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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. TE, Dallas, TX

    My dad is a pastor and believes this to be nonsense also. The Bible is very clear about no man knowing when the rapture will come and nothing is said at all about the world ending. He loves the Harry Potter movies and does not force his beliefs on anybody that is unwilling. With any religion or non-religion for that matter there always seem to be nutcases. It is unfortunate that these are always the ones that make the news.

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

      If your daddy had a brain, he would realize that Religion is nonsense.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • SoS

      @jimmynog,

      If you had a brain, you would understand that people of faith who do not push their beliefs on others should be commended, not ridiculed. You sir are the real moron.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Bryson

      Someone should be commended because they lack the ability to think critically and question the things they have been told? Sorry, I can respect one's right to believe in god but I can't respect those who choose to.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • SoS

      Well the fact is, you can't make religion go away. Your best bet is to try to learn to live with those people who believe differently than yourself. I can tolerate a world full of religion if it is not forced on me. Why can't you? Bigoted much?

      May 19, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  2. ThroughTheBlack

    This is so unbiblical. He's using numerology with mutiplication and addition to get his date. He was a false prophet in 1994. This weekend, he will prove himself a false prophet again.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  3. Ummmm....Yea!!!!

    The world is going to end on Saturday...hmmmm....what am I going to wear?

    May 19, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • friedchicken

      yellow shirt, pink pants, and flip flops

      May 19, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  4. Fred

    I would rather burn in hell for all eternity than have to associate with these idiots for even five minutes.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Satan

      Oh really? Well now, I can definitely arrange that!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  5. friedchicken

    run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run

    May 19, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Nichole

      where???? lol

      May 19, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • SoS

      To my house. On May 22nd we can have a different kind of rapture. 😉

      May 19, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  6. Randy G.

    God has a sense of humor. Judgement day will be on Friday, May 20th.

    🙂

    May 19, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  7. Dwiteschrute

    To quote the late-great George Carlin- "Religion is the greatest bull**** story ever told"

    May 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  8. NEXT TIME

    When May 21 comes and goes (as did he's last prediction) will the people keep following him ?

    May 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • jimmynog

      Yes, because they are THAT dumb.

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

      Probably. The guy is a proven fraud, yet they chose to follow him anyways.

      The fact is, you can educate the ignorant but you can't fix stupid, and these people are clearly well past stupid.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  9. Reflecting

    Regardless of whether May 21, 2011 is truly Judgement Day, this should be a time for people to examine their lives and pray for forgiveness of all the sins we've committed during our lifetimes Acknowledge God as your savior.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  10. chicken

    Run

    May 19, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  11. jimmynog

    Uhhh, so you won't be needing that 60" plasma TV? Thanks!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • friedchicken

      run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run

      May 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  12. slayer

    Best part about end of days? Freaking Zombies man! Get the guns and swords, let's go hunting!

    See ya on the battlefield.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Nichole

      Double tap

      May 19, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • SoS

      Avoid bathrooms...

      May 19, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  13. delano j sheffield

    HOLDTOTRUTH.COM

    It would have been better to clarify what the 'end' means for people rather than put all the effort into dating something only the creator would know. But again on the other side I think that it is purely a waste of time to stress over people who have resolved that there must be a creator. I mean if you conclude there is no creator and then spend your days barking at believers you're starting to sound religious in your ritual.

    Conversations with an Atheist
    http://www.holdtotruth.com

    May 19, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  14. SoS

    We all think this is funny, but it's also very sad that these people are throwing their lives away for a proven fraud.

    On the other hand, if any of you ladies here think this is going to happen, I'll be glad to "console" you on May 22nd. Obviously if you are still here at that time then you were not chosen for the rapture so you might as well enjoy some earthly pleasures. 😉

    May 19, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  15. delano j sheffield

    HOLDTOTRUTH.COM

    It would have been better to clarify what the 'end' means for people rather than put all the effort into dating something only the creator would know. But again on the other side I think that it is purely a waste of time to stress over people who have resolved that there must be a creator. I mean if you conclude there is no creator and then spend your days barking at believers you're starting to sound religious in your ritual.

    Conversations with an Antheist
    http://www.holdtotruth.com

    May 19, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  16. Eddie Rosado

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

    May 19, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Mr Mark

      "And they heard him exclaim ere he rode out of sight, 'Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.' "

      Anyone can quote fiction.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • jimmynog

      Common Sense 24:7 "No one knows about that day or hour, because it doesn't exist."

