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. me

    I am sure they (like ourselves) will still be paying their bills on Monday.................

    May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Julie

      Ummm, how will they pay their bills on Monday like the rest of us??? The idiots gave everything away.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  2. me

    What the ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  3. Paul Lepp

    CNN should follow-up on these individuals after the their doomsday date passes. I've always been curious what happens to these people. Doesn't shatter their faith when the appointed hour doesn't come to pass?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Dead Man Blogging

      And it came to pass that the false prophets spoke to the people of The End, but the Angel of the Lard, Ron White, rose up among them, saying, "You can't fix stupid."

      May 18, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  4. Russ

    Oh really, this is it? How many times have we heard this before? Well, so be it. I've enjoyed my stay here and I don't really care where I end up. I just hate to see the disappointment on these idiots' faces when it doesn't happen. I'm sure they'll have a good excuse and come up with another date as they always do or find a way to bend every day events into what they were talking about. Ho Hum, life goes on.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  5. Historian

    The Jehovah's Wittnesses have made a living out of being wrong about this. Every new date is called "New light" every wrong date is called "old light". Quite the scam.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  6. Cedar Rapids

    Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Dead Man Blogging

      Isn't Gozer the Traveler the Gnome from Travelocity?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Stacie

      I love you!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Thunderkitty79

      That. Was. AWESOME!!!!

      May 19, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  7. Dead Man Blogging

    The world can not end until the Cubs win the World Series. We're safe for a whie, I think.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • mj2007

      Funny, I used to think the same thing about the Red Sox. I guess the world actually ended 7 years ago.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  8. Wastrel

    Don't worry about, I stopped it. Just to show you that I am confident that I have stopped it, you don't have to pay me until next week.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  9. David Smith

    The Bible clearly states in several places that 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 10:22 am |
    • William Demuth


      The Avengers #8 Page six CLEARLY says that the Hulk Will SMASH, but no rational human would base his life on a comic book.

      Why do you?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Jesus Christ!

      The bible was written to control you fanatic freak... BY ROMANS... There dead now, you can behave however you want... Unless your afraid their coming back too?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • MomOf3

      Jesus Christ! The Romans aren't dead...they're now called "Italians"...OMG! I see it now...it's all a Mafia plot!

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

      I love it when people read certain verses of the bible and not the whole thing , you are a believer because you only read wht your mind whant you to believe read the whole bible dude cover to cover, examin the verses that all slavery and let you marry your rapit or telling you how awesome god is but yet he created hell just for you to burn in it, wake up

      May 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  10. bush limbush

    Wanted: Large Flat Screen TV (50 inches or larger); a few really nice men's watches (not to large – I've got small wrists); and all of your cash if you won't be needing it any more.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  11. Sundara0000

    You are right LickiTyClick, No man knows the day or the hour. It is sad that people like these choose to ignore the most basic truths in the bible. NO MAN knows the day or hour..That's pretty straight forward.

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

      That's right! No man knows the day nor the hour!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  12. Wonder Weirdo

    They're in for one big surprise come Sunday morning.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  13. dave

    Jesus is coming. We all are going to die at some point. You can feel justified by slinging stones and poo pooing what this guy is saying. The gist of what he is saying is 100% truth. You need to be in Christ and he needs to be in you. This needs to happen before you die or you will not make it in to heaven. So whether this happens on Saturday or 1000 years from now.... You need to get saved before you die. You can believe that the universe just popped in to existence (Something from nothing) and that some mircaulus chain of events leads to us having this conversation. It takes a whole lot of faith to believe that there is no God and that something was created from nothing and that there is no purpose. God is real and the Bible is 100% God's word. If we believe otherwise we have nothing.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • William Demuth

      Is the Christ in you, you in Christ what your preachers tell the little boys when they bugger them?

      You are one sick SOB!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Laughing

      See and here I thought it takes faith to believe that some bearded guy in the sky is throwing books at people saying "you have free will as long as you do whatever I say!" and then doing all this crazy sh!! back when no one could prove it but has since decided to keep out of our daily affairs.

      You say miraculous chain of events that led us here to converse, I say pure and simple math and probability. There are so many probabilities in the universe that even if this right now was a 1 and a trillion chance of ever happening, it still is more likely than some "god" guy who somehow has all this power and yet still can't fix simple problems that us as humans, with science has.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Jesus Christ!

