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. Vlad

    How dare they have rapture when it's Lady Gaga's new CD weekend. No thanks, come back when Palin is a president.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  2. Mick Jagger

    you gotta love how god, while ending the world, follows time zones and the international dateline!

    must be really gratifying for Sir Sandford Fleming... I mean, if that don't get you no satisfaction, I don't know what will!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Keith Richards

      Time ain't on their side.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  3. Largencharge

    Anyone know if this garbage has gone global, I mean are the other ' followers ' in other parts of the world pounding the pavement with this message ? Or, is this a US thing only ?

    Man-A-Live, we've got a lot of dumb (^*%&*&^ ing' people in the country.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • linzdai

      We've got them in Canada too. I saw some handing out brochures on the street yesteday.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  4. KDM

    I wonder if I should still make my tee time for sunday?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  5. TI

    i hope they are right and that the "righteous" are indeed taken up to the heavens and we heathens are left here. I say good riddance because those people are such a bore.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      If the righteous true believers are taken up, we will miss both of them.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bible Clown
      Hey! That's my line!
      12th Commandment: Thou shalt cite thy sources
      (the 11th being 'thou shalt not get caught')

      May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      You beat me to it already, Doc? Didn't see it. Great minds think alike.
      How about "Religion may be the opium of the masses, but on some people it's more like PCP."

      May 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  6. Mar

    I don't find this belief any more ridiculous than any other religious belief. Most Christians think judgement day will come.. These people think it will come on Saturday.
    Both are just thoughts of people who have convinced themselves that a book written by man to control the masses is what they should be living their lives by. How can you think these people are crazy, and at the same time, be driven by the same principals?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  7. T3chsupport

    It's time to get down on your knees and start pleasing Jesus ♫
    Feel his warm salvation all over your face ♪

    May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • yeah right

      Jesus is coming! Question is are you going to spit or swallow?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Too mean. These fools have wrecked their lives and made colossal @$$clowns of themselves in front of their children because they believe too deeply. Not funny because it's too true. You could make them bite the heads off chickens or run naked through the streets, or turn tricks.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  8. Pastor W

    The blind and dumd run behind this kind of nonsense!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  9. I'm Outside

    Hilarious. Just plain funny.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  10. Colin

    The following is an actual conversation I once had in a bar in Shanghai over the famous Little Red Book of Communist China. It is paraphrased, but captures the gist of it:

    Me. So you believe Mao Zedong was a wise and noble leader?

    Her. Yes.

    Me. Why do you believe Mao Zedong was a wise and noble leader?

    Her. Because it is written in the Little Red Book.

    Me. And why do you believe the Little Red Book?

    Her. Because it was written by Mao Zedong, a wise and noble leader.

    As an ardent fan of the famed Sino-Communist leader, this “logic” was satisfactory to her. I doubt she would have been so gratuitously accepting of a similar turn of logic concerning Adam Smith or another free market economist.

    Indistinguishable is the Christian reasoning for believing in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Judeo-Christian god:

    Mr. A. Do you believe in god?

    Mr. B. Yes

    Mr. A. Why do you believe in god?

    Mr. B. Because it is written in the Bible.

    Mr. A. Why do you believe the Bible?

    Mr. B. Because the Bible is the word of god.

    As obvious and visible a case of circular reasoning that this is, it is essentially satisfactory to millions of Christians. They readily see the falacy in the first argument above, but are blisfully (intentionally) blind to the second.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Why do you believe in God?
      Because they will cut off my thumbs and blind me if I don't. Amen. Praise the Jeesus!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Glorifundel

      I thoroughly enjoyed your example Colin. Well done.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  11. haha ok

    awww mann I was planning on graduating the week after that saturday..

    May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  12. jakob

    I like the religious nutjobs on here trying to refute the claims of nutjob Camping and his religious nutjob cohorts. lol

    May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Artist

      That is waht christianity is, refute all others and claim your perspective is the true path. They even attack each other in the jesus love frenzy. QUITE ENTERTAINING wouldn't you say lol. Christianity = different degrees of nutjobs

      May 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  13. glstrap

    I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ and I believe in a heaven and a hell. Although the bible talks about the end days, no one really knows when that time will be. In Matthew 24:36 The bible says: However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows and in Matthew 24:6 it says
    and ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. I can appreciate christians going out and spreading the word about salvation but it shouldn't be done in a fashion where people commit to this belief based only on fear and really having no faith (you know having the mentality that it is better to believe and be safe as opposed to not believing and be sorry). God gives us all free will to choose whether or not we want to believe in him and give our life to him and have eternal salvation.

    The people who are claiming that May 21, 2011 is the day of the rapture should remember what the bible says about the end times and not assume that 5.21.11 is that day. They should know better than that. KNowing of a particular date of when the rapture is to take place is not in line with what the bible says and the bible speaks of this very thing as well.

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

      Do you talk to god and does god talk to you? Do you hear his voice?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      The Bible isn't intended as a user's manual for the world. If it is, God makes a lot of mistakes. Tell me what the Bible says about potatoes and telephones if you think every answer is in there. Imagining that you will find the exact date/time of Armageddon is somewhere between wishful thinking and heresy.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Glorifundel

      "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows and in Matthew 24:6 it says
      and ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."

