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. catoc76

    What happened to the "massive doomsday earthquake" on Saturday? Did "God" forget to unleash it or did "He" mix up his dates or what?

    May 23, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  2. christain

    Atheists, if you think we're crazy, think it's because of our "fairy tales" we believe, not because of these "mega crazies"

    May 22, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Ranzabar

      I know that there are a lot of people genetically predisposed to believing in religious dogma. It's a shame, but that's the way it is. Now we have the news media eyeballing all these poor people and assigning credibility to their delusions. Fine, I get it, stupid news sells laundry detergent and Viagra to the market that makes the news.

      Mental constructs are mystical to most people. That you make your own good fortune and it's not determined by your love of a God is a concept unacceptable to most. To move along the timeline of your life without the confidence that there is some greater cosmological oversight is scary in the minimum and downright untenable at worst. To acknowledge the scientific evidence that we are just dead when we die is to be courageous beyond the norm.

      I won't claim that I have any answers beyond what I have interpreted from science, vetted by the scientific method and scrutinized by the process of peer review. But it certainly has more credibility simply by the honed and established tests of established scientific inquiry than the subjective interpretation of a book written without the benefits of such.

      May 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  3. g'six

    harold camping the king of trolls

    well the rapture is over and iim writing this from heaven!

    May 22, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  4. Trolled

    I still say that Harold Camping is so far the worlds biggest Troll

    May 22, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  5. Ajay

    These people who shove this crap down other peoples' throats deserve to be locked up in Gitmo!
    End of story!

    May 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • MaryInBoise

      So what you're really trying to say is that the first amendment doesn't apply to them? I think the whole movement is incredibly silly, but they can say whatever they want.

      May 22, 2011 at 5:57 am |
  6. joe h

    i think we should find camping and make it his judgement day but at least im not one of the morons that quit my job or left my family or gave him all my money

    May 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  7. JM


    May 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  8. Kasey

    Nothing happened. Nice and sunny outside, birds are singing, cool breeze here.

    Oh wait...an ant did bite me. OUCH!

    Stupid christian liar. He lied back in 94', so what makes now any different?

    May 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Laurence

      More delusional than lying, a lie is a deliberate mistruth, im pretty sure this guy is just crazy

      May 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  9. petel2

    No rapture? Bet their jesus is still dead too.

    May 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  10. nickey

    U know what not to judge people but, doesn't camping's or what ever he's name prediction back fire? First of all if he's really Christian, he would know god wouldn't see him self as Jesus or whatever. Second don't he realize his end is near? He's about to be 90! So that means he will face god soon.… Third, I not writing no more about this man because thats the attention he wants. Smh

    May 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  11. LOL

    I say as punishment for all this commotion, they should be locked up in an insane asylum...Religious freaks.

    May 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      He and the other evangelists are trying to turn this country into an insane asylum...

      May 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Ranzabar

      This country is an insane asylum

      May 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  12. Christian

    hi, it's 6 pm i'm still here didn't notice any difference in this afternoon

    May 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  13. faberm

    This is very sad. A foolish leader followed by foolish fools. They haven't even read the Bible or they would read that "No one knows the day or the hour" of such an event.

    May 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Duh

      Camping is 89 years old, and has been preaching for over 50 years. Do you really think that he never read the Bible? Like so many of you numbnuts, he has read it and has put his own spin on it.

      May 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Ranzabar

      Foolish fools are the worst kind of fools. Usually have a King James Bible in hand speaking gibberish.

      May 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  14. chika raphael christian

    People can laugh at christianity if they want to, but one day, they shall weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth. Jesus is coming soon.

    May 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Christianity is nothing at which to laugh... The people who have let themselves be deluded into following its tenets, those are either to be pitied for their gullibility or ridiculed for their blind obedience to snake-oil salesmen.

      May 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Confused

      Please explain to me why I should be so afraid of one of history's greatest promoters of nonviolence?

      May 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • just another believer

      @Confused, you should really look into the old testament. You will find your wars and violence, it is there, and Israel was lead by whom? Take a guess.