      I'll take "nothing" as quoted over the mess you "believers" have invented an maintained with a murderous furry... Again, a manifestation of the real truth... You have no idea what your talking about! Really, it's all a guess to pacify the terrifying fact that you don't know where your from or where your going in this ocean of chaos... Hahaha

      May 18, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • MsB

      And Dave, what will you be doing May 21, at 6pm?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • William Demuth

      I had a Teddy Bear named Psycho Killer, does that make him a murderous furry?

      Otherwise SPOT ON!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  14. Jesus Christ!

    Hahaha... The ROMANS Won!!! . The book was written to control you freaked out weaklings. If you want change, get the pope to legalize birth control and get the fingers of those priests out of the fat boys butts... swing and a miss, see you on Monday morning on your commute to ask for you jobs back...

    May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • John F

      OMG! ROFL! Ha!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  15. G-Worker

    time to sacrifice a virgin or is it sheep???? o H@II lets just stone someone to death, that always a loads of laughs and should keep everyone happy.

    See you on Monday morning!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  16. John

    dammit... dammit... dammit I already payed this months mortgage and car payment. I could have gone bought a pound of weed and had a hell of a party at my house with all that money, why didn't I read this article like a month earlier and spent my last days on earth with girls and alcohol?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • G-Worker

      girls, alcohol and drugs, are you a Kennedy????

      May 18, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • David

      LMFAOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING!!!!!!!!!!! Dude you are HILARIOUS!!!!!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  17. Atheist in Charge

    Can the Day of Rapture be postponed until Sunday? I have a haircut appointment on Saturday.

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

      HaHa Ha!!!!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  18. Laughing till the end

    The beauty of this is when absolutely nothing happens these crazy people won't even bat an eye. They'll simply turn around, say they missed some minor calculation and this stuff will happen all over again. I don't know what everyone's fascination is with being alive for the apocolypse. Maybe it's knowing that when you go you're not leaving anything behind, maybe it would just be the most awesome way to go, who knows. Fact of the matter is we all know the real end is in 2012 anyways so these people are clearly crazy.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  19. Michael

    Picking a date "does a disservice to Christianity"??? Really? The fact that their book condones slavery, killing Atheists and speaks of women as property, doesn't!?!?! Their own religion does them a huge disservice, look at all of the unproven magic in their books that everyone nods their head to in agreement, yet they scoff at science for not having every fossil that has ever existed.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Jezuz

      Not to mention the disservice these priests, preachers and pastors do through their pedophile tendencies...

      May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Chief

      Perhaps you are referring to passages in the OT. Perhaps you do not know that for Christians, Christ is the New Covenant... and he did not condone slavery, killing athiests, or treaty woman as property. Nice try though, it is always fun to see people who know nothing about a faith attempt to criticize it based on something they read on the internet.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • William Demuth

      Chief, I know more of your God then you do.

      In fact I know all three of them better than you.

      SOOOO, are you admiting that the actions of Yahveh in the old testament were crimes against humanity?

      It seems with a three headed God, you can't pick and choose the head you love and ignore the others!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      New Testament passages pertaining to women:
      "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says."
      -1 Corinthians 14:34
      "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission."
      -1 Timothy 2:11

      While the NT doesn't explicitly treat women as property like the OT does, you can't really say that it treats them as equals.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • jim

      doesn't the bible say gods word is forever???Isaiah 40:8
      8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
      but the word of our God endures forever.”

      so doesn't that mean his word in the old testament is still valid,you know were he condones slavery and all those other GREAT christian values

      May 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • jim

      i mean to reply to cheif

      May 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  20. William Demuth

    CNN has a moral obligation to cover this story on SUNDAY.

    We need to call out the lunatic fringe of Christianity and hold them up to the ridicule they are due.

    At a minimum, the government needs to take the children away from this cult, before they all end up dead!!

    How long should rational men tolerate this madness, and not speak out because of the pressure of political correctness?

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

      I agree! All these lunatic fringe types need to be called out and ridiculed no matter what walk of life you come from.

      Plus, there should be NO public dollars going towards feeding or housing these people since they voluntarily walked away from being a productive citizen to being a kook.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • No One Is Safe

      as opposed to the *non*-lunatic fringe of the man-on-a-stick fans?? which is comprised of... whom, exactly?

      May 19, 2011 at 9:50 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.