      So God did not tell his son, or the angels or anyone at all, but he felt the need to tell Matthew: "hey bro, the world is totally going to explode. But I'm not going to tell you when." Lets put that in context.

      The teacher doesn't tell the students or the office staff, or anyone at all, but felt the need to tell the T.A. "Hey T.A. person, I'm totally going to have a test. But I'm not going to tell you when"

      Sounds like a jerk thing to do, don't you think?

      Just saying.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • LinCA

      ... and, of course, that test may or may not be on the subject that was taught. It could also be any of my colleagues who might administer this test.

      Oh, and anybody who fails this test will be expelled......

      May 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  14. John Kaufman, Oceanside, CA

    If it happens so be it. My only question is if it happens then what's next for mankind?

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

      There will be a white iPhone, so do not fear.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  15. Bible Clown

    CNN, please look these birds up in a year and tell us what happened to them. I bet most of them will be saying "We were five years off but it's coming" like the Millerites did.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  16. Flora

    I read this stuff when I want a good laugh. Nobody's going to convince anybody else to change their mind. Some of the posts are rational and thought provoking. Must are just ranting.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  17. Jimbob

    this is like another y2k thing.. nowhere in the bible does it say there will be a rapture..nowhere in the bible does it say the sun will turn red.. it says the moon will turn red and the sun will turn black.. and that nobody knows, not even the angels know when the end will come.. it says every eye will see when Jesus comes back to resurrect us..

    May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Artist

      So you believe in fairies, I mean angels????
      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 1:21 pm |
    • Mark

      Thank you Artist! Well said!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Hey now, Y2K was a real issue. There was in fact computer code that referenced a two digit year and it would have given unexpected results in the year 2000. The lack of sensational failure was due to 1) corrections that were made and 2) overestimation of the number and extent of Y2K problems in code.
      Unlike, 5-21-11, Y2K had an actual verifiable basis.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Glorifundel

      It is like another Y2k thing except that Y2k was a real problem based on reality. Y2k was an issue in which the programming world (for the most part) stepped up and fixed the potential issue before it actually surfaced.

      This doomsday idea is nothing more than people having too much blind belief. What happens to these people who left their jobs sold their homes and their belongings etc when the world doesn't end. What happens when there are children involved. If they were not citing religion as their motivation, they would Clearly be delusional. So why do we let religion force us to even consider these people anything other than delusional. Not hurting anyone is a weak excuse. I'd say the parents that sold off everything they owned are hurting their children significantly, if nothing else than by teaching them that.

      PS. For those of you curious what Y2k was about it was as simple as this:

      you have a container, lets say a bucket, that bucket can hold a certain amount of stuff, in this case a date


      It is ONLY big enough to fit those 8 digits. Now the year changes


      The bucket is too full, and certain information does not fit and spills out. In the computer world this is data corruption which can possibly cause crashes or simply odd behavior, or perhaps nothing. What needed to happen was that the bucket we used to store the date had to become bigger


      Now the bucket can hold 10 digits, so when the year changes


      No corruption/crashes/or other unwanted behavior.

      Although it didn't cause the problems certain analysts thought it would, it was a legitimate issue.

      Thank you for your time.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Justthefacts

      The Rapture is a belief of those who don't study the Bible. You are correct. No man knows when the end will arrive......not even the Angels. We are given some clues to watch out for, and that is all. These people have totally skipped over The Abomination of Desolation. And they have discarded the Tribulation. Saturday will come and Saturday will go. But when the End comes, no one knows.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Just wondering, if "no man knows," then why provide "some clues?" Just to toy with believers?

      'All will be known to the one that finds the answer to 1/0.' {God chuckling...}

      May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  18. Greg

    The circular logic of these people citing the Bible to prove what's written in the Bible makes me want to shake them until the marbles fall out of their heads.

    At what point does the state step in and declare parents unfit when they do stuff like this while they still have minor children?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Next Weekend


      May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      They will kill those children and everyone will say "But they seemed so sane?" Religion is legally protected insanity. Me and KoKo the Ancient Fire Lizard God are going out to the machine gun range this weekend with my five-year-old, and you can't stop us!

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

      Well then quit asking Christians to prove the existence of God and Christ. There IS no evidence. That's why it's called faith, you twit. If you don't have faith, so be it. I do. Good for me.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Mark

      One day we will all agree that religion is a either a form of pyschosis or for those that are mentally challenged or lacking in will.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Greg

      I sure hope the neighbors/older siblings have enough sense to hide/protect the younger kids when crazy mom and crazy dad come home on the 23rd.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  19. Next Weekend

    Excuse me, I got plans this weekend. Can we push this.....rapture thing to next weekend? Thank you

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

      Nope. I am off to the mountains next weekend, its 3 day weekend in the US. I propose first weekend in June 🙂

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

      Ok that's fine. But this weekend only. No more. I mean it this time!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  20. jonny

    Just a wonderful fact-filled article about crazy people. Is this a scientific article or fiction? Unfortunatly, just like this supposed doomsday, I cannot find any evidence. Any particulat reason why the 21st, why 6pm, why anything? Did someone from the 700 Club decide to pick their wedding anniversary (wait, nevermind, they are too crazy to get married) in order to get out of buying flowers. Are they sure they are even using the correct calendar? Are they sure they have the right religion?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Jeffrey Rowland

      It's my birthday.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:39 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.