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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. Kool Aid

    I am still waiting for someone to cite one passage...just ONE...that actually lends credence to ANY of this malarkey. Please do NOT send me to your nutty webpage...I am asking for a CITATION to the HOLY BIBLE (example: John 3:16). Can someone please respond with something other than balderdash?

    May 19, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Chelsey

      They can't because there is none.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Kool Aid

      I figure as much, but wanted to throw it out there one more time. See, the United States is the only country I know of where this kind of cult behavior is so pervasive. There are a number of reasons for this, but I guess the point I am trying to make is this: we lag behind the rest of the modern world in a number of key academic areas (math, science, etc). We aparently rank DEAD LAST in the world for critical thinking skills. I also find it alarming that most christians in this country can hardly cite to a SINGLE passage in the book they so desperately cling to for answers–they have hardly even read the thing!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  2. NewzJunkie1

    Matthew 24:43-44 (NIV) "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

    "No person knows when that day or time will be. The Son and the angels in heaven don't know when that day or time will be. Only the Father knows. Be careful! Always be ready! You don't know when that time will be. This is like a man that goes on a trip and leaves his house. The man lets his servants take care of the house. He gives each servant a special job to do. One servant has the work of guarding the door. The man tells this servant to always be ready. This is the same as I am now telling you. So you must always be ready. You don't know when the owner of the house will come back. He might come in the afternoon, or at midnight, or in the early morning, or when the sun rises. The owner might come back quickly. If you are always ready, then he will not find you sleeping. I tell you this, and I say this to every person: 'Be ready!'"

    Simply put NOBODY! Not this Christian group. NOBODY knows the hour or day when Christ will return. So by them claiming to know to me represents false doctrine on their behalf.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Muddy

      Predicting the end times is a direct challenge to God, so this group better hope they are not right or they will be roasting soon. It clearly says repeatedly that no one will know the day, hour etc of the coming of the Lord, so predicting it is direct contradiction of the word of God, as allegedly directly dictated

      May 19, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  3. Chelsey

    Luke 21:8.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • LinCA

      Erica 45:9

      May 19, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  4. terri

    Ready to party on 5/22/2011!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  5. A Logical Faith

    Read here for a thoughtful summation of why this issue is harmful not only for the people involved, but Chrisitanity in general:
    http://alogicalfaith-jklaus.blogspot.com/

    May 19, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  6. No GOD

    Folks.. ur ignorant. There is no such thing/one as GOD. The church should do a better job like feeding the poor instead of this stupid adversiting.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • It's just a web site man!

      NoGod:

      >>Folks.. ur ignorant. There is no such thing/one as GOD. The church should do a better job like feeding the poor instead of this stupid adversiting.

      Interesting how you call Christians ignorant for their belief, then go on the imply that churches don't feed the poor. Stop by our church one day so you can learn a little about what good Christian churches do for their community.

      Peace...

      May 19, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Carlton

      All you have to do is believe in God. I am not forcing Him on you but I hope that you can experience his Everlasting Love like many Christians have. May God Bless anyone that reads this, in Jesus Name...Amen. God is Real

      May 19, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  7. Peter

    Every religion has their crazy people.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  8. Rob

    I hope Johnny Knoxville and the guys from Jack Ass film the dooms day destrucion and hopefully come out with "Jack Ass Dooms Day part IV" That would be AWESOME!! oh I forget, they wont have time to edit and put it out! Dam doom doosday...

    May 19, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  9. Backwards Snake Trick

    They have it backwards. The wicked will disappear, leaving he Earth to the righteous. Matrix'd out of existence.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  10. Estanislao

    Tyr next time they get the call from Ezekial 33 they should send it to voice mail.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  11. ummyeah

    I am just curious how many of these people still filed their taxes this year? you know just in case....

    May 19, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  12. NewzJunkie1

    NO Christian or Christian group should go on record saying they know when the final time will be. No even the Son of Man (Christ) knows the day/hour the end will be. All we know are the signs and the signs are real. Not billboards. But the signs spoken of in the bible. For those that don't know, please reference the bible. Christians should know better then to engage in trying to time a day/time down. Only GOD knows!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  13. Steve

    CNN, you're the only media carrying this garbage. You're such idiiots!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • terri

      Yet you read it and took the time to post, along with 156 pages of other people.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  14. Victoria

    I really think that this is all a joke. Those of you who believe in a book that was created by man to make people follow his rules is rediculous. I don't know why people take things like this so serious. Honestly, the world probably will end one day, due to idiotic people that THINK it is going to end and cause a massive suicide. I'd RATHER believe in Global Warming. At least that actually may be plauseable with all the pollution and weather we've been having. But this is absolutely dumb. How can you believe in something that you've never seen or heard from yourself? It is all in your head. And also, why is "God" so great if so many bad things happen to good people? I think that if "God" is so great, we would all be living a better life. And why would science be able to explain how everything works while the bible explains nothing but sinners and what will happen if we don't obey him? Why do people believe in a "God" when he thinks he is better than us? What makes "him" so special? I think the whole thing was made up so people could have control of others. Its a book of rules that was made before any government was created to make them what we call "laws" now. And all this crap about Saturday is just to freak people out. I don't think they have the right to say when we are going to die. Maybe they are a small group of tarrarists? Is this they're threat to kill us all? And for that radio talk show, My dad listens to that bulls- and you know what, they are rude, inconsiderate and I think they are full of themselves. They talk down to others as if THEY are above everyone else. Why do THEY think they're special? Because they have the oppertunity to BRAIN WASH people? Talk about future Hitlers.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  15. Ken

    Sorry, if no one was able to predict the foreclosure crisis, I'm having trouble believing in the accuracy of this Doomsday Clock... The foreclosure crisis has been more physically impactful compared to this wave of fear-mongering...

    May 19, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  16. Mark

    This guy has predicted the end before and it didnt come and yet these people still follow him. Now that he has had even more time to study the bible he is convinced on May 21 for the rapture and October 21 for the end of evreything. Well I mean if you studied that bible it would also tell you that if you make predictions that dont come true it means you are a false prophet and dont have Gods backing...........so how do these people still follow this guy?? Some of these people have given up their children for this false message!!! Come on are you such students of the Bible that you miss its message?

    May 19, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  17. Noah

    Oh NO...I only have have two more days to tell people that god doesn't exist!! It's not enough time.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  18. darin schrovenwever

    any one know what time this b.s. is supposed to happen???

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

      6pm eastern time according to this fruit loop.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  19. Rob

    Fun Fun Fun hey man,Ill join ya!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  20. CDB

    You can believe it or not but its in everyones head. Yes something could happen but the chances of all of us dieing that day is stupid. But all the guys need to go with it. Think of the friday night before the 21st.... Everyone will be getting it on. But dont forget the condom felas we will all still be here after may 21st. Its going to be a good year....

    May 19, 2011 at 11:24 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.