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. Slick Banker

    You people are wasting your time here when you could be out living it up. NOW is the time to take out loans, cash back on credit cards, etc, and head to Vegas. Go to the strip bars and have the time of your life.Since the world is about to end, you will never need to pay back these loans.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Alien24

      You are funny, I like that

      May 19, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  2. Alien24

    Guys, no need to argue about the coming of Jesus Christ. Believe what you believe and keep your faith. I personally don't think his coming with be on Saturday none anyone of us knows. Not even with modern technologies can predict his coming.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • InFormed

      That's because it's all just a myth.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Alien8

      I saw Jesus arguing with one of these guys last week. They told Him He didn't know squat about the Bible.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  3. Dustin

    Don't mind Mr. Camping. He's 89 years old and a bit senile. Maybe its a big practical joke before the Reaper comes for him. Which could be anyday now at his age. But how dumb are his believers??? Quitting their jobs? I feel sorry for their kids.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  4. Starhopper

    JULIEB – "Normal Christian"? That's an oxymoron if I ever heard one! lol

    May 19, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  5. A Matter of FAITH

    There will be a Day...it will surely come...it is approaching although as the Bible says we will not know the hour. The only way to make usre you are prepared for this event (when it actually happens) is to obey the scriptures related to your salvation. They say Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Once you have done this the day or the hour will no longer matter. You know that whatever comes, you have been "saved" from it!!! I stake my life on this!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  6. Brian

    Why would God choose the International Date line as a start point? This was a line chosen by British scientists back during their empire???

    May 19, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  7. Palustris

    I can't wait to see what they have to say on Sunday!

    May 19, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  8. Concerned

    I'm just hoping the leader isn't setting these people up for some sort of mass suicide / rapture acceleration on Saturday. What will there mental state be like come Sunday?

    May 19, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  9. Grant

    Ok guys I think we all know its fake ok, we can stop ranting about it and let them see the truth on may 22nd when non are raptured.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  10. FParana

    Watch out for 9-11-14 (John From Cincinnati)

    May 19, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  11. Judy

    Who is hosting the "It didn't happen party"?

    May 19, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Tim

      LEat me know where it it when you find out.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Bill_DeFalco

      Count me in!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  12. Bill_DeFalco

    Another Case of MMB – Massive Mis-Interpretation of the Bible ! ! !

    May 19, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  13. Matt

    When the world doesn't end on Saturday, they will say, "Well, I guess I wasn't as holy as I thought I was. Just wait until October 21, 2011!"

    and round and round it goes.

    For those that believe the bible and say the bible predicts this, remember Matthew 24:36: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    May 19, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • PeterVN

      So the father knows, but the son doesn't? But isn't the son also supposed to be a god and omniscient, and one with the father?

      Weird set of contradictory fables you believe. You must be quite stupid.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Alien8

      They will say "the world DID end, and we are all in heaven now," and then they will walk out in front of a bus.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  14. Not Worried

    It scares me that there are actually people believing this. No one can predict the end of the world. I am a believer in God and only he knows when the world will end. I certainly don't see that happening any time in the near future.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Keyser

      How would you know what God is planning? BTW, which God are you referring to seeing that there are over 5249 separate deities worshiped around the world today. More dogmatic idiocy carried forward through the ages to control the populace.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • J.Crobuzon

      The Kraken will rise.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  15. RCLM

    There is nothing Christian about anyone who claims to know the time of the rapture. Jesus made it clear that we on earth will not know the day and time. These people who claim to know when the rapture is going to happen are the false prophets and teachers Jesus warned us about in the Bible. If these people were truely followers of Christ they would know this.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  16. Saiyan5

    Since he knows the end start on may the 21st, can someone tell him to send me whatever money he has left.
    Also to put everything he owns under my name.
    Whoever believe that's the end on Saturday may the 21st should do the same

    May 19, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  17. Dave Pendley

    OH GREAT.... The Green Bay Pakers get a chance to repeat as Super Bowl Champs and now the world is going to end before the season even starts...........

    May 19, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Keyser

      What NFL football season? There won't be any football this year and it won't because of the "rapture".

      May 19, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • drastic1

      thanks Dave, that was pretty funny. Everyone needs to take a breath and laugh

      May 19, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  18. Glades2

    These are NOT Christians who trust in the Lord's Word (Matthew 25:13), where Jesus said "we neither know the day nor hour"...

    May 19, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  19. John Kaufman, Oceanside, CA

    Look I am not a Bible Thumper, and I don't profess to be a born again Christian, just a plain & simple man. But here is some words I remember from reading the Bible. When Jesus was asked when the end of this worldly system would come, his answer was, for the day and hour will not be given to you, for it will come as a theif does come in the night,(unexpected) for only the Father (God) knows when that time will be. Here is my point, these people have no evidence to back up their claims as to the end date, they should study their book more!

    May 19, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Glades2

      That's correct...

      May 19, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • JulieB

      You are so right, I'm sorry for these people and especially their families. I wonder if they will go to church on Sunday?

      May 19, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • InFormed

      I find it funny that a 'believer' uses concepts like proofs and facts to disprove their nonsense.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  20. TJ

    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. What??? Where is this in the bible? Thank you for reporting on this but you've only told half the story. Having a family member who believes this, and being a Christian myself, I've done some intense research on this and the way this man came up with this date is beyond insane. He has used numerology, twisted scriptures out of context and pure guesses to come up with this prediction. He refutes scripture that speaks to nonone knowing the dsy or the hour in a way thar will make your head spin. He has also been preaching about those who are affiliated with churches and how none of these people will be saved, so if you went to church on Sunday, consider yourself doomed. This movement has done serious damage to Christianity and those considering following the faith. This is all very, very sad.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • Keyser

      "This movement has done serious damage to Christianity and those considering following the faith."

      Sorry, but Christian zealots right up there with radical Muslim terrorists. This is yet another feather in the cap of Christianity and their hypocritical dogma. BTW, have any of the other 5249 deities worshiped around the world today forecast the end of the world on May 21st, 2011? I thought not.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Tyler

      I am a deeply religious non believer. I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive. I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • JulieB

      A NORMAL Christian understands this, I believe I am a normal Christian. I live my live according to the bible, we are supposed to live everyday like its our last (In a good way) but there is no one who can predict the day of judgement. Even the angels in heaven do not know the time of judgement. If I was God and that WAS the day i picked out I would change it just to show them.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "This movement has done serious damage to Christianity" I think that was done a long time ago, and please don't kill me for disagreeing, mister christian guy.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:37 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.