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. razzi

    Wow! As a Christian, this is bizarre as no one knows the day or hour that Christ returns... These people may have good intentions but they do a disservice to other believers as well as insult the Lord. Not to be judgemental or anything:)

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

      Maybe you're just not following the correct christian god. You should be concerned.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Steve

      The formula that Camping uses in favor of the May 21st date is as follows:

      1.According to Camping, the number five equals "atonement", the number ten equals "completeness", and the number seventeen equals "heaven".
      2.Christ is said to have hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years.
      3.If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year, not to be confused with the lunar year), the result is 722,449.
      4.The time between April 1 and May 21 is 51 days.
      5.51 added to 722,449 is 722,500.
      6.(5 × 10 × 17)2 or (atonement × completeness × heaven)2 also equals 722,500.
      Thus, Camping concludes that 5 × 10 × 17 is telling us a "story from the time Christ made payment for our sins until we're completely saved."[13]

      May 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • HomelandSecurity

      The person from "HOMELAND SECURITY" joined them to ease drop on the crazies. Make sure none of them were planning to blow up anything, or force END OF DAYS. This nimrod is bragging about it. What a mess. Get these people help.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Jonah

      This is why we are commanded to read the Bible and not just a few verses that catch our eye. When we do that we realizes that all the seals in Revelation are broken. The Fig Tree has been back since like 1948 and we are living in those perilous times that the Prophet Daniel got sick about after dreaming about the happenings. God warned Noah, Abraham, Lot, Noah,Joseph, Moses, Elijah and Jonah about Judgments, Destructions and Tribulations of their day. In Ecclesiastes we read wise men and woman will discern time and judgment. Hope to see you Saturday.



      May 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  2. Caveman

    4.5 BILLIONS YEARS OLD... and it's going to end in May... Sorry.. ur quite deluded.

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

      13,023 Years old. The 21st is the 7,000th anniversary of the great Flood ironically. God Bless.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  3. stevie68a

    Plain and simple: Religion is a lie to control people. jesus is imaginary, jesus is imaginary. Shout it from the rooftops!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jonah

      You'll be shouting a lie. Jesus death and controversial burial are very much in Roman History. I guess everyone has freedom of religion until it offends someone or gets in the way of their life.From what I think I see you saying, I see that you have no worries. So I tell you to watch therefore brother–so that day will not overtake you as a thief. Straight scripture there my man.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  4. Allie

    I would love to see these people's faces on the 22nd...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  5. Pickle

    Soooo glad I saw this and know the world is ending! I just kicked my boss in the nuts and told my wife what I really think of her mother!!!

    Ha ha... I'm off to have some fun!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  6. Dana

    Why does CNN give this coverage as if it is legitimate news? Keep giving nut cases a platform and all you're doing is encouraging more nut cases.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Bob

      Well you have to admit one thing. This is the most number of comments on an article I've ever seen.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Jonah

      From reading these comments you can also admit that most of the people in the 'civilized world' are in mortal peril. When these brave people go to unchartered lands the response to this Gospel is warm and receptive.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  7. jross

    This cannot happen on the 21st. I've got a May Day parade to attend. The May pole has been raised and there's even a midway and several ethnic concession stands. I don't know about the end of the world, but you zealots consider yourselves warned. Tick off May Day participants and be prepared for all hell to break loose.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  8. brian

    i wonder what their reactions will be on sunday?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  9. Auloria

    Palm, meet face.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Idiots

      Face, meet palm.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  10. TheMovieFan

    Fortunately, I don't live in a stupid part of the country so I haven't seen this.

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

      Our allies around the world probably wouldn't agree with that post. The first shall be last and that last shall be first like scripture says. India, Asia, South America, The Caribbean, Oceania, Central America and Africa all get what the United States and Europe can't. I'm still hoping the best for you and I on that great and terrible day of the Lord.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  11. Daniel

    Great day for a false flag event from the NWO. I would if I was them.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  12. malcolm

    i don't agree with these people, (Genesis 8:21); however, you should not laugh at them....

    May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  13. rj sims

    what a waste of money, bunch of lunatics.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  14. Bob

    Does this mean we'll get to see Elvis?

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

      According to them you got 25:1 chance you're not seeing anyone...

      May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  15. beebee

    I feel sorry for these poor misguided folks. I'd like to know if the Christian radio station that has been encouraging them has put its "money where its mouth is" and sold the station to help fund them. There would be no reason to keep it after the 21st if they believe that the world will end then. But somehow I doubt they've sold the station. Which shows they don't really believe it themselves.

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

      I for one would not want to be a customer service rep. at that station on the 22nd.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jonah

      They're paying bills for their various satellites, transmitters, translators, tv stations, internet service, billboards, teams around the world and printing materials. They are exhausting every resource to get this message out and will be out of money by the 21st.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  16. Phoebe W.

    First of all, May 21st is my birthday. I highly doubt that the world will not end. It will never end. Thant's what I think. Unless an asteroid twice the size of earth hits us, we're pretty safe. That man has said theh world would en b4, but it didn't. This proves that this man is crazy (and should go to a shrink). Seriously!! (No offense.)
    Thank you.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  17. Ariel

    Does anybody know how they came up with date?

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

      go to familyradio.com. click on literature. there's material to walk you through it.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Matt

      Yea, I read their literature.They're either completely right OR its a complete coincidence.It also says 6 1/2 BILLION people will perish by Mid Oct.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  18. David

    Wonder what they are going to say on May 22nd?

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

      Pass the Kool-Aid 😉

      May 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Chrissy

      So true. Can't wait to see their reaction

      May 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  19. Ohio Mike

    Maybe they should spend a little more time reading their Bible: "But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only".Matthew 24:36

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

      More reading of comic books will not wisdom imbue.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Matt

      I sent them an email saying the same thing

      May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Thinker

      If atheists deny God, then if there is no God would we have atheists?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Jonah

      Read the literature and the bible. In fact we can know. Throwing around one verse at a time does no merit with the Bible. Compare scripture with scripture and you will see that wise men and women will discern time and judgment like Ecclesiastes says. Noah was warned of the flood. Abraham and Lot were warned about Sodom and Gommorah, Joseph was warned about the tribulation times in Egypt. Moses the plague of the first born. Elijah the drought and famine in Israel. Israel and Judah about their captivity and destruction. Also about Israel's reinstalling among the nations happening about 50 years ago. Last but not least, Jonah was warned to tell the Ninevites that they had 40 days to repent or be destroyed. This message has been around since 2006 so we've had more time than they. Everyone in Ninevah from King to Slave to Rich and Poor and all the animals humbles themselves in sackclothes and ashes like we should be doing. Lastly, the seals in Revelation has been broken and we are now living what Daniel dreamed about the end times which made him very sick. A little prayer won't hurt any one. Even the Sumerians have a flood story with Utnaphistim serving as their Noah. There is no Hell so it's not like you have to be afraid of that. It's life and a sudden or eventual destruction and never being remembered again.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  20. Josiah

    Wanna put some money on that?

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

      wonder what the vegas odds have it at now?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:18 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.