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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. Rob

    For Christ's sake (lol) THIS IS FRONT PAGE NEWS? REALLY?!?!

    May 19, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  2. gues

    Get a job stupid losers...these are the same people who will l blame immigrants for taking their jobs away

    May 19, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  3. Aaron

    It's amazing how easy it is for fellow Christians to write these people's beliefs off as absurd, but never find the stories they believe about talking snakes and talking donkeys (to name a slight few) absurd.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Bible Clown

      If you are going to believe in a 'miracle-based religion,' you need to be pretty skeptical. If you tell me a virgin had a baby, and it grew up to be God but then it died, came back to life, and vanished, and then you tell me Spongebob is into pedo and the purple Teletubby is a perv, and the president is a secret agent from Kenya, you aren't going to convince me of anything except that you are gullible and easy to trick.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  4. tewrobert

    I think I am going to wait until the 22 to pay my insurance and utility bills, Just to be safe 🙂
    Look at the bright side, if it does end we will still all be together.......in he!! !

    May 19, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Elizabeth

      The world is not going to end on Saturday because in the Bible it says that we will not no the time or the day so basically nothing is going to happen. Christians are not the ones that are saying that the world is going to end on a specific day because if they are they probably are not christians.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  5. Geneo

    There is an article about UFO's, bible reading mothers and now this wacko subject. Seems to me CNN is trying to be the next ENQUIRER. What does your god Obama have to say about all this? Nothing? Perhaps he knows it's not news! What's the god Obama's dog up to these days?

    May 19, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "What does your god Obama" You are a sick man. Nobody worships the president.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  6. Apple

    Will U.S Army Crops of Engineers need turn on HAARP EARTHQUAKE MACHINE this may 21, 2011 just like they blew up Missouri and created MASSIVE FLOOD?

    May 19, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • razmataz

      Hey Skippy, I believe your tinfoil hat is on just a liiiiiiittle too tight this morning.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Bible Clown

      You and Geneo need to get together.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  7. Toni Poole

    If the world is going to end on Saturday at 6:00 pm eastern time that should be enough time to get the Preakness Stakes in.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • John

      This exactly why the majority of people dont want nothing to do with Christians, God, or faith. The bible says, "no one, not even the angels in heaven know the day and the time of the return of Jesus Christ". And on Sunday Morning these individuals will be looking at a different day to bring their broken prophecies.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  8. Amadea

    These people seem to have dismissed entirely John's Revelation,and the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, et al. There is a timeline, according to Biblical prophecy. All prophecies, up to the Rapture, have been fulfilled, but the rest of prophecy now doesn't begin (Tribulation) until the Rapture takes place, which could happen any time. THEN, there are seven years of tribulation yet to go after the Rapture (Daniel, Revelation), ending with the battle of Armegeddon and Christ's return to earth. THEN, Christ reigns on earth for a thousand years, THEN the end will come when God creates a new heaven and a new earth. The end game: be vigilant, keep ready, because you will want to be among the raptured not among those left behind. Maranatha!

    May 19, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • yoyoyo

      ZZZzzz....

      May 19, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Bro. Burton

      Amanda, this reply is not directed entirely to you, and is not one to insert 0pinion nor demeaning criticism. The world is not ending on may 21, 2011. The Bible for that matter doesn't TEACH A RAPTURE. PRAISE THE LORD!!! JESUS is coming and as our reigning KING , hoe ever not as many being mislead believe. We need to pray much fast, study, and ( HERE HIS VOICE!!!). Jesus Is Lord!!!!!!!! Brother burton

      May 19, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Jenna

      Even the information in Revelation is not meant to be taken literally. True historical studies reveal that during the time it was written there was a great infusion of symbolism and numerology. This was literally a requirement of writers in order to stay safe, similar to when Nostradamus was alive. His quatrains were designed to be cryptic in order to avoid being tried and put to death as a witch. The book of Revelations relies heavily on numerology. Numbers like 6 (meaning "bad" or "evil") and 7 (meaning "good") were used extensively. The more a number was used, the more the meaning (hence 666 and 777). 12 was used to identify the "church" (body of Christ) and 10 was used to indicate Holy. So the 12,000 saints actually indicated the holiest of the church.

      Regardless, these are all metaphors and stories meant to describe how to live your life well, in prosperity and in peace and harmony with others. Taking this book literally, after thousands of years of disproof and casual coincidence, is no better or worse than getting your life's answers from anything else... all that truly matters is that you're inspired, truth is subjective... facts are not.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  9. c_nero

    It's nice to see that the Cosmic Zombie Death Cult (the christians) have something to look forward too. Guess they can't wait to get their mansions and streets of gold. Funny thing is, they think the muslims are crazy because they are going to get 70 virgins when they blow themselves up. You are all lunatics and perhaps you just do everyone a favor and mix up thousands of gallons of Jim Jones punch and get out of the way of the rest of us who don't believe in invisible people in the sky. That would great if you could go ahead and do that.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Morons

      Religon is just another form of social control.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • JimboJones

      It was Fla-Vor-Aid, not punch.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • John

      these people are not Christians, true Christians will know that the bible clearly says that no one knows the time nor the date. Please dont define us based on these "christians" actions.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Me

      Just because YOU do not believe does not give YOU the right to belittle someone based on their own beliefs.. No one said you had to read the article.. you saw the caption you decided to read it so get over it..

