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. Leo

    And when NONE of these doomsday, apocalypse, and rapture predictions come true, I wonder what the nutbags will say?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      They will say god was testing their faith and they will carry on as before with nothing changing.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Sean

      Yeah...... In my life time.... I was told that the world will end more than 20 times. St. Peters also predicted the end of the world until he corrected his writings later on in life.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • bailoutsos

      Where can I go to get their stuff?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Daniel

      they will run off and join another cult...maybe the moonies will have them

      May 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  2. Dave

    No Carlos, that's the mayans. All Mayans will live until Dec 21, 2012. The rest of die on Sat. Man, keep up! 😉

    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  3. Christian

    @ Bruce. You have an understanding Spirit, that is very good and more than most it seems. I would ask you to let that inner spirit of your s guide you to search for the one who believes in you, even though you don't believe in HIM. Bible aside. Perhaps after much inner searching you could find the truth. You seem to be a decent person.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Bruce

      Thanks Christian. I have looked into it, and my initial conclusions are that–if Christianity is true–then it is the case that I have not been given eyes to see and ears to hear. Like the apostle Thomas, I am not blessed with the capacity to believe without first seeing with my own eyes.

      If it is true, then on the day it is revealed to me perhaps God will show me as much mercy as Jesus showed to Thomas for his disbelief.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  4. mike90210

    May 22nd should shut them up, but it won't.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  5. fred

    I say we get the names and social security numbers of all those who quit their jobs , and gave away their belongings for this nonsence and on may 22 when they all collectivly apply for government assistance they are systematicly denied, unless the tax dollars are used for mass sterilizations ,i'll pay extra to keep them from breeding

    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • DoodleSheep

      Chances are they already spawned their stupidity. Retroactive abortion would probably be classified as murder, so umm... I think we're too late.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • newt

      As I have said for years, retroactive abortion is not murder, it's Quality Control.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  6. jerryherb

    the end of the world is near! you should all repent and give me all your stuff!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  7. Iamgod


    May 18, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Lettuce Prey

      🙂 Me, neither. How unfair of the government to benefit from this Rapture thingy.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  8. Muffins

    These comments need a "like" button.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:38 am |

    Just for poops and chuckles, I just read Ezekiel 33 about 10 times and it says nothing eluding to a specific date for the rapture. I have absolutely no idea from where these people extrapolate this kind of nonsense.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Colin

      And would it be any less ludicrous if you found it?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Bruce

      LOL–it's laughable that the evangelicals have instilled in you the ridiculous confidence that you, personally, can pick up a translation of a bible in your own home and–simply by reading a single chapter from scripture, even 10 times in a row–you can personally judge the merit or the faults of a religious claim.

      Everybody's a friggin' expert...

      May 18, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Their familyradio dot com leader, Mr. Camper, extrapolated it out of that place where the sun don't shine. He's a con artist, getting these sheeple to hand over money and other "earthly possessions."

      May 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • DM

      The bible is in translation but it wasnt meant to have to be interpreted by experts. It was meant for us all to read and to draw our own conclusions. There does not need to be a priest or a church to negotiate our relationship with God or his word.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  10. Jordan Li

    If I am Raptured, what will happen to my pets? Shoudl I leave out extra food or ask God to bring them along too?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • DoodleSheep

      Eat them. It's the best solution.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Rescue services have been set up for that. See aftertherapturepetcare dot com or eternal-earthbound-pets dot com.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Lettuce Prey

      DoodleSheep, you are a sick and twisted soul. I like that in a person.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Dave

      I have a doctor's appt on next Mon. Should I cancel?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Brett

      remember according to some religious folks animals don't have souls so god isn't going to want them...he only created them but ah, when it comes time for the end of the world, they are "land fill"

      May 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Clank

      Nah, the people left here will eventually try to eat them so leaving them food would only fatten them up and make them more appealing.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  11. jfromvan

    This belief is SOOOO flawed in SOOOO many ways. Destruction is to start from the international date line? When was the international date line established? All of a sudden God is bound by our imaginary boundaries like the date line? What about day light savings? If this article is right, then we'll be able to see if this prophecy is true in New Zealand first before it actually happens in our locale. Good for us, we'll have hours to get our affairs in order before meeting the Lord in the air.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • wial

      look, it works for Santa Claus doesn't it?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Stevie7

      It's obvious, isn't it? Santa Claus IS god!

      May 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  12. Tom

    Anyone who has their 7 year old daughter talking about the end of the world and dead bodies in the streets is an unfit parent, regardless of whatever ridiculous religious beliefs they may be clinging to. That child should be in CPS custody.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  13. Shin K

    Dave, since when did any religion make a logical assumption? I believe that this preacher is mentally ill and believes what he is telling is the truth. Unfortunately there are many people out there that are highly uneducated or weak and need leading. They are known as sheeple. Sheeple are people that will follow anything no matter how ridiculous it sounds. The Christian world is full of them.
    You, my sheeple, the sheeple of my pasture, are mindless people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.' ... Go forth my minions and destroy logic.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  14. Bruce

    You know, it's not really idiocy that's driving this. There is a simple fact about being human that makes many of us comforted by the idea that there is a Story to be told, that there is a Point to it all, that there will be–at least at some point in the future–some measure of Justice involved in some way.