      May 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • 7ths1gn

      yes, there will be a 2nd coming of GOD's only son Jesus Christ, HE is going to purify the earth and all of us from our sin but he will not destroy the earth as the bible did say GOD created us with his image and HE loved us too much to the point that he is not going to have a total annihilation of all humans in this world. With that said, to those preacher and priest in the churches stop using the scare tactics to brainwash the ordinary people and please REPENT and admit it to yourself that the holy BIBLE teach us how to love unconditionally and not trying to control your church members to do something that is going to benefit YOU!!

      let me ask you guys this question openly, if every church is that way, we are not different to those moslem extremist where they use the name of our GOD to create chaos and disorder to their so called 'enemies'.

      The 2nd time that Jesus come to our earth, he will purify us, bring us salvation and make the great wonderful earth that we are living into the heaven that we have been seeking so long and HE is going to annihilate 'HELL' if HELL exist in the first place.

      P.S as of today Camping Family Radio network have an assett of $150 million and pretty sure he is using the same tactics that he use for the may 21st rapture to gain all those wealth from his fellow church members.

      May 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • LOL

      Evolution is your god! Most of you religious freaks are just part of a glorified CULT! Keep giving money to your churches, they love spending your free tax money on themselves..

      May 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Ranzabar

      Following a fictional character from a violent and inconsistent science fiction book who claims to offer salvation is lunacy.

      May 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  15. No one knows...

    No one knows when the world when end! Not Jesus, not the angels, nor No Man. ONLY GOD! Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no one deceive you. Matthew 24:36 But of the day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. So ONLY GOD knows when the end of time is. I hope this helps for I am a Holiness Child of God. These scriptures are found in the KING JAMES VERSION BIBLE.

    May 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Know What

      You are every bit as delusional as this Harold Camping... the *only* difference is that you don't pick a date.

      May 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Joyce Gagne

      I agree and obviously you do think and read for yourself but unfortunately I don't think any of the folks that posted here, based on the ignorance of their posts, really care. God bless

      May 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Ranzabar

      Its cute how when people don't think as Christians do, they're ignorant.

      May 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  16. 7ths1gn

    I feel some shaking now.....oh wait...that's just my stomachache and goig to do number 2 now or pooping in a crude way....so i guess this is the rapture that Camping mentioned?

    well if that's what it means by 'rapture' then i rapture 1 time a day, everyday since i was 10 years old....too early to mention?

    May 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Raphael

      TEN years old!!? What were you doing for 10 years before that, bro – pooping all over the place? You deserve any 'rapture' you feel!

      May 23, 2011 at 6:10 am |
  17. Brent Slensker

    The people that fell for this BS (again) need reminded of their leaders' folly and that it is the job of The Religious Middle-Ground!...Not mine as an Atheist, but yes the religious people in general. I don't fall for ANY of your BS, but you share a sub-set of beliefs just as silly with these people...YES you DO!...So get out there with some toilet paper and help wipe away some of YOUR common embarrassment ... Very good.

    May 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Joyce Gagne

      I do agree with you that people who believe this stuff are extremely foolish and totally ignorant of the bible. They need to read for themselves and stop following anyone who claims to have the answer. BUT I also believe that anyone who does not believe in God, Higher Power, Allah or whatever you chose to name it are the biggest misguided fools out there. I would not want to walk in your shoes because I fear you will pay more than you ever could have imagined and I wish that on no one.. Think again and don't add to the ignorance of the people spreading false idiologies.

      May 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Ranzabar

      I read 2001: A Space Odyssey once. Now I fear HAL9000 is out there waiting to kill me like he did Dave and Frank.

      May 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  18. Flippy

    I don't know about neatly folded clothing... If you're raptured wouldn't they just fall to the ground?

    May 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  19. John Dunn

    I'm in a poker game this weekend. Let these chumps show up with their money – rather than wasting it on this religious BS.

    May 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  20. larry c. lyons

    I'll be taking some old clothing and shoes and artfully arranging then around a couple churches around here that have embraced Camping's message.

    Should be interesting to see their reactions.

    May 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Left Behind?

      Hilarious! Don;t give me any more ideas. This is the most fun some of us have had in a long time.

      May 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Something

      I liked the one about putting dry ice into a pair of shoes and leaving them on the street. 🙂

      Oh yes, and you need to leave some neatly-folded clothing nearby.

      May 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
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About this blog

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.