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. Lorie

    Uh, May 21st at 6:00 pm in New Zealand will be May 20th in the US, so I guess we will know on May 20th if it is true or not.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • RF

      You don't need to wait until the 20th to know whether it's true. Obviously these morons will be proven wrong just like every doomsayer that came before them.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Jezuz

      That's right!!! We will know ahead so I'm not to worried about it! LMAO

      May 18, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Marty

      You silly goose! The end of the world is on Eastern time! Everybody knows that!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Lorie

      I was being sarcastic.

      But, I find it silly that the article says that the "end' will begin at 6 pm local time in New Zealand, and will hit at 6 pm in everytime zone there after. So if it begins on May 21st in New Zealand, it will be May 20th here... but if it is May 21st here it will be May 22 in New Zealand... So is it May 20, 21 or 22?

      Wouldn't you think God would use Isreali time???

      May 18, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  2. nodat1

    not worried about clock ticking down, but I am concerned about the religious nutbags who are willing to prove a point that the end of the world is upon us by committing act of violence in order to prove a point !!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Iamgod

      I'm listening to you brother or sister, it b the truth. (speaking in tongues) SHUN-DULALY CONDA MOSEKA MOHAYA

      May 18, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  3. Iamgod

    Religion is the root of all evil it. Don't believe it.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • krissmith777

      So Evil would not exist without religion?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  4. smrtaz

    Here is the really funny part. I've been listening to this radio program when I need a good laugh. Not only have they narrowed it down to Saturday, but it is to happen at 6PM local time. When God brings about the end of the world, it is going to observe time zones. However, they have not mentioned how God is going to handle states like Indiana where they are in the central time zone but do not change for daylight savings times like the rest of the country. So this is good news. East coasters in the US will have around 5 hours to find Jesus after Western Europe and Africa get hit. Those on the west coast get a few extra hours.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  5. springthecat

    Even if there wa a rapture, who would know? I have yet to meet a person truly deserving to go to heaven with God. It would be a non-event with a bunch of bewildered people standing around wondering why nothing happend. KInda like this saturday.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  6. Eugene M

    The bible says no man knoweth the hour !

    May 18, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Shala

      You mean the same Bible they've pulled this prediction from? That's where you draw the line of incredulity?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Joe Caban

      amen to that brother. I believe anything in the world is possible however, in my heart I believe no man shall know when the time of christ coming is. I believe that is truth. Just sharing my belief. Thank you.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  7. Quackula

    This is the first I have heard of this. I wonder how many of these end of day's nonsense will I go through in a life time?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  8. GLM

    While I don't believe what these people are saying, and don't want to knock them for believing it...

    ...Does the one dude REALLY think Doomsday is going to happen timezone by timezone in a neat little order, starting at the wholly man-made International Date Line??

    May 18, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  9. me

    It is their doomsday. Its great! they are the only people will die because they kick their own butts.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  10. killallthewhiteman

    Can't wait to hear what their excuse is as to why the world did not end.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  11. Kevin in Atlanta

    It is true that the Bible says that no man nor angel knows the end date. But for the people on this board (and I'm assuming many others) to judge these people and call the "sinners" and "pyschos" because they believe in something is ridiculous.

    They aren't hurting anyone by doing what they are doing. If anything they are spreading a message of peace. Even if you don't believe in what they are saying, or even if you don't believe in God, is it so bad to hear someone talk about loving their fellow man?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • smrtaz

      they are also saying that any Church does not believe this is worshiping Satan. So, you could see why some people are a bit irritated at them

      May 18, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      I dont know Kevin. History has shown us that when people preach the end has come someone always get hurt. Look at those nutters a few years back who though a spacecraft was coming to take them away and they all killed themselves.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Shala

      Is hoping and longing for the day your 'fellow man' gets swallowed up by fire and earthquake really a compassionate belief? Or is it the ego-centric mindset of people who believe they have special knowledge and access to God's plan? These types of beliefs are not innocuous, especially when given that ever precious status of religious belief, rooted in the make-believe book of Revelations. There's a legitimacy attached that just shouldn't exist, simply because it's a Christian belief.