    In a strange way I am even comforted by the thought that–if it is true–me being thrown into the lake of fire to burn for all of eternity will at least serve a purpose and that I, wailing and screaming and gnashing my teeth, will play an important role in that Story. That is, if my eternal torture in a lake of fire will somehow serve the Glory of God, then so be it. On that day I'll dive in headfirst.

    Now, of course I don't believe any of it for a second, but I do recognize the appeal. I do see that believing in that narrative of our existence would be comforting to the believer. It's not idiocy. It's quite understandable when you take the time to think about it and empathize with these folks. It's not true, mind you, but it is understandable.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • John Toczydlowski

      Bruce, you may be the most sane person on this board.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • TheOtherOne

      I enjoyed your response. It was well-written and, even better, well-reasoned. It's nice to see a post that isn't attacking someone for their belief (or lack thereof). I also happen to agree with you. It is a fantastic story and sometimes I wish that it were true. But, alas, my mind doesn't work that way. Logic and reason win out over faith...for better or worse.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • IslandBum


      May 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • TxFeatFan

      CANNON BALL!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • AndyB

      I agree

      May 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  15. Lettuce Prey

    These folks claim ". . . that the massive doomsday earthquake will start at the International Date Line before moving west . . . then that wave of destruction will roll around the world, wreaking havoc at 6 p.m. in each time zone." I've read the bible cover to cover three times and found no such details. Where are they getting that information?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Stevie7

      I'm sure it's encoded in some super-complex cypher. Something right out of the Rule of Four or a Dan Brown book.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  16. Oh Please

    To all the fools in this world who need the crutch that religion, any religion, provides I predict this. Nothing will happen and all of you will look like the fools that you are. Organized religion has caused most of the misery, hatred and problems in this world and yet people still follow something that is basically a sci-fi story. Faith? Yes I have faith. I have faith that no "God" will destroy us. We will destroy ourselves someday.
    To the people who quit their jobs while waiting for May 21st – what are you going to live on after May 21st? Oh that's right. You'll apply for unemployment and welfare benefits because no one in their right mind will now hire you.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • JeepDude

      Glad to see you're quite cable of being full of hatred without the help of a religious crutch!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Muffins

      In the past it's just been regular people saying this stuff, that the world is going to end on such-and-such day. But now it's a holy-hell group of Christians. What's going to come out of this is that people are going to put even less faith and even less stock into their religion. All they are really doing is destroying Christianity (not that it wasn't destroyed as soon as the Roman Church stuck its nose into its business a thousand years previous).

      May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • abda addi


      May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • smrtaz

      you are going under the assumption that people are good in nature and turned bad by religion. I find that extremely hard to believe. I'm not going to go into the whole debate of science vs religion, but religion is not to blame. People are what they are. Those who have done evil in the name of religion would have done so under another guise if religion was not available. It is simple human nature.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • newt

      They may be able to get jobs since very few employers are of their right minds.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  17. jo jo


    Stupid greedy people, there's too many lie, cheat, steal, etc.....

    May 18, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Free

      And you have to be pretty greedy to step all over people to get to heaven too, right?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  18. Fred

    The greatest thing is going to be "the miracle that god performed" when everyone wakes up on the 22nd and nothing happened.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  19. jddrew

    Not hurting anyone? No? What about the lemmings you convinced to quit their jobs and give away their possessions? Come Sunday morning I'm guessing those people will start hurting a little bit. What about me, I'm out of bananas and there is no time to ripen green bananas? Am I expected to be ready for a massive earthquake with a potassium deficiency?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Brett

      Im wondering what my landlord will think when I don't pay my rent stating that the worlds was suppose to end so i gave away all my money

      May 18, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Stevie7

      Maybe if you tell your landlord that they can have all your stuff after the 22nd they won't be so mad.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  20. Colin

    You think these guys are weird. I know a cult that gathers together every Sunday and believes they consume the actual flesh and blood of a dead prophet from the Middle East 2,000 years ago because a priest performs some hocus-pocus over bread and wine.

    They are called Catholics, and I swear, they believe this Dark Ages drivel in the 21st century!! If you think I’m making this up, go to a Catholic mass. It’s weird – you'll find grown adults there believing this.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Daniel

      Colin, you are sadly mistaken. We do not believe the Eucharist is the actual flesh of Jesus. It's symbolism rooted in the last supper Jesus had with his followers. In fact, the meal itself was meant as symbolism as well. Before you go spouting anti-Catholic hate, make sure you read up on your facts first. Otherwise you just appear uneducated.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • fred

      You are an idiot! Every Catholic knows exactly what the bread and wine is , a symbol of the body and blood of christ and noone but you thinks it's the actuall thing ,exactly like at the last supper Jeasus gave the apostles bread and wine and said it was his blood and flesh , you think he really meant he sliced off small peices for them to chaw down on , you really should go see a doctor about your needed labotomy, people like you are why there are warning lables on everything, like the little dessicant package in a shoe box that says do not eat !!!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Stevie7


      Your knowledge of the concept transubstantiation is quite lacking. There is nothing symbolic about it as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. If you believe it to be symbolic, great for you, but your views are not in line with the teaching of the RCC.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Stevie7


      Wow, you may want to educate yourself before you insult others while sticking your food in your mouth. If you want to know what the Catholic church teaches, just look to the Catechism. Here's a link to the section on the eucharist:


      Check out 1373 – 1381.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:55 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.