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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. Austin

    The only thing that will happen on saturday is that the bruins will gain a 3-1 lead over tampa bay

    May 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Atheist_Free_Thinker

      God I hope you're right.
      HA! See what I did there? hehehehe...

      You're a smart man and a good judge in hockey teams. Bruins for the Cup in '11!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  2. John

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, we all know its really Dec 21st 2012, so you all have plenty of time.

    Who are you going to believe on the one hand you have a contemporary single raving christian nutter who knows nothing about interpreting ancient texts, and on the other an entire civilization that had astronomy , mathematics and built entire cities and pyramids?

    May 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Greg Kells

      The ancient Mayans are given far too much credit for their scientific knowledge. They were absolutely not more advanced than their European or Asian contemporaries, they are only notable because they were more advanced than we had originally thought. Their calender ends, because all calenders end, and they didn't get a chance to make the next one. There are still Mayans today, and none of them believe the world is going to end in 2012.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • John

      Actually that is not true I am part Mayan Indian and believe in it.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  3. Don

    So why in the world would God be concerned with time zones and starting at the International Date Line? What a bunch of small thinkers!

    May 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  4. Canadian Girl

    What a terrible way to spend your last few months- walking around the country, talking to poeple who won't listen. My last days, if I knew them, would be spent with family and friends and volunteering somewhere that makes me happy.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  5. peacppl

    with maybe no football this fall ....who cares!!!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  6. WR Butler

    CNN, as a Christian I am offended by the misleading that you are doing (and maybe you are being misled yourself). THESE ARE NOT CHRISTIANS!!! A Christian knows that the Bible clearly illustrates that Jesus' return is a secret, nobody (not even Jesus Himself) knows when the day is. Anyone who claims to know when this will happen is an extremist with a Bible, NOT a Christian. Please, CNN, I beg you to regard these people as who they are.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Greg Kells

      That's not true. The Bible is very ambiguous about judgement day, so it has been accepted by some christians that it was intentional ambiguity. The bible, is also, not the complete christian writings. St.Clemente edited and compiled the basis for the modern bible 1600 years ago, and it has undergone countless interpretive translations since then. The most pervasive translation resulted in several people being executed for not "translating" it to say what King James wanted it to. You can argue until your face goes red regarding what's in the bible, but you can't dispute it's shaky foundation. The bible is not a book of fact or prophesy. That so many people still look to it for guidance is saddening.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • LinCA

      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 12:12 pm |
  7. The Dude

    God Dammmmed Christians. I hope you all die

    May 19, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • The Dude2

      Yep, what he said.

      99% of the world's wars have been over religion. They talk peace but don't give a damn about it. Every Christian I know is a two-faced, money-grubbing pig.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Jim

      So, Dude2 – I like what you said: "They talk peace but don't give a damn about it. Every Christian I know is a two-faced, money-grubbing pig." – this is, of course, unlike you and the wonderful, peace loving "Dude" who said hopes "all Christians die"? Wow! Talk about two-faced. I'm just sayin!

      May 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  8. Navyvet8192

    I've asked several "Believers" if I could have their stuff (Campers, boats, outdoorsy things) after Saturday, and I didn't get a single yes response! Imagine that! I guess I'll just have to fish from the bank on Sunday with the rest of the Pagans.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  9. stratt28

    The question is....do I still mow the lawn and purty up the place for the end, or just say "to H**L with it" and kick back with my guitar and a few vodka tonics...hmmmm...

    May 19, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  10. Alan

    poo, if the earthquake hit at like 6:07 then I could still watch the Preakness on the East Coast.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  11. KK

    It's nice to know Osama secured his spot in hell in advance.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • LinCA

      Osama is, most assuredly, in heaven. He was a true believer. Same delusion, different book.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  12. R J

    2 letters describes this prediction, they are " B S "

    May 19, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  13. cworthee

    hi

    May 19, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  14. Kool Aid

    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: 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!

    It is time to wake up and smell what we are shoveling!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Greg Kells

      Doomsday prophecies and religious zeal are not exclusive to the US, and neither is poor reasoning. What may be exclusive to the US is the pseudo-intellectual self loathing that so many like you exhibit. America is not less educated than the rest of the modern world, the ranking system you will likely reference is flawed. America has 50 independent school systems and 300 million people, it is impossible to compare our education system to a European country with a single system and a fraction of the population. It is more accurate to compare a single US state to a European nation, in those comparisons we do quite well.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  15. Ed C

    My brothers, family, friends and acquittance as you know there is a group of people telling everyone that judgment day is may 21, 2011. some of you know this is a lie, some might be scared, some just laugh, and i hope none of you believe it. Out of curiosity and concern i have read what they are telling people and I'm shocked. They have twisted the whole Bible and plan of Salvation. And what i can say is what the Apostle Paul said on Galatians 1:6-9 " 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."

    Please Read the Bible and accept the Truth, his name is Jesus, and only He knows when He is coming to take those who were born again of Water and Spirit. Amen

    May 19, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Douglas

      You're just as whacked as the rest of these guys... you still believe in unsubstantiated BS, just with a different twist.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  16. Douglas Babb

    Is the kingdom of God within you? Within us? Within everyone? Within anyone?

    Luke 17 (KJV)
    And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observatio­n: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

    Luke 17:34 (KJV)
    I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.”

    “(113) His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"
    Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
    The Gospel According to Thomas

    (114) Simon Peter said to him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life."
    Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven." The Gospel According to Thomas”

    Douglas Babb

    May 19, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • chris

      Blah, Blah, Blah and more babble, babble, blah, blah...............God was created by Man.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Interesting.
      "I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.”
      Apparently, ho.mos.exuality doesn't prevent one of these men from being "raptured."

      May 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  17. D.J

    This means No schoool monday morning!!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  18. Rock God

    Christians, please leave the earth on Saturday.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Amy

      *Anxiously awaiting the excuse from these morons when the Rapture doesn't occur*

      May 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  19. dioncamp

    When Christ was a human on earth, He himself knew not the date. Now I find it shocking that this human person is prophesying what the Son of God could not reveal thousand of years ago.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Atheist_Free_Thinker

      You see that's where the problem is... he was never a human on earth. He was just made up by those men who wrote the bible to keep control of the weak minded people.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  20. GE

    He said that in 1994 and here we are in 2011 I mean come on people the madness has got to stop!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:49 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.