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. Truth Ws

    Seek the truth and stay away from false teachers.
    Poll is at http://www.truth.ws thank you.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Yawn


      May 19, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  2. Thedude

    They have left their kids for a stupid book, wow. This fanaticism is the predecessor of Al Qaeda, islamic radicalism in this day and age was the christian terrorism of the middle ages. same difference. Same acts different times.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  3. Truth Ws

    Just take the poll at http://www.TRUTH.ws

    May 19, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Jordan Watson

      it is stupid to quote it for or against anything. NONE OF IT EVER HAPPENED. And none of the predictions mean anything. Jesus Christ!

      May 19, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  4. danai306

    I have checked independently and done all the calculations and May 21, 2011 is the date of the end of the 3rd Great Tribulation. The first Great Tribulation was when Jacob left Canaan for Egypt and the second Great Tribulation was when Nebuchadnezzars troops conquered and razed Jerusalem to the ground. God told Daniel the intervals between the great tribulations will be 1290 days(years) and that the Abomination of Desolation will last 2300 evenings and mornings.

    When we use these figures in our calculations the end of the third great tribulation falls on May 21, 2011. Jesus said IMMEDIATELY after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light .......
    It is left with whether Jeus will honor that promise to come at the end of the great tribulation.

    There is however a verse in Deuteronomy 32:8 that states God will end the world IMMEDIATELY the last of the Elect of God, the true children of Israel is born and saved. Because of the practice of contraception over the last 40-50 years, the world's population at this time is estimated to be short by at least 2 billion individuals. If God has factored this in already then MAY 21 IS THE DATE! Otherwise so far as there is even 1 elect of God not yet born and saved God will issue a stay of execution as he did in the case of King Hezekiah in 2Kings 20:15.

    Whatever the case, the end of the world cannot be far away. It has to be in our generation. Jesus said when we see the fig tree in leaf we should know that it is near at the very door. The fig tree is the nation of Israel and it became a nation again in 1948 so we are in the time frame set forth by God. It is going to be May 21 or very soon.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Jordan Watson

      it is stupid to quote it for or against anything. NONE OF IT EVER HAPPENED. And none of the predictions mean anything. Jesus Christ!

      May 19, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • USC chemist

      so, when there is no apocalypse, will we go to the old stand by of, "when it says 1290 days, the problem is that we don't know how long a day is...to god that is". Why don't all of the radical christians who preach fundamentalist teachings and doomsday prophecies go buy an island and live on it and leave the rest of us alone.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • Rachel

      Correct .Jesus did say these things, and there will be signs( some of which have happened, some of which are yet to have happened).you need to read the WHOLE bible ,not just revelations.But I DOUBT very highly that it may 21st..Jesus said that no one would know'only the father'.he did not mean no one will know but Harold Camping a 90 yr old fart who has predicted( and wrongly might I add) this same misinterpretation of the bible in the 80's ( how people like to forget that) or in 1994.The fact that this false prophet idiot keeps getting followers really astounds me.he picks and chooses which scripture supports his theories like its a buffet restaurant, and he seems to be forgetting some pretty key points that the bible mentions too.Dare I mention that the bible doesn't even mention WHEN in the tribulation the so called rapture occurs?Some believe before, some during and some after.. The word Rapture isn't even mentioned that way in the bible.I only hope that when they are still here on may 22nd that this fart drops off the earth and shuts his mouth.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:58 am |
  5. Truth Ws

    One reply Matthew 24:36 says it all.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:45 am |
  6. Truth Ws

    To participate in a Poll, about the end of the world, check out http://www.truth.ws

    May 19, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  7. David

    There is no Santa Claus, there is no tooth fairy, there is no Thor, there is no Apollo, and there is no God. Wake up you fools! You're living your life believing in a fairly tale. Humans evolved over time – just like every other animal in the world. That's a fact. Accept it. Form your beliefs based on facts, not faith. Faith is a dangerous thing because it ignores reality.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • Jordan Watson

      Agreed. There is as much chance that the rapture will happen as finding Santa Claus in your chimney

      May 19, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Josh

      You say faith is dangerous because it ignores reality but it was faith that spurned most movements that became contemporary, athiest by default, science. Who is the bigger fool? Is it he who believes in a greater good outside of himself and selflessly works to help people or is it he who believes that the power to manipulate and create in this vast cosmos began and culminated in "modern man?" There is not, nor has there even been any proof of this supposed evolution. I've seen the reconstructed castes in the Museum of Natural History which were built around a tooth fragment later discovdered to be a rhinoscerous or whatever it was.

