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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. Gir

    I'm gonna sing the doom song now...
    But seriously....
    "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."

    So god hate's Kiwis now?

    May 19, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  2. dee dee

    The bible says in Matthew 24:36, that no man knows the day or time that Jesus will put in His appearance, I wish these ppl would read their Bibles and stop listening to doctrines of devils. 1 Timothy 4: 1-2: 1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • May

      You are right. With each cry of the wolf, more souls may perish in the end as so many will 'turn off' with unbelief, what is God's true living Word in the Bible. Shame on the false prophets, there's will be a special judgement.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • May

      Sorry. 'Their's'

      May 19, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  3. Anotherperson

    Oh Jesus Christ doesn't know, but God does. But don't you Christians teach people that God, Jesus and the Holy spirit are all one? ROFL.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • May

      Three persons in one divine nature.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "don't you Christians teach people that God, Jesus and the Holy spirit are all one?" Depends on who's asking, I guess.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  4. Frankie Cutlass

    Matthew 24:36 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places." Didn't this all happen thousands of years ago? Or in 1939? Or last year? In fact, this is EVERY YEAR. There's always a war, always a famine, and always a con man.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  5. Angie Seay

    Well i guess that blows the 2012 idea of the end of the world out of the water.I wish that the freaks would figure out which lie they are going to use this time.No one knows when its going to happen so everyone take a deep breath i think Sunday morning will dawn again and once more these crazy people will be proven to be just that crazy : )

    May 19, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  6. Dale Miller

    I told my boyfriend he better party hardy. His b-day is the 21st. What happens the 22nd.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  7. Bubba Dixon

    P.S.
    I am glad to see that at least this is causing intelligent folk to study their Bibles .
    Praise God

    May 19, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Bubba Dixon wrote: "at least this is causing intelligent folk to study their Bibles ."

      You mean that this may be causing some brainwashed people to go back to their brainwashing manuals.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  8. Anotherperson

    AWWWWWWWWWWWWW Isn't it too bad the Christian's couldn't get together for church on Sunday ONE LAST TIME? Lmfao what a joke.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  9. Olanre

    My house is about 10 mitres from a train track. I went to bed last night very tired and early this morning at about 4am, i heard an earthquaking sound in the middle of my sleep, and my thoughts were the end is come, the earthquake is here. Alas, it was the train passing bye. Oh, what a relief! Anyway, let's see what will come next, 21st of May, 2011.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  10. May

    The truth? Today could be yours and my last day, if we hold out thinking we have until the 21st to mend our ways, we will suffer the eternal suffering. Truth. No one, not even the angels or Jesus Christ knows the day or the hour of the end of the world, only God knows, and since he hasn't said, we are to live each day as if it is our last. Honoring and praising God the Almighty, and repenting for our sins. Simple as that.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • May

      Yes, and we are to be baptized.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  11. 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!
    There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. That name is Jesus!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Atheism is GREAT!

      What you are babbling, and these make believe threats, are nothing more than a way to scare and control people. Religion is fake, god doesn't exist, the story of jesus is just a story, jesus is not a real person, use your brain.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • A Matter of FAITH

      You have it backwards. You get rid of your fear by following His word. You live in fear walking around carrying the weight of the sin that you have been committing your entire life. It is liberation to get them washed away....not the other way around!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  12. Peri Browner

    They can't leave soon enough for me.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  13. Admonition

    Oh man, I think all you people are mistaking ga y but hole for jesus and G.A.Y B.U.T.T.H.O.L.E is an acronym to....... Gerent Acculturations of Yeoman&ette's...... Bilingual Underwriters of Tyrannous Travesty from Hierarchy Occults of Linguistics Eigenvalue-vector-functions for what you all call Jesus

    May 19, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Bubba Dixon

      You made my head ache

      May 19, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  14. Bubba Dixon

    According to my Bible (KJV) , This is god speaking to the prohpet to warn Israel to turn from their evil doings before he send the Babylonians to wreak havock and take them into captivity . Do these followers , and I am using the term kindly , even read the scriptures ? We are all warned that " I shall come as a thief in the night ." Blind fools . You'd better go reclaim your jobs , possesions , families ,etc . READ YOUR BIBLE . Stop being blind sheep !

    May 19, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  15. marmaduke

    All you people that dont believe in god i pity you i am a christain and this stuff about doomsday is insane dont blame that on god or the real christains . the rapture is real but noone knows when it will happen and the world will never end real christians know that also it will change as we all know it but world without end amen .
    thats gods promise ...so just ignore these idiots that twisted the bible to fit there needs they will surley go to hell.
    talk to you all sunday 🙂

    May 19, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  16. Believer

    I have seen the billboards being advertised and sending out these messages of false preaching. What you see in my opinion is a cult movement making thereselves known. Shame on the radio stations that allow these individuals to present such a false message, but it only shows the hunger of the dollar bill. Only GOD knows the hour and the day, what is next the messiah is preaching somewhere, WARNING... Dont go, see; I have warned you....JESUS

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

    I hope my dry cleaning is ready by Saturday before the world ends so I can look my best

    May 19, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  18. Anotherperson

    Lol at stupid Christians.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  19. Joyce Clanahan

    Matthew 24 (especially verse 36) NO ONE will know...not even the angels in Heaven...ONLY the Father! We are told what the times will be like as Christ's return draws near, and we are told to keep watch BUT we WILL NOT know the Day or Hour

    May 19, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  20. RT

    God warned of false prophets..Take heed, pick up your bible and pray. Don't quit your jobs, don't give away your money, Go to work on Monday and support yourself and family. Thats what God wants you to do.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Joyce Clanahan

      AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:03 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.