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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. Guest

    Weather it happens or not. We should be prepared at all times both spiritually and physically.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Tribble10

      Guest, may I suggest first being prepared to use the correct word first. It's not 'weather'.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Bernie

      Yup, I"m getting wasted Sat

      May 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Starstuff

      Be prepared spiritually is to be ready with your checkbook and donate to your 'spiritual' leader.

      Be prepared physically is to be ready to.... RUN!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • mike

      I ask the question why physically do we have to work our way in. I don't think so your good works will get you NO where.Unless you believe and ask you are not his but are of the world remember the rich man.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Bruce

      Weather certainly happens, whether or not you believe it happens.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Loool

    barnacle: "Loool: typical religious moron, you are. ... I haven't been on the last ten pages, idiot."

    Cry?

    And the fact that you think I'm a "religious moron" for calling out your failed trolling attempts speaks volumes about your intelligence and dogmatic atheism.

    My my!

    May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Face it, moron, you cannot accept other views. The only reason you can use a computer, is because someone, somewhere, decided that letting idiots use them was going to make them a lot of money.

      They were right.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  3. steveo

    I guess it's a good thing that I will be attending a Beer Fest on Saturday around 6pm.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  4. Jimmy J.

    Hey end of worlders! I've got a nice spread down in S. America you all can come and hide out at to avoid the ridicule. It's an all inclusive private resort surrounded by lush jungle forest. heck we even have our own airport! I think you would all love it! We have a mass gathering for orientation planned on the 21st where free drinks will be provided to you by helpful and friendly staff members. So rapture yourself on down to J's town, it's like a little piece of heaven on earth!

    May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  5. willie

    The only thing religion is good for is convincing a parole board that you are no threat to society.
    They are dumb enough to believe it.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  6. rofllol

    what to do? just point and laugh at all of them running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and spending their lives' savings on renting a cloud in heaven from one of those crazy evangelical quack leaders on TV.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  7. V

    Really now!!!
    OMG the world is going to end, People get a freakin life!!
    You all are soo stupid it's funny
    I LMFAO to all of you

    May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  8. Bob

    Whether you believe in the bible or not, the fact is this Campbell guy said he studied it.

    Well if he studied it so well, then he would have found passages that say no man will know the day or time.

    That puts a damper on his prediction or any other nut that studies the bible and predicts a day and time.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Bruce

      You couldn't bother to figure out that the guy's name is Camping and not Campbell, so that speaks to your credibility...

      May 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • God

      Bruce, who cares what that idiots name is? Seriously, I wonder about people like you.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  9. Scott

    If it happens it will be the single largest cause of abortions in the history of history.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  10. ThomasPaine

    Hopefully these people will go the Halbop way and thin the gene pool for the betterment of society.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  11. BucketList

    Got 3 more days of fishing left. Heading out now.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  12. CARE

    Hey! this works all the time:-

    Proverbs 14:16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Barnacle Bill

      That is sufficiently obfuscated to garner the accolades of the inept and easily confused: i.e. christians, muslims, etc.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  13. Idiots

    The other day my friend said we should taint the Christian food supply. I'm starting to think that's a good idea.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • willie

      The bible is their food. Can something be more tainted than that?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  14. The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans and all The Pagan Gods.

    Odd that this will happen on Saturn's day. The end is a task that has always been assigned to Thor.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  15. willie

    I hope CNN publishes an article on Sunday to put these loonies to rest once and for all.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  16. Tom J

    The most that could happen is that people elevate to a higher consciousness, but that takes work. It could not happen in a very short period of time. Family Radio is misleading people about something it does not understand very well.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  17. Barking Alien

    I think Target is having an end of the world sale if they need supplies.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  18. James

    I do not agree because the Bible says that the world will end when a sound of a violent wind is heard and the trumpets from the 4 gates of heaven. The Bible also says, no man knows the day the Lord will come. Therefore, you should just be prepared and know who your TRUE God is!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  19. Artist

    Barnacle Bill

    Loool: typical religious moron, you are.

    I haven't been on the last ten pages, idiot.

    ----
    I think he meant me

    May 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Sadly, using words like I N E P T I T U D E requires the use of a censor.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Sadder still, is that the idiots who moderate this page are insufficiently endowed with intellect to actually know the meaning of the word.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  20. Bruce

    Mr. Camping, Deathwing is not amused. The death cult of the Twilight Hammer has worked for three thousand years–three thousand!–to keep these calculations a secret so that the coming of Deathwing was a surprise, and now you seek to warn the world?

    We'll show you. We'll place comments in the CNN message board that will convince people that you are a crackpot and nobody will believe you. After the Shattering, Deathwing will deal with your betrayal personally...

    May 18, 2011 at 2:48 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.