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. bob

    They way they're going, they will *be* the poor on May 22; the kids will still be there needing to be fed, the house payments will still have to be paid. I feel sorry for the kids whose nutjob parents are putting them through this.

    May 19, 2011 at 4:38 am |
  2. Jess

    Im sorry but Camping should have read the bible. Only God knows when rapture will be happening. It could happen anytime. Its when God is ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Will I be praying on Saturday? Yes I will, I pray everyday for my daughters safety. But truth be told I believe Camping is wrong. Next he will be claiming he was Jesus and then the poisoned punch will be served.

    May 19, 2011 at 4:38 am |
  3. Samson

    Can anyone tell me where in the Bible does it talk about rapture? Before replying kindly ensure you have studied it well.

    Is God going to come as a thief i.e. will others not know about it? OR will God come with a loud bang????

    May 19, 2011 at 4:38 am |
    • Tammi

      Read Matthew 24 John 14 vs 1-4 1 Corinthians 15 vs 12-28 1 Thessalonians 4 vs 13 thru chapter 5 vs 11

      May 19, 2011 at 5:01 am |
  4. Ivanhoe

    For more information on this read novel ... king of Bat'ha

    May 19, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • pugs

      And the sequel: Bad, Bath'a and Beyond!

      May 19, 2011 at 4:37 am |
  5. Jessica

    But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
    Matthew 24:36 I think you alot of you need to read your bible.What makes you think that some guy
    on the radio can tell you when the world will end?When ever the angels and Jesus don't even know
    except for God his father.

    May 19, 2011 at 4:32 am |
  6. ru4rl

    they need to sign over all their assets to the poor. these are scary people who are banking on end of world. depends on what they do to save face on May 22...justify that it was an attention grabber to God, only making christians look stupid...or start killing their own kids in murder-suicide....hope it's the first!

    May 19, 2011 at 4:08 am |
  7. Richard Ferstandig

    Only God knows when the rapture will take place. There will be no advance notice. Jesus does not know when the rapture will happen. We will all still be here on May 21. The rapture is not the judgement day. Read the bible.

    May 19, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  8. omg!!

    THIS HAROLD CAMPING GUY HAS A TONNNNN OF MONEY http://losangeles.ibtimes.com/articles/148239/20110519/may-21st-doomsday-does-harold-camping-s-ministry-have-money.htm

    May 19, 2011 at 3:53 am |
  9. Audacious M

    Yeah, we've all seen this before.. just not quite as much press coverage. The Jehovah's Witnesses gave a specific date for Armageddon FIVE times in the past century before they gave up and just started saying "really soon". Now ALL of their beloved prophecies have completely expired, so they do what they've always done... update and reprint their literature to reflect "new understanding". This is just the same Evangelical end-of-days garbage that its always been. Rinse and repeat...

    May 19, 2011 at 3:50 am |
    • Matt

      They did pick a particular year. An actual date? That I am not sure of. However, if you speak to them today, they will not pick a particular day or year for that manner. I had them tell me that it is not known the day or specific timing. But Matt 24: does give signs for the conclusion of days. Or so I have been told. But then again, it was mentioned that it is not a total destruction of this earth. Just a change of conditions. I agreed with them regarding the inability to predict the date. How can anyone pick the exact day when not even Jesus knows the exact timing? Just found it interesting and came to mind when I read your point.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:22 am |
  10. NikkiEvans

    plzz dats not even true!

    May 19, 2011 at 3:44 am |
  11. adam

    So what happens if your in a airplane? are all airplanes just going to fall out of the sky? and what happens if your on earth? are you going to get sucked into a man hole, or hit by lightning? seriously anyone who believes this garbage needs to see a psychologist.

    May 19, 2011 at 3:42 am |
  12. PaddyReagan

    OMG–the fat lady will finally sing, Willi Nelson will fall into the abyss while singing "The Parties Over", and the 28 voice Family Radio choir will sing "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder!" Wait, isn't this a replay of the millenia doomsday scenario? In the context of the universe we're little more than intelligent lab rats on hot rock with water. We have trouble predicting tomorrow's weather much less the end of the earth. Push back the gossimer curtains and you'll find one more greedy big mouth ala Wizard of Oz messing with the minds and lives of those reality challenged with lies amplified by content hungry media. Stop it!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 3:35 am |
  13. Gavin Ford

    Myth-believing idiots.

