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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. JazzyLee

    So I wonder what's gonna happen when the 21st comes and goes without anything happening? Oops wrong year? What? Either way I try to live my days like each could be my last so no matter what, when my times comes I can say I had a good run. Either way i'm not fixated on when that day will be and neither should anyone else. A lot of "Christians" really need to think about the things they champion before claiming to be a Christian in the first place. This whole Doomsday Theory and telling people its the end seems very Un-Christian to me. True Christians know, that no one knows when "dooms day" is. In fact we really don't know if there is such a day. We know two things only, we live and we die. When and how is not up to us. That's it. Have a good weekend!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  2. Harold Camping

    Ooops...forgot to carry the 1...looks like we all have another 900 years, enjoy your weekend!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  3. Pamela Bunting Lewis

    Does this "instill reasonable fear" in people? I got into trouble once for "instilling reasonible fear by words said. I learned then to choose my words wisely thereafter.

    I sat last evening talking with a young impressionable 12 year old member of my family about Judgement Day, about Eternal life and about the "emergence of the Fourth Kingdom" as is written in the Bible, the one created by God. We spoke of Heaven and what we thought that would be and of the power of prayer and of POSITIVE thoughts, words and deeds.

    I gained strength in our conversation and I could see that he really wasn't all that worried. I told him that I did not think that God would really judge a 12 year old boy all that harshly even if Judgement Day was near since he was 12. I laughed and said that I thought there "were some advantages to being 12!" So, Judgement Day...makes me stop and think. How would I be judged. Christ died for my sins and Lord knows I have been punished severely in my lifetime for even the slighest mistep, for more than most are in my opinion. How would I be judged? How would you be judged? And, what to do to gain the best favor in God's eyes....new beginnings. Positve changes. How to be the best we can be. And when to begin any POSITIVE changes.

    My young one asked me who I thought would be judged harshly. My first answer was in terms of evil like Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Huessin who are now departed and we talked about whether or not Colonel Gadaffi would be considered evil now with the current civilian atrocities. And I added the polluters. The ones destroying our earth and God's world that He had entrusted to us. About that time an oil tanker truck passed by outside on the busy street in front of the house where we were talking.

    Spoke to another friend, and learned that he did not believe in God at all. He was he told me "an athiest." I know in my faith that I am "to turn away from the athiest." Then, I really can't. I want him saved too.

    Faith is a personal choice and it is exactly that, personal. I think of the Jewish people who the Bible speaks of as God's chosen and yet they have just lied, robbed and cheated me out of my family home and inheritance. Are they evil? Then, Jesus Christ, Himself was Jewish before Christianity began with his life and birth. If the Jews were wrong and crucified the true Son of God, which as a Christian I believe they did, then, upon His return, He will let us know. That should settle that argument once and for all. Then, what to do if the Jewish people who killed Christ are evil. Are we to also become evil as Hiltler? God may have a Judgement on all over this subject. In my Christian faith, I do not lie, cheat or steal from others. And it says in the Bible, "My inheritance is in the Lord." There are also over 4,000 Scriptures in the Bible on finance. Truly 9-11 divided out nation and made so many cold with regard to the poor and those in need. God gave us the rich and the poor and He had reasons in both. God decides who is rich and who is poor. "United we stand. Divided we fall." The terrorists did win in 9-11 because our nation became consumed over money and those who have verses those who have not. And, then, so many missed the true treasures which are "found in the next Kingdom."

    Well, I favor the emergence of the Fourth Kingdom. The one created by God. And as a Bible based Christian, I plan to read the Bible and pray for the next few days, as I always do really, and to take the time to talk with others about their POSITIVE changes, their needs and what we can all do to make this a better world. A world that God would want.

    I will pass on the parties and beer. I am trying to change the warning labels on alcohol bottles to reflect the true side affects of alcohol which is responsible for so much death and destruction. That and drugs. I just keep walking my own path and trying to do the best I can in this troubled world. "Cast not your pearls to pigs least they trample you in the mud." I find a lot of pigs out there, some even in my own family I am saddened to say. Had to write a few off. And have already lost 16 to God's Kingdom in Heaven. I live not far from the cemetary just now and find them to be very much at peace.

    Pray for peace, understanding, a resolve of all conflict, a cleaner and safer environment, and find the good in yourselves and in others. Every day in a new day and I think that I will be be reading the Internet much like to day on May 22 and on the 23 and for many days to come. "No one knows the day, the time or the hour." And, I believe in the power of POSITIVE thinking. God can hear that too. God Bless and may God continue to Bless America. Pamela Bunting Lewis May 19, 2011

    May 19, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Michael

      Stop trying to save people. We Atheists disagree with your dogma and disagree with your faith. Trying to 'save' us is only an insult to us, and will result in hostility in return. Also, nothing in your faith (as an Atheist, I likely know more about your religion than you do) says to ignore or turn away from Atheists. The teachings of your prophet are live and let live, not convert or shun. Atheists and other rational thinkers -try- to co-exist with people of religion, but you all make it ever so hard.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Laughing

      This was truely a disgusting rant for so many reasons. One, telling a kid of 12 that god is going to take him to heaven to judge him on his sins is just as bad as the article that had a little girl talking about the coming judgement day and all the death and destruction without batting an eye.

