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. RAWoD

    Who wants a "YOU WEREN'T RAPTURED EITHER?" button to wear starting next Sunday?

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

      i'll take 2 t-shirts and 2 coffee cups 2

      May 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • sharon

      LOL! I want one!

      May 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Will

      Genius, RAWoD.....simply genius.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • MomOf3

      Me too! Me too! My uber christian brothers and sisters don't plan on being here...so, I'll need 5 for my kids and myself and my husband! 🙂


      May 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • gardengoddes46

      Anyone else attending the Post Rapture Party?

      May 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Faithful

      I want to wear one to church on Sunday.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  2. Clinton

    Hey Willie, what's your damn problem dude? Do you really think that you not agreeing with Christian beliefs is going to change someone's belief's? Do you really think that you have all the answers and that all of us Christians are just believing in fairy tales? Tell me Genius, in the worlds of willie, how is it that we have come to exist? tell me so i can show you EXACTLY where you're !@#$Ing wrong... people like you are disgusting, claim that we're idiots for our beliefs and yet, you present no ideas, you simply try to tear others down... well lets hear your "ideas" so i can destroy your idiotic belief

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

      I'm doing exactly what you christians are doing. You should keep your beliefs private. You are a hypocrite. as far as where we came from? That's simple. Figure it out for yourself...

      May 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Will

      Hey, Clinton...actually, Willie has changed my whole thinking of religion, Christianity, and God....all from his single statement in this CNN comment section. Because of the Great Willie, I am now agnostic. Praise Willie!!! Three cheers for Willie!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Laughing

      Mind if I take a crack at it Willie?

      @Clinton, I think although willie is trying to actually help christians, really and truely. You see, we came to exist after millions of years of evolution. I know that's a bugaboo of yours, however you should probably look at it from a logical standpoint vs. from a standpoint of a really old fairy tale book about a guy who just poofed everything into existance because he said so. If you would like to take a look at willie, and my beliefs, crack open a science book or two, it's all there. No? Ok go on, believe in your god, at the end of the day we all vanish into the black oblivion so it doesn't really matter if you believe or if I don't

      May 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Rose

      Clinton, seriously? Hm, we don't tell 3-year-olds where or how babies are coming from in the exact words that we tell that to 18-year-old. Just because thousands of years ago people did not know how it all began and came up with a fairy tail to tell the kids – it does not mean its true or you as adult should believe.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • notgonnahappen

      Clinton, I'd like you to show us EXACTLY where anyone who may disagree with you are "!@#$Ing wrong". I'm guessing it's probably something you may have misinterpreted in the bible, the same book that Willie and the like do not appear to put a whole lot of faith into.
      Evolution could be where we came from. Maybe not. Who knows for sure?

      May 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  3. willie

    If you were god, would you create a rapture so these nutty people will spend eternity washing your feet and praising you?
    Proof there is no god...

    May 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  4. Will

    All I care about with "Rapture Day" is if I'm relieved of my mortgage. Otherwise....SHAAADAAAP!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  5. jenny

    What bothers me more is the mockery the two reporters make of this possible event. Laugh and make fun on Sunday...If this does occur the children will go for sure..the meek and the animals. A few will be here to fight the good fight but I believe in an ultimate Heaven..and Heaven and Hell on Earth. If it does occur..you'd better hope you go somewhere other than here. There are very few Functional people left. Most walk around with problems from childhood. Perfect example...the lady who botoxes her child..and I would say for sure Casey Anthony was probably molested and that explains her issues. If it is to late well...but if we all rise up on Sunday and all is well..think about this...raise your children right. if you don't think you can..then PLEASE don't have any.

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

      You lost me at "What."

      May 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Freemaan

    I have to hand it to them for their selflessness. If most of us were certain the end of the world were coming, we would spend our last days on selfish pursuits, not giving them up to warn strangers.

    It will probably come as a shock when they are still alive Sunday morning, having quit theirs jobs and given away all their worldly possessions.

