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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. Pat

    There's only one person who knows when the world will end and that is God...Read Revelations...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Nacho1

      Everything is possible......................nothing is impossible..................

      May 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Hugo

      Matthew 24:36 says no one knows when Jesus will come again only the father knows these people are doing it for attention.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • marsmotel

      Also read Aesops fables (that Miller is funny), Mother Goose and the Cat in the Hat. They are all good books of fake stories and fun. Revelations! Ha, give me a break. It hasn't revealed anything, EVER and never will. Just like the Cat in the Hat, the book had to end sometime!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • jcat

      Seriously? A 7 year old little girl telling people about the world ending and death. What is wrong with those people. Child protective services should get involved. God does not exist, jesus was the pope of his day and that is it!!!!!!!!!! He was a human being made of blood and flesh just like us.The bible is a book re written by many many people over time. By the way, I have posed this question to many church gowers that I know...If the Adam and Eve story is true, then wouldn't we all be created out of insest???? Who did their kids pro create with, huh?????? Religion is out of control!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  2. rinsac

    OH HAPPY DAY! THEY'LL ALL BE GONE!!!! WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD IT WILL BE.

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

      We are the salt of the earth. What happens when the salt is removed? You guessed it.....the earth begins to rot!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  3. Hunchback

    This is why the Catholic Church should be the only Christan representative on theological doctrine which includes eschatology.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • J

      wow you're stupid!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  4. J

    Boy are they going to be disappointed on the 21st

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  5. DLinDC

    May 21st, 6pm...

    "Did you feel that ?"
    "Me either..."

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  6. Jack Rose

    THE EARTHQUAKE WILL HAPPEN there is SO MUCH SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE .. please watch this 40 minute video that presents all the signs (especially the last video part 3 which is the smoking gun) that there will be an earthquake Saturday.
    http://www.youtube.com/theEnlightened2011

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

      Watched these before – Interesting – but please learn the difference between hypothesis and fact.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • No

      Right. It says so on youtube, so it MUST be accurate.

      Idiot

      May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Jion

      FYI – there are earthquakes everyday every hour, you just can't feel them – so it's not going out on a limb saying there will be an earthquake on Saturday – I'm sure there will be...there will also be one on Sunday, Monday, etc.

      http://www.pnsn.org/recenteqs/latest.htm

      May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  7. Jeff

    Damn it I told that guy on the street corner to stop preaching about this to get money... See what he did not only did he get his own radio show but people paid him enough in shut up money for a whole damn ad campaign

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Hal 9000

    Let these people take their own lives it would clean some seriously flawed genes (and memes) from the pool.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  9. The Donald

    Dam, It's a good thing I do my firing on Friday's, I only wish I had time to play daddy with Omarosa

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  10. Send Me Your Money

    Anyone planning on departing on May 21st please send me your money. If you truly "believe" the rapture is coming, prove it by sending me all your earthly wealth. Thank you in advance.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  11. Boomer

    I wonder if the doomdayers will beat down their leader on sunday lol.

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

      I fully expect to see an article on Sunday/Monday about the mob murder of their leader, Joseph Smith style.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  12. haha

    lol religion

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  13. cheekbrown

    No man knows when the Rapture will occur. Period.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • DancingInPDX

      I agree. I met this girl at a club at had a night of rapture I'll never forget. Took me by complete surprise.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  14. Marley

    Do these people know that "Jesus" is just a fairy-tale? WTH is "God" anyways?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • smj

      Marley,

      How do you know that Jesus is a fairy tale?
      Just asking.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  15. Shanna

    Great story. Liked the author's humorous angle at the start of the story 🙂 Maybe I need to pass those green bananas too 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  16. why promote it???

    so since were dieing can they give me all their money??

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  17. Person with a brain

    How could one be so stupid? Seriously?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • svann

      Most people in the world, maybe >99%, do not check facts. They check authority of the speaker and if he seems like someone to believe then they believe it. This includes atheists and people that believe in global warming. To be honest, most things in this world cannot be checked by the common man so its understandable.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Most people in the world, maybe >99%, do not check facts.'
      Sounds to me that that is your opinon and not a fact.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  18. Kris

    Lol. Does this mean we are not going to make the Mian Prophecy, or the Nostradomus prophecies. Darn that just chaps my hide. This is hilarious. If these people were real Christans they would have already read the part in the bible where God's not going to tell you when the world is going to end. So if people think the world is going to end on the 21st of May he just might end it on the 22nd of May to spite you. lol. Just saying you may want to study your bible a little bit there Christian people.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  19. Pablo

    I had some experiences with groups that "had" a revelation from God, only to be a terrible duds. Once, a group like this had a revelation that on a certain date, a massive earthquake was going to destroy the Bay Area. They didn't even want us to leave our house at all, saying "God told us it was going to happen a few hours from now". So one of us asked, "If nothing happens at all, then who was the one that spoke?" One of them reponded, "The devil did." Sure enough, nothing happened and for a while, none of them couldn't look at us in the eye.

    Basically, anytime a "christian" group says thy got revelation from God, we got to compare it to what the scripture says. If it directly contradicts, then you know it's a dud. Even the guys in the Bible actually saw stuff like this was going to go down from their time, so they explicitly warned people about this.

    I looked at this group's info and it's totally wrong for two reasons.

    1. Like Grant and Benji said earlier, only God's going to know when it all ends.

    2. The process of which they came to the day is all wrong as well. According to these guys, they got this particualte date because it's exactly 7,000 years after the flood. From here is where they got this interpretation that the world only has 7 milleniums left. And then they did these calculations of how much timed passed based on how long these guys lived and the sum of their lifespans.

    The problem is they calculated that wrong. This is what they did as an example: "Shem lived for 600 years, his son lived for 438 years, then his grandson for 433 years, etc., then add it up: 600+438+433..." Except the first guy didn't have his son right when he dies. Shem was 100 years when he had his son, and his son was 35 years old when he has his son, and the grandson was 30 years old when he started to have kids. So the addition is actually 100+35+30, etc., becaus ehtat is the actual amount of time that had passed.

    Even if they are right, we probably still got a couple of hundreds of years to go. Sorry that I typed a whole bunch of stuff but I had alot to say about this.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Jerry

      "The problem is they calculated that wrong"

      Yes, that's the problem.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Pablo

      Well, yeah. In so many words, their whole theory is wrong. They going to feel mighty dumb come Sunday, like those other groups I've mentioned. Plus, everyone probably gong to make fun of them even more. Basically any "the world's gonna end on so-and-so date" theory is wrong from the get-go.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Bob

    Actually I checked. The world will really end on the 21st. I just found Earth's warranty and that is when it expires.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:39 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.