said! I don't understand how devout Christians who live their lives for the lord can vote for and listen to people who support such individualistic materialistic and selfish philosophies. I find it ironic that the United States is known as a Christian nation and our economic policy can be capitalism... Doesn't greed fuel capitalism? no? Materialism? Envy? Now socialism... that looks way more Jesus style... Everyone share, take care of the poor... of course it's never that simple. Capitalism doesn't seem very Christian to me.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Todd

      You know I can say that I'm a doctor and I bet many people will believe me. Just because I say that doesn't mean I actually am and if you followed me to work you'd realize I'm not. Also if a true doctor struck up a conversation with me he'd probably be able to see through my claim as well. People can call themselves anything they want but if their life and their doctrine aren't the same we are going to see a lot of shocked people come judgement day.

      Even when Jesus walked the earth there was capitalism and poor. They are here to stay but you just have to walk the correct path through all that.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  18. sXedge

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/harold_camping.htm

    May 19, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  19. monique

    The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Believe with all your heart that God send his only beggoten son Jesus on the cross to die for your sins and was raise 3 days later for our justification, if you believe that and ask him to forgive you and save you he will all you need is to have faith in him and ask him to save you.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  20. Lolo

    These people posting and believing that May 21 is the end of the day...I say their Pastor is a FALSE prophet because he speaks in his own BIG mouth.. Bible guide us to know and gave us hint when is the end of the world... It is not exactly the date because no one knows the date even the Angels in heaven says the scripture.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • where_is_spring

      Hmm I thought it was 12-21-2012??? What happened to that??? I just woke up from last doomsday

      May 19, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Peter in NYC

      I agree = false prophets !!

      May 19, 2011 at 1:18 am |
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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.