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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. Nitsua01

    If it is the end, why do people need to say so? If it is the time God says it is over, what good does it do to be prepared for it? Plus, if it doesn't happen, won't the doomsday talkers just lesson the fear of Gods wrath in the eyes of his people? So are the doomsday talkers just helping the devil anyway?

    May 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  2. chika raphael christian

    1st Thess.5v1-7 in the bible makes it clear that to we true believers, christ will NOT come like a thief in the night. Such addage is meant for the world today obviously living in spiritual 'night' or 'darkness', which is synonymous to spiritual ignorance. Ezekiel 38 and 39 must be fulfilled as prophesied also by Christ as to Wars in the book of Matthew 24 amongst other earth-shaking events.

    May 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  3. Yawn

    Blind obedience = stupidity

    Say baaaaaaah. Baaaaah

    May 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  4. ombowstring

    This guy is a nut. There are many things that must happen before the Rapture takes place and these things have not happened yet. The Bible says no one, not the angels nor Jesus Christ Himself, knows the day or hour, but the Father.

    ombowstring
    http://www.ombowstring.com

    May 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  5. timeto wake up

    Jesus is coming very soon that date may 21 2011 is not according to the bible at all neither is the rapture satan is working hard to counterfeit God's true word and to have people disbeileve the bible and scoff and laugh at christians if you read the bible carefylly u see clearly this is not found in the bible i beleive these people are followers thats why its so inportant for us to seek for ourselves and it so bovious God is soo real and its true also that there has to be an end because there is so much sadness and war in this world many people beleive the end of the world ,but the end will be realy to sin.. u see God loves us soo much that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever beleives in me would not perish but have everlasting life ..so he came to give us life not to destroy us ,but what he hates is sin and sin has done so much damage it must be detroyed before it kills us..may we ask ,study ,search fot knowledge it is out there lets not be ignoernt when we can know more

    May 20, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  6. David

    Why do people even talk about this? Why is this story even relevant? Are we still living in the Dark Ages? The real story is god just does not exist. Life goes on.

    May 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • timeto wake up

      look around you..

      May 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  7. Andrew

    This is a very special message from the one known as the Comforter in The End Times (John 14:16 and 14:26) to Harold Camping of Family Radio posted at http://merkaba.org/recent/052011.html

    Harold Camping, Today is May 20, 2011

    “The Comforter” would like to thank Harold Camping and his group for making people aware of the fact that the Rapture Energies are coming and soon there will be the Physical Body Ascensions of those who are ready.

    You are special people who stood up for God during the End Times. Thus, you still have time to get ready for a Physical Body Ascension and learn how to consciously work with the sun’s Rapture Energies so you are prepared to Ascend at anytime, from anywhere.

    We can teach you how to use Rapture Energies so you can be part of those who leave for the City of Gold in the prophesized Archangelic level Physical Body Ascension Process that will occur before December 21, 2012.

    These 3 steps enable one to begin training at home with Rapture Energies and to partake each week in our Sabbath’s guided visits to the City of Gold.

    · Step One: Free Techniques *
    · Step Two: A Two Day Meditator Class
    · Step three: A Two Day Activator Class

    * Daily usage of our free techniques and a liberal’s lifestyle of properly helping others in need, will enable one to become ready for an Angelic level Ascension on Judgment Day, December 21, 2012.

    Email Classes @ Merkaba.org for a calendar of our family’s Classes in your area of the world.

    May 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  8. John Hein

    Jesus, Mohammed, Budda and George Washington were sitting around a campfire when Budda farted and everyone said, "God you stink!" Budda replied, "Now who is God?"

    May 20, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  9. John Hein

    I am being raptured by my friends lion right now!

    May 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  10. John Hein

    BaBa Booey and I are going to sit naked together in each others arms while atop the Empire State Building. Rapture sure is sweet!

    May 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • John Hein

      I am on the symbian right now!

      May 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  11. DONNA

    GLORY BE TO THE FATHER AND THE SON AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINING AND NOW AND EVER SHALL BE

    WORLD WITHOUT END AMEN.......... I AM SURE THAT THE NUTS WHO ARE SAYING THE WORLD IS ENDING SAID THIS PRAYER.

    May 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • John Hein

      CAPITAL LETTERS MAKE MY POINT MORE COMPELLING. I F I A D D S P A C E S B E T W E E N L E T T E R S, D O E S M A K E I T M O R E C O M P E L L I N G ?

      May 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  12. DONNA

    EVERYDAY , EVERY MINUTE SOMEONE DIES
    AND EVERYDAY , EVERY MINUTE SOMEONES BORN.

    THE END OF STORY!!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • John Hein

      End of what story? If that is the endof the story the story must have stunk. Are they any special effects?

      May 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  13. Jim Ottlinger

    I am helping all true believers shed their savings by Rapture day. All true believers, please respond by email to ottlingerjim@yahoo.com and I will provide you with PayPal payment instructions that you can use to forward your unused funds to me for charitable work to help others through the dark days that lie ahead.

    Jim Ottlinger
    Annapolis, Maryland

    May 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  14. Susan

    Jesus said that only God new the time of the end of the world and that not even He (Jesus) did not know the date or time.. In the New Testament it was mentioned many times that we were in the last days and that was 2000 years ago. It also said in the Bible that it would come like a thief in the night so we do need to be prepared. I think God wants to save as many of His children as He can and that is the delay for the Rapture. Just my own thought on the subject.

