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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. Dave Christian

    You will all meet God, you can explain your disbeliefe to him.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Colin

      Ah, the whole "believ or burn" admonition. This is actually one of the sillier Christian superst-itions. Think it through. You don’t have to kill, you don’t have to steal, you don’t even have to litter. All you have to do is refuse to believe in the Christian god and he will inflict a punishment on you an infinite times worse than the death penalty….and he loves you. Dark Ages clap-trap.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • YBP

      Don't you mean 'her?' In my imagination, all the gods are fabulous drag queens.

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

      Will you have the courage, decency and honesty to stand up and admit you are wrong come sunday? Or will you get together with your loony friends and pick another random date to scare simple minded people?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • dukes

      How about god show me he/she/it exists?...and no, not through something that can be explained by natural processes. Like actually appear before all of us in the sky and just tell us "hey, it's me God. What's up y'all?"

      May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bruce

      If God exists, He (or She) knows full well why I don't believe in Him (or Her). No explanations are necessary.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Dan

      Happily, and quite convincingly, I might add.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • ChristianJoe

      http://www.opposingviews.com/i/may-21-2011-rapture-predictor-harold-camping-was-wrong-before

      May 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • rob

      Dear Dave Christian Is Christian really your last name or are you a Christian or both...........anyway Christ was not a Christian he was a Jew. And yes we will all meet Christ some day but not 5/21/11........ stop making God in your own image!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  2. God

    After millions of years, you fools have the audacity to think I'll come back in your lifetime? Go back to work.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  3. gem

    As the bible does mention a doomsday it is called Armagedon ( Apocalypses 16:16) That is Gods day. As someone mentioned earlier no one knows such day. However, life will continue on earth as God has promissed. However in a perfect way and only those who abide by his principles will survive. Apocalypses 21:3-4 psalms 37:10-11 Isaiah 45:18 Apocalypses 7:9 and many many many more. Life in heaven was reserved for just a few thounsand apocalypses 7:4. People read the bible and abide.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Artist

      Mine was thrown in the garbage years ago. If you wat have faith in man, more power to your delusion. Get help.
      .
      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 1:39 pm |
  4. AIZEN

    wow lol..only in the USA..ahahhahaha radical religious nut trying to cause hysteria and mass suicide..thank god people are smarter than this...many have come before with dumb prediction and none was true..the bible says noone knows, not even jesus knows but god himself....this radio must close and the people quitting their jobs not allowed a cents in unemployment benefits...let them fend for themselves after this day...

    May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  5. jim

    The Bible does not teach a burning hell. Hell means death. The AntiChrist Catholic Church invented that along with immortal soul and trinity to scare and confuse people and bring in the money. http://www.biblestudents.us

    May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Dave Christian

      You are of satan

      May 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  6. RdclCntrst

    At first I thought this whole thing was hilarious...wait...I still think it's hilarious. Nut now my perspective has increased to to include pity for these self-deluded people. Imagine the confusion and loss (I'd say shame, but religious extremists have shown themselves time and again to be immune from shame) they'll feel come Saturday evening when they're sitting in their RVs alone and have to confront having been hoodwinked.
    Also, has anyone else been able to find the "evidence" that these doomsayers used to pick this exact date? None of the coverage I've read has included it. (sigh)

    May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  7. So Funny

    You think if someone managed to crack God's playbook that God wouldn't just reschedule the end just to throw us off? Anybody who believes this carackpot is just as kooky. Know what God told me? Not in this lifetime. Know what else He told me? He knows how f'd up humans are so he put other life forms so far away from Earth on purpose so we wouldn't be able to start a war with them.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • TheStarsareBurning

      I like you

      May 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  8. jakob

    "in Matthew 24:6 it says
    and ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled"

    war is the man's most natural state and has been taking place everywhere there has been human habitation for nearly 150,000 years, so by that logic the world has been ending in perpetuity since the human dawning. That or you are just completely off your rocker and not exercising logic whatsoever...

    May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  9. Uhuru Spock

    WHY IS THEIR DONATION LINK STILL ACTIVE? WHAT DO THEY STILL NED MONEY FOR?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • JP

      Well they still need to drive around for 3 or 4 days....gas isn't cheap 😛

      May 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • jonescincy

      LOL

      May 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  10. Susan

    These guys need to get a real job.

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

      what's a "real" job?

      May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  11. Pastor W

    The blind and the dumd church folks run behind this kind of nonsense! The bible makes it very clear Jesus said no one including himself don't know when he would return only God The Father knows that. Harold Campion or whatever his last name Did id nonese 20yrs ago claming Jesus was going to meet everyone in Coney Island, NY. Guesswhat then whe they day came and gone he claim God changed his mind this man need to be taken off family radio. As Pastor I will say they outright lying to those people having them selling their homes,quit their jobs etc to follw this nonsense thgey needto arrest them for misleading those people.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  12. Tiffany

    beam me up scotty lmao

    May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  13. Jeremy

    So sad. I was really hoping to find out what Apple's big surprise is on Sunday. I am hoping for iphone on T-Mobile.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  14. runmom

    I just looked up Ezekiel 33 – nowhere does it say that the world will end on May 21, 2011.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Bruce

      It doesn't say it directly, there are some complicated calculations you need to make first. Here, I'll quote it for you and you can see if you come up with the same calculation. Starting with verse 34 in that chapter: "The earthquake will start in a land called New Zealand at twice three hours past noon and thrice two ours before midnight in a month that starts with 'M' and ends in 'y' on the day that is equal to the square root of 441 in the year that precedes 5,341 by three millenium, three centuries, and three decades. The earthquake will devastate the land and will travel with the sun for a full day, laying waste to the world, because as everyone knows, the sun orbits the earth while the earth stays in one place, and the earth is not flat but cylinder-shaped, like a soda can."

      Tricky calculations, but I think he got the numbers correct.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  15. bigsnow81

    Leave it to god to mess up my graduation ceremony on 5/22.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  16. Eric

    Here's an exclusive interview with Harold Camping and some of his followers. See conclusively why they're mistaken. And pray for them.
    http://www.aftermay21.com/videos/articletype/articleview/articleid/1534/interview-with-harold-camping.aspx

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

      Wait, wait, when is this fiction movie coming to the theater near me? Please.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  17. Dave Christian

    Listen everyone! Real Christians do not believe this. Real Christians know what the Bible says, "no man knows the day or the hour of the returning of our Lord not even the son Jesus Christ, but only the father." This is a cult of somesort and give real Christians a bad name. This group is going to make us all look bad, and personaly I believe that is thier goal. Please remember "true" Christians believe that the rapture for true elievers is near but no man NO MAN can ever know when.
    BTW the world is without end. The world will never end, only the evils in this world will. AMEN

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

      But Dave, you Christains believe god the father and god the son are one and the same. How can it know and not know at the same time?

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

      To be honest you know about as much as they do...because you both believe in fairy tales.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Iphantom

      @ dave – what you don't understand is that us non-christians believe that you are just as insane as this guy. It's not that fact that he thinks he can predict the date of the rapture that makes him a crazy person, it's the fact that he believes in the rapture at all. To me, and most of educated america, you and this guy are the same thing.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Artist

      Ah yes the pointing of the finger they ae wrong but I am right. Also I find it interesting that we have the trinity but the right hand of god does not know what the left hand is doing. lol Keep preaching brother! lol

      May 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Candace Christian

      I MUST SAY I BELIEVE WHAT DAVE HAS TO SAY THE BIBLE TELLS THE TRUTH, AND I REALLY FEEL FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN LEAD IN THE WRONG PATH. THE BIBLE TALKS ABOUT THAT COME AND TELL US THE THE SAME THING THESE LOST SOULS ARE SAYING. I HAVE BEEN A CHRISTIAN BORN AGAIN FOR OVER 40 SOME YEARS AND NO WAY IS THE WORLD COMING TO END AS STATES

      May 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • john

      Oh yeah, the sun will not some day engulf the earth, but jesus will come back and save all the believers... So, you think these people are a cult and crazy because they claim to know the date of the return of jesus? The *only* thing separating you from them is you say you don't know what date it will happen on. So, how does that make you any less crazy?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • laura

      Yes they do. Its Saturday at 6pm. Didn't you read the article?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Sara

      Well said 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Man

      And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Man

      In other words, you can't teach those who will not learn. The arrogance of some of these post is unbelievable. You fools think that since you have no faith, anybody who does must be an idiot. Very Sad!

      May 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lil pp

      You say these people are crazy for predicting the rapture but you KNOW that not even jesus knows when the rapture is coming? Just as bold

      May 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  18. mseikeh

    I will make sure I comit a delightful sin this Friday evening. Yep!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  19. SomeNameHere

    I know when the world will end. In 6 – 7 billion years when the sun becomes a red giant and engulfs the planet. Now humans may destroy themselves before that or perhaps venture to the stars to find another home but the end of the world will be in 6 – 7 billion years.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Dave Christian

      Not gonna happen.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  20. Alex

    All I gotta say, if you find yourself in the company of these folks, just don't drink the CoolAid and your world will keep on existing.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
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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.