      Science is the new world religion. Its tenants are clear, its being preached to more people than the Gospels, its got its temples and its prophets in white....its all very fitting to an "age of reason" and is simply a man made solution to understanding a mystery, but just because you apply a man made formula to a phenomenon does not mean you understand it, it is simply interpretation by deduction, and while it sounds nice, it is no closer to the truth than most every other thing that came before it or will come after it. read up on quantum mechanics and tell me that sounds more realistic then the notion of a being of superior knowledge manipulating the elements of earth to create sentient man...its a logical fallacy....if we can do what we can do in a universe four billion years old, simple statistics demands than someone else would have done it beforehand, especially if we had "evlved" so drastically in a cosmic blink of an eye, as the prophet richard dawkins likes to put it.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • Q

      @Josh – Whatever you choose to believe, the products of science work. From geostationary satellites to drugs treating cancers, all are founded in a simple appreciation of physical evidence and a methodology for acquiring knowledge validated in it's ability to produce tangible useful technology. You confuse what you don't understand as evidence for what you hope to be true.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  8. jerry

    If I am missing after the rapture the god loves athiests. We are partying our socks off this weekend, join us.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  9. Jordan Watson

    it is stupid to quote it for or against anything. NONE OF IT EVER HAPPENED. And none of the predictions mean anything. Jesus Christ!

    May 19, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Rachel

      have you gotten it out of your system yet?????? We get the point already.

      May 19, 2011 at 5:01 am |
  10. brian

    crazy, sad, idiots!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  11. Science Teacher

    No thanks on the Kool-Aid...I'll stick to Gatorade this weekend, thank you!

    May 19, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  12. LaurieG

    Have these people ever read the Word of God? Matthew 24: 36, 42, & 44 says no one know the day or hour when Jesus will come. As humans, we all make mistakes. This group of well-meaning believers will see theirs on May 21st. Hopefully, they will not let their pride get in the way but know that their interpretation needs more studying.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • hmm...


      May 19, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • Jordan Watson


      May 19, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  13. Bob

    The world cannot end on Saturday. I just ordered my new 27" iMac and it won't be here for another week.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  14. Terry P

    This guy has already struck out in his predictions. Those who think he is able to tell when the 'end' is coming needs their heads examined – to see if they have any brains.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  15. hmm...

    There are hundreds of different Christian denominations. Many Christians and denominations disagree with this teaching (by Harold Camping). It is irresponsible of CNN to attribute this Doom's Day prediction belief to all Christians.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  16. Frobious

    What a bunch of bs...I'm going to laugh when everyone who believes in this nonsense, who lost everything for this, has to start all over....

    May 19, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  17. Sherri H

    Oh... and I would rather be Pro-life... than protect a plant.... just saying.. whats the point

    May 19, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Sherri H

      Not at all agreeing that these people are right... just saying... let them believe whatever it is that they want.... why does it have to involve anyone else?

      May 19, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  18. Steve6167

    Crazy is just crazy. Rather simple.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  19. Sherri H

    So I have to be completely stupid to believe that Jesus is God and has control over everything? Wow... I guess that believing that things just happen is easier........ Keep your words soft and sweet, because someday later on, you may have to eat them.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:13 am |
  20. elliemae

    If only people knew that the "rapture" isn't the end of anything, but the beginning of a new age. There's no mass genocide, though it's interesting how many of these presumably pro-lifers wait with glee for their impending carnage. Egos of very young spiritual children caught up in literal interpretation. Much to learn, they have.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:11 am |
    • Sherri H

      does it make you feel superior, to put down someone for their opinion? if so.. I am sorry that your mother was a pro-lifer too

      May 19, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • Pacoatemiami

      Teach me more, Master Yoda.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:23 am |
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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.