    May 19, 2011 at 3:30 am |
  14. mikk

    hahahaha dont buy any green bananas...LOL

    May 19, 2011 at 3:29 am |
  15. Vin

    This is absolutely stupid. Just because a few crackpots believe that some magic beard man is going to come out of the sky and make earthquakes that magically only happen at 6pm in each timezone without fracturing the planet horribly in the process doesn't mean this is newsworthy. Jessica Ravitz, your ability to find a credible story is pretty sad, but I can't help but wonder who let you even publish this garbage? Do you feel you've done a good job? You wrote a story about idiots who think they've solved some magic code in some overly translated book without even mentioning the fact that the Bible is pretty clear on when Judgment Day is going to occur: Two thousand years ago. That's right, this OMG JUDGMENT DAY garbage that people believe in, the good ol' Second Coming of Zombie Jesus came and went two thousand years ago. It's right there in the Bible for anyone who actually has the capacity to read. Jesus himself told his dupes that it would happen within their lifetimes. The funny part was it never happened. A generation after the death of Christ, everyone panicked, because it turns out that Jesus was nothing but some dead guy who really wasn't anything in the scheme of things.

    May 19, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • YourSoul

      Thatta Boy Vin !! Live it up buddy!! hope that short span of what..?? 80 yrs was a great one!...Cause in the end ... you are going to burn in HELL for all eternity.... No, I dont believe in this happy, forgive all , type God .. NOPE.. I believe in the Sodom and Gomorrah one. The same God that burned thousands of sinners to death. The same God that flooded the earth and killed millions of sinners.The same one that you will stand before when you DIE .. and believe me.. you will die ... cheers mate!

      May 19, 2011 at 3:48 am |
    • Ogre

      Your Soul,

      What if the real god is Allah? OOOPSY for you! You had your chance.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:52 am |
    • YourSoul

      My God has no name and thus I have no religion. Allah, Jehovah... dont matter what you call Him. I fear, believe, and worship He who flooded the earth, demolished Sodom and Gomorrah, raised from the dead. And if demons fear him... you should too.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:01 am |
    • Ogre


      Doesn't matter .... if you didn't face Mecca & pray 5 times a day, go on a pilgrimage there, and lots of other stuff, you ain't gonna frolic in the great beyond.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:06 am |
    • Duuder

      Or, what if the real god is an anti-god, who hates anybody who believes in a god?

      May 19, 2011 at 4:07 am |
    • YourSoul

      Do this .... wait till 12:00 am .......take out the Ouija Board... turn off all lights ... go in bathroom ... light a candle ... DO NOT TURN ON THE LIGHT ... pray to the demons and call out for their welcome and invite as many demons as you can while you play Ouija Board.


      May 19, 2011 at 4:13 am |
    • Ogre


      Oh my, you *are* far gone, aren't you? Demons? Oy!

      p.s. I tried a Ouija board in my younger, more impressionable years. It is bunk.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:27 am |
    • pugs

      @Yoursoul ...I guess the world of warcraft boards are closed tonight and someone got their elf killed =(.. There, there.. one day you will find a way out of your parents basement and shine!

      May 19, 2011 at 4:36 am |
  16. Christopher

    With all due respect, these idiot Doomsdayers have been doing this EVERY SINGLE YEAR since before 0AD....... WAY before. Simply put, there is NEVER GOING TO BE AN APOCALYPSE because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS 'god'.

    May 19, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • dasher

      Gotta go with Dan on this one Christopher.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • YourSoul

      Hope your right Chris ... because if your wrong ... you are going to burn in HELL for all eternity. Hmmm... guess you like gambling... cheers mate!

      May 19, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Maybe


      I hope that you enjoy your eternity peeling gr.apes and waiting on the people who the real god prefers... the ones who used their brains and weren't so hateful.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:58 am |
    • YourSoul

      It sure beats burning in HELL for all eternity.... ya think? Hatefull .. you heard it all before .. God loves you .. he died for you ... blah blah blah ... How about .. He hates Sin, He made the 10 commandments that you dont follow and for that .. you will burn in HELL for all eternity? Truth hurts but its not hate.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:07 am |
    • pugs

      The evangelical atheist is the same as evangelicals of any religion. Until non-biased empirical as-objective-as-possible evidence presents itself otherwise, I remain happily agnostic.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:33 am |
  17. Optimist!

    Time to charge up the credit cards!!

    May 19, 2011 at 3:02 am |
  18. Marky doo

    No way can the end of the world be the 21st. I have motorcycle race the weekend after that.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  19. Dan

    Of course this site brings out all the atheists who believe there is nothing bigger than ourselves that is responsible for existence. Yes, this May 21st doomsday is BS, but that doesn't mean there isn't something up there that can't be explained.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Thomas

      There are PLENTY of things bigger than ourselves. It's only that none of them are God. It's only the faithful who are so arrogant that an All-Powerful Supreme Being created mankind to look JUST LIKE HIM.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  20. www.Truth.ws

    Why would anyone who is a Christian listen to Camping? And if Camping is a Christian did he forget about Matthew 24:36

    May 19, 2011 at 2:53 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.