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. bruce

    the bible is the greatest novel ever written...it's a best seller and has created trillions in merchandise sales and the vatican gets all he royalties, except when they have to pay off the victims of their abuse..

    May 19, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  2. JT

    I used to think this was too far fetched to be true. Like most "Christian" posters on this site I believed that "...of that day and hour no man knows, not even the angles in heaven..." However, when we read Scripture it does NOT say that man "cannot" know that time....only that when Jesus was speaking it was not known. The prophet Daniel asked God about this time period and was told not to worry about it that these things (the vision Daniel was given) are sealed "until the time of the end." Jesus goes on to explain many parallels with the timing of His glorious return and certain "judgment days" of the past such as the flood of Noah's day, the judgment of Sodom, Jonah preaching, etc. God does nothing except He first reveal His secrets to the prophets (and true ministers today – of which, most are not). When someone takes the time to search the Scriptures, coming to an understanding of God's word, using Scripture with Scripture and not believing everything some minister is saying, one can see that Scripture is not hard to understand but sometimes it is hard to believe because it is so simple. Remember, Jesus said that unless we become like a little child we cannot see heaven. Children have perfect faith. They see what is out there when us adults try to over analize everything too much. God would NEVER give us the Bible, tell us to follow what it says to receive eternal life and then make it so hard to understand that many fail to see the truths contained in it. The truths that we fail to see are hidden because of years and years of misguided preaching and teaching by overpaid ministers who are more out for the money than speaking the truth.

    Will the "rapture" happen on May 21, 2011? I don't know 100%. But I do know that I would rather live my life today as if it will happen and find out it didn't than to live as if it can't and find out it did happen.

    I believe in God. I believe that Jesus came to this earth to save sinful mankind (which is everyone) and that if we place our faith and trust in His word we will be saved. I know not everyone will agree with me and that's okay. I just have to live my life the best I can based on my understanding and trust that God will "work all things together for His good." Peace to all and may Jesus bless you today, tomorrow and always.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • Rachel

      Only one small problem there..The bible speaks of a 7 yr tribulation period as well.You CAN NOT get 7 yrs from May 2011-Oct 2011..Many things have to happen yet.Are we close ? maybe..Maybe Camping would have more credibility if he didn't "predict" this before wrongly.He did it in 1994, and he did something similar in the 1980's.He picked and chose which sections of the bible he was going to use to support his theory and completely misinterpreted or ignored the rest.The bible speaks of many false prophets in the end days, Camping is one of many.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • JT


      I'm not saying this will happen as Camping predicts; only that when it does happen, I pray I am ready. I agree with you that there are things in Scripture that I believe have to happen...7 year tribulation period, Temple in Jerusalem being rebuilt, 2 witnesses coming forth, etc. Maybe I am reading Scripture with blinders on....Again, I just pray I am ready and found worthy each and every day. Personally I believe 99.9% of ALL chruches are in error and not following the truth as Scripture says. We all need forgiveness, grace and mercy every day.

      May 19, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  3. gary

    "Doomers" are very sick people. Confine and sterilize them.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  4. Dave

    Mortal Kombat!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 6:44 am |
  5. Christ follower

    The one thing we can be absolutely convinced of is that the world will NOT end on the 21st. The Bible is clear that no one knows the day but God alone so if people like this say they do, we can be fully assured it will not happen. So rest at ease and enjoy your weekend.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  6. Josh

    No one But God knows when he is coming back for his people. God has done so many wonderful things in my life thats its amazing. The Bible says "for there will be a new heaven and a new earth. The earth is not just going to up and explode. The bible also says. That after the rapture there with be 7 years were the anti-christ will walk among the non believers and stamp u with the mark or the beast. And then God is going to reign in jeruslem for a 1000 years. If your going to start up something like this atleast read your bible and study about these things.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • Rachel

      Yeah, It seems Camping just picked certqain passages of the bible and ignored the rest.I don't get where from May to october is a 7 yr tribulation???? Where are the 2 witnesses? Where is the Antichrist? so many things that haven't remotely happened yet

      May 19, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  7. MLasso

    And what will these doomsdayer's say when May 21 comes and goes without a, um, doomsday? Will they hold a press conference and admit that they were completely wrong, no insane, and are now going back to a life of normality, which will probably involve making sandwiches or pushing a mop bucket around? Sorry, that was a rhetorical question; we all know the answer – NO! These purveyors of a harmful fraud (religion in general) will insist they simply had the dates wrong.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:28 am |
    • Rachel