    I can just hear Family Radio's Sunday broadcast now; "Well, it looks like our calculations were a little off. The actual doomsday is going to fall on...."

    May 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  7. The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans and all The Pagan Gods.

    The only hope to stop this end on Saturn's day is for 5 million orgasms to happen on every continent at the same time.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Thomas

      That could get messy....

      May 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  8. !|2!C0n!


    I am not of your species, not at all. My kind has spent thousands of what you call "years" cracking your poorly structured language. It is interpreted through decades of lies and deceit.

    You MUST abandon this book that you call "Bible." It is destroying the fragile balance of your "Universe." You will soon truly understand what a rapture is but it will not be a "god" whom will rapture you. Look unto yourselves!


    May 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  9. RedTeam

    The department of Social Services needs to step in and take the kids away.

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

    Read "The AntiChrist Agenda" written by Shelley Quinn or go to the website: http://www.sabbathtruth.com for more information on what will happen before Jesus comes again. You can also read "Ten Commandments Twice Removed by Shelley Quinn.

    Also, watch 3 Angels Broadcasting (3abn) on TV website: http://www.3abn.org or watch the Hope channel http://www.hopetv.org

    May 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  11. Bruce

    Don't worry, guys. Buffy the vampire slayer is on it–her and the scooby gang always come through at the last minute.

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

      Like, Zoiks!

      May 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  12. Drew

    "Morrell explained that the massive doomsday earthquake will start at the International Date Line before moving west."
    ......he apparently doesn't understand how fault lines work.

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

      haha i was going to add that in my other post but didnt bother with a scientific outlook on this one. lol. well played sir.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Freemaan

      Perhaps he really meant a meteoroid strike, and the shockwave would travel around the earth. But I think it would be faster than that. How did they glean anything about the international date line from the bible? When it didn't even exist during its writing?

      May 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Vicki

      This is a special earthquake made by god so it doesn't follow the usual physical forces.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  13. willie

    How can someone who never existed in the first place, return? There are no writings of jesus in the area and time he lived. The story was made up 72 years later.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • blj

      You mean some of my ancestors didn't live because we cannot find proof they existed????

      May 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Dina

      Oh Willie I know what to get you for your Birthday..... a Bible!!!!! perhaps we should start reading in the old Testament first! what do you think ?? send over a PO Box if you have one and we will go from their. Nice chatting with you, God Bless you and your family, Jesus is coming on clouds with force! and every knee will bow!

      May 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • willie

      Dina, I've read the bible cover to cover, word for word. I was born and raised a xtian and it took many years to erase the lies impressed in my brain. I hope you can someday overcome your boundaries.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  14. numbnut

    WWTTD: What would Tim Tebow Do

    May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  15. Drew

    I'm an agnostic and don't really care to have a say on many religious matters but ... you have to admire some of these peoples' rigid grasp on their beliefs. Right or wrong – whatever ... I guarantee if they applied this much effort into anything else in their lives they would generally be alot happier. A happy person with their REAL lives does not "sit around and watch tv" on this supposed judgement day. They run for the hills.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Matt

      I am not sure if the insane really "know" what they are doing.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  16. Barking Alien

    The short sale on their homes and belongings will be on Friday. The proceeds will go towards their mental health fund.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Jeff

    Just when the Cubs started to pull it together– The Rapture happens. Damn goat......

    May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  18. Jeff

    Thank God I'll be on vacation in the south of France. I would hate for the world to end while I was just sitting at my desk working away!

    May 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  19. pointless1

    Well.. if it's going to end Saturday.. I know my last days are spent sitting on a sunny beach with my family. Splish splash betcha I get to do it next year too..

    May 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  20. GodSpeaking

    Why is CNN giving credit to these dufysses? Okay, the world will end July 14, can I have credit too? No wait, the world will end Aug 2, no wait 2012, no wait...

    May 18, 2011 at 2:06 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.