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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. conoclast

    I think it's cool that the religio-nazis saw fit to move the Armagheddon Date up from the pagan original-just so they can "own" it, dontcha know! Oh, it's the End Of The World, tra-la tra-la!! Wheee!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  2. maggie

    The bible does not say when the end will come and when Jesus was on earth , he said he did not know either only his father knows the time. So please give a rest just live your life according to God's will and let the day come and you will be alright.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  3. Mike

    @ RT that is funny .. I hope they go charge up there credit cards so that way after 21th they have big bills to pay :p lol But on a real note , I can't believe they can sit there and really follow that NUT yes he is crazy sounds like other Waco Texas to me.
    I really wish and hope them people wake up and see that guy is a fake. If am right, I do believe he is the same NUT that said the end of the world was in 1994? * rolls eyes*

    May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  4. Atheist_Free_Thinker

    And not one of you christian nut jobs have answered the question that was asked numerous times:

    WHY DOES GOD NOT HEAL AMPUTEES? Without giving the BS line "god has a special plan for amputees" can you tell me why you never hear of an arm or leg just regrowing overnight?

    You claim god heals the sick, the blind, the deaf... but never someone who lost a limb.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • MrAtheist2U

      yeah but he can heal a starfish when it loses a arm

      May 19, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • JAMTX

      Have you seen a amputee walk? I have. Have you seen a amputee run? I have. In fact I don't think there are very many things out there I haven't seen a amputee do. By the way, the people claiming the world will end on Saturday, THOSE are the nut jobs. You live your life the way you see fit, I live mine the way I see fit. I have faith and believe in a higher being. If I am wrong then when I die I guess I just die. If I am right then thank GOD I believed.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • wolfy4661

      Those who belivee and are baptised will be saved. Those who believe not will be condemned. A wicked gneration asks for a sign and none will be given. Have a good day and may GOD bless you in all you do this day.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Atheist_Free_Thinker

      Still no answer to the question.

      And if an amputee is able to run because of a prosthetic leg that doesn't count. That is a piece of technology created by man.

      Again I ask: why doesn't this all powerful, all loving god of yours heal amputees?

      May 19, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • stoptheliars

      Maybe the starfish has developed the ability to grow a new limb, just like we humans have discovered ways to stop diseases and transplant organs. Humans are amazeing, they work so hard everyday. Then these people who live in fantasy land, make you feel like the creator has rejected you because your prayers or your demands are not answered. Look for the good in your life and that effort on your side will bring you peace of mind and eventually you will find yourself smiling and laughing as you did as a child. Please believe me, I wish you peace and happiness.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "Have you seen a amputee walk?" Seen one hop. Take off the prosthetic leg and no, no walking. THAT'S your answer? God gives them a wooden leg, if they can afford it? FAIL

      May 19, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "why doesn't this all powerful, all loving god of yours heal amputees?" It doesn't exist, or that's beyond it's power. I bet on #1.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  5. Dustin

    Initiate Project Blue Beam...lol. Would cause alot of people to crap their pants.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Project_Blue_Beam

    May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  6. 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 sure 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 9:54 am |
  7. MrAtheist2U

    Dont forget your milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper

    May 19, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Laila

      lol!

      May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Dustin

      I don't think the eggs will survive the earthquake.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  8. putz

    Religion is a JOKE for SUCKERS!!! Get smart & stop believeing in Fairy Tales. Hawking has it right again. FOOLS & SUCKERS

    May 19, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  9. Kerry Berger

    In two days hence, the portents of the end of the world will have come and gone and those who have quit their jobs and sold their homes will probably go on the dole until they can get their shabby lives together. How will they feel knowing that they've been duped? Doomsday in Christianity is such a well-wornout notion. It may have made more sense several thousand years ago when people did not have much to live for, but today the world is different, and these people need to accept the reality of life and get on with living.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "How will they feel knowing that they've been duped? " They will say "The world DID end, the world of FAITH. Now we live in a world of bla bla bla give us money." Half of them will kill themselves and the others will blame it all on ME and my lack of faith.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  10. Coach

    I'm predicting that the message will turn from doomsday to a miracle that saved us at the last second.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  11. don't worry be happy now...

    After he destroyed the world the first time, God said that he would not destroy the world via catastrophy right? I think earthquakes apply. The End of Days for the earth will be a gradual process from within.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Brenda

      No he said he would not destroy it with a flood the last time will be by fire

      May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  12. DEBlueHen

    I think it is funny how we always hear about these predictions from someone in the US. I think we have too much time on our hands.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • stoptheliars

      Obviously the churchy people have too much time on their hands. Their donations must be down so they say the world is coming to an end.so the simple minded will give them more money.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  13. RT

    for thousands of years, hundreds of scholars have studied bible text and not one has made this claim until now. I believe this guy has munipulated dates and text in the bible to make his claim believible to the gullible. I tell you this, God's word is enough for me..."No one knows the day or hour, not even the Son. Only God himself". If Jesus does not know, then shame on you for pretending you figured it out! The poor gullible people who quit thier jobs and gave away all they have are the ones who will suffer at your hand. I pray God has mercey on YOU!

    May 19, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • stoptheliars

      There is suppose to be power in belief, if you believe something you can make it happen just by passionate intent. I for one would never imagine anything horrible to happen to this beautiful planet with all the precious plants and animals. It would be great if the churchy people would leave and those who really appreciate what the creator was created here on earth could live in peace from these judgemental, war mongering, pan handlers.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  14. putz

    What a bunch of religious WHACKO'S!!!! Nothing happened.....better go pick another day guys. Stupid fools!!!! It's a fairy tale you are following

    May 19, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  15. Jeff

    Regardless, I'm still going to Armin van Buuren @ the Aragon Saturday. Might as well go down partyin, eh?

    May 19, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  16. Tanya

    I have to do my shopping on May 21st.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Tanya

      obama's fault

      May 19, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Laila

      obama's fault

      May 19, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  17. Qi

    There is a sucker born every second......

    May 19, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  18. Brent

    These people make reasonable Christians look like wack jobs. Even if it is the end of the world, who cares?

    I heard a story about St. Francis of Assisi once. While he was in a garden some people came up to him and asked him, "If you knew the end of the world was coming tomorrow, what would you do? How would you prepare? Where would you run to?" St. Francis replied that if he was in his garden, and he knew that the end of the world was coming tomorrow, that he would continue to work in his garden.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      christianity and reason hardly stroll together dear..you probably arent familiar with one of them 🙂

      May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  19. greg mortimer

    I am glad that God has a sense of humour. This will surely be causing the "heavenlies" to be tweeting.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Elizabeth

      I figured out what that day is. On the "old calendar" used by the Greeks (church use), May 21 is May 8. That is their celebration of the repose of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, and on that day EVERY year, a fine dust is found on his grave. So say "Hi" to St. John, but probably not "Bye" to the world. There is no note of what year the world will end, but it has nothing to do with that St. John. Try Sept. 11th, which is the "old calendar" date for the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist; and that also isn't an end of world, but, on the calendar of St. Oengus the Culdee it is noted as a date on which two "ale-houses" next to eachother will be destroyed by something from the sky on a Tuesday.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  20. Tuntun

    Everyone is going to die

    hahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahohhahahahahahahaha hohhhhhhhhhhhhhohhhhhhh hahahahahaha

    May 19, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Qi

      Trump investigators have rock solid proof Obama is behind this end of world and will release details on 22nd

      May 19, 2011 at 9:47 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.