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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. Mike

    One word..."clowns"

    May 19, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Hey, I resemble that remark.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  2. RWESTUPID

    This is the kind of lunacy that religion produces. Can't wait to see these idiots on Monday morning. EVOLVE!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • anne

      Lunatics are lunatics. Religion doesn't produce them any more than anything else. I'm pretty sure that if these folks didn't get wrapped up in this it would have been something else – religion or not. I'm a religious non-lunatic – just like millions of religious non-lunatics around the world.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  3. WacoKid

    Didn't the International date/time line get established..oh nevermind.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  4. Bill G Aldridge

    That there are people who believe such nonsense in this century provides clear evidence for their profound ignorance. But their level of ignorance is only somewhat worse than that of the religious people who believe that Earth is only 6,000 years old, who believe that the dead can rise, that there is a heaven, etc. Such mythology should have been discarded after the dark ages. But we seem to be moving toward another period of dark ages, when people would rather believe than know.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  5. drastic1

    If we send them all of our money, the christians will call it off. So quick, get out your checkbooks and SAVE THE WORLD !!!

    May 19, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  6. KB

    Mark 13:31-32 –
    "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
    I have to wonder about those such as these. Have they ever actually read the Bible? I look to Scripture when faced with such questions. The truth will set us free. We don't know "when" Jesus will return, but we are called to be ready. Maybe those in charge would do better to focus on God's miracles instead. Now there is true headlines.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  7. steve

    how stupid can you be. The bible was written to instill morals through stories. It was written by another human just like me and you. How could they possibly predict the end of the world. It will end some day, its just far away. These people are just plain dumb.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  8. A Matter of FAITH

    There will be a Day...it will surely come...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!!! Look for the Narrow Gate friends.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Al

      Seriously? the only way to prepare for this is to LAUGH OUT LOUD at happy hour tonight!!! Don't get me wrong, i'm going to Sam's Club tonight to stock up on gummy bears, soda, and chips ahoy in the event i am not saved and have to live thru 5 months of hell before the real end date comes.....seriously, can't they just pick one date in their story?

      May 19, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • A Matter of FAITH

      You could probably laughon May 21st as I too do not place any faith in what these folks are "predicting". But after that I would prepare. None of us know when or where we will be or if we will have another opportunity to obey Gods word. Don't let your common sense override His word.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  9. Boom

    Fools

    May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  10. nitrous

    Damn – I didn't get the chance to arrange that 3-way with Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek. My bucket list officially has a hole in it.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  11. Preston C

    This is clearly not Biblical:

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." -Matthew 24:36

    May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • VoiceOfReason

      Psst.... the same bible you so freely quote also says that if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off... Umm, but I don't see you following that literally. Bible – 'biblios' – meaning: book..... That's it folks, just another book with lots of stories, oh by the way, not to pop your bubble but there isn't a Tooth Fairy either...

      May 19, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • A Matter of FAITH

      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 every one 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.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  12. drastic1

    the christians are finally fed up with the rest of the world not agreeing that they are right and everyone else is wrong. They are going to unleash the Jesus nuc and end it once and for all.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  13. VoiceOfReason

    Ummm, let's get this straight,, people who believe that when you put your hands together it forms a cosmic antenna that let's you communicate with a ghost who floats around in the sky and hears everyone babbling to it, at once; well, these people believe the 'end of the world' is nigh. I say, consider the source.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  14. Armageddon

    Get your "I Survived the End of the World" tee-shirts here!

    http://tinyurl.com/3wq9h3c

    May 19, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  15. RT

    I will be going to mass and take communion on Sunday WITH my family as usual. I will pray for the poor people who followed this guy and gave away their lives, money and belongings. No one knows the day or the hour but one day, we will all stand before God and be judged.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  16. kingdomproclaimer

    The truth from the Bible speaks for itself in answer to this–
    Mark 13:33 "Keep looking, keep awake, for you do NOT know when the appointed time is."

    Matthew 24:36 "Concerning that day and hour NOBODY knows,neither the angels of the heavens, NOR THE SON, but ONLY the Father."

    Matthew 24:44 "On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because AT AN HOUR THAT YOU DO NOT THINK TO BE IT, the Son of man is comiing."

    Matthew 24:23,24 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look! Here is the Christ,' or, "There! DO NOT believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones."

    Did you notice that even Jesus Christ himself does not know the appointed time? If Jehovah God does not reveal it even to his own son, does it make sense that he would reveal it to imperfect humans? I think not. God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Preston C

      Exactly! You're right on the money! These people must be ignoring Scripture!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  17. eatmorepoison

    This is all a marketing ploy by Apple ahead of the launch of iCloud. Its DoomsDay... for the Music Industry!! Haha, made you look. Now, come look at our shiny new product.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  18. furlz

    http://nonoyoucant.com/

    May 19, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  19. Todd

    More religious nut jobs......good grief......idiots and their religion are the major problem the USA faces. Any fundamentalist religous nut is a detriment to society.... be they Christian, Muslim, or other.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  20. nancy calamita

    Iam a christian & I can say for sure that is is a crack pot. Every christian knows that no one knows the hour of christ's return to Rapture the christians off the earth. many things in the bible havent happend yet. this is what turns people off to christ and the church. the Rapture can happen at any given time, Jesus & the Angels don't even know only God him self knows when the Rapture will happen. don't listen to these crack pots I know I will still be here saturday & will be in church Sunday morning.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:56 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.