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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. Deepak

    People !!!......they are the worst.......

    May 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • me

      Seinfeld said it best 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Tommy J

      It is sad that some people are weak minded enough to believe this sort of thing. But here's the catch, they can claim it is judgment day but if nothing visible happens they can still claim it happened, only it happened to the dead. The same people who follow this type of religion also spend a lot of time watching QVC looking for that great deal.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  2. Jenna

    II am planning to give away thousands of dollars in cash in Oakland on May 22, 2011. Sorry, these guys won't be around to collect any of it.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • ru kidding me?

      Does this truly mean.... the Oakland Raiders are moving back to Los Angeles this year LOL

      May 19, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  3. Not A Cult Follower

    It's quite funny that now they are saying 5 months til the destruction and on other websites it is 6 mos. FamilyRadio what are you going to do w/ the donations once the world doesn't end on Sat? Can you pass some of it along to the ones that need it?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  4. Zardoz

    I think they're a bit late, last time I was in Oakland it looked like the apocalypse was well under way.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  5. teepee

    Going to be interesting to hear you anti-christs comments when the rapture DOES happen...and it will happen...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Yeah, we'll all be sorry then, trollboy.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Leo

      Suuure ....

      May 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • numbnut

      Arnold Schwarzeneger is a Christian. Does he get to go after he hot dogged the servant?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Sam

      Then we'll finally have these boards to ourselves!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  6. Ivan Bial

    My luck I just back from costco.
    I bought a 48 pack of Toliet paper..

    I do know a group who can use it after bowing so much s**t out there a**

    May 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Bernie

    Well I sure hope it doesn't end before 11:00 pm sat, cuz I have Red Sox/Cubs tix. Game starts at 7:05. I'll be sure to get good and primed at the cask and flagon or coperfields so I don't go to hell sober

    May 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  8. Carolyn

    I have to give the group credit for going around the nation informing everyone. Although, I doubt the prediction It would be nice to have the earth free of the human parasite.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  9. keith

    And then Sunday will come and this guy will have egg on his face....

    May 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  10. Acts 2:38

    Please, my friends.. dont listen to what other people in your religion (Atheism) tell you. You can have a personal relationship with God, dont let anyone rob you of that. God isnt any less real just because you asked Him to reveal himself to you through a five minute prayer and didnt get the response that you were expecting. Read Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19... You can have the same experience. Don't let any of these false Christians or Atheists steal what can be yours before you even start searching.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Bernie

      Who exactly wrote Acts? Just a thought; these ancient goat and sheep hearders most likely were just flat out nuts.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • willie

      Not even enough courage to leave a false name. Do you know what atheist means? It's not a religion, in fact, it is just the opposite.

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

      Acts
      .
      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 3:01 pm |
    • Barnacle Bill

      David Berkowitz had a personal relationship with god, who spoke to him through his dog.

      You are no better, nor more intelligent, than he was.

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

      artist: "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."

      Yeah! Armchair, atheist psychology for the win!

      Because some religious people may be morons or psychotic does not make all religious people psychotic morons.

      Or does logic escape you?

      Yeah, logic escapes you.

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

      Oh, look Acts its the athesist trolls! No one likes them. When they die and become compost - the worms won't even touch them.

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

      Well I believe I'm getting wasted Sat! If plagues of toads and grasshoppers, floods and flatulence are coming, I want to be primed

      May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Tribble10

      Yes Acts, tell it like it is. Friends, don't lose faith in you relationship with god- the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Do not let these unbelievers sway you from feeling the spirit/power of his "noodley" appendage.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      If God doesn't think enough of me to appear to me personally, I don't think much of him. Get back to me when he does another miracle.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Acts 2:38

      @Bernie – Do you know who wrote Acts? If you can't answer that question without Google, are you really capable of proving that the Bible is false?

