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. Wowzah

    If I'd known this earlier, I would have paid for express shipping.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  2. svann

    I figure the time they are talking about for the start of it (new zealand 6pm) is 11pm pacific time on friday the 20th.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  3. anobody

    The explanations these people give are fraught with signs of mental illness. e.g. when reading an article on how the date for the rapture was calculated it launches into this long winded comparison of all the numbers in the calculation and the significance of each number as well as the meaning behind it. In a clinical setting this is very common amongst delusional patients trying to make relevant comparisons amongst random numbers or items.
    Group think is also demonstrated here in an excellent display of literally jumping on the band wagon and sharing a group vision of an outcome that is nothing short of a delusion. This whole movement is a marketing campaign for religion and nothing more. Make no mistake they don't want your money they want your soul and you corporeal buy-in, then your tythe. They say they have accepted no advertising dollars. That's right because they are funding this with peoples personal finances. I see a "Heavens Gate" type of scenario playing out when all this is said and done. For those of you that can still think clearly whatever you do do not drink the red juice on the alleged judgment day!

    May 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • svann

      It does seem like the ravings of someone well down the path to bi-polar.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Nivyan

      It's blue juice this year! Red was so last end of the world!

      May 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  4. Wayne Woodall

    Couple this story, that attempts to mock all christian beliefs with the Hawking "No God" story from a couple of days ago, and it's clear the agenda of satan is in place. Jesus isn't coming back this weekend since biblical prophecies that are spoken about have yet to happen, but he is coming back someday, on his schedule. I'm glad that I know who he is, and will stand up for him no matter what. To all that think Jesus isn't who he said he was, explain to me why Peter requested to be crucified upside-down since he wasn't worthy to die the way his lord did? Would you do that for someone that had already left earth? Peter knew who he is, and so do I. Jehovah Jirah. Read the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to find out who he is.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Satan? Does such a thing exist? How do you know? It says so in the Bible?

      Would you use a medical manual from 2000 years ago? Would you use an engineering manual from 2000 years ago? I know some of the ancient structures are still standing, so they must have validity... (except for the wiring diagrams...)

      May 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  5. svann

    When God comes for us then we will all know. And he can then tell us straight up what he wants us to do. I have a hard time believing that God expects that we take Camping's (or even the Pope's) word for what God wants.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  6. 7ths1gn

    2 more days and we will see all this fanatics doing a mass cult suicide, Is CNN gonna show the mass suicide live on the website or on tv?

    I can't believe that the leaders of this church is trying to be GOD when the BIBLE says otherwise and pretty sure they takes out some of the scripture out of context just to convince or brainwash those other people that listen to the radio.

    if CNN is going to show it live on tv or the website, let me know the time and also contact the local authority and try to stop them as of now U.S have too much on the plates with other social and political issues and pretty sure U.S is not able to handle such a dessert of mass cult suicide.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  7. Checkmate

    Even scarier than the prospect of the sun turning blood red and all that: These people vote.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • svann

      You have to accept that almost half of the population is below average intelligence.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  8. Just a thought

    I was thinking, yeah, there are signs out there with the earthquakes, wars and flooding. Well, all of these events aren't happening JUST now. These things have always happened. In the past, there have been even worse earthquakes, wars, and flooding. If these actually were the signs of the end, don't you think it would have happened a long, long, long time ago? Who knows when Judgement Day will appear? No one. So live your life, enjoy it.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  9. irene

    So... do we tell them that they have to shut up and stop preaching when they're wrong again? At what point does faith and belief turn into paranoid schizophrenia? Certainly these bible thumpers have passed the threshold into mental illness. I wonder how their warped minds will justify their ongoing beliefs when May 22nd is here and Jesus has stood them up again, and there is no rapture. The scary part is that these misguided zealots vote in larger proportions than the rest of us.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  10. nancy calamita

    you atheist are funny you keep pokking & making fun of God and how he works. in fact in answer to your question yes God has healed Amputees. but, my question to you is why is it so important to you since you say there is no God? everything goes by faith, I live in this world but my God is very much alive. so you can poke fun laugh, and do what ever in fact I have seen people get healed from Cancer and other illness etc.. if you read in the bible ( if you care to get one & read it ) Daniel 7:verse 9-28 talks about Christ return to earth. O im sorry the bible if a fiction book too right? also Luke 25:35-46. I will keep you in prayer and remember when something drastic happens in your life who you gonna call on to help you?? God Bless you.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • God

      You know...I would prefer it if people like you didn't believe in me. That's cool with me.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Isn't it wonderful to live in a world of make-believe?

      May 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • vloplame

      Its says in the Bible that voting casts the mark of the Devil upon you.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • government spy

      Really? God healed amputees? So, they just grew missing arms or legs back? That's amazing! Too bad the "lame-stream media" refuses to cover stories like that. Thank the Lord we have Weekly World News and National Enquirer to fill in the gaps.

      Unfortunately lady, the sad thing is this farce you call faith is really a mass delusion. You can quote the bible all day long, but really you're just passing along bad information that someone claimed an invisible man in the sky told them, and then had it translated several times. It's like playing that old childhood game of "telephone" but the first person in the line was a mentally challenged kid with Tourrette's Syndrome; the message wasn't all that great in the first place, and you're still getting it wrong anyway.