      May 19, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • sghgh

      @ jimmynog – clever.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Reesey

      I would agree, no one knows the day nor the hour, the only truth is the Word. (i.e. your Bible) For those who know the Word, this shoudn't even be an issue.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  17. WhatWouldHorusDo?

    We have no clue if he is right or wrong. However, my strong opinion is that he is promoting his radio show and his followers are victims.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  18. swohio

    It will be interesting to see the backpedaling that takes place once Sunday gets here and those doomsayers are trying to figure out what happened and why they are still here. I have to say I'm a Christian, but honestly this kind of stuff is what makes me want to run screaming away from other Christians.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • jimmynog

      I'm sure it will be because of that cheap, Chinese-made calculator he bought at a dollar store.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • jerry

      why would this make you run from other Christians??? these people are clearly NOT Christians..... just like when people say that Roman Catholics are Christians when they are clearly NOT.... they are ROMAN CATHOLIC which has nothing to do with Christianity! just like Mormons are NOT Christians, but people just label everyone has a Christian today here in apostate America... Mormons, Roman Catholics, etc are NOT Christians just like these people are NOT! About 90% of people in apostate America will label themselves as Christian, that does not make it so.... if I say I can fly that does not mean I can fly.... these people belong to a cult – just like Roman Catholics and Mormons belong to a cult.... a Christian is a follower of Christ – and I would say that is maybe about 10% of the U.S. population....

      May 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • LinCA

      @Jerry,

      Just because they picked a different set of bible verses to follow doesn't mean they are not christians.

      If you roll the dice and come up with "Wednesday", and they roll the same set of dice but come up with "banana", doesn't mean that they suffer from a different delusion. They just interpret the same nonsense in a different way.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  19. MrsFudd

    Harold Camping is a false prophet. There is no Bible code, there is no way to find out when Jesus is returning. The Gospel of Matthew is very clear when Jesus states "No man knows the day or the hour, not the angels, not even the Son, but only the Father". So Camping is basically saying that he knows more than Jesus Christ himself. The original Greek and Aramaic texts are clear in their translation when it says "no man knows". It literally means that there is not one person on earth who has any knowledge of what is to come. Camping has made Christians a laughing stock in this country. He's also opened the door for these gullible Christians to be taken advantage of by charlatans and money grubbers. There is one guy in Boston who is charging $135 to care for their pets after they are gone. It is a shame because the Good News of Jesus Christ is being given a black eye by this foolish old man. I'm sure every news agency is going to be ridiculing the faith come May 22nd. I'd really like to talk with him on the 22nd and ask Camping what he's going to do now.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • jimmynog

      And you are only one miniscule step above his level of idiocy by believing in religion at all.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • John

      Jimmy. One does not "believe in" a religion. You shouldn't call people idiotic until you are qualified with a proper understanding of language.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  20. mick

    Doomtards. Cristian-a-holics. Alcoholics. Drug Addicts. OCD's. Born Agains.

    What do all these people have in common? None of them know how to moderate and they all need outside influences to govern their lives. They are too stupid, too weak minded, too ignorant to manage their own lives. They always are hypocrites, and when they fail, they blame someone or something else, then fall to some other outside force to fix it for them. Its the kid who fails at school, jobs, does drugs. Gets off drugs and goes to rehab. Then becomes a chain smoker because this is the answer, and drinks into a stupor. Then they go to AA, smoke a ton more, but stop drinking, maybe just for a while, and all the sudden discover god. Then they go "all in" on the church and god concept, same as they did with drugs and alcohol. Now all of the sudden these are the experts everyone should listen to. The ex druggies. The ex alcoholics. The chain smokers. The people who have to get degrees from scam universities and then go on to lie about having an education.

    These are people who cannot moderate in life. And our entire republican party is listening to these fools for one reason. They bundle religion and corporate perks into one party. "Get these votes by giving them something they want, and we will get what we want" says the politicians and corporations. Ignorant fools. These addicts who scream the loudest to be heard are the last people we should listen to.

    Sound familiar? I just described every born again ex druggie alcoholic in america.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • MrsFudd

      Thanks for your display of tolerance!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • John

      Wow! I have counseled many people in my time but you are one of the angriest people I have ever come across. What happened that made you so scared? You should seek help.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • YouSpeakGarbage

      So, we are to assume you have never had a single struggle with anything? I'm not making excuses but I think it would be interesting to find out what you've struggled with and how you overcame it. Nice jab at republicans but your statement would've been more valid had you just said all politicians.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • joe dill

      awww you just descibed your life ha what are you some misrable old mann who knows it all in life.?. ha your almost as badd as the dooms day people only thing is there better at least they know somthing positive

      May 19, 2011 at 11:41 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.