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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. jw

    It seems as though the majority of the comments are negative toward Christianity. But 2300? If it REALLY is rubbish why are there so many vehemently opposing rubbish?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • CounterPointedStick

      Why do the religious call it, RAPTURE, or the APOCALYPSE if it is such a welcomed event?

      You'd think the righteous would be looking forward to the end of the world.

      Why do they call it these names?

      DOUBT.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • BEN DOVER

      WHOOO HOOO , NO DIETING FOR ME FOR THE NEXT 3 DAYS, WHY DIET IF THE WORLD IS GOING TO END,
      OH YEA THEY'RE NUTS NEVER MIND

      May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Nick B

      I don't know, maybe because of the massive role the 'rubbish' plays in society?

      May 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  2. ryan

    Well I guess ill never see the redskins win a super bowl.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  3. flipper828

    When anyone predicts the end of the world, never believe it......Jesus said that no one will know when....not even the angels.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  4. Cin-dy

    I wonder if the Church Radio has any contracts with sponsors or a radio schedule beyond Saturday??

    May 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  5. greg

    We're writing our comments so fast that there is NO WAY anyone is reading them. 3 pages in less than a minute

    May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  6. Jenny

    STTTTTTUUUUPID idiots.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  7. Trent

    Someone is going to be REALLY embarassed on May 22....

    May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  8. Bud

    1 thess 5- thief in the night...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  9. PJ

    I agree with sstarts that only God knows when the last day is to occur. I am also struck by all of the Christian bashing. What's wrong with a belief in God? Is it hurting you if I believe? Do you bash Muslims the same? Just curious.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  10. Chris

    This frustrates me a lot. It says specifically in my Bible:

    "Matthew 24:36-42 (New International Version)

    The Day and Hour Unknown
    36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

    42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. "

    I don't know what Bible these people are reading, but it's no wonder a lot of people think the Christian faith is nuts. It's just so sad, because this isn't true for a lot of Christians including me. Now if Saturday is the day, it's God's will. None of us are privileged to know when it will be. That's my 2 cents.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Lubiana

      I'm with you Chris!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  11. I say OK

    have you noticed that the sign on the church says Jesus is coming at 5pm. Then Church on Sunday 10:30/ People need to stop believing other people when it comes to this. Only Jesus knows when is coming back.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  12. Faith

    God said it on the bible Mark Chapter 13:31-32
    13:31 Heaven and earth will come to an end, but my words will not come to an end.
    13:32 But of that day or that hour no one has knowledge, not even the angels in heaven, or the Son, but the Father.
    Only Father knows which date is the Judgement day.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Bob

      Whether you believe the bible to be true or not, the fact is that those passages are in the bible.

      Hasn't this been brought to Campbell's attention??

      I'd love to hear his response to that.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  13. max

    While this may or may not happen on Saturday...I'm praying for atheists & non-believers to somehow see what has been right in front of them all along. In their past, as they didn't pay any attention at all, & today, as they openly mock. Jesus Christ is right there with you, & forgiveness & salvation are yours if you choose. Simply see the truth.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
    Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

    God Bless you all.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  14. Melody

    All these people need a serious mental evaluation. I feel sorry for their families that have to deal with them.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  15. Soporifix

    I can't believe these people are allowed to raise children

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  16. Clinton

    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.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Soporifix

      We'll relax and be nice when religious people stop trying to impose their beliefs, through law, on all the rest of us in the country.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Bumchum

      When Jesus comes can you put in a good word for me? He's cute!

      May 18, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • YaThink

      That's why over the history of man religion has killed over 890 million people and you are trying to say those that don't believe as you do are trying to push their beliefs on others. NOT! Religious people are such hypocrites they can't even recognize they're own hatred.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Colin

      @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?

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

      Clinton I don't think it is about trying to change the minds of delusional, rather it is more like entertainment.

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

      It's easy to disparage us with your remarks and then take the high road and ask US to stop being the jerks. I have no intention of chaging people's beliefs, from years of trying to have reasonable debates with religious folks I've found them to be really irrational and always, ALWAYS retreat into a "well god says so" rhetoric. You keep pointing to the big bang as a rallying point in which atheists can prove that atheisim is right......yeah that's wrong. Like I've said before, it's a highly regarded theory and nothing more. You also keep saying it takes as much belief for the big bang as god. um.... no. It just doesn't, I can believe in it, but again if proven wrong for any reason I could handle it and change. If I got empiracle proof that the big bang was wrong and something, