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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. White Camry

    Is the Rapture before or after the Preakness?

    May 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  2. peter

    And next things next... God didn't write the bible, King James didn't write the bible. If you guys took a little bit of time to actually "learn" the history of your religion you wouldn't be so quick to blindly follow the words of madmen and fanatics. Did you know that when King James wrote his version of the bible he was already protestant? King Henry Vlll converted all of England because the Pope excommunicated him and he didn't want to lose the thrown, he also wanted to divorce his wife. King James wrote his version of the Bible from Martin Luther's re-translation of the Catholic bible, a book which happened to be the first ever written in the German language, he also started antisemitism when he wrote that all Jews should be killed, all there belongings confiscated, and all their churches and schools should be burned (and you thought Hitler said that first right?). Everything we know about Jesus and every other figure in the bible comes from stories, thats it. The first attempt to even write a bible came hundreds of years after Jesus died. Faith is good, and gives a lot of people a reason to live, but the word of God is the most abused power our species has ever seen, more wars have been started and more people have died for his name then for any other purpose. Its a shame and you idiots just keep on talking.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  3. peter

    To Antigo... And every other believer:
    Dont fancy yourself as a human being and that your so important and powerful that you can destroy an entire planet, you dont live on the Deathstar LOL. Humans as a species may cease to exist but the "world" meaning Earth will not come to an end by our hands. It has seen much more trouble then we can ever give it and it has always recovered, we will not destroy the world but it can destroy us very easily. That is whats happening now, its actually very scientific, its all cause and effect. We put gases in the atmosphere, those gases do exactly what we already know they'll do, and we face the consequences for it. A meteor hits, a volcano erupts, an earthquake happens, tornados, tsunamis, tidal waves. They've all happened before and they will almost certainly happen again. But read your bible and blame your God, ignorance is bliss, right?

    May 20, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  4. angelica

    Be detached,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    May 20, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  5. Andrew

    Here they say that conservatives aren't as prepared as liberals:

    http://www.merkaba.org/free.htm

    Does anyone know anything about them?

    May 20, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  6. Reality

    Tick Tock There Go The Major Religions In A Burst of Rational Thinking:

    1. There was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no basis.

    2. There was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    3. There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    4. There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    5. There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    6. Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    7. Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
    =========================================================================================

    May 20, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  7. gareth davies

    what a load of twaddle,biblically even Jesus does not know the time or date,read your bible without being selective.We have heard it all before

    May 20, 2011 at 5:25 am |
  8. Steph

    I'm scared I'm so confused I don't know what to believe 😦 I'll miss my daughter 😦

    May 20, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Graham

      On May the 21st in the USA it will be May the 22nd in Australia. You can't pick one day for the end of the world. The whole world does not have the same time. Same for 2012 the 21st of December....... one day can't be predicted for the end of the world. The earth has been here billions of years and everybody beliefs a native Mayen tribe who slaughtered and ate people. Maybe the Mayens just stop there calender because they got tired of counting?

      May 20, 2011 at 3:36 am |
    • I_get _it

      Yeah, the old codgers who wrote this stuff didn't even know that the southern hemisphere or most of the western hemisphere of the Earth existed.

      Wait... maybe just the whole Middle East will disappear on the 21st 🙂

      May 20, 2011 at 3:46 am |
    • Stef

      Don't be afraid. Everybody, eventually, will get what he deserve.

      May 20, 2011 at 5:00 am |
    • Ashes

      Don't be frighten. these are people who are easily lead and would rather believe in the end of the earth then try to think for themselves. I believe i god, and i believe god gave me fre will, so it's his/her/it's fault if i disagree. If god's going to smite me and 6 billion people for it, then i don't want him/her/it for a god anyway. I'd rather chill with Satan.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  9. Debbi

    LinCA- Can you prove that statement?

    May 20, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  10. Cole

    The only person that knows when the world is going down is the big man GOD and no one can Say but him! 🙂

    May 20, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  11. Timmy

    Judgment Day vs Armageddon: People please remember that when quoting Matthew 24:36 it is not making reference to Judgment Day but to Armageddon (God's War to end all wars: Rev 16:14,16) Judgment Day begins after Armageddon. Revelation 19 gives the sequence of event regarding Armageddon and Revelation 20 deals with Judgment Day. Revelation 20: verse 12,13 shows that resurrected ones from the dead who come to life are judged on their current deeds during Christ 1000 year reign.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  12. Michael Tarrant

    These "crusaders" are broadcast across the US, but this is not christianity. Unfortunately so. I'm not one for these pointless, heated debates that are here, but if you sincerly have questions at all about who Jesus really is...feel free to give me a call.

