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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. Muahe

    Sorry I don't believe in May 21. Be prepare any day any time not just May 21.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  2. Scott

    And I may get hit by a bus on May 20th. Drat! Yes, I'm a Christian. Yes, I encourage all to follow Jesus of Nazareth. (And let your first act of forgiveness be for the endless silliness acted out in his name.) Then do unto others like each day may be your last. That's my complicated theology.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Tool

      As a Christian I have to ask you, Jesus was the 'Son of God', not 'God' himself, right? Christians worship both 'God' and Jesus, right? Yet, the ten commandments state pretty clearly that none should be worshiped but the one true 'God'. Does that not seem contradictory?
      I'm not trying to be rude or anything, this is just one of the many reasons I turned away from Christianity and I would love to hear a plausible explanation.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  3. X39

    The Lord created the universe in a week, but it's going to take 5 months to do the paperwork on the sinners?

    May 19, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  4. Miracle Manna

    Everyone should stop all this craziness and start worshiping the moon. The moon doesn't cause skin cancer like the sun. The moon entertains the surfers. The moon has never murdered innocent people. The number one reason why we should worship the moon. We can SEE the moon. My prayers to the moon are answered at the same rate as other religious prayers. Here are a few bumper stickers I have on my car: Moon is my co-pilot. Real men love the moon. Honk if you love the moon. My favorite, MOON ROCKS!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  5. George

    what's wrong with you ppl? whoever believes this,
    is as stupid as those islamic ppl that kill them selves to go to haven, hello world we are in 2011 you must learn in school science first and than decide if you should learn about religion, don't get brainwashed by some stupid book that was written by some genius ppl.... OPEN YOUR EYES AND YOUR MIND, mother earth is the HAVEN, enjoy it while you can....

    May 19, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  6. Muahe

    Be prepare when God calls us home. To be forgiven, we must first forgive others. Give love and serve the needy. Be a servant rather than let other serve you. Share wealth to unfortunate families. Be humble. Finally, pray for the sinners to see light in God as they are living in darkness.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  7. Stuart

    The LEAST they could've done was put the end of the world on a Friday so we could have a three-day weekend!

    May 19, 2011 at 2:00 am |
  8. Nick

    There may be a lot of good humor going around in regards to this group; however, socially/psychologically/historically speaking this group has the potential to be quite dangerous.... if not for those around them, for themselves.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  9. lolnt

    I really wonder if people that are super religious actually read/listen to half the crap they say. If they did they would realize how much they sound and act like complete pyscho's.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  10. lolnt

    Lol, you religious people are crazy as hell.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  11. Tool

    Just like any good forest growth, humanity needs a cleansing burn if we are to progress into an ideal state of being. Our species is full of filth, ignorance and apathy and that all needs to be washed away. Look at all the species that have survived over the course of planetary history, have they outgrown their habitats? Have they destroyed this world to make way for materialistic desires?
    Humans are in an adolescent age that is going to end very soon (probably not this weekend but still). Collectively we act as teenagers that are all about me me me with no concern to the world around them. The most important thing is money, a man made concept that does more harm than good. This planet is the most important thing to humanity because without it, we don't exist. Until we realize that, we are doomed to follow the path of the dinosaurs leaving a select few that are physically suited to survive the extreme turmoil that is to come.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • jason

      ya the dinosaurs loved dino money and it was their demise 😉 greedy greedy beasts lol

      May 19, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Tool

      Nice of you to confront a solid concept with sarcasm, kinda helped me prove my point.
      When I say "follow the path of the dinosaurs" I was referring to extinction. Get your head out of your ass and come back when you can debate like a rational adult. Thanks.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Stuart

      Religions have been preaching about the end of the world for a very long time. The reason? Get people to listen to them because it sounds so important. Why do they want us to listen? Money and power. While they've got your ears and eyes occupied they'll tell you how THEY think you should live your life. However, they still haven't learned a fundamental teaching of Christianity: Man was cast out of the Garden of Eden because he exercised his freedom of choice. By using scare tactics and propaganda they are only trying to force us to believe we have no choice and listen to them. Such lack of choice has been a force behind such acts as the Catholic Church's non-involvement in the Holocaust and the slaughtering of Native Americans for the sake of procuring goods from the New World.

      These people may not want money, but they definitely want to be heard, to be heeded, and to be believed. Only for their own interests, not ours.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Tool

      Stuart, I would have to agree with you. I believe this movement is founded in the idea that if they holler from the pulpit warnings of 'God's wrath', they will be among those 'saved' in the end.
      Something I think is funny is that within the ten commandments it states that none should be worshiped but the one true God, yet christians over the last 2000 years have worshiped Jesus as well as God, even though their bible states that he was the 'son of God' and not God himself.
      Bottom line is, they want control, be it through money or belief. Certain people will say and do anything they can to gain attention/power/respect. This may be just another case of that.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  12. jason

