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. DUH

    Mark 13:32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • M

      ^ This

      May 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Shelley


      May 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Ricote

      Can you explain why not the Son, I thought were the same thing according to the trinity concept

      May 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • samanta pearson


      May 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Smith


      May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  2. Maine liberal

    First read your Bible... you have no clue other than as a false prophet

    matt 24:36
    But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    mark 13:32
    But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father

    matt 7:15
    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves

    May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  3. ricardo

    So my question is will it end earlier in Australia or does it wait till we are on the 21st? hmm?

    May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Maine liberal

      probably happens on Jerusalem time

      May 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  4. dennis

    I hope it does happen!

    May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Joe - Wilmington, DE

      You must be a real pleasure to hang around with.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • TxFeatFan

      Joe, you ended that sentence in a preposition.

      ...just sayin'.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  5. Ha!

    This only proves how crazy these people are. Ignore that it's a religion, just like all of the countless others ones that they claim are "complete BS." Hypocritical much? I feel bad for the uncrazies this is making a bad name for as a result. And "if it comes, it comes, if not, we'll just move on"? Good luck with that! Quitting your job, leaving your house, leaving your friends and family. You're not just going to be offered your job back because of your wack-job belief, or handed your house and belongings back on a silver platter. Family and friends are going to be hard pressed to just let you back after doing such a disservice to then. If you believed so much in the first, why is there an if not in that statement at all? That means these people don't even know it's happening, though they claim its certainty in the streets looking like nutjobs. I feel worse for the children they're brainwashing even more.

    This is pathetic, and shows how destructive religion really can be.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  6. Christian

    @ Mark D Watt. Yes Sir you are certainly correct!

    May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  7. cortner

    So, does everyone get a Mansion? What if I want to live in someone elses Mansion?

    May 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Joe - Wilmington, DE

      You can but you need to fill out IRS form 106-W (Switching heavenly domiciles subsequent to disaster of biblical proportions). Didn't you get the memo? You have until close of business Friday.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  8. Ernest

    2012 december 23 the mayan calendar says the earth will be in total turmoil. what i truely believe is that the moon on that day dec 23 2012 will escape the earth gravity because of the solar systems alignment with the milky way and the same goes for the other planets moons causing the moons too sling shot in every direction. now you might think im crazy but in the bible it says that god does not want man to touch the heavens and what do you know we have a robot on mars that just discoverd water underneath the surface which means that mars was a lively planet in the past and now has gone dead.so is the earth in the same fate or path like mars we will find out on december 23 2012

    May 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Ernest, what I "truely believe" is that Wile E. Coyote will finally catch that pesky roadrunner.

      Sheesh! No, I don't think you're crazy, I think you have no math skills.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  9. Joe - Wilmington, DE

    Oh man, I was going to go car shopping Saturday! Guess I might as well just keep the old one Anybody want to go out Friday night? What the Hell, right?

    May 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm |

    Is Man God's Biggest Mistake? Or is God Man's Biggest Mistake?

    May 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  11. teri

    the bible saids we will never know when just believe and have faith !!!please dont scared people we gone threw enough in the south !!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Joe - Wilmington, DE

      Might I suggest putting down the Bible for a bit and studying up on grammer instead.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Joe - Wilmington, DE

      Oops! I need to get off this blog and study up on my spelling. That's grammAr!

      May 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  12. LaughingHyena

    More religious nutbags!

    When we the human race evolve past these ridiculous, fairytale beliefs?

    Brainwashed from birth. That's the problem.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Joe - Wilmington, DE

      Oh boy! You're going to be smoking a terde in Hell for that one!

      May 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  13. Mark D Watt

    This is why it is a challenge to minister to lost souls because of false teachers. This really does harm Christianity. The scripture you are looking for is in Matthew 24:36 KJV – In this time we are living in, it says there will be false teachers, prophets and preachers .It is more prevalent now than ever before, because of the time we are living in. Also read 2 Peter 2:1-3 KJV. In all that one get, get understanding.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • seraphim0

      Eh... you can apply this 'prophecy' to ANY time period in history. Not just this one. You're just more -aware- of it because of the speed of information.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • ralphinator

      Agreed, this absolutely does harm Christianity. The non believers look at these few radicals and associate all Christians with them and call Christians crazy (rightfully so if they think they're all like this). The believer looks at these people, knows they are misguided and incorrect, however also recognized that the Bible mentions that more and more false prophets will arise as the end times draw closer (among other things such as pride, increased natural disasters, etc). It only reaffirms how true Christianity is correct and how (unfortunately) the Word is becoming more and more diluted with each passing day.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Ralph

      You realize this whole natural disasters and false prophets thing has been going on since before someone wrote in the bible that this would happen. Natural disasters occur all the time and so do false prophets, wars, ect.... the difference is we're now hearing more things at a lot quicker pace thanks to media and the internet. many people think how the times we're living in has to be worse than before because of all the wars and disasters however really what's happening is we're just hearing more of it. Please don't give credit to christianity for something that's been around for a very long time.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  14. Armando

    These Idiots did cover all their bases, they said if they're still here on the 222nd is because "God" did not choose them. pretty smart.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  15. Christian

    @ Jeff well said !

