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. Iosias of Washington DC

    I think this exposes one of the glaring problems in Protestant Christian sects- you have one sect of Christians who claim to know when Judgement Day is, and the rest are in the dark? If God had meant the Church to be a group of heterogeneous sects, as the mainstream Protestant Church is, I would expect God to clue in every legitimate sect if He clues in one to the time of the Second Coming.

    On a more Biblical note, there's a lot of prophesies that have yet to be fulfilled before the Last Judgement can take place, and several months (from May – October) simply is not a reasonable timeframe for those events to occur. Some prophesies are being fulfilled as we speak, it is true, such as the world going hungry, natural catastrophes increasing in frequency, wars, and rumors of wars, but we have yet to see some other prophesies made manifest, such as the rise of a ruler who brings with him the promise of worldly peace and unity.

    Finally, among Christians, the coming of the Last days will not be a secret revealed to the few, it will be something the entire Church knows. One thing this group does have right, however, is that there will be little warning prior to the commencement of the End Times, and the world will be unsuspecting and unprepared for it.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  2. funnyguy

    Well then i'm not gonna make the mortgage payment on my trailer then...

    May 19, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  3. jimmyleetexas

    I wonder, did heaven exist before Jesus? Was it empty when he got there? Who helped folks get there before Christ? After October, will people in heaven then try to earn their right to the next level of salvation? Will the ten commandments still apply in heaven, or will it be okay to lust and covet? Will Pamela Anderson and PETA be there? What about my dog? Can I take him with me? Is there chocolate in heaven?

    May 19, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  4. bjnj

    Every society has their nut jobs. On Sunday, these idiots are going to look pretty stupid. I can't wait to hear all the excuses for the world not ending.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  5. Gary

    Why does CNN continue to publicize these fringe crackpots? They do not represent Christianity!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  6. Hmmm...

    Whats worse about this.......this falls on a Saturday. Wouldn't be more symbolic to just push it back to Monday so we can get a 3 day weekend?

    May 19, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  7. Zenator

    I hope most people realize that group is a fringe bunch that do not represent the majority of Christians who believe the Bible tells us that only our Heavenly Father knows the date of the rapture and while it could be very soon, Nobody can know that exact date... YES I am a Christian, no I am not selling all of my worldly possessions to go in the yard on Saturday for a jumping session...

    May 19, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  8. pointless1

    Ground control to Major Tom...

    May 19, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  9. JEN


    May 19, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  10. DavidWS

    The Bible clearly states in several places that NO MAN KNOWS THE DAY OR THE HOUR WHEN THE WORLD WILL END!!!
    The Bible says in the book of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 35 & 36,
    "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
    But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

    So, the people of this group, Family Radio, have either been deceived, or they are false prophets. Matthew 24:11 warns us, "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."

    May 19, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • AMDesertfox

      Now this statement is what I highly believe in.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  11. It's just a web site man!


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

    That is a very interesting statement. Judgement day will come for all of us whether we like it or not. We are not guaranteed anything in this life. While I do not believe Harold Camping, if you have ever lost a loved one before their time, you know we can meet Jesus on any day. The question is, what are you going to do about it? The bible tells us everything we need to know about the rapture, and how we should respond and react as Christians. My hope is that God provides a reasonable person to be very near these people who believe in Harold Camping. On May 22nd, they are going to need a loving person to get them through this. We are to love our neighbors, and these neighbors are going to need help sorting this all out.


    May 19, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Randy G.

      Regardless of when Judgement Day is.. I am ready. Are you?

      May 19, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  12. truth

    This article is explaining the "Truth".

    May 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Sibi Mathew

      Hello people, there is nothing to worry about, but be sure that you are saved at all times. These teachings are absolutely false, and will be proven wrong. This is a fullfillment of one of the prophecises of the Bible, Matthew chaper 24:11.

      "and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people".

      May 19, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  13. suzy

    His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty, His Retribution

    It is coming this Saturday.
    The world will run red with blood of a Loving God's vengence.
    His Angles of Hate will visit unspeakable tortures on you unbelievers.
    All those not saved will be forced to kill their famlies before they are burned in hell forever.

    Praise be the Loving Holy Spirit.
    "Unspeakable torture"??? Is that kind of like super-enhanced waterboarding? Does he work for the CIA? ... Just curious.

    Oh and praise and loving to your holy spirits to you too.

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

      "His Angles of Hate will visit unspeakable tortures on you unbelievers."

      An army of math devils will soon be here? Not sure where that places this in the terrorist threat level system... Wasn't was big fan of geometry before this. Just wonder if they are Right or Obtuse Angles...

      May 19, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  14. AMDesertfox

    WOW......the World is going to end soon.......hmmmmmmm..........a massive earthquake......... I better prepare for it....................NOT. WHAT a bunch of morons wasting their time going around the nation spreading this false fact with the bible. IF this judgement day don't occur then their next assume judgement day is going to be the year of 2012. I highly believe their actions are TOTAL aberration and desecration to the Christianity. What a pity to believe this nonsense.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  15. Brooke

    This is why I'm an atheist.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  16. Brooke

    I can't believe this crap is on CNN. The media just loves crazy.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  17. Thomas

    I think the GOP is banking on this....

    May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  18. twiddly

    And then come Monday, these poor lemmings will have no job, no belongings, maybe no place to stay.
    Family Radio should be sued for fraud.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  19. Not buying it

    so, what happens if on Oct 21 the world doesn't come to end? Are the believers going to file an extension, and if so who is going to befiling the extension on they behalf, how long is the extension going to be, and who are they filing it with–since God has forsaken them.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  20. Fun Fun Fun

    I can't wait to go looting over the weekend. Anyone want to join me in DC?

    May 19, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • WVHilltop

      what makes you think there will be anyone from DC raptured?

      May 19, 2011 at 11:30 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168
About this blog

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.