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. flippin

    "If that’s the day we get raptured, great. If not, we’ll move on.”
    He says this after he has his 7 yr old child describe such disturbing details of what's to take place, like "Hey, on to the next catrophe that will give my lovely daughter nightmares throughout childhood if this one doesn't work out. No biggy." People are so sick. I feels so srry for kids who have to live this way. Religion does not mean "Scare the he!! out of your kids."

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

      Religion itself no, xtianity, yes. That religion was created as a way to control people through fear and guilt. Same with judaism and islam. Not all religions though.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • flippin

      Christianity was taken over by control freaks who made it threatening. It was not meant to be what it has been.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  2. Johnny

    If it's logic you want then pick up a science book not the book that cries wolf.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  3. WVLady63

    Obviously these "Christians" don't read their Bible. Tell them to read Matthew 24:36. Not even the Angels in Heaven know when the Day of Judgment will come. I had a friend who was a member of one of these cults several years ago. She sold her home and everything she owned and quit her job and went to a field and awaited The Good Lord's coming. She lost everything she had because some of these people convinced her that The Lord was coming. If "ignorance is bliss" these people must be really, really happy!

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

      Agreed. Someone says the world is going to end every few years or so.

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

      But WV, you Christians believe daady-god and sonny-god are the one thing. How can it know and not know at the same time?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  4. Bellic

    So if God is returning, but bringing Hell with Him, he can keep his stupid fake butt in Heaven

    May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  5. suzyblu

    Ok so what are they going to do when it doesn't happen and they have no job and no home to go too? If they truely believe this is going to happen then please write me a check leaving it all to me dated May 22nd, if they are that strong in their faith they will have to problem doing it and if they don't....well it just shows they really do have doubts!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  6. steve

    WOW... I never knew ! Thanks guys......I have just deceided to skip my mortgage payment this month and buy beer instead. How many cases will $ 2250.00 buy anyway ? Your all welcome at my place!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  7. badryvr

    We can only pray that all the self-righteous people of the world will be taken by God on Saturday during the rapture leaving a heaven on earth for all us "sinners" 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  8. Rolph

    Stupidity – Thy name is religion

    May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  9. Howdy

    Good, I don't need to pay a mortgage and bills after 05/21/11. Bring it on Christ...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  10. Stupid is as stupid does!!!

    I have to watch "GOD ALMIGHTY" just one more time...
    Can we wait until next Saturday, I'm busy this weekend.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |

    I love specific dated "predictions" like these because they are so easy to call out. Come Sunday, I guarantee that the same people will say "No, no wait, God is now telling me that the rapture will happen on June 20XX..." and try to move on like nothing happened. Everyone needs to make sure and call them on this crap.

    Also, CNN needs to stop posting this garbage and giving these people any face time. It is only worsening the problem.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • RonnieColemanBrah

      Yo dog, I completely agree yo. We need to holla at these fools.

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

      Come at us religious bros!

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

      Seriously brahs, religious people need to SHUT UP YO! CNN stop posting this crap.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • BertStare69

      Come Sunday, these fools need to be of the air for being stupid. Darwin be all up in here yo.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • YeahBuddayIsTheCoolestPersonOnThisForum

      I completely agree with this post. This man is a genius.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • GoddommitFronk

      Goddom thos relogos nots brah.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • TheGreatAntagonist

      All religious people are intellectually inferior to the scientific master race.

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

      Religious people, how do they work?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • ClownPosseYo

      Miracles brother. I would be repenting if I was yur.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • MyronGaines

      If it's logic you want then pick up a science book not the book that cries wolf.

      Obviously these "Christians" don't read their Bible. Tell them to read Matthew 24:36. Not even the Angels in Heaven know when the Day of Judgment will come. I had a friend who was a member of one of these cults several years ago. She sold her home and everything she owned and quit her job and went to a field and awaited The Good Lord's coming. She lost everything she had because some of these people convinced her that The Lord was coming. If "ignorance is bliss" these people must be really, really happy!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  12. Patrick from Minnesota

    I'm Catholic and I didn;t even hear about this until 4 city buses drove by us in downtown Minneapolis with that message. It's safe to say I'm a bit skeptical. The big question is what they'll do on May 22nd...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Cherries

      They will be really, really, really, really, really embarassed!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  13. KB

    Well dang-it I was going to go to Costco for some TP.
    Looks like I can get by on what I have left...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  14. Chuck

    I saw the full page ad in USAToday, where did these people get all the money to advertise, how may hundreds of bill boards, etc. Something is rotten in Denmark

    May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Jenny

      Sadly, a lot of people have blown their life savings to promote this message.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  15. Rick

    Or the religious nuts will downgrade the prediction and say it's all a "Time of enlightenment" or see one earthquake someplace on earth and use that as some sort of proof...Might as well use a rainstorm as proof.

    I got to give the guy some credit. At least he has the guts to actually come up with a date, in the imediate future, and not some date a hundred years out, like a lot of people do, or no date at all like so many others do.

    Just more religious nuts, and all the more reason that everybody needs to realize that there is no god.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  16. ralphinator

    "Only the fool saith in his heart there is no God" Psalms 14:1

    Lol I bet atheists hate that one, and they think believing in no God is somehow a new and intelligent idea.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • We go round and round...

      "Only the fool saith in his heart there is no God" Psalms 14:1"

      You are quoting fiction and believing it's true, what does that make you? Mentally unstable.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • R Calling

      You keep believing in your imaginary friends, I will keep evolving.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Cure for the common religion

      But of course the bible is right because the bible says so right?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • JesusShouldBeBrown

      Atheists don't hate – we are not like the religious nuts who would bomb an abortion clinic (or twin tower finacial buildings) over our lack of beliefs. It is the "faith" that causes this rational thought neglect. I don't hate relgious people at all I just think they are week minded & egotistical. Imagine that you are so very super duper special that when you talk to yourself (I mean prey) your magical deity will drop everything in the universe to listed to your mumbles. Serously? You must be one special individual to have that sort of effect on the entire universe. Pehaps you have super powers that I just don't have, but I find that very unlikely as all humans are the EXACT same on a cellular level. Explain this then, if reigion was real (or god) why don't all humans prey to the same god. We are all the same. It is things like religion we use to separate ourselves from one another. But to me if it really was the origin of mammals or humans then all mammals (humans) would believe the exact same thing.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  17. scarycat

    So, should I donate all money to Church since I will be in heaven after 21st?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • jbmar1312

      no, send it to me!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  18. givemeabreak

    And on sunday they'll all be going to Denny's for some grand slam breakfasts and sulking.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  19. HAHA

    I love how all these "Christians" have the doomsday date. BUT if you have ever read the Bible, it pretty explicitly states that no one will know of the end of times. Man will not know when it will come. That only the father himself will know of the date.

    So anyone preaching around that the end of time is coming, and bases it on Christianity are nuttier than those that believe it.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Colin

      But HAHA, you Christians believe daady-god and sonny-god are the one thing. How can it know and not know at the same time?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  20. Keith

    SO .. let' sassume we are at May 22nd and the world is still intact. Will that radio station be fair enough to shut down for the obvious lies?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • mariano

      It should, definitely should

      May 18, 2011 at 3:53 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.