      May 19, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Bible Clown

      It's 72 sturgeons, not virgins. We were just helping Osama out when we sank him.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • c_nero

      That's where you're wrong "me". I do have the right to belittle people because of their beliefs. Especially when it is so blatantly ridiculous. Actually you kind of have to expect it.
      And John, while I am sympathetic to your statement (in so much that you may not want to be lumped in with the fanatics), they are out there representing your religion to the whole world this way. So to the rest of us (Atheists, deists, etc.), you all appear to be this way.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  10. Morons

    There is no god there is no salvation. Deal with it you simple minded creatures. Faith is futile! Learn to live when alive instead of dreaming of living after death.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • TC

      God is love. He loves you and has plans for you. He believes in you even though you do not believe in Him. The hopelesness you feel and the lack of purpose you have Is a direct reflection of the need you have for Him.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Eric

      Amen brother...err, ugh...I mean right on!

      May 19, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • yoyoyo

      Morons, you took the keystrokes right out of my fingers. (does that work? yeah. i think so). Go Darwin Fish!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • John

      You said it! because there is no God for you, then for you there is no salvation then... but for us there is a God, so let us believe in our salvation. I agree with living your life, but not living it without a purpose. You will remember this day believe me.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  11. lucky chucky

    Anybody that has true faith that the world is going to end on May 21, 2011 please send your life savings to the lucky chucky foundation. Hey your going to fly to heaven like superman and I can feed some starving people and actually make a difference in reality.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  12. David

    To all the believers I ask you too, sign over all your bank assets. houses, boats, cars and other belongings effective May 22, 2011. If you are unwilling then you are a hypocrite.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • Chris

      That doesn't make them a hypocrite. It means their phony's and don't really believe the trash their spewing.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  13. Dave

    All of these people will be looking for jobs on Monday.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Grim

      haha, For real, i have a feeling these people are just going to wake up on monday feeling all stupid, and embarrassed when they walk outside.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  14. sumday

    Saturday is the day of rest I thought- you know when God rested, so if he decided to destroy the world on this appointed day of do nothing wouldn't that be wrong of him as he himself commanded us to follow his example and do nothing on that day- which is probably exactly what will happen- nothing!

    May 19, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • just an observer

      Actually, the definition of "Sabbath" is not Saturday. It just means "rest." That's why some religions celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday (Jewish), some on Sunday (Christian). It's not about a specific day. So...no God rules broken!

      May 19, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  15. Tim

    What does Buggs Bunny have to say about this?

    May 19, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  16. Tuntun

    We will be Judge by Obama:P

    May 19, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  17. K38

    The bible is very clear about what is to happen to false prophets. I believe it says that they MUST be put to death. I hope no one takes that admonition too seriously or there is going to be a body count come the 14th. I imagine these folks will say something happened, but only they saw it. See you on sunday!

    FKWG

    May 19, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  18. montoreus

    the world is not going to end on may 21 2011,, whoever started this really need to go read their bible, because it says you will not know the day nor the hour. and u should be ashamed of yourself for posting something like this,,

    May 19, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • K38

      ....And here it is...

      Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (King James Version)

      20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

      21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?

      22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • MaryAnn

      “No one knows the day or the hour!” ~ A Jewish idiom for “Rosh Hashanah”
      The seventh Hebrew month is called Tishri which corresponds to September/October. Tishri is also the first month on the Jewish civil calendar. Also referred to as: Rosh HaShana (New Year), Yom Teruah (The Day of the Awakening Blas or The Day of the Awakening Shout), Feast of Trumpets Yom HaDin (Day of Judgment), Yom HaZikkaron (Day of Remembrance), Yom HaKeseh (Day of Hiding or Hidden Day) This feast is celebrated over two days because of the difficulty in olden times of making sure that everyone marked the new moon on the same day. To make sure nobody missed it, two days were appointed. There are three trumpets that have a name: the first trump is for Pentecost, the great trump is for Yom Kippur and the last trump is for Rosh HaShanah

      – This is the only day in the whole year that was referred to as the hidden day or the day that no man knows.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  19. Anathoth

    This is so incredibly sad. So on sunday when they find themselves broke, unemployed and not in heaven what do they do?

    May 19, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Thomas

      I am sure the news media will humilate these people on Sunday. But they asked for it, not sure I can sympathize.

      It will be interesting to hear their "excuses" on why nothing happened.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Doomguy

      If i was one of the neighbors they gave their stuff to, I would put it in storage or the basement or something. If on the 22nd they came back in tears, I'd let them have it back. If they didn't want it, I'd either try to get with their families to get it to them, or just give it to charity. I'm an atheist but I'm not inhuman.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Miranda

      Who cares?

      May 19, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Snacula

      Their president will give Syria 3 billion dollars in his name.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  20. K

    The earthquakes will start at the international date line? Are fanatical Christians so dumb that they could not even google the term and know that it's an IMAGINARY line that has nothing to do with earthquakes or plate techtonics, but only to do with what day it is depending on which side they are on? I'll have to go with a resounding "yes".

    May 19, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Morons

      Plate tetonics is science. Zealots do not believe in science cause it disproves there crack pot reality. Most of them believe bad things happen cause their god(s) are angry. No different then the ancient romes and there gods.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Mick

      God don't need no stinkin' plate tektonics.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Mick

      I just noticed that all three of us misspelled "tectonics" a different way.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • K

      Ah yes, now we are the Morons. "Tectonics"

      May 19, 2011 at 9:05 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.