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. Asian Man!


    JEW BUDDHIST who followed TENTH COMMANDMENTS!!! Have you people seen Riots at the Middle East, IMF arrested, Arnold adultery, etc... It's happening you CRAZY PEOPLE!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Mark

      Follow the Holy Gourd! No Follow the Holy Shoe! He has left us a sign!! 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Next Weekend

      Oh Yeah! Arnold's news just did it! The proof we all were waiting for. Yup, you're nuts!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Oh, just got an update: it isn't the world ending, just Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sorry for the confusion.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Matt-N-Austin

      Get real you idiots. I'd say that I'm going to sit back and laugh at you idiots, but that would be a waste of time.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Secret Asian Man . . . wasn't that a tv show starring Bruce Lee?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  2. chokedmonkey

    The guy saying this is really Ken from the movie Real Genius and the little speaker implanted in his tooth is still working... Stop touching yourself Ken!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  3. Gordon

    One must wonder what these misguided people will use as an excuse when none of this happens. I have no problem with them believing whatever it is they want to believe, but what will they believe when the world continues with its daily life?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  4. Daniel

    About time! I can't wait. Awesome.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  5. Jesus

    Why do idiots believe an invisible half-man/half god in the sky is watching us to see if he's going to let us into his magical fairyland one day? If a person is stupid enough to believe that, isn't trying to calculate the day a reasonable thing to do?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  6. Bruce

    LOL wouldn't it be great if Camping is right about everything, and the earthquakes start in New Zealand and follow the sun westward around the globe and destroy everything and kill most of us, and several thousand people are raptured and spared the pain and suffering, but Camping is left behind?

    THEN CNN should do a follow up interview and ask him why he wasn't chosen! 😛

    May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  7. Andy

    For over 30 years, one man has presented a different and positive perspective on the happenings of the time. According to British author, lecturer and artist Benjamin Creme the one expected under various names – Christ for Christians, 5'th Buddha for Buddhists, Messiah for Jews, etc... – has returned and is now in the modern world. His personal name is Maitreya, and he comes as a teacher, not religious leader. Maitreya is the head of the Spiritual Hierarchy which is the group of perfected men like us who have gone ahead in the long journey of evolution. Maitreya is here to show humanity the way out of its problems – he says nations sharing is the way to peace, to end hunger and war forever.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Jerrod

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36 As a Christian, I am pretty sure that cancels out anyone on earth or knowing.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Tom

      You can admit that but you're still telling the rest of us how to live our lives. When are you going to get that many of us consider the Bible to be complete and utter nonsense.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Nivyan

      These people think the world is going to end based off of PARTS of the Bible. So it only makes sense that Jerrod explain their mistakes with the correct answer from the very book they are using.

      To bad they were to lazy to read the whole thing and get the correct answer. We will be totally surprised when the rapture happens.

      May 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  9. John Connor

    Come with me if you want to live!
    I'll get you though this when Skynet launches the nuclear missiles and ushers in Judgment Day. I've been preparing and training for this my whole life. I have all the weapons and food rations we will need along with a couple of T-800's and one T-1000 at my side. To Me people of Earth, TO ME! I cannot promise that all of you will survive but with my leadership and your unwavering determination to we will prevail!! da-da-da....Da-Da! da-da-da....DA-DA!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  10. Bible Clown

    They will just sneer "Well, the world DID end. It's all ruined because you don't believe in my weirdo god." You can't fix crazy. At least one of them will decide everyone belongs dead and start shooting people. Millerites on crack in 2011.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  11. Rey Jesusito

    Please dont call this group a christian group as they are not really christians but a cult. They have predicted that the rapture is going to happen decades ago and then when it didnt happen, they said theres a slight miscalculations. Calling them christians is offensive to the true christians.
    Much Agape

    May 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Sorry, I disagree with you and Franklin Graham. Anyone who says that he or she is a christian IS a christian and their beliefs totally reflect yours. Amen, dude.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  12. crazy Mike's rapture sale!!

    here at Mid-West Electronics, we are slashing prices!!!

    42 inch flat screens from $300! LEDs from $400!
    DVD players from $25! CD players from $10!!

    this week only! media center equipped PCs from $250!!

    everything must go!! you won't find prices this low again, EVER!!!
    don't wait for a sign, NOW is the time to buy!!

    extended warranties FREE!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  13. Believe it

    Aren't they supposed to drink Kool aid to kick off this event?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  14. Yvette

    That's interesting since the Bible I read teaches that no man knows the day or time Mark 13:22. "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is". It also reads that he is coming as a thief in the night. So I am real curious.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Colin

      Again, daddy-god is baby-god, no? How can it know and not know at the same time.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Bruce

      Maybe he's coming as a thief in the night some night AFTER the earthquakes that start it all off on Saturday, and what day that is is unknown?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Susan Morris

      Exactly. And it is also disturbing that the very last statement in the article says this man will probably just sit around watching TV waiting for the end. If he really believes this is real why isn't he on his knees in supplication praying for mercy and also for his family and friends? Oh, right, his family and friends aren't part of the 2-3%. I guess John 3:16 went out with the "old rules".

      May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  15. djaye44

    i saw this the first time that this was reported on tv.. now if they are true christians they would know that the bible states that no human or angel will know the end times.. these ppl are what i call a false prophet and who ever beileves these people need to re think there relationship with god.. just saying .... have a good day

    May 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  16. Tom

    We'll all be laughing in their faces on Sunday.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Artist


      We'll all be laughing in their faces on Sunday
      You can laugh every day on here. lol

      May 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  17. MAYAN

    Harold Camping will be U.S history books only if his prediction is CORRECT ABOUT MAYAN 2012 HISTORY!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • CG


      May 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  18. Jesus (The spanish dude, not Christ)

    Fear not for I have spoken to the Lord our God and asked him to postpone the day of rapture to coincide with the Mayan end of World date of December 21st, 2012. He really liked the idea of a two-fer. He hath mercifully agreed to this. In exchange, he has asked for the hair of Donald Trump and $10Billion Dollars (in small unmarked bills) to be delievered to me prior to the rapture. Should his demands not be met, he shall unleash on the untold masses sharks with lasers. For those that do not venture into the water he shall unleash cicadas (think of them as locusts) that shall make everyone deaf and drive them mad.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Si Cada

      You are a funny dude...great sense of humor! ROTFL!!!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Spyhard007

      I will do this for half price.. just 5billion dollars, and Donald Trump can keep his stinking hair.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion. – Robert Pirsig

    May 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Artist

      Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations.
      As the illness continues, psychotic symptoms develop:
      • False beliefs or thoughts that are not based in reality (delusions)
      • Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)

      May 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Zen and the Art of Fleecing Fundamentalists?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • bigsnow81

      This quote made my day. Thank you and god bless!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  20. Chi

    Matthew 24:36 "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father."

    But apparently some folks from Oakland have inside information. Uh huh.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Colin

      But daddy-god is baby-god, no? How can it know and not know at the same time.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bruce

      Wow, I bet that Mr. Camping never read that verse, nor has anyone ever challenged him with it.

      You should call him up and tell him about that verse. I bet that will clear things up quite quickly and he'll recant his predictions immediately!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • bigsnow81

      The rapture already happened. Enjoy hell with us all.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Jez

      Colin I see you seem to want an answer to your question but no one apparently has the knowledge to answer it so I will. You must understand the Bible is written in almost a poem like manner so that it has meanings beyond the reader and beyond time. The text about the son not knowing only the father is simply a metaphor to get you to realize that absolutely no one knows. Jesus the son of God is out of his flesh in heaven and he is now one. There are no two Gods walking around in heaven.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:29 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.