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.”
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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.
My Bible says – "No man knows the day or the hour for Christ return except the Father"!
Jan, and my Holy Book of Teabag says differently...whats your point?
Apparently they do not read their Bibles.
JESUS WAS NOT NAIL TO T CROSS INSTEAD HE GOT NAIL IN ONE LONG STRAIGHT LOG.
The Bible says no one knows the exact day, hour or moment when Christ will return.
I don't understand what drives someone to go this far with religion, really. I guess I need to sit out on the front deck with an ice cold drink, and watch the world go on normally. What a joke.
Hebrew for Byron=???
Lol..I'm not saying this doomsday claim is true..but why is it that almost every person that is making fun of religion can not spell? I am seeing some horrid grammar...Almost like the kids are trying to play atheist and gothic while mommy isnt home.
I see a lot of misspelling and bad grammar these days. It astounds me. Didn't these people write their words 10 times each and study for their spelling tests? Didn't any of these people have to "write" anything in school? It's as pathetic as the high school graduate that still doesn't know times tables...
'Almost like the kids are trying to play atheist and gothic while mommy isnt home.'
Shouldn't it technically be 'whilst' and not 'while'? and "isn't" not isnt.
During (I think) the Cuban missile crisis, I asked my father if the world was going to end. He said: "The world ends for millions of people every day". As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Slaughterhouse-Five: "So it goes'.
If he meant actually, physically die then he was full of it, not even close.
Was it not Ezekiel who thus spake: "Yea, and on the 21st day of the 5th month of the 2011th year of the Gregorian Calendar, which shall be begin on the 24th day of the 2nd month of the 1582nd year, yea verily, the world didst end."
Atheists are so funny. I hope this is just my experience with Atheists and not the stance that the majority hold... but it's hilarious to watch them... their whole purpose in life appears to be to try and tell everyone else they're wrong.. .that their religion is flawed somehow... and when questioned why they try to push their ideas on everybody else, they get frustrated and say that it's the Religious ones that push their ideas on people... NOT THEM... That's funny because i have about 1000 comments on this thread that state the opposite... Atheist's i see on this post appear to fall into that category of people that need to try and convince others to believe what they do because they're not sure in their own beliefs... They know that believing in the big bang theory or other similar theories takes as much faith as any religion has to offer... and when pinned down to the facts that By the laws of physics ... the big bang couldn't happen.... because physics says that matter cannot be created or destroyed... they simply back away from their theory and say... well... yeh but eventually we'll figure out a better theory that proves it!!!... well how is that any different than faith? .... look my underlying point is this... if you believe in God or even if you don't.... just leave the debate to scholars, you're not convincing people over the internet that you're right... it's not worth arguing... it just makes you look hateful... so... seriously folks like "colin" or "willie" or "laughing" if you're so sure in your beliefs.. that's great, i'm secure in mine... taking pot shots at eachothers ideas isn't going to change anything so drop it and quit being jerks okay? lighten up and be nice to people... right now you don't even look like decent people.
@Clinton- "because physics says that matter cannot be created or destroyed"
Ever heard of the atom bomb? Or the sun for that matter. It shines by converting matter into energy. HEard of Einstein and E=MC2. That is the equation for the conversion.
Got any other "proof" of how silly we atheists are?
You know, as an athiest, I'm a little offended by your post. I don't believe in God but it doesn't bother me that you do. What bothers me is when "Christians" knock on my door at 9am on the only day I've had off in a month to tell me why I should believe in Jesus. What bothers me is when "Christians" try to leglislate what I can do with my own body based on THIER beliefs. What bothers me is when "Christians" say gay and transgendered people are something less than human and shouldn't enjoys the basic rights the rest of us have, what's it any of your business what people do in their bedrooms? What bothers me is when "Christians" start wars because their god is right and everyone else's is wrong. So if you believe in God and that makes you happy, more power to ya. Just leave me and the rest of the people who don't feel that way out of it!