    May 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  15. Nivyan

    I am Christian, however, these people have lost it! Wait for the kool aid!

    People like this give real Christians a bad name. The Bible lists things that have to happen post rapture and it also says that no one will know when He is coming. So then the 21st will come and go and more people will be turned off to Christianity due to their stupidity. They are doing more harm then good! I'm all for spreading the word but when the rapture actually comes it is to late. I would apologize for Christians everywhere but these people aren't Christians they are posers!

    May 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Margie

      I don't think they are posers, I think they are deceived. The devil has tricked them. When the day comes and goes without incident, they will then doubt their faith. The devil will have triumphed in their lives.

      May 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  16. Xscape

    Heres my theory in it. Doomsday not tomorrow. The Myian (sp?) calender stopped at 12/31/2012 because the old man writing it said "we wont be alive then anyway so screwe it im done writing it and this is a good stopping point." I do believe in God and Jesus and all the great things that they did and do daily for everyone that believes. I dont believe in all this poo nanny. If it happens then let me say "I love you all in a brother sister kinda way and wish you all the best in what comes of it" if it doesnt happen then ill talk to you guys sunday morning while drinking coffee 🙂 Peace

    May 20, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • MsRita

      Oh no Bulls and Heat when are dying. I want to see who wins the game. I'm panicking that I'm dying tomorrow. I wanted live to 81 like my Daddy. I'm going to see if I can get a red eye flight to Dallas .

      May 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  17. St. Victor of Python

    Monty Python's _The_Meaning_Of_Life_ (Monty Python Pictures) Part II
    "Growth and Learning" courtesy alt.fan.monty-python.

    Chaplain: Let us praise God. Oh Lord...
    Congregation: Oh Lord...
    Chaplain: Oooh you are so big...
    Congregation: Oooh you are so big...
    Chaplain: So absolutely huge.
    Congregation: So AB-solutely huge.
    Chaplain: Gosh, we're all really impressed down here I can tell you.
    Congregation: Gosh, we're all really impressed down here I can tell you.
    Chaplain: Forgive Us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying.
    Congregation: And barefaced flattery.
    Chaplain: But you are so strong and, well, just so super.
    Congregation: FAN-tastic.

    [The congregation rises and the Chaplain leads them in singing.]

    Chaplain and Congregation:
    Oh Lord, please don't burn us,
    Don't grill or toast your flock,
    Don't put us on the barbecue,
    Or simmer us in stock,
    Don't braise or bake or boil us,
    Or stir-fry us in a wok...

    Oh please don't lightly poach us,
    Or baste us with hot fat,
    Don't fricassee or roast us,
    Or boil us in a vat,
    And please don't stick thy servants Lord,
    In a Rotissomat...

    May 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Andy

      Or another classic from The Holy Grail.

      GOD: Arthur! Arthur, King of the Britons! Oh, don't grovel! If
      there's one thing I can't stand, it's people groveling.
      ARTHUR: Sorry–
      GOD: And don't apologize. Every time I try to talk to someone it's
      "sorry this" and "forgive me that" and "I'm not worthy". What are you
      doing now!?
      ARTHUR: I'm averting my eyes, oh Lord.
      GOD: Well, don't. It's like those miserable Psalms– they're so
      depressing. Now knock it off!
      ARTHUR: Yes, Lord.

      May 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Tha Chikin

      AMEN!! LOL!
      That still cracks me up!

      May 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  18. Josh

    I have done some extensive research on the possible timeline of the End Times in my own throws of insanity: believing it was soon and up to me to figure out when. Even being admittedly off my own rocker, my conclussion is that no man can possibly know. Too many gaps in predictions within the bible prevent one from knowing exactly when these predicted events will take place, only being able to see the timeline unfold once its already happened. For instance, take Daniel 11, 12. This is probably the most relative prediction into how history will unfold at the up to and at the very end. Using words and phrases such as "successor" and "from the line of...", it creates gaps in the prophecy that stand for undetirmined amounts of time. The easiest way to tell that the End Times are not here yet is the rise of the Antichrist, (starting from Daniel 11:21), and the huge role he plays in world politics before the End Times even begin. Haven't seen anyone make a big enough splash yet to even qualify, never mind fullfilment of prophecies. However, using the NIV translation (probably most inaccurate english translation), replacing "holy covenant" with UN, "western coastlands" or "Kittim" with U.S. and "abomination that causes desolation" with nuclear weapons, it's easy to see how The End could be sooner rather than later.

    As for numerologists, scientists, and non-believers in general... to explain anything within our universe completely and fully (even the big bang theory or evolution), one must eventually take a leap of faith and believe in something that equations or definitions can't quantify.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  19. seth

    This is the answer, feel free to visit this page:

    http://esoriano.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/greatest-religious-crime/

    May 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  20. Chuck

    Maybe today, tomorrow, next week, in 10 years, 100 years, but IT IS going to happen. 1 Thesalonians 5:2, 3

    May 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Boko99

      Jesus told his followers that he would return before all of them were dead, therefore the end of the world occurred approximately 2000 years ago.

      May 20, 2011 at 6:54 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.