      Now for the real meat of it, let's get into your hateful, horrible speech about Jews killing jesus and that you are waiting for him to come back to tell you to kill jews is just downright sinister. I guess I'll remind you first of all that if you read your bible, it was the Romans who killed Jesus, secondly the holy see, the pope himself has said that jews have absolutely no relation to killing jesus.

      Lastly, it saddens me most of all that you do these hateful and horrible things and can actually delude youself into believing that you are right, pure and moral. It's truely a terrifying thought to have people out there who can tweak words to fit their own ends.

      Please take your anti-semitism, hate and horrible morals elseware.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • sanjosemike

      It's distressing that Jews cheated you of your inheritance and family home. I always hate to hear things like this. Please accept my sincere apologies for this. Not all Jews are like this, and in fact very few are. Perhaps it is still possible to sue them to try to get it back. That's the "American way." There's nothing to be ashamed of in suing them. I wish you luck. You may end up with some kind of settlement. It would not be perfect, but better than losing everything.

      sanjosemike

      May 19, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Bible Clown

      What a crock of crap. If I caught you near a twelve-year-old with that kind of poison I'd knock you down. Oh poor you, the international jewish conspiracy stole your house, probably by foreclosing on your mortgage because you didn't pay. I bet you had a Bible verse about borrowers and lenders, but they wouldn't even listen, right? You are just another nut on the internet.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      On your knees non-believers and accept his gift.
      Amen

      May 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I just like to get down on my knees.

      Amen.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I do my best work on my knees.

      Amen.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Give it to me Jesus
      Amen.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  4. sanjosemike

    It's utterly amazing to think that people can actually BELIEVE this dr*ck. This should be renamed from "Day of Rapture" to Day of rupture. sanjosemike

    May 19, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  5. Dennis Hopper

    LOOK! A MONKEY!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  6. Frankie Cutlass

    2 Thessalonians 2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, ot to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for [that day will not come] until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • SingleServant

      I guess they forgot about that (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

      May 19, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  7. Tansar

    As I said, just gather all these people in a close place. As soon as its 12:00 00:01 AM on May 22nd, just kill them all so that their faith is not hurt.
    Seriously, what an illetrate presentation of the faith or religion or beleif...sigh!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • dria ledford

      yes i agree

      May 19, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  8. Charles

    Harold Camping Biblical Interpretation is Both Allegorical and Mathematical Interpretation.

    * He get his Dates like Astrologist get its predictions and other Information through constellations, and Instead of retrieving his Information from the Word of God.
    * He goes against the very words of God and his Authority, If Jesus said "NO MAN CAN KNOW THE DAY AND HOUR" (Mark 13:32) and then Jesus said AGAIN " Take Heed (pay strict attenttion too), watch and pray: FOR YOU KNOW NOT WHEN THE TIME IS" (Mark 13:33).
    * His interpretation is both Incorrect and Misleading.

    – He made a prior prediction in 1994 of Judgement Day, which never came to past, He claims that he made his predictions too soon. He has proved himself as a False Prophet.

    Check out the History's Long List of False Prophecies: be sure to scroll down to get dates when your there, God bless

    http://www.bible.ca/pre-date-setters.htm

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  9. Dax Forensic

    All these doomsdayers should be required to wear a t-shirt bearig the following: "I thought that the world would end on October 21, 2011 but all I have to show for it is this t-shirt noting how gullible I am."

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  10. 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. There is no greater gift than that received from our Savior!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • sanjosemike

      Um....exactly where was your god at Auschwitz and Babi Yar? Asleep at the switch? Dead? Absent in the rest room?

      May 19, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • A Matter of FAITH

      He was welcoming the victims home which is in to His presnce. Still reining on the thrown. Death is not the worst fate my friend! Sometimes you have to look at the big picture.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Bible clown

      "Still reining on the thrown" That's God for ya.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  11. Bro. Murez

    HAROLD CAMPING – "YOU ARE WRONG" In the process you have done an injustice to true Christianity. Not that it hurt us but you've made it difficult to get people to believe the truth. The end will come and we're indeed in that time BUT MAY 21, 2011 IS NOT IT.To all – note the following Scriptures which are true.