And by the way, I am 100 PERCENT sure of my belief that there is no God. I have no doubts whatsoever.
come out of the cl0set ~ today ~
God will not kill you for it.
You are not bad ~ gay is who you are.
CHRISTIANS are so funny. I hope this is just my experience with CHRISTIANS and not the stance that the majority hold... but it's hilarious to watch them... their whole purpose in life appears to be to try and tell everyone else they're wrong.. .that their religion is flawed somehow... and when questioned why they try to push their ideas on everybody else, they get frustrated and say that it's the ATHEIST ones that push their ideas on people... NOT THEM... That's funny because i have about 1000 comments on this thread that state the opposite... CHRISTIANS i see on this post appear to fall into that category of people that need to try and convince others to believe what they do because they're not sure in their own knowledge... They know that believing in the rapture or other similar theories takes as much knowledge as any religion has to offer... and when pinned down to the facts that By the laws of physics ... the rapture couldn't happen.... because the bible says that no one will know the date.. they simply ack away from their theory and say... well... yeh but eventually we'll figure out a better date that proves it!!!... well how is that any different than faith? .... look my underlying point is this... if you believe in God or even if you don't.... just leave the debate to scholars, you're not convincing people over the internet that you're right... it's not worth arguing... it just makes you look hateful... so... seriously folks like "colin" or "willie" or "laughing" if you're so sure in your beliefs.. that's great, i'm secure in mine... taking pot shots at eachothers ideas isn't going to change anything so drop it and quit being jerks okay? lighten up and be nice to people... right now you don't even look like decent people.
What's the dfference between the myth of an invisible man who lives in the sky and the Santa Claus myth? Christians are an uneducated, un-evolved lot, believing in such things of childhood fantasy.
I'm here...I will come as a thief at an hour you will not know....
The World is ending 2 months before the last Harry Potter movie comes out??
Now that is just plain cruel – can't it be pushed off until Labor Day?
LOL. Too funny!
Please be a zombie apocalypse!!! I am so ready!! Lock and load.............
I'm so there with you! I've watched ZombieLand and 2012 enough to know how to survive this! Bring it on! Just stay away from yellowstone national park and lets load up on ammo and twinkies!
GAY! The church people are so dumb!
Church = Loser and fakes of christian. STUPID Mormon!
Kingdom Hall = Real and Truth about the real Christian, Jesus, and Jehovah.
Can I have their stereo equipment?
Can't wait to hear all the creative excuses they come up with on Sunday...what a bunch of loonies
They got the DoomsDay clock wrong, its May 12th, 2101 not May 21st, 2011. You have to switch the numbers around. Dang it i cannot get through to them!
Regina is the most beautiful name in the world.
Religion is THE problem.
a big AMEN to that
So I wasted $100 on Trans Siberian Orchestra tickets for a show on May 21st??
On May 22nd we'll be waking up to some new self made welfare recipiants.
Ok i just finished rollling on my floor laughing like hell!!
I've figured out the evolutionary advantage to apocalism. I assume as the end nears, there is all kinds of mass screwing among adherents, resulting in many pregnancies and, ultimately, the birth of children who are slightly more likely than average to be taken in by apocalyptic nonsense. If we would stop taking care of these people when they show up in emergency rooms following accidents of self-inflicted idiocy, we could possibly start to remove apocalism from our gene pool...
LMAO! I love it!
Wait a minute. So the Mayan Calendar and the movie 2012 are both wrong, dang it dang it!!! We need to reset the Doomsday Clock so I can be synchronized with the correct countdown! Maybe the got the numbers wrong and its actually: May 12th, 2101? Explain that please!
The Mayans weren't fundamentalist Christians, or any kind of Christians, so what did they know? Anyway, the guy is now hedging his bet by saying, 5/21 is the day of rapture, when all the "saved" will be carted off to heaven, and a worldwide earthquake will destroy the earth, but the REAL end of the world won't happen until 10/21.