      Atheism – the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices:

      May 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Acts 2:38

      Religion – the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices:

      May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Bernie

      No Acts I don't. But I imagine it was probably some insane goat herder. I'll see you on Monday though. I'll probably be a bit hung over preparing myself 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Acts 2:38

      @Bernie

      I'll be here on Monday too. I dont believe any of this fale teaching. These family radio people have it all wrong!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • chaz1

      Good grief. Yet another group of loonies who don't seem to learn much from a history of similar failed doomsdays and religious predictions, and of course the mainstream religious establishment calls them all 'cults' to distance itself, only because those particular loonies made the mistake of committing to something which could easily be proven false, something the establishment is careful to avoid for their own sake. Then again, proof doesn't seem to change many minds in such circles anyway. Pitty.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  11. Jamie Lee

    @Clinton – You're a real Internet tough guy! You can call me all the names and insults you want on here, but if we met face to face you better believe I would send you to "heaven" myself.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Clinton

      My other comment is awaiting moderation.... so while that probably won't come through... i'll just mention this... first off you're the Queen/King (not sure which, jamie can be male or female) of oxymoronic comments... First you tell everybody to lay off these guys for their beliefs, but then proceed to bash every Christians beliefs... then you tell me i'm acting like an internet tough guy... then proceed to threaten me...
      I will say this... i'm a formal US Army soldier, i survived through a tour in Iraq... i'm not afraid of you... and if i was face to face with you i'd tell you the exact same thing.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  12. Deepak

    I don't have to worry, i'm not a Christan. ha ha ha ha. I'll wait for the next secular dooms day.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  13. believer

    Strange, why is their radio website familyradio.com still taking donations? What are they going to do with all that money after Saturday?

    May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • epona

      They are going to spend it on Monday:)

      May 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Paul

      Purchase land in Guyana?

      May 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  14. willie

    Belief is the enemy of a thinking mind...

    May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bruce

      ... because thinking always leads to skepticism? Surely thinking people can form convictions in something, no?

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

      A belief that God doesnt exist is still a belief.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Bruce,
      If by conviction you mean, "the state of being convinced" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/convictions) then sure thinking, studying, etc. can convince thinking people of some things, if there is a rational reason why it might be true. I am convinced that evolution is the best explaination of the diversity of life on Earth and is fully supported by the evidence we have to date.

      @Geez,
      Most atheist don't actually believe that "God doesn't exist," rather they lack a belief in god(s). It is a fine distinction but an important one.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  15. teepee

    Here is something funny...What if he is right?

    May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Artist

      Doesn't matter I will still give jesus a dirty sanchez. He is not a god worthy of worship

      May 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Barnacle Bill

      What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub®?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  16. shawn

    OH NO! I have dinner reservations that night. I was really looking forward to that. 🙁

    May 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • brad

      just make sure youre done before six

      May 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  17. Questions

    Ok, so why are we only hearing about this recently. We've known about the 12/21/12 date for years, but I just learned about this date maybe a few weeks ago when I started seeing the billboards. I thought it was an ad to get ppl to go to church, but thanks to CNN now I know this is a "for real deal". So, what's up with the lack of warning?

    May 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      Followers of the Kraken know that ALL the ends of the world will come at once: fire and ice, and Death by Squid.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  18. jude

    i thought only god knows when the end times are...well anyway sunday im having a party 😀

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

      I'll bring a 7-layer dip and some Heineken.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  19. Vic

    Should this cult really surprise any true believers of Christ? Matthew 24 depicts that there will be many fakes in the end times that will try to pervert the truth. Matthew 25 gives you an insight of the state of the true believers heart when the rapture actually accurs. God almighty reveals himself on whom he pleases, and for the unbelievers reading this message i hope he reveals himself to you tonight. He who has ears let him hear.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bruce

      So Camping being a fake is evidence that the end is near... even if he happens to be right and the world ends on Saturday. 😛

      May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Vic

      Bruce..the guy said the same story in 94', he is a deceiver of the truth.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  20. Loool

    barnacl: "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 2:53 pm |
    • Free

      Not all Christians believe in the rapture. He could be Catholic.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Barnacle Bill

      You've got me....
      Under your skin...

      May 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Loool

      barn: "You've got me....
      Under your skin..."

      Nah. Keep crying though.

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

      If I am at the The International Date Line, what will happen to me?

      Since my right half body is on May 21 and my left half body is on May 20.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Free

      Or Jewish, or Muslim, or any other faith that happens to share the common belief that it's silly, which is most of the world, so don't just point to we atheists, ok?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Nonimus

      What are the people on the ISS supposed to do? Can you get "Raptured" when you are in space? If so, do you float up or down to the clouds? If Jesus rose on the third day and therefore now lives, then how will he 'meet' those people in space; he'd suffocate wouldn't he?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • God (the REAL one)

      Droool: you are a perfect example of why thinking people find christians to be idiots.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:06 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.