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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. Left Behind?

    OMG – I gave all my money away, burned my possessions and sold my house. And the worst part of this hoax is that I cancelled my Netflix subscription and drank the last of my beer! Ok, Rev Camping, now what do I do? I am cold, naked and hungry and don't have any movies to watch. Have I been left behind??!!! Is there anyone out there – has anyone tried calling China. Maybe they have all evaporated (not a bad thing)....and we're the last ones left. Is that faint blue light I see streaming through my window..Jesus? Is that you? On no, wait, that was just the dump truck picking up the garbage. Oh yeah. Saturday is not Rapture day...it's garbage day!

    May 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  2. seattle

    Camping probably made a fortune on this. I doubt anyone will get their money back, so does anyone have an estimate for how much he's worth right now?

    May 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  3. Harry Patel

    Before the end of the world comes I wanna die as a Millionaire. So i was hoping to win million dollar lottery

    May 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  4. budog

    my only question is what time zone is it based on? I better keep heading west!

    May 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Dave

      LOL

      May 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  5. vanessa

    the world is going to end when god comes so let us see what happen at 6.00

    May 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      And the basis for your statement is, exactly, what?

      May 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  6. Laura

    05.00 pm in holland, not shaked jet. My only question is, why scare so many children, my brother broke down into tears!! He's only seven.

    May 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Dave

      Very Sad. But, of course that is the exact purpose of Christianity in the first place, to control by fear. "Follow and adore me or burn forever." When you brother starts thinking critically, he will be just fine.

      May 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Something

      They told me when I was around 7 years old that if "God" stopped thinking of me for even a millisecond I would cease to exist.

      Add the constant atomic bomb drills; and it's no wonder that many baby boomers got a little odd.

      May 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  7. Jeffrey Brown INK

    it`s not crisis on infinate earths ladies and gentilmen nor is it the age of apocalypse ( so far our plane of existince is still put together neatly ) also I wonder if grant Morrison or Alan Moore are using this as a prose for their next graphic novel . @ least it could just as good as watchmen (i am talking about the book ,not the movie ) or Grant Morrison`s New X-Men run . a brave new world (so forget this silly rapture and go out today and read a good book , get a date , have some fun , stop worrying and love the bomb ( the disco ball on filled with confetti and candy !) besides today is a celebration !( viva la Christopher Walken !)

    May 21, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • A Christian

      Christians.... do not want to take the chance and die and find out that there is a heaven and definitely a Hell

      If anyone’s name was NOT FOUND written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the LAKE OF FIRE. (Revelation 20:15)

      When you DIE......AFTER DEATH........YOU CAN'T TURN BACK.......

      May 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      You sound just like a carnival huckster...

      May 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Dave

      @ A christian:

      What your saying is basically a philosophy known as Pascal's Wager. Basically, it means that people follow just in case they are right. If they are wrong, nothing lost. The problem is, religion is costly. Just ask all the older people who just withdrew their life savings and sent it to Camping's radio station/church, which was already worth over 75 million. Do you think they will get a refund tomorrow?

      May 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  8. mike h.

    religion has been the biggest scam of all time. the bible is nothing more than jewish mythology. the story of jesus was stolen by the jews, from the story of isis. "read about isis." they- made up their own god, after worshipiing eygyption gods. theres no god! no heaven! no hell! theirs just us! plain and simple! many stories where left out of the bible. it's like the santa claus story. be good, or no presents. he see's you when your sleeping, blah, blah, you know the story. same thing. be good, or a big boogie man in the sky will get you! it's all bulls***! there has been more wars fought in the name of religion than all other wars combined! nothing more than a fairy tale! nothing will happen today, tommarrow, or 2012, or any other day! it's a fairy tale! grow-up people! were alone! just us! get used to it! you'll get sainer!

    May 21, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • A Christian

      And the DEVIL who DECEIVED THEM was thrown into the LAKE OF FIRE and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are TOO, and they will be TORMENTED there day and night FOREVER and ever.
      (Rev 20:10)

      The Son of Man (JESUS CHRIST) will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes SIN as well as all LAWBREAKERS and THROW THEM into the FIERY FURNACE, where there will be WEEPING and gnashing of teeth (Rev 13:41)

      May 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      You sound just like a well-trained macaw... Can you parrot other works of fiction as well?

      May 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Dave

      Mike, the very funny part is that most Christians do not even know that there were myths of other "Messiahs" before Yahshua (if they know who this is) who were born on the winter's solstice, walked on water, performed miracles, crucified and re-risen.
      Amazing what you can learn by reading more than one book, fiction at that (lol). I'll stick to the "Harry Potter" series myself.

      May 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  9. NERO McCONNOR

    DON'T BUY GREEN BANANAS--
    DONATE MULLOUGH TO CATHOLIC CHURCH/VATICAN

    YOU WON'T BE NEEDING IT-

    May 21, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  10. themenwhocant

    Did you know that the four horsemen of the apocalypse walk among us? Furthermore, you know them already. Find out who they are here: http://www.themenwhocant.com/

    May 21, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  11. voice

    PLEASE HELP HEROLD CAMPING'S FOLLOWERS. THEY WILL BE IN A VERY VEXED-DEPRESSED-SAD STATE. OTHER CHRISTIANS SHOULD HELP THESE FOLLOWERS. THEY SHOULD HELP THEM. HEROLD IS FALSE.

