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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. wow

    That Benjamin Ramrajie guy should be charged with child abuse for doing this to his 7 year old daughter. None of these poeple seem to have a problem with abandoning their families. How pious of them...

    May 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  2. Ryan

    I need to change my tee time from Sunday morning to Saturday morning.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • TxFeatFan

      That depends on the type of course you want to play.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  3. J.C.

    Jesus told His disciples, “... of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36).

    May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  4. Sark

    I really wish I could talk to these guys on Sunday. Would love to hear their explanation. You know they will try and legitimize the whole situation. These kinds of people always do.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  5. Anton Yost

    Idiots

    May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  6. marykate

    CNN – please, please, PLEASE do a follow-up with these folks on 5/22 and 10/22 (assuming we're all still here of course and the earthquakes and fire and brimstone haven't interfered with electricity and communications). I'm dying (pun intended) to hear their response. Two guesses: the date(s) of the end of the world were "obviously" misinterpreted/miscalculated and/or "obviously" some unknown, overwhelming force of good countered the need for destruction. How convenient. I realize their intentions are good and it certainly seems they truly believe what they are saying. But I feel very, very sad for these folks. They're in for a rude awakening.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  7. abda addi

    ... great time to find out the truth!

    http://www.christuniversal.org

    May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  8. God

    Come on, I'm not gonna do anything stupid

    May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Too late.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  9. David M

    May 22nd will be a weird day for these people. I'm an Christian, and no where in scripture can you deduce that the last day will be May 21. Only God Himself knows, but when it happens, everyone will know. I think these folks pretty much guaranteed that May 21 will NOT be the day.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Mollie

      Very well said David M!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  10. Carl LaFong

    The day that Newt Gingrich starts siding with liberals will be the end of the world. Oh, wait, OH MY GAWD . . . AAAUUUGGHHHH

    May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  11. isaiah brown

    i dont believe this at all why would doomsday happen 4 days from now i think thats pretty stupid.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  12. Cristina Carrillo

    Truth is, the bible says that NO ONE knows the date, the time and the hour. However, Jesus commanded everyone to be vigilant. Just like we can see the dark clouds and say, there will be rain coming, He commanded us to look at the happenings in the world and see that His coming is soon. I am a born again Christian, and I do believe that I have to be prepared AT ALL TIMES. Jesus is very real, and we will be judged by Him alone. I don't necessarily agree about the time constraints that are being imposed, but I WHOLEHEAREDTLY believe in the message of the cross and that ONLY JESUS CAN SAVE. He is the way the truth and the life. And no man can go to Father God, unless we go through Him. I am reminded of the gentleness of Jesus. People can either accept the message of the cross or reject it. I am not religious, I just follow the word of God, don't care much for mundane activities or graven images or religious relics, and I know that the good Lord loves obedience over sacrifice. Peace and love and blessings to you and yours. Cristina

    May 18, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • marykate

      Only Jesus can save? *chuckle* Christianity has been around for approximately 2,000 years. Currently approximately 1/3 of the entire world's population is Christian. You're telling me that for literally thousands and thousands and thousands of years before Christianity was invented (and yes, it was invented, just like every other religion) no one was saved? And that the other 2/3 of the Earth - that's more than 4.5 billion people - will not be saved? Wake up and broaden your mind.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  13. jo jo

    if nothing happens in MAY 21, 2011.... HOLY CRAP..... BIBLE DOESN'T WORK..... THERE IS NO GOD!!! OMG.....

    May 18, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Linton Dawson

      Question: How can one "OMG" if there is no god?

      Wouldn't that be "OMTING"? (Oh my, there is no god!)

      May 18, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Question: How can one "OMG" if there is no god?'
      Unless he is saying there is no christian god but there is still a hindu god, he could be saying OMG – Oh My Ganesha.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Lisa

      @ jo jo.......NOT TRUE!! Only these choice few radicals believe this. Find God, find peace.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Marie

      Well, if you put a few brain cells to work it's quite possible to realize there are other sayings associated with OMG like "Oh My Goodness" and "Oh My Gosh"...It's very possible to not always insert "God" into it...Just saying...

      May 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • SavedGuy

      This is not how all Christians think JoJo. This is a very radical group of people clearly needing the comfort of knowing the date of the end time. Most Christians are cringing at the thought that this information has been put out there in the name of Christianity,,,, as just like this message board is showing, does not help our cause at all. I just wanted to say that not all of us share the same sentiments on this "prophecy" that is not at all backed up in the Bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  14. Linton Dawson

    Sounds about as strange to me as believing some guy died and then rose from the dead days later....or that some guy walked on water....but I bet most of the posters here belive those fairy tales as well.

    Although, they'd call themselves sane for believing what they do and condemn these folks.

    Ain't Christianity GRAND?!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Sark

      Love it!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  15. S.R.

    They have been saying its the end of the world for as long as human beings were able to think themselves in a corner.......it's time for us to wake up from the nonsense that religion asks us to believe. God is real religion is not.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      S.R. wrote: "God is real religion is not."

      And you know this...how? Oh, by the way... which "god" did you have in mind? There have been so many...

