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. Hugh Jorgan

    Ok, if you really believe this, please send me all your money, preferably in gold.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • G

      Not enough time to convert my cash to gold. You accept money orders??

      May 18, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • winetourgirl

      lol thats 2 funny

      May 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  2. Rider

    Is there an 800 number I can call?
    I don't think any of this is gonna happen, but, if it does, will this effect my credit rating, or should just make some payments before the 21st just to cover my self?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  3. peacppl

    What a bunch of morons!!!! really ..cnn why are you giving them coverage??

    May 18, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • alex

      You have to think big picture here.. Religion is a problem in our society.. Stories like this help bring awarness to the absurdity of it all....

      May 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  4. jonvi

    This stuff is real. But I can help everyone. For just $50.00, I will ensure your safety from the May 21, 2011 judgement day. Sign up now.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Eternanda

      Jonvi can I partner with you and bring the food....then you can charge 60, all I need is 10 per person

      May 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  5. William

    Fear is the only thing that works when you need to drive up participation. So, on the 22nd when my atheist butt is sitting pretty with no signs of the 7 horseman of the apocalypse then what? Why can so many people buy into BS if it is tied to the Bible? Truth is perceived by christian not proven, the sooner they see the preachers for what they are (snake oil salesman) the better...

    May 18, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  6. Jason

    The world actual ended a few months ago, you just didn't notice it.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • meowsers

      do elaborate...

      May 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  7. peacppl

    i guess i can count out beach visit next month!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  8. Me

    May 21, 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar...but, I mean, the calendar had to end SOMEtime. And, if they knew so much, where are they now? This story is another example of how whacked out religions can be. SO, what happens when it DOESN'T end? They say, "Oh, sorry...we were wrong". Or, maybe it was God's plan to trick them...weak minded folks...pray for them...or not.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Jason

      When my calendar runs out I go to Wal-Mart and get a new one.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Shamrock6

      The Mayan calendar doesn't end on Dec. 21, 2012. Does our Gregorian calendar end on December 31st every year? Why people are saying that their calendar ends is beyond me. Read a book and try to keep up.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Read the Freaking Article!

      This article has nothing to do with the end of the Mayan calendar, it's a useless prediction based on someone's interpretation of the Bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  9. nodat1

    ya no mortgage payment in May

    May 18, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  10. Ted

    Another bunch of misinformed misguided people.At least they are not spreading hate like some groups.They actually show a concern for their fellow man.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  11. bailoutsos

    Can't end on Sat because I am going to the Cold Steel Parking lot / Moving Sale in Ventura, CA.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  12. ClarasBeau

    Sorry, but this behavior, to me, is just unbalanced. And I can just see some small kid asking, "Are the raptors gonna get us, Mommy?"

    May 18, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • JTK

      now THAT was funny!

      May 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  13. Jerry

    I will give them $20 for their ENTIRE network–because they won't need it after Saturday (right?). If they take the deal, fine. If they *don't* take the deal, that tells everyone how much of a "believer" they really are....

    May 18, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  14. IllJWill

    HAHAHA unemployment going up for sure... I wonder how many took a vacation... just in case? lol

    May 18, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • numbnut

      Well, it should free some jobs up for the unemployed.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  15. Benjamin

    Sorry. Accidentally submitted. The 3 problems are as follows;
    1. Not all pre-Armageddon prophecies have seen their fulfillment.
    2. The "Rapture" doctrine is a misinterpretation of certain scriptures in the Christian-Greek (New Testament) scriptures. In them, the Apostle Paul spoke of a heavenly hope. However, this doesn't apply to everybody. It's clearly stated that there are 2 flocks, one small and one so large it is never numbered. The little flock has the heavenly hope, where as the great crowd have the hope of life here on earth after all of God's enemies have been done away with.
    As part of this point, there is no mention of the word "Rapture" in the bible. And the idea that an earthquake will circle the globe goes against how earthquakes actually work.
    3. Also, many of the things taught in the Rapture doctrine are contradictory of true Bible teachings. For instance, God promised that the meek will inherit the Earth. God also promised he'll do away with those ruining the Earth. And than there's also his promise that the Earth will stand until times indefinite. God didn't make the Earth just to destroy it. He made humans to inhabit the Earth. This hasn't changed because God never changes.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • dill

      Wow...a voice of reason. Didn't think any existed in Christianity. Most Christians are just as crazy as most Muslim extremist. That's why I REFUSE to call my self one.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Artemis

      "And the idea that an earthquake will circle the globe goes against how earthquakes actually work."
      As opposed to how the rest of it makes so much sense? Trumpets everyone hears, Jesus descending from the clouds, etc., etc.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Galvin


      Who are you studying with?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  16. cameron

    ahhh..those christians have always been on top of there knowledge game. the day i go to these type of radical christians to help anwser the questions i need to know will be the day that my world is over. kinda sounds a little similar to what we are fighting against in the middle east....how right they have been since they decided to write a book and change it multiple times to what we now believe is the bible...all for money. and they are very rarely right. but if it makes them sleep better at night, have at it. ill be at work on saturday, so should be interesting. hope i get overtime pay for dealing with the worlds end. and i will make sure these profits are the ones paying if it doesnt go according to plan.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  17. Mr. Deeds

    I would like to know if any of these guys could sell me thier house for $100.00 i would like to see if they could put thier house where their mouth is.... i mean thier faith...call me 212-555- 1234

    May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • justme

      why would you give them 100? what would they do with it? just sign it over.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • josh

      thats a great idea. I'm gonna try and find some in my area and close the deal by friday

      May 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  18. Other Human

    This is as much a news story as is the ramblings of a random homeless man.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  19. Charmaine

    Jesus said "no man knoweth the day or the hour, not even the angels, only God Himself". Matthew 24:36
    He also said "Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord cometh" Matthew 24:42

    May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Becky

      Yeah, and the bible is talking about death here...not jesus coming back to earth. You don't know when you will meet the lord because nobody can say when they will die. There is no rapture. There is no evidence of it in the bible. It's just the mad ravings of people who misinterpreted a book.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  20. SkekLach

    Wait... they quit their jobs and everything for this? Sunday is going to be VERY awkward..

    May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Eternanda

      HAHAHA...wonder what the unemployment rates will become

      May 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Worrywart

      You don't get unemployment for quitting your job. Welfare's gonna suck though.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • MomOf3

      They can get their Wal-Mart jobs back easy!

      May 18, 2011 at 2:33 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.