    May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  16. LindaMae

    No one can be sure when the world will end- we just have to be ready always- start by forgiving yourself and then others. Be at peace with yourself so you won't have to worry when the time comes.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • JackR

      I agree with LindaMae. We all have to prepare daily. We need to continue to work on our soul so that we will be prepared.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  17. Louis B

    This would make a good movie, oh wait.

    On the topic of religion, I'd say both Christians and atheists have it wrong. For the believers: How can you take the events that are in a book that was written and re-written over a course of a thousand years literally? Yeah, there may be a God, but I doubt it's in the sense that is known today. For the non-believers: how can you say nothing divine exists in this universe? We don't know, the only thing we can do is respect each others beliefs and lead life by morales that we can all agree on.

    I personally dislike atheists, because a good deal of the ones I've encountered practically spit in the face of those that do believe. They're no better than the religious people that insult non-believers.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • smrtaz

      I am pretty much right with you on those points.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Laughing

      You should meet more Atheists then. The ones I have encountered (as well as myself) personally don't find spitting on the face of religious fantatics (when I say this I mean the ones who feel the need to confront us first about our heathen ways) to be beneficial in anyway. I find it perplexing and just sort of sad. Whenever I debate a believer, in a calm rational debate it usually devolves into the person defending religion getting angry because he or she can not simply answer any question other than by saying stuff along the lines of, "well our brains are too small to understand" or "god works in mysterious ways" or my personal favorite "God will judge you for you unbelieving ways".

      Also you might want to look at what believers are doing in the name of their religion (ie gay rights, abortion, really any social issue) vs. what atheists are doing in the name of atheism (read: nothing). Please do not put us on the same level as religious folks, it's offensive.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • ralphinator

      well said....both sides can be hypocritical. My personal experience with atheists have been that they tend to be self-centered and dont like to admit theyre wrong or insufficient in any sense. They seem to have a lot of anger inside and are quick to judge others (especially religious ppl) to make up for their own inadequacies and unhappiness. I'm sure not all are like this but that has been my experience. Likewise, there are many Christians who also behave this way, but they tend to, more often than not, be the ones that get all the publicity and not the everyday Christians.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Frank

      I agree, atheists act like they know the truth, but we learn so much more about ourselves and our universe every day, every year, that there is no way to say for certain that a divine god does not exist. When you look at empirical evidence, I would argue that there is more proof that he does exist than proof that he does not exist.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Acts 2:38

      So, how many times has the Bible been written and re-produced? I have heard many people say this, but just how far removed do you think the King James Version of the 21st Century is from the original Greek text of the early 1st century?

      May 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @ralphinator – I think you could completely reverse Christian and Atheist in your post and be dead on. I find most atheists to be rather humble – they don't believe that the world was created from them and always look at the world with an inquisitive, but skeptical eye.

      Also, there is no (none, not one shred) empirical evidence for the existence of god. If concrete, solid evidence did exist I would happily switch my views.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Ralphinator and Frank,

      I'm sorry you both think that Atheists are the ones who think they have all the answers. On the contrary, and I think most atheists will agree with me, we're quicker to say "I don't know" quicker than religious people. Athesists are keenly aware on just how much of the universe we don't know and we're learning everyday to understand more. Now look at a religious person and you'll find more of them believe they can find any answer that you desire in a 2,000 year old book that is antiquated to say the least. Like I said before, you should meet more atheists.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  18. Sheila

    Why does CNN continue to give these people air time? Ignore them. This is just silly.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • svann

      It might be better that we know what they are doing in case they decide to mass suicide, or worse.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Lettuce Prey

      It's not a total waste. This comment thread alone is providing hours of free entertainment.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  19. Larry

    See you all on Oct 22!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • wzrd1

      Same feeling here. I'll enjoy their press on Sunday, then their press release saying that they miscalulated, YET AGAIN, then have to put up with their idiocy, YET AGAIN, when they make an updated, corrected, prediction that will ALSO be wrong.
      YET AGAIN.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  20. RD

    Jesus did say there would be signs of the end – but He said He didn't know either (only the Father). It seems for someone to actually tell you when it will happen sort of disregards what Jesus actually said. The important thing is to not focus on what a man has said, but what Jesus has said. But this does make one think about the end and one's status with Jesus.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Frank

      Exactly! So many MEN use and twist the words of the bible to glorify and promote themselves. Do not trust men like that, worship in the way that makes you feel closer to god and dont let another man tell you what god thinks because he doesent know.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Jessica

      Amen! Who I really feel for are all these non-believers who think that the second coming of Jesus Christ will not take place. It will take place, but only God knows when.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168
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.