    Matt 24:3 – 14 (KJV) the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
    And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  12. Derp

    You know it's a slow news day when this story is featured near the top of the page. I'm Christian, and these people are retarded.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  13. brad

    REMEMBER THAT SONG FROM THE 1960's

    Those nice young men in their clean white coats,
    There coming to take me away ha ha ho ho,
    To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time ha ha ho ho

    May 19, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  14. facepalm

    dumb...just dumb. I'll be having a party May 22 and laughing May 23 when all these nutters finally realize they've been duped...hard

    May 19, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  15. Jesus H Christ

    Some say the end is near. Some say we'll see armageddon soon. I certainly hope we will.
    I sure could use a vacation from this BS three ring circus sideshow of Freaks!

    May 19, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  16. Atheism is GREAT!

    god doesn't exist, the story of jesus is just a story, jesus was not a real person, if you need religion in your life as a crutch, good for you, there are those of us that don't need to believe some man-made make believe story of someone watching over us to get us through life or overcome the fear of death. Come sunday, what are all the religious freaks going to do? I hope they all kill themselves.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Derp

      You know what makes me smile? Morons like you. See? *smile* Right there.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • LivebyFaith

      It would be easy to be able to live with no belief's and have no one to answer too, you could do anything and not feel guilty about. I am a Child of the King but I am no freak. If you call Christians freaks because of what we believe then I feel sorry for you and for the direction your soul is headed. Jesus loves us all, He died for us, even those who don't believe. It is His wish that we all come to know Him. Athiest or not, you may not believe in Him, but He still knows you.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Mike Booker

      Wow, how in the world can you say "I hope they kill themselves" nowadays??? Have you no compassion? You better hope that God really doesn't exist in your world!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Mr. Wow

      Atheism is Great ! Love ya man !!!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Michael

      And do you have any evidence that Jesus or God exist? There are absolutely NO Roman records of a Jesus, which is -highly- unusual. The only record even at that time was some strange man named John...

      Christianity is just another in a wave of religions meant to control people, in the family that starts with the Semetic Pantheon (worshipping Yahweh, the God of War), end ending insofar with Islam and Mormons. I deeply feel sorry for the people who actually believe in the fairy tales in those books such as the Tanakh, the New Testament, the Quran, and the bottom of the hat.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  17. gans

    If the world ends on 21st, wonder obama could have waited for 20 more days to send in navy seals..

    May 19, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  18. LivebyFaith

    All these comments talke about Religion, Religion, Religion. Anyone can be religious about anything. Football fans are religious about going to games, etc. There is a difference between Religion and a true relationship with the Father. People ask me what denomination I belong to and I tell them, "I don't have a denomination or religion, I have Salvation and a personal walk with the Lord", there's a huge difference. If the world ends on 5/21 (which I am positive it won't), at least I am ready. The Bible says "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord". I would ather be a child of God on the day of judgement and know that I will live with Him forever. God is my Father, Jesus is my Saviour, and the Holy Ghost is my comforter.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Atheism is GREAT!

      So do you believe santa clause is real too? There's just as much proof santa is real as there is god/jesus/holyghost is real. religion is fake, man made, and unnecessary, ye sheep.

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

      whatever

      May 19, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  19. bunch_of_brainwash

    seriously.... you stupid idiots think that the bible tells the truth and you guys follow and believe everything. Let me tell you something, what if Jesus thought that he was some prodigy and decided to make up a bunch of crap and spread it to everyone. He probably thought that he was some sort of genius with coming up with so much crap and got everyone to believe in it. Stupid brainwashed people. Christianity is a bunch of bull that is made up to dilute the minds of countless robots. Open up your mind... DInosaurs existed and the world is billions of years old. Not 5000 stupid Christians. Evolution happens and humans were not started by Adam and Eve. LOL bunch of retards.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Patrick

      Please tell me when and where it was demonstrated that an extraordinarily complex biological system evolved from a simpler biological system, or more specifically, that a human evolved from a non-human.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Michael

      Please show me evidence (other than a book which relies on circular logic to sustain itself) that some mystical deity did this, and then for some reason chose to father offspring which became some kind of mystical Jewish zombie. And, please provide some means for this deity to have also been formed.

      As per evolution, if you choose not to believe in it, then please forgo any flu shot in the future – also, don't worry about pandemics, since the Bible says that life is static – therefore, there is 0 chance that any new virus or bacterium may -ever- appear.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Patrick, humans exist, and they have monkey-fingers on their feet. Take off your shoes and look; there's your proof. Now, prove a spirit made humans overnight and thought it was a good idea to give them useless fingers down there.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  20. Tony

    Well, each day does bring us closer to the end of the world.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • RachelM

      Nope, just closer to our own personal deaths. The world will continue on, babies will be born, there will be good days and bad days, people will die in accidents, from illness, at the hands of others and plain old age; life is an endless circle.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Just to the end of Arnold Schwartzenegger . . .

      May 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
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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.