    Michael

    901-326-5178

    May 20, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  13. X

    Doomsday events are great money-making schemes. All you need are schmucks willing enough to part with their life savings just so they can be "saved" by another schmuck with a calculator.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  14. Reality

    Tick Tock There Go The Major Religions In A Burst of Rational Thinking:

    1. There was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no basis.

    2. There was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    3. There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    4. There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    5. There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    6. Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    7. Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • JOY FAYE STRICKLAND-WARD

      WE CANNOT KEEP LIEING TO OURSELVES TO OUR CHILDREN. THE OLD TESTAMENT HAS NOT BEEN READ THE WAY THE AUTHOR OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE WROTE IT. THE AUTHOR WROTE NAMES AND DATES THAT READERS ANNOYED. THE NAME AND DATES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT STOPS 3,500 YEARS BEFORE JESUS CHRIST WAS EVEN BORN. LIEING TO OURSELVES. IT MAY NOT BE TODAY BUT SOME DAY SOMEONE ELSE WILL WANT TO STUDY THE NAMES AND DATES .READING THE KING JAMES BIBLE WRONG WILL NOT MAKE IT RIGHT. AND WHEN I SEE A FATHER TELLING HIS YOUNG SON,JUST SAY YOU WENT TO HEAVEN IT BREAKS MY HEART.
      BOOMSDAY,THE GRASS IS SWEETER SOMEWHERE ELSE,STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS DEATH COMES QUICK ENOUGH.
      OUR DISCOVERIES HAVE JUST BEGAN HAVE A NICE DAY

      May 20, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  15. antigo

    To Armida Rodriguez..you mentioned that the end of the world is not happening.It is already happening..little by little this world is going to distruction.If we just realize how the people contribute to pollution everyday,then maybe the concern is much better to save this world.You also mentioned that the world ends only if we die..for me no.The world still continue,but there is end of it. Time will come that GOD will end this world like what was written in 2PETER3:9-10.All the living things will burned and there will be nothing left.Thanks a lot for your understanding.You better visit http://www.eliseosoriano.com for more information regarding the questions that you have right now about faith..takecare.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • FootARRRRR

      First of all the bible was written by men not god. Second, the earth is not going anywhere we are! and god will not destroy it with fire because there is no damn god! In case you haven't noticed we around close to 7 billion people on this damn earth, causing all kinds of problems. god said to populate the earth when the hell is he ganna say stop?

      May 20, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  16. antigo

    Just try to visit the official website of brother Eli Soriano,the man who sent by GOD in this latter days. http://www.eliseosoriano.com just like you..i also don't believe that GOD really exist,but all of my doubts was gone and all of my questions in life and spiritual matters has an answers with the help of GOD,through brother Eliseo Soriano.Thanks for reading.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • myklds

      Is that you, Marvin?

      May 20, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  17. antigo

    This is my answer to LinCA..there is GOD and time will come that you will realized the goodness of HIM if you will have to open y
    our mind.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  18. antigo

    This is my answer to LinCA..there is GOD and time will come that you will realized the goodness of HIM if you will have to open tour mind.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      antigo wrote:."there is GOD and time will come that you will realized the goodness of HIM if you will have to open tour mind."

      Correction: you'll need to forgo any inclination you may have had towards using your brain critically and not simply "joining the club"

      May 20, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  19. Patsy T

    Why are all the crazy people in Florida?

    May 19, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • SparklingParis

      LOL...come to Florida and you'll see why. Rick Scott is the epitome of the anti-Christ

      May 20, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • - m00n -

      Because all the northerners send us their old people.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  20. ARMIDA RODRIGUEZ

    PEOPLE PLEASE DONT BE CARE. THE END OF THE WORLD IS NOT HAPPENING. I DO BELIVE THAT ON 2012 THERE WILL BE SOMETHING GOING ON BUT BUT IT WILL BE A TURN OVER TO THE WORLD IT WILL CHANGE THINGS AROUND , BUT MAYBE FOR THE GOOD OR MAYBE BAD. DEPEND ON US WE JUST NEED TO BELIVE IN HIM . THE WORLD ENDSONLY WHEN WE DIE CARACCIDEND OD NORMAL DEATH. WWHEN WE DIE THATS OUR END OF THE WORLD FOR US, DONT THINK ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD. WHAT WE SHOULD DO IS PRAY TO MAKE IT A BETTER WORLD FOR OUR KIDS AND THERE KIDS. DONT SCARE THE CHILDRENS. HELP THEM UNDERSTAND WHATS GOING ON . HELP THEM TO BE BETTER IN LIFE. GOD ITS NOT COMING HE IS ALREADY HERE WITH US IN EACH ONE OF US GOT IS THERE ON OUR HEARTS. IF U HURT SOMEONE U HURTHING GOD
    SO JUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • LinCA

      Newsflash: THERE IS NO GOD!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • NewSplasher

      News Headliners: THERE IS NO ATHEISTS IN THE FOXHOLES!

      May 20, 2011 at 2:26 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.