      May 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Ruderalis

      I think he means that "we" are God. God is in all of us and we use religion as a way to distract ourselves from the powers we already have within us.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  16. calinfidel

    Say what you want... at least they're not burning Qur'ans.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Jane

      No but some Human Right group is going to start reading the quran in US churches, about 50 of em

      May 18, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  17. Ruderalis

    I wonder if these wackos paid off their debts before going to do this. Wouldn't it be sinful if they still owe their credit card company money? it's like stealing.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Sulden

      Damn, you're right. My checks will be going out in the mail..... uh, tonight.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  18. Fidei Coticula Crux

    The Spirit of Truth vs. the Spirit of Error.

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. - 1 John 4:1

    John speaks of the SPIRITS of teachers in a way similar to what Paul sys about the spirits of the prophets in 1 Cor. 14:32. John is not referring here to demon possession, but to teachers who promote error. Believers have the Holy Spirit (3:24); but FALSE PROPHETS obey evil spirits. A true prophet is one who receives direct revelation from God. A false prophet claims to have received direct revelation from God but in fact promotes erroneous ideas. So let us review what Jesus and Paul taught about the end times to see if this so called prophet is a false teacher.

    For 2,000 years people have wondered about the events of the end times and when Jesus will return. Terms such as millennium, tribulation, 666, and antichrist are used in the media and the supermarket tabloids, but questions remain:

    – Will Jesus return physically and reign on earth for 1,000 years?
    – Will Christians go through a seven-year tribulation?
    – Will the second coming of Christ occur at the same time that believers meet Christ in the air (the rapture)?
    – Will Christians be raptured (removed from this earth) and other people “left behind”?
    – What does the nation of Israel have to do with the end times?

    There are four different views of end-times events, but all share some key points:

    – Jesus will come again for those who love him.
    – Jesus calls his followers to be ready all the time.
    – No one knows the day or the hour. Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Matthew 24:36

    What JESUS Taught about the End:

    Jesus promised his disciples that he would come again. Before his return there would be:

    “Birth Pains” (Events before the “signs” of the end)

    – Many will claim to be the Messiah.
    – People will be deceived by these messiahs.
    – Wars, famine, earthquakes, pestilence.
    – Believers in Christ persecuted and killed.
    – Believers will be witnesses of Jesus to kings.
    – Many will turn away from the faith.
    – Betrayals by parents, brothers, and friends.
    – Increase in wickedness. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:12-13
    – Fearful events and signs from heaven.

    The Signs of the End

    – Jerusalem surrounded by armies.
    – The “abomination of desolation.”
    – Great tribulation like never before.
    – Jerusalem will be trampled on by Gentiles.
    – False prophets perform signs, miracles.
    – Sun darkens, moon doesn’t shine, stars fall.
    – Severe ocean activity disturbs the nations.
    – People will faint with terror.
    – Jesus will appear in the sky.
    – The trumpet will sound.
    – Angels will gather God’s elect.

    (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21)

    What PAUL Taught about the End:

    1. The Lord will descend.
    2. The dead in Christ will rise first.
    3. The living will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord and be with him forever.
    4. Don’t believe those who say the Day of the Lord has already come.
    5. The Day of the Lord will be preceded by:
    – Rebellion
    – The revelation of the man of lawlessness who will:
    – Oppose and exalt himself over God
    – Set himself up in God’s temple
    – Proclaim to be God
    – Be revealed when the one holding him back is taken out of the way
    – Be accompanied by satanic, counterfeit miracles
    – Deceive those who do not love the truth
    6. When Jesus comes, the man of lawlessness will be overthrown and destroyed.

    (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 2)

    So is this the spirit of truth or the spirit of error? I'll leave it up to you to decide.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Carl LaFong

      OK, enough. Now back to your Wal-Mart greeter job.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      you mean is this guy a nutjob? yes, yes he is.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • richunix

      Interesting, what about the REST of the world that DO NOT believe in the christian belief, are they spared?

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      May 18, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Ruderalis

      Nice post. At least you gave way more information than CNN did. This is the spirit of error...

      May 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Lettuce Prey

      @richunix, who are you quoting? I really like that.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Marie

      Really? You must have so much time on your hands...Wish it was going towards something productive...

      May 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      If atheists have evolved beyond belief, then why are they here on a Belief Blog website?

      May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Fidei Coticula Crux – If atheists have evolved beyond belief, then why are they here on a Belief Blog website?'
      Because everyone needs a good laugh every now and then.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • believer1973

      Thank you for posting TRUTH and not just an ADULTERATED thought.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      @Cedar Rapids, go ahead and laugh, it means nothing to me because you can’t conceal what is in your heart.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Carl LaFong
      OK, enough. Now back to your Wal-Mart greeter job.
      -------
      In this economy? At least its a job! We just had 1 million people apply for 62,000 jobs at McDonalds! Lighten up

      May 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • greg

      fidel,if you truly believe this, these words are so subject, they can be applied any where and any time in history, really,try to be open minded ,do you really trust the author of these words? can you verify it? does it only apply to a certain people, how about all the other life forms on the planet? people, really,in common sense, if one falls into prey of fearful,scare tactics like these mind molesting words that don't even qualify as rational prophecy, one forgets to follow ones joy and excitement and one becomes a fear mongerer who loses out in the joy of life, so sad.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  19. Al Mellen

    This end of the world thing should save us a lot of money. The F___ing wars will come to an end.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  20. Mary

    auggdoug

    poor believers i have no word to you , so what are going to say after may 20?

    Um, yeah, I think they'll tell YOU it's happening on the 21st ...LOL

    May 18, 2011 at 11:42 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.