      I think the people that believed it are going to feel duped.Camping will come up with the same BS I made a mistake, or he'll pull a Ronald Weinland ( another false prophet gem) that will claim it happened, but spiritually not actually.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  8. ctopher80

    i do believe the fact that god doesnt exist may be reasoning enough to believe this will not happen. may 22nd, or rather, may 21st at 7 pm will be exceptional.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:27 am |
  9. Josh

    The world will end in 5 billion years when the sun morphs into a red giant and engulfs the solar system in flames. I think we can all relax 🙂 By the time that happens we'll be living on hundreds of worlds, and thousands of space ships. I'm looking forward to the May 22nd follow-up piece on this "fairy story" 😀

    May 19, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  10. sharplogger

    How then do you get around what Jesus says in the gospel of Mark? "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13:31&32.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  11. SB

    From the article: "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”"

    So is anyone still under the delusion that their religious beliefs aren't hurting anyone but themselves?

    May 19, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • george kerr

      Get it straight – there is no god. The bible was written 2000 years ago by drug addled fanatics. Live your life. Only in America could such nonsense emerge.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:25 am |
    • cm

      George, drug induced fanatics, American nonsense....where do you get your facts? Must be nice to be so detached.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:53 am |
  12. Jack Rivera

    There will be no rapture. Hansel and Gretel is a better story, besides my birthday is coming up and even god doesn't want to miss that

    May 19, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  13. Allison

    why are these people scaring the crap out of their kids? Then when they are fine on SUnday and nothing happened, what are these kids going to do? Are they always going to be afraid that it might be tomorrow?

    May 19, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  14. dwayne

    bunch of punk ass fools

    May 19, 2011 at 6:15 am |
  15. conzales77

    the 22nd will be the doomsday for those who believe the 21 is the judgement day. because they gave up everything and end up surviving another day. those guys followed a false teacher Howard Camping. I feel sorry for those guys.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  16. Jose Jimenez

    -Look up "The Great Disappointment of 1844". Some really ignorant people are going to experience history repeating itself this Saturday. But of course, I don't expect most Americans to know their history.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:10 am |
    • SB

      Jose, we don't have to go back that far to the last doomsday prediction. Harold Camping previously had a trio of predictions (updated in hindsight) for Sept 23, 1994; then Sept 29, 1994; then Oct 2, 1994. He tried again for May 31st, 1995 but then recalculated for May 2st 2011. And that's JUST CAMPING. That doesn't include the dozens of other predictions by other religious nuts that didn't receive any press. Theo nly reason Camping is receiving press this time around is due to his massively expensive ad campaign.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:28 am |
    • Rachel

      Exactly SB..He also predicted it in the 1980's..you want laughs google Ron Weinland..He was so convinced it was coming in April 2008 and that he and his WIFE were the 2 witnesses..

      May 19, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  17. Andrei Cordovan

    religion is one of the worst inventions made by humans!

    May 19, 2011 at 6:10 am |
    • cm

      Nah, that crown goes to insurance.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • jit

      It wasn't made by humans, it was made by Alien beings who said they were Superior.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:26 am |
    • Fox Mulder

      @ jit

      I want to believe...

      May 19, 2011 at 6:29 am |
  18. buffoon

    '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.”'

    What a bunch of horse manure!

    May 19, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  19. pet127

    Judgment day will certainly come, when? NO ONE KNOWS, it’s amazing this people claim to know something that not EVEN JESUS knows. But hey, it shows people are willing to believe anything but the truth. Sad.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:03 am |
    • SB

      "Judgment day will certainly come, when? NO ONE KNOWS,"

      Why? Because the Bible says so? Let me guess, Mathew 24:30, right? That's making the same mistake as Camping. The Bible is a book of mostly fiction, it's not a source of knowledge. Yes, the world will end some day. But there never be a "judgement day"... at least not outside of Hollywood and crappy Mathew Broderick films.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:36 am |
  20. bospet40

    I want to know on the 22nd and nothing happens who is going to get the biggest smack in thier simple mind? What excuse are they going to give and if anyone will give a crap anyway?

    May 19, 2011 at 6:02 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.