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. IllJWill

    Damn I was looking forward to Halloween... already had my costume!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Atheist in Charge


      May 18, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • RosieRocket

      Me too! That's my birthday! Guess I won't be turning 25 this year! Perpetual youth? I think I'll take it!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  2. bandgeek1

    There's an upside to all this end of world talk: I won't have to sweat my band concerts and graduation. I REALLY don't want to have to play P&C in a stuffy gym for an hour.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  3. insert sarcastic remark here

    If Judgement Day is Saturday then my movers are going to have a really hard time finding my house Sunday. Crap.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • agnosticchick


      May 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  4. Natalie

    Well if it's true at least I won't have to finish paying my medical bills! 😀

    May 18, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  5. King

    It is amazing that the truth of the bible is often ignored and unwanted false teachers seem to get so much attention how will they explain themselves on 5/22/2011 choking cown pancakes at IHOP

    May 18, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • I told you so

      Most of them won't be ablr to afford IHOP.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  6. Larry

    Article bored me to death!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • justme


      May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • alex

      How is this boring?!? This is the most interesting topic we have today.. we have the technology to leave this planet, predict the weather and alter our own DNA, but the majority of the world still believes in a magical being in the sky! News stories like this are important because they shed light on the absurdity of it all...

      May 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  7. Jeff

    what a crock. maybe gas will be cheaper on Saturday? less jihadists killing their own brothers? cant wait

    May 18, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  8. hey

    if the world is suppose to end, then why does the bible say at psalms 37:29

    The righteous themselves will possess the earth,
    And they will reside forever upon it.

    What are these fools talking about?

    May 18, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • jebus H.

      it is best just to pick the verses you like. There are so many conflicting passages in the bible it is impossible not to contradict yourself. I guess since the bible is the word of god that god is a liar since he keeps changing his story.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • tierracarter


      May 21, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  9. Adelina

    It is certain nothing major related to the Judgment Day will ever happen on May 21, though everyone must be ready to meet God every moment.

    May 18, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • The Big Picture

      Thank you.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  10. mcore

    If only these lunatics WOULD be taken off the earth. The rest of us would be a lot better off.

    May 18, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Shobocop

      that would be fantastic

      May 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  11. itrollibslol

    im goin to heaven woooooooooo!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  12. amy

    CNN better interview these wingnuts at 6:01 PM on Saturday.

    May 18, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • truth

      hahaha, I couldn't agree more. Let's see how many of them say "whoops."

      May 18, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • HolyMoly

      So it is Saturday at 6:00p.m.? Is that EST, CST, GMT? It really make a difference........I'm just sayin.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Ogre

      They should be arrested for terrorist threats and inciting to panic... and should be fined heavily.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Bobby

      The report clearly says 6:00 local time – don't how DST will work but hey.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  13. Jason

    Don't believe this hoax. The bible does not tell us when the world will end. Family radio is a false ministry.

    May 18, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • mcore

      But yours is the right one? Brother.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Next Weekend

      Aren't they all? False that is.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • koboi

      Well, even Jesus spoken about false prophets. So as a Christian, i am not surprise because it's the devil's way of tornishing the Gospel and deceiving people. Jesus clearly told us the Bible of Matthew that " of that hour or day no one knows not even the angels in heaven"

      May 19, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  14. Jenetta Neal

    They don't know their bible very well. It says in several places that we don't know; Matthew 24:36; Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:32; and Revelations 3:3

    May 18, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Justin

      It is the book of Revelation (singular) John had one revelation. Not being rude just thought you might like to know.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Paolo

      The book of revelation is full of revelations (plural).

      May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  15. Jerry Humphries

    This is stupid for if your a true Christian you will not believe that the world will end may21 2011. it states in the bible that no man nor angel in heave knows the time or date of the end of the world so by this guy saying that is basically telling people that God is lying to us. So to all the people that believes this man can go to H****!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Frogist

      @ Jerry: There's that milk of human compas-sion... Truly Christ-like sentiment. BTW This guy used the bible to determine the date. Why is your interpretation better than his?

      May 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Mike

      @Frogist are u saying that this man is better than God knowing which day Christ will come back?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • brian jimenez

      yeah if you even believe in that mythical character from a book to begin with

      May 19, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • just an observer

      Looks bad when a Christian blasts another for their beliefs. By saying it is definitely NOT going to happen on May 21st you are essentially saying you know this as a fact. The truth is, we don't know. It could happen then or it could not. Only God knows

      May 19, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  16. Al

    so... buying my halloween costume early was a bad idea?

    May 18, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  17. Chris

    ZOLTAN!!!!!! haha

    May 18, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  18. Dwight Barran

    I am so sorry for those who miss interpret and try to portray being prophets of the nth degree of stupidity! No one knows. It's just a scheme to get more attention to this religion and its believers or followers. Shame on you!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  19. LickiTyClick

    Matthew 25
    King James Version
    13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

    May 18, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • justme

      you need to reread that verse or read a bible that doesn't contain so many mistakes. the kingjimmy is probably the most inaccurate "version", not a translation, available today. maybe compare a few and get some accurate knowledge, 2 Tim.3:1-7 especially note vs.5 and 7. keep seeking, keep asking you may be saved if you endure to the end. MT.24:13.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Hal

      Hey justme, that is the problem, ever since the turn of the 20th century, there have been way too many "NEW AND IMPROVED" versions of the Bible. That is why there is so much confusion. The King James Authorized Version is the English standard.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  20. Andy

    What do you want to bet? I'll bet anything against it. Bring it on!!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Chris

      even your soul? hahaha

      May 18, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Jeff

      im busy saturday; i have to stock up on idiot-gear for all the idiots without faith in their own lives. every man/woman controls their own destiny: not Zenu or some other god. live your own life. quit making excuses for it

      May 18, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Fox News Network

      1# I stopped believing in imaginary friends when I was 7.
      2# @ 9 I realized that praying was a way too feel like your changing something by doing nothing.
      3# When 12 I realized that the bible was written by people with too much time on their hands.

      People who believe should continue believing and stay off the street.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Joe - Wilmington, DE


      Best regards,
      (Call me!)

      May 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • The Dude

      @Chris – Sure. Against whatever you got.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Andy

      No bet? HaHa chickens. If you are not sure. Shut the F up haha.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Former Marine

      @ Fox News Network – Are you proud of yourself? A year ago you decided that the Bible was written by men who had too much time on their hands? Really? At the age of 12 you aren't even allowed to make such decisions on your own. Your attention span was just not long enough. (Somewhere in the range of 7-14 minutes if memory serves me correctly.)
      A) I never had imaginary friends...
      B) Praying, even if you are a nonbeliever could be compared to positive reinforcement.
      C) The men who wrote the Bible either gave eyewitness accounts or were given direction by God. The time it took is not so important as the message that is given...

      People who do not believe have a lot of time to get on forums and make quasi-intelligent remarks, so making a reference to too much time just seems ironic.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:41 am |
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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.