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. Seraphimo

    God, I hope this is true!!! I am so tired of being disappointed each time the predictions turned out to be non-apocalyptic events!!! Well, at least on May 21, I will be on vacation in Paris – what a nice view I will have for the end of the world! Book my seat by the Seine with some great wine and cheese – let's do this thing!

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

      heck yes! you should be on top of the tower that day!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    I've been on Mother Earth for quite a number of years. There have been other unenlightened people who have predicted the end of the world. But none of their predictions happened, and this won't either. The people who put out such nonsense, simply have no clue as to what the Bible really is about. LET THERE BE LIGHT!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Artist


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

      Not sad..it is called stupid

      May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  3. Colleen

    IF it does not happen may I suggest that you live your life like it is....wouldn't the world be a better place?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  4. Rob

    If you would like to get rid of your worldly possessions in time for salvation, please make your check payable to...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  5. Sage

    The bible also says that you should not try and guess the end of the world...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  6. Richard Allen

    the world will not end...because i haven't met Olivia Lufkin yet. once i do, i really don't care...unless she wants to date me.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  7. rrock

    How are these morons going to explain it when it turns out to be another normal day?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • DancingInPDX

      They'll proclaim God's mercy and declare a new date. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  8. God (the REAL one)

    Okay, here's the deal:

    I've set in motion an steroid shower, from far out into space. It's headed your way, but I won't tell you when it's going to hit, and your star gazers will not see it coming, as I've made a special brew of dark matter to keep them hidden.

    Say your prayers.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • God (the REAL one)

      Hmm...my 'a' key seems to be sticking.

      I guess I have to call Peter over to fix the thing again.


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

      We're asking for a pass on that steroid shower.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  9. Pfeffdaddy

    Fine with me if these idiots are leaving their jobs.... Im out of work right now and would be perfectly happy to take theirs.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  10. Bruce

    Donald Trump, today: "I think this Camping fellah has a point. We should all start praying. What could it hurt to pray?"

    Donald Trump, May 22, 2011: "See, what did I tell you? We prayed, and God spared us. I just saved us all from the end of the world!"

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  11. Sam

    Modern day fools...!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  12. Rob


    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  13. BlackDynamiteNYC

    Oh, yeah, that's right!
    The world is supposed to end Saturday?

    I better get some condoms!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • DancingInPDX

      Condoms? It's the end of the world! Live it up and go unprotected.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  14. Sandi

    This is really sad. This is not Christianity, it is a cult. No one knows the day or hour but God. This guy is making a fool of himself in the name of Christianity.

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

    HAHAHHAAHHAA!!!! Get a real life you holy high rolers..... it's not happening...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  16. Nancy

    The behind will be left. Nuff said.

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

      Face reality, we're all going to be here. The bible is just a bunch of fairy tales and stories.

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

    So if you think the end of the world is imminent, do you have a big garage sale?

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

    I appreciate their unending faith. While I don't quite feel that the world will end on May 21st, I do wonder how many people actually have an unprecedented faith in something...in anything. If it's Jesus and the Rapture, pergatory, a tree, Obama. That is what I find unique about these individuals. It may not be your faith, but do you even truly have any at all?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Following through on a delusion is hardly anything to admire.

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

      I can proudly say no, I do not. I have trust – in people and who have earned it and ideas that have proven themselves. But no...no faith. Nothing is more useless.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • DaMeglet

      Just because you don't believe in God, that doesn't mean He doesn't believe in you. But there have been a thousand people told by a thousand gods that the world was ending before. I'd like to know why these people believe they're different. Statistics so far indicate than on May 21st, life will go on, and these folks will join their peers in the history of apocalypses that never were.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  19. arale norimaki

    The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources where focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections.

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

      I was with you til the last bit.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • DaMeglet


      May 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  20. RayJacksonMS

    I hope the final preparations include putting on matching jump suites, with Nike sneakers and drinking the cool aid. I'm so sick of the three arms of the blood god the christians, muslims and jews.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Jake Rockwel

      Think Im going to sell all my stuff and party up! I am a bit sad its raining the last day of the world... Would have been cool to go out with a tan! .....Gotta love the weak minded...

      May 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168
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.