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

      I would bet that the four children whose parents left them to partake in this crazy parade would argue with you.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  12. Mike

    Interesting that many of those commenting make fun of the Doomdayers by referencing other passages in the bibile. It's all make believe folks!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • texasgodwho

      couldnt agree with you more!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • G

      Take that back you sinner! Thou shalt not smite thee who haveth not smitten against the original smote. Our heavenly father who lives in the sky and uses magic...who loves us more than anything, but will not hesitate to sear our skin with eternal burning fire forever if we take his name in vain. Sounds practical to me.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Karen

      G, that was awesome. A+

      May 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  13. Stephen (Charlotte,nc)

    Saturday?....I will have some beers and a juicy steak this Friday, for my last day!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  14. boone51

    My favorite part was, "If that’s the day we get raptured, great.". lol. That's awesome

    May 18, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  15. AJ

    Wow, I really hope loved ones are aware of where these people will be on May 21 & 22 and that they are being monitored for safety. The may need psychiatric help to prevent suicide.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • The Dude

      Boy are these clowns going to feel stupid on the 22st. But I notice an October fallback date already being kicked around. I know that is when it is all supposed to end completely, but when nothing happens, he will probably just claim he read it wrong and October is when it starts. Be interesting to see how many people stick around after May 21st fails to be anything but another day.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  16. Abejita

    Lets see what God says.....Matthew 24:35-36 ~" Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. "But of that day and hour NO ONE KNOWS, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

    Whose report will you believe?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Alverant

      And why can't God have changed his mind since then?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • JPopNC

      I've always thought it amusing when the Doomsday sayers predict the end of the earth, especially when Jesus states nobody knows the time except for His Father. So, even if they just happened to guess correctly, it automatically negates their own prediction. Scripture ensures they will be wrong, so that equates to May 21st absolutely not being the "beginning of the end".

      May 18, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • texasgodwho

      to all of you dumb "believers" out there... they also predicted the same thing in 1994 and a few other times since then... sure if you say this is going to happen year in and year out sooner or later something might happen but shut up with all of this "god" B.S. its like believing that santa clause is real you people are really dumb

      May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • wed110197

      God is unchanging so it is unlikley that He changes His mind, though not impossible. As far as this theory, it does seem to hold some value of Truth. As far as the "no one knows" argument, at the time Jesus said this no one did know, as far as now things were sealed only for those to know in the last days. So I don't know that the arguement still holds true. Should we sell everything and leave our jobs? The Bible says no. Besides the Bible also says that everyone will see His coming.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Steve

      Wed yes everyone will see his coming, including those he were talking to and claimed would not taste death before he returned, they have been hiding out in Pakistan for the last 2000 years so they are more than ready. Additionally of course we can all see him when he returns on a cloud, thankfully the earth is flat so those people on the "ends of the earth" will get to see him too. He just has to be high enough so that he can once again see all the kingdom's of the earth on this flat planet. Hopefully the father won't open the windows of the hard firmanent that separates the waters above and the waters below..you know the blue sky and all..must be a big blue ocean up there. The Father better keep the firmament windows closed that day otherwise the son of man's return will be a washout worse than the flood. Wouldn't want another super duper evolution to occur to refill the earth..those koala bears and sloths really had a rough time on those logs floating from Mt. Ararat.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  17. Michael

    How many of these folks are there? Look for a sudden spike in psychotherapy job postings starting Monday.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • The Dude


      May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  18. David Smith

    The Bible clearly states in several places the NO MAN KNOWS THE DAY OR THE HOUR WHEN THE WORLD WILL END!!!

    The Bible says in the book of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 35 & 36,
    "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
    But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

    So, the people of this group, Family Radio, have either been deceived, or they are false prophets. Matthew 24:11 warns us, "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."

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

      Perfectly put David.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Yardiii

      thank you... i was just going to comment using the same verse... no man knows the day or hour.... no man

      May 18, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Jim Massey

      You are wrong. Some people know what will happen. Bible is full of codes. Only the person who understand it can read the hidden massage.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Jobi Robson

      David, Thank You For Your Post. I was Hoping & Praying, That a "REAL" Christian, With the Knowledge of "GOD'S" Word, Would make this exact statement That You Did. I Pray For You & Yours, Countinue to spread the truth. Peace Be with You.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • William Demuth


      Who you calling a false prophet while your spouting this BULL@HIT?

      You are as sick as they are!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Damian Sanchez

      That's right brother, no one knows the day or the time, neither do angels in heaven, now how come does these people are so right about something that even angels has no idea?, are they superior to them? and 2nd, they are making other get confuse or belive in something it's wrong, may be the world ends that day maybe not, the thing is that GOD said NO ONE SHALL NOT KNOW THE TIME, so you are going againts him which is....a sin and a big one

      May 18, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • WhatwouldJesusDo

      Well said David..By the Way.. I love that name

      May 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  19. Mikey

    I have a great way to finally shut these people up once and for all.

    Go to any of them and tell them to give you all of their money. ALL OF IT. RIGHT NOW.

    If they refuse, you can say that they do not believe in their own doomsday garbage and that they should shut up about it.
    If they do, the world will most likely not end and you will have all of their money (all $10). It's a win-win for you!

    Pass it on! Do it in 2012 too! Nobody said that doomsday can't be profitable!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  20. aubrie

    go ahead and wear it on Saturday along with all the other fruitcakes!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:08 am |
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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.