    May 21, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • stubbycat

      Churchianity has too long misled people. This should be a good lesson that churchianity's beliefs are not the teachings of the one who healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the leper, casts out devils and established man's at-onement with his Creator. Remove churchianity's Jesus-worshiping beliefs and you'll have a better opportunity to realize and practice what the Master taught about the allness of Life, the non-reality of matter, (which many scientists profess) the non-fleshly nature of God's real man and man's spiritual capacity for perfection now.

      May 21, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  12. Jii

    Only in America...

    May 21, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Not really... Lots of people committed wholeheartedly to whatever brainwashing scheme to which they've been subjected... Just look at all those suicide bombers all over the middle-east... Now, there's "commitment" for you...

      May 21, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  13. love and mercy

    people like this give christians a bad name. this could just be the work of the devil dont know but, if you will read matthew 24:36 it say's that no one knows the time or hour that god will come. not even the angels in heaven or his son jesus christ knows when. only god the creater of this universe. the bible also tells us that there will be rumors like this, but there are signs and warnings that the end is near but we should all live everyday like its the last by making sure our hearts are ready cause god knows and looks at our hearts so i'am going to prepare myself for the comming of the lord with the help of the holy spirit that i welcome in my life amen. heaven there will be no more tears or sorrows we will walk the streets of gold god is so great and has been wonderful to me jeramiah 29:11 i know the plans i have for you declares the lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you planes to give you hope and a future. john 3:16 for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him will not parish but have ever lasting life. well thanks for reading hope this helped you god bless you.:-) plz copy and post to others. ps god will come like a theft in the night meaning unexpected. also god didnt create us to have fear or to be confused but to have peace and a sound mind..plz no rude comments thank you so much...gby and your family..

    May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am |
  14. Richard

    Still here in New Zealand 8.56pm

    May 21, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  15. 7ths1gn

    erm....is already may 21st, how come we are still all alive?

    CNN please do a story with those fanatics and put it on the website as i'm interested in their respond.

    May 21, 2011 at 4:03 am |
  16. jojo

    It's 5.43pm..21st May in Australia...been a nice day actually..

    May 21, 2011 at 3:44 am |
    • Ottodesu

      Well, it's 6:05 in Sydney town, and it's become very dark. But that's not surprising, the sun set an hour ago. Hang on, what's that rumbling? It's my stomach. I might get a burger. No news from New Zealand. That could mean that they are gone, but we usually don't get any news from New Zealand.

      May 21, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  17. Joshua

    For all the non-believers,, there is no reason to attack those who do believe. Their cause is a good one. I am a very strong believer in Christ, however, in reference to the Rapture I cannot be sure. What I can be sure of is my faith, which is strong

    May 21, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • baggie a grandmother

      I also have a stronly belive in Christ but, You do not have to scare the crap out of young children that are just learning how to deal with life.

      May 21, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Dave

      Oh yes there is. Read Laura's description earlier of her 7 year old brother scared to the point of tears. There were hundreds of people who quit their job's to help "spread the word" of Camping's prediction, Millions in donation to his church from people who most likely could not afford it, and please never forget the hundred of thousands who have died in the name of religion. Believers are not innocent in all of this, they perpetuate it. Do not stick your head in the sand and only claim the parts that you think are "hunky dory".

      May 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  18. Loco

    If I saw these people I'd give them the finger as well. What a bunch of fanatic idiots.
    See you on the 22nd, healthy and ok. The only difference is that I still have my job and my family. You just have the opportunity to see how big of an idiot you are, that can't even think for him/herself in a rational manner. Cheers.

    May 21, 2011 at 1:59 am |
  19. Emma

    The Bible states that not even the Lord knows the day of His return. Why would those on Earth know if even He does not? That implies the that humans know more than the Lord Himself. That's incredibly blasphemous and sinful. "He will come like a thief in the night."

    May 21, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • larry c. lyons

      Gee and here I thought he was all knowing. What other horrors will you proclaim that He's created a stone He cannot lift?

      May 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Dave

      Well of course no one knows the date, because it's the ultimate threat. Like "you will not when when, but i'm gonna get you". That way, the threat can linger on and on. Why would the drafters of the bible not put in a date? Wow, come on people, really. So, gullible. I should have been a preacher, I would be worth millions.

      May 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  20. Joey

    Wow...awesome. Another chirstian group that has ignorantly made the rest of us look compeletly stupid. Thank you.

    May 21, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • bop

      If you are a christian you ARE stupid. You dont need these guys to make you look that way.

      May 21, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Wipe0ut

      When all believers simultaneously will pee, it would END OF DAYS for all Atheists.

      But they don't need to worry much because they don't need no Noah's Ark to save them from the flood of pee, a regular-size canoe would be big enough to accomodate them all including their pets.

      May 21, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • Sandra

      Christians are not stupid. People who think that are obviously filled with hate. Everyone will have their own beliefs, so you can't ridicule someone for having some sort of belief, it just makes you ignorant. As for this whole judgement day thing, it's pretty outrageous anyone would believe that. Have a good weekend everyone!

      May 21, 2011 at 12:54 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.