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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. Sarah

    It is oging to be hysterical when it doesn't happen. I'm sure the Christians will have some lame excuse and just pick another day. Instead of admitting they are full of it. Hilarious.

    May 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Nivyan

      Don't lump all Christians into this group. I am a Christian and I don't believe the world will end tomorrow. The Bible says no man can no when the end will come. Not even the Angels in Heaven. These people who think it will end tomorrow are not reading their WHOLE Bible.

      See all of you Sunday!

      May 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  2. andrew

    Adults living in fairyland (...)
    Thanks for the real estate, buddy!
    No , you should NOT have abandoned property back ,
    it's a matter of principal ,you understand of course...
    ROTFLMAO

    May 19, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  3. Chris

    From what I can tell, the math used by Family Radio to come up with May 21st was off by two days. The end of the world should be today. Sorry about the bad news.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Mark

    I believe I was taught that the Lord God will come "As a thief in the night" What thief tells you when they will come to steal?

    May 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • David

      And what an awesome God, to act like a thief in the night. Pitiful . . .

      May 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  5. delano j sheffield

    At the core of the issue is misinterpretation does not negate the truth of the matter. Hopefully it will lead to a rational investegation of truth instead of denial of it.

    Conversation with a Skeptic
    http://www.holdtotruth.com

    May 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Eric G

      "denial of truth"?

      Please present verifiable evidence to support your claims.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  6. mary Nath

    and he says he knows the bible!! my bible says not even the son of god knows the time so what makes him thank he does?

    May 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Animal

    I love excuses for a rapture party.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  8. runchickenrun

    Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

    May 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      BOOM goes the dynamite.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  9. runchickenrun

    Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

    May 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Kewl Ade

      Dude, it's a nuclear clock. It doesn't tick.

      May 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  10. runchickenrun

    Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

    May 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  11. runchickenrun

    Clock is Ticking. Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

    May 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  12. Beka

    You know what's the most ridiculous part of this idea? If this major earthquake begins in NZ at 6pm, then that gives everyone else on the other size of the world the chance to see it, realize that this whole thing is "real", and then believe. How does that make any sense?? NO Biblical proof has been given as to where this idea of the world ending on this specific day even came from...besides the fact that the Bible says no one will know.

    May 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Kewl Ade

      Yeah, and what happens on the far edge of each time zone? Do they feel the earthquake from their appropriate time, but the people a few miles away in another time zone don't feel anything until an entire hour later? What about Arizona where they observe Daylight Savings Time on the reservations but not in the rest of the state?

      May 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Nivyan

      Good Point!

      May 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  13. TSA

    What is their excuse going to be on May 22nd?

    May 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Nivyan

      APRIL FOOLS!!

      May 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  14. Tim

    I can't wait to see what reason they come up with when it doesn't happen. I wonder how many are sipping on their special Kool-aid right now so they don't have to be here to find out and are leaving little notes for their families to the tune of " I have been taken to Heaven. I'm sorry you didn't believe and are sitting here in hell on earth. GOODLUCKAYTHXBUBYE "

    May 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  15. Mark

    I hope there isnt even a tremor in any part of the Earth. What would he say then? OOPS....Will these people still follow him after being wrong twice? He predicted the end before you know...

    May 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  16. Aaron

    So... God ordained the International Dateline? This is why no rational person takes religion seriously. I'll be partying with the atheists...

    May 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Kewl Ade

      And also correctly calculated Leap Year.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  17. Peter

    You better hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife, and hide yo' husband too 'cause they be rapturin' everybody up in hurr.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Ogre

      Peter 🙂

      May 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Nivyan

      LOL 😀

      May 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  18. Kewl Ade

    The surest sign yet of the apocalyse: the white iPhone was finally released.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  19. Wowzah

    Oh I get it. These guys are all going to disappear on May 21st. That's why they don't want to be videotaped. They're staging their little Rapture.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  20. Roland

    If this will not happen, then it is consider as a blasphemy and a mortal sin. Read the Bible and don't be lost in the word.

    John 8:51

    May 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
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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.