      Seriously, do yourself a favor, and just accept that we're it. We're nothing special. Just barely top of the food chain. You're not going to see the end of the world. When you die; that's it. There's "gee, I hope when I die I go somewhere special," and then there's the fact of it: you're in a box, buried in the ground, your body breaks down and gets absorbed by the planet eventually, and your nutrients are used to make a plant grow or something to that effect. That should be enough.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • rabbit

      ...in fact in answer to your question yes God has healed Amputees...

      you show me one instance, ONE TIME where a cut off limb grew back. For that matter show me one miracle. just one. Please, no stupid 'statues crying blood', or 'jesus in the toast'. Show me one time where the gigantic finger of GOD poked itself out of a cloud and fed ten million africans(oh, wait, they starved), of where jesus rode down on a cloud and told muslims that hey, christians and muslims worship the SAME GOD and shouldn't kill each other(guess they missed that seminar too).

      Instead, let me postulate to you: there is no god. nope, never was. There is No god, no devil, no angels, no creation, no witches, no magic, no miracles, nothing. there is just us, you and me, and where you're dead... YOU'RE DEAD!

      May 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  11. God

    You know what, guys...I think I am going to have to think this one over again. Somehow, someone leaked information up here, and that isn't cool.

    Get back to me in about 4 billion years. I'll have it sorted out by then.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Checkmate

      Ellipses instead of a colon: Not even God himself understands how English punctuation is supposed to work.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  12. YahRight

    People will be stupid about all sorts of things. Granted, religion tends to bring out the really dumb ones. Remember to support Science on the 22nd!

    May 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  13. Mike

    Never thought that the day of my 30th birthday would be the beggining of doomsday. I must quickly hide before these loons stone me.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  14. MrHanson

    Wow the Libtards in full force I see. And way to go CNN for wasting your time on going thru so much trouble on reporting tthe stupid actions of a small fringe group. Your alterior motives are becoming clearer each day.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • vloplame

      At what point will you move from abusive language to violence?

      May 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Me

      Um this isn't Liberals, this is the church's move to ramp up attendance since it's the lowest in years. Calling names does nothing more then show your age....

      May 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Richard

      Not to mention going to your state spelling bee. Alterior motive?

      May 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  15. Allara

    I love how they already have a back-up plan. If I'm raptured – so be it – but if I'm not it isn't because I was WRONG, God wanted to see if I'd do my duty as a Christian and spread the word. I failed, you didn't, blahblahblah. Whatever.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  16. Churches

    Guess they'll make up some reason why the end never came. Are these people really that gulliable or do they not want to live in reality?

    May 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  17. Mark

    I wonder when the United States and the UN will start looking at religion as terrorism? Is this not what they are doing, Inspiring terror, scare tactics to bring about their own end? Has not most of the deaths on the face of this earth been brought about in the name of religion or ones god?

    May 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Atheist_Free_Thinker

      You, sir, are the winner of this thread. Good post! 🙂
      Hopefully common sense will prevail and the world's governments ban all religion.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • svann

      Russia tried to outlaw religion and failed even with the harshest strong arm tactics. What makes you think you have any chance?

      May 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Ogre

      No, banning religion is not the answer. The religious love persecution. It makes them all tingly with self-righteous indignation. They dig in their heels and revel in their determination.

      The only path that can possibly be effective is to continue to assert reality and hope to get through to as many of them as possible. The influence of religion has changed from the way it was 500 years ago... 200 years ago... 100 years ago. It will continue to change, and we can only hope and strive for rationality.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • svann

      Lets count the wars brought by religion vs secular. Ill go first:
      WW1, WW2, civil war, US revolution, vietnam, korea, spanish-american war, grenada, panama. Thats 9 and this is just american wars and just off the top of my head. Now you go. How many wars were religion based?

      May 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Mark

      Only abolishing religion will show the truth..Even God knows that..Religion has to be done away with! The UN will eventually be put in charge because the USA cant keep doing it all on its own. The UN will be the means to bringing about religions end. It will take sometime but we are seeing a push for it now and religion is making a good case for bringing about its destruction. The one major dividing factor in this world is religion and the only way for the world to bring about the peace it is calling for and speaking of is to dissolve religion. It will happen and the amazing thing about it is the bible even says religion will be destroyed...

      May 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Mark

      SVANN, Do you not think that each nation involved in all of those wars you listed invoked thir gods? I promise you they did! No matter what brought about the war it was fought by people who invoked and called upon their god. Every nation prayed for it soldiers and people to win the war. They all said our god is on our side, did they not? Of course they did! So whether religion was the main reason, religion was involved in all of the wars. Religous fervor is very powerful and is a tactic used when nations go to war. Every nation that rose against nation rose with the backing of their god. Look at every power to come onto the face of this earth and you will see a god behind it and backing it in war............so thats why it can be said that religion is responsible for all war. Dig a little deeper than just throwing every war you can recite. If those nations didnt have the backing of its religions I will eat my words. Did not the church make Hitler feel like he was on a crusade and would be victorious?

      May 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • svann

      Mark, religion did not cause those wars. Outlawing religion would not have stopped any of that killing. In the last 200 years wars and killing have been almost exclusively secular.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • JayBoo

      @ Mark- Amen!
      @svann- You conviently leave out the ever so popular "Crusades".

      May 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  18. Mark in Omaha

    looks like Karl Rove has a new job... brewing up scare tactics again

    May 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  19. meep meep


    May 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • rabbit

      earth and beyond?

      May 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  20. vloplame

    Exxon is God's corporation on Earth. Do not question the faith!

    May 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
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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.