    I'll be waiting for the May 22nd broadcast of this radio show when they say "whoops did we say May 21st ? we meant june 21st , then on june 22nds broadcast whoops did we say june 21st 2011 we meant June 21st 2012. Fact is there is no date given for when the rapture will happen only clues to watch for , No one is going to get the perfect heads up on the day and time until your right in the middle of the chaotic event. At a point when theres no more denying it and you cant wake up thinking its just a bad dream. To be out there spreading the word of faith , being right with God and warning it will all end at some point and your forgiveness may be too late is one thing BUT to slap a date on it and a promise that this will happen is NUTS and its people like that who need to be locked away and evaluated instead of being allowed out there attempting to stir mass hysteria without concrete "sain minded" facts.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Tool

      Considering their prediction states the end of the world simply STARTS on may 21st, you aren't going to hear what you are expecting.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Rachel

      According to them , the end STARTS May 21st, it ends Oct 21st..Harold Camping will do exactly what Ronald Weinland( another gemstone..google him for a laugh)did and back peddle and say he didn't mean literally but spiritually.Howver, jesus did warn of MANY false prophets in the end days.

      May 19, 2011 at 5:05 am |
  13. Apeman

    I belong to the Frisby religion, we believe when you die, your sole goes up on the roof and you can't get it down...

    What are the morons plan B on May 22nd? Pick their noses no doubt

    May 19, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • WhatHandbag

      So you're a Frisboterian like me!

      May 19, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  14. A. J. Legnani

    wow umm learn plate techtonics first. second be careful of the cherry koolade.... other then that I wish you luck, its just a shame that I will be takeing my test for ems on that day, im pretty shure though we shouldent put all our eggs in one basket. just a sugestion

    May 19, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  15. Steve T

    And people wonder why the Romans threw the Christians to the lions...

    May 19, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Stuart

      I can't blame them.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  16. Julian

    Theres no way the world ends on Saturday, I have yogurt in the fridge that expires next week.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  17. Lee Oates

    You don't need religion to realize that we are committing species suicide by our pollution and destruction of the planet. I think that most people in the back of their minds know with some cetainty that things are going to get very bad in the near future. Any intelligent person can understand that:

    (1) The worlds population continues to rise and our resources are declining. Oil has peaked.
    (2) We have built an entire civilization on a non-renewable resource (oil), and failed to seriously consider building alternate, non-polluting energy sources.
    (3) We are polluting the planet's air, water, oceans, and lands to the point of ecolgical collapse. [The Gulf oil spill being a classic example, or the killing of forests and phytoplankton to the point were it will affect our oxygen levels, or Climate change resulting from our destructive behaviours].
    (4) Our governments are corrupt, controlled by corporate interests, and block serious change. [World-wide, not simply the US].
    (5) Our food sources are declining, creating hunger and civil unrest. [World-wide]
    (6) The unequal distribution of wealth resulting in a few very rich and massive poverty [World-wide].
    (7) Human behaviour itself is working against our survival, i.e., denying problems, prograstination and hope it will go away, and leave it up to a fairy-tale figure to resolve it all in some supernatural way. Above all, a high level of ignorance prevails, maintained by politics and religion.
    (8) We are slowly building up to a 3rd world war involving nuclear weapons, which could hasten our destruction.

    Is it any wonder that the human species is slowly going insane as it faces the consequences of their behavior. Its all just a matter of time. I'll give us anywhere between 10 to 50 years. You can expect many more doomsday predictions in the near future as people are forced by circustances to acknowledge a dawning reality. And, In typical fashion, we will do our best to kill the messangers of bad news.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • brian jimenez

      Um can you repeat everything after you dont need religion .... the mindless drivel you spewed made me nod off a bit can i have my 90 seconds back please !!!

      May 19, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  18. XPYNII

    THIS IS BLASPHEMING ........THIS FALSE PROPHET IS A SIGN OF END TIME BUT NO ONE KNOWS THE DAY...JUST HAVE FAITH IN GOD AND BELIEVE.THIS IS NOT FOR US TO THINK ABOUT KEEP LIGHT OF FAITH BURNING. GOD IS WITH US.EMMANUEL..

    May 19, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Faux Paws

      Why are you shouting ?

      May 19, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Nick

      Amen.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • Jordan Watson

      Your an idiot too. The world will end when the sun engulfs it billions of years from now. Jesus has nothing to do with it.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • TruthSquid

      You mean: just stay stupid and believe whatever your tax-dodging minister tells you. Two thousand years of lies, 5000 really.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  19. AG

    I'm a Christian, in the Bible it says 'No one knows the time nor the hour', in reference to the end of the world... soooooo I'm not sure where these people are getting their info from. I would love to see and interview with these people on May 22nd, I personally will be very amused.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Samb499

      there are still a few days left
      perhaps we can buy some land from them...real cheap
      just enough to pay their bills at the motor home court

      May 19, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • TruthSquid

      "in the Bible it says"... Invoking that phrase ensures any reasonable, logical, educated and non-brainwashed reader will ignore (or actively laugh at) whatever comes next. Tax churches and ensure their marketing complies with FTC truth-in-advertising standards.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Caral From SoCal

      Sigh. Another group who calls themselves "christian" but does not hold to Christian beliefs. This group worries me – very cult-like in terms of selling all, quitting jobs, spouting "truths" that are extra-Biblical. Somebody lock up the kool-aid – and watch the children.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:12 am |
  20. Tree

    Um yeah......I worship the flying spaghetti monster. He boiled for our sins.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:35 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.