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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. FroJSimpson

    If there really are earthquakes hitting each time zone at 6pm, us American East Coasters will be dead from the mega-tsunamis hitting us when the Atlantic Ocean quakes hit anyway. Seriously, has no one thought of the repercussions of a s**t-ton of earthquakes striking the earth simultaneously? Does anyone who believe in this stuff even know what makes an earthquake (or for that matter what plate tectonics are)?

    Oh well, if they're right it's just too bad I didn't get a surfboard or a flotation device while I had the chance.

    May 21, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  2. samnatsmom

    So sad that these people who claim to know the Bible really know nothing about it at all. They will have to face God one day and explain to Him why they tried to mix His words with their own actions and words.

    May 21, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Dave

      lol, maybe... maybe not. Maybe we will all face Thor, Zeus or the great pumpkin and everyone was wrong.

      May 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  3. John Dunn

    John 5:21 I believe in me. Not some religious Hocus Pocus and lies by any false preacher.

    May 21, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  4. seattle

    We shouldn't trust the preacher anyway. He's definitely not God.

    May 21, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  5. seattle

    maybe it's supposed to be PT?

    May 21, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  6. StaceyinOhio

    HAPPY DOOMS DAY!!!! (12:15am, my time) It's 6 o'clock SOMEWHERE! Come on CNN, get to reporting the skyward floating people, piles of smoldering clothes and under ground rock and roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 21, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  7. John Dunn

    It is 12:15 May 21st, and the world is still here. Oh wait I just felt something.... No problem it was my hound farting~!

    May 21, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • c

      lol,thats a good one

      May 21, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  8. A Theist

    This fairy tale is no fun. I want the one with ponies and rainbows.

    May 21, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  9. shawashtotoro

    It is 6:00 May 21st and there is no Earthquake..... I repeat okay now its 6:01;30 and no End of the World! Christmas Island has experienced May 21st 2011 at 6:02:33 and no End of World.... Damn!

    May 21, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • StaceyinOhio

      LOL!

      May 21, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  10. In The Know

    All I have to say is read the Bible, know the truth!!!

    Matthew 24:36 (New International Version)

    The Day and Hour Unknown
    36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father.
    Source: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+24%3A36+%E2%80%93+36+&version=NIV

    Mark 13:32 (New International Version)

    The Day and Hour Unknown
    32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
    Source: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2013:32&version=NIV

    May 20, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  11. mrpops513

    You all know how much paper an scrap is going to be left over from the end that never came =ill bet we could recycle all that an make a bunch of paper crete homes for the homeless . Hey it was just a thought ! i mean think about it all waste paper an makeing paper crete homes for the homeless . we might have a way of doing homes for all the homeless on the other hand if the worlds gonna end what a mess we are gonna to leave behind for some one ""else "" to find guess the guys in the space station are gonna be busy for long long time cleaning up the world when they get back !!

    May 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  12. g'six

    thumbs up for Jesus the dark lord 5 month ruler and allmighty mercyful god

    May 20, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  13. g'six

    it is obvious that the world wont end tomorrow, true believers will only listen to god when the time comes and not to church leaders.
    anyways i will laugh in everyones face when may 22 arrives

    May 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  14. g'six

    well, if we are taking the bible so serious then we should notice it clearly says: "NO ONE WILL KNOW THE DAY, ONLY THE FATHER, GOD WILL KNOW, NOT EVEN JESUS"
    What makes you think only true belivers will know? we are nothing to god, we are part of his creation we will never know when the world will end.
    will god send clues to humans and jesus will pass without seeing that?
    it never says some group of cristhians will know and that they will be the saviors for humanity, everyone saying a Fake Date should be considered as false prophet.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • JJLB333

      Well spoken my friend, that is the word right there. How can these so called Christian followers not be aware that the bible says not even Jesus knows the day of the rapture, only the father? It is my belief that there are very few REAL Christians left anymore. A lot of people hide behind the label and talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. They judge, and look down upon the unfortunate. These are the end of days, but the exact day no one can know...

      May 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • In The Know

      Jesus will know; he is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – http://christian-oneness.org/about-God/chapter7.html

      Read up & GB 🙂

      May 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • JJLB333

      My friend Jesus is the son

      May 20, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • JJLB333

      In fact to be accurate, Jesus is not the son of God's true name, his real name was Yeshua. Who also was NOT born on Dec 25th neither, yet people foolishly celebrate it as his birthday? Dec 25th in origin, was the birthday of Mythras, an ancient Egyptian demigod born of their deity Ra

      May 20, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • In The Know

      He's already sending clues – huge ones that are right in front of our faces.....more to follow for those who can't see it! 🙂

      May 20, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • JJLB333

      I do believe the end is near, but is certainly not May 21st. Only a fool would believe that

      May 20, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  15. May 21 For Believers

    Any Christian who prophesies the day that the world will end is a false prophet because in doing so, he or she is indirectly saying that God (who is one with His word) is not true, and therefore, he or she cannot be a true child of God. God's word clearly states that no one knows the day or hour. Now, if a Christian were to predict that the world would end in a particular month or year, there may be some truth to his or her prediction, but no one, not even the Son of God- who is Christ Jesus- knows the day or hour, and therefore, any such prediction could never be true. Suppose the world will be ending on May 21, 2011- which, it cannot, or Harold Camping would know the day- that would mean that God would have to be a liar. The big question remains- no matter what the day, whether the end will fall on October 24, 2016, January 31, 2061 or May 21, 2012 is "ARE YOU READY?" In the books of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus speaks about the signs of the end of the age and of His coming. He simply told us to keep watch and be ready (physically and spiritually). He further instructed those who are left behind when the anti-christ steps in to flee to the mountains, and for those who are wise and faithful to give them their food (physically and spiritually) at the proper time so that when they flee, they'll have enough to eat. Because we do not know the day or hour, and because the bible goes on to tell us in the book of Revelations that no one will be able to buy or sell anything except he who has the mark of the beast (666), the proper time for giving them their food and for making preparations for the end, is NOW! Let's pray that we will be busy about our Father's business so that we can get ready and that God will give us enough time to be ready when Jesus comes. For more information about preparing for the end of the age and for Jesus' second coming, visit http://www.endtimesolutions.com and http://www.heavenlyskyways.com.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • chika raphael christian

      ...for now, NO ONE, INCLUDING CHRIST, knows the time or hour, but one day ONLY the true believers will know, because someday it shall be revealed by God HIMSELF to Christ. 1st Thess. 5v1-7 explicitly states that. the bride of Christ CANNOT be taken unawares. Christ WILL NOT come for us LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT, such coming WILL BE FOR the World......

      May 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • JJLB333

      This is the truth. These May 21st followers are not children of god, but quite the opposite I believe. I find it funny Harold Camping's cult organization has recieved more than 80 million dollars in the last four years based upon his doomsday claim. Which he also claimed back in 1994 on may 21 but yet we are still here? Family Christian Radio also has to file an IRS claim in JULY 2011 (?), yet Mr Harold has requested a filing extension for November? Wow, this man is obviously a great con artist

      May 20, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • In The Know

      This response is to JJLB333 reply

      I completely agree with your response on the con. It is crystal clear in scripture that this is not a prediction we can make. Christians and/or "Believers" are required to know the scripture – I can't understand why more Christian leadership is not speaking against this false prophecy – or maybe media just wants "Christians" to look like fools so they are not giving equal time to those who can shed clear light on this debacle. However, scripture clearly warns Christians to be aware of false profits and the only way to do this is by studying Gods word and knowing what the scriptures truly say.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • c

      A Big AMEN To That

      May 21, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  16. amandagreene

    Only god him self knows when he will come take his people home.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  17. Richard

    So is this supposed to start at 12am Greenwich Mean Time, Eastern Standard, or Pacific Daylight Time?????

    May 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • In The Know

      It's going to happen on Gods time – which we will never figure out!!! 🙂

      May 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      It's overcast here today, so our sundial won't be telling us what time it is, so I guess this doomsday will have to wait...

      May 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  18. beliver

    "Whether you stand before God on May 21st, or whether you stand before Him 50 years from now, is irrelevant in the scope of eternity," ..."The important thing isn't when you stand before God; it's where you stand with God." – Will Graham
    I like his response

    May 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  19. chika raphael christian

    ........Rapture in May 21 is not true, but when the true time comes, the world will be too busy and too scientific, and too carnal to recognise it when it eventually takes place. The rapture process has already begun, we are presently in the era of the 'shout' stage as recorded in 1st Thess. 4v16, which is the proclaimation of the endtime message; very soon , we shall be in the era of the 'voice of the archangel', after which the 'last trump of God' will then herald the take-off of the saints...

    May 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      100% bullish!t. THERE ARE NO GODS! Not even just one, no satan either, nor pink unicorns or any other imaginary beings.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  20. 2012

    I think the rapture already happened and this is hell. : )

    May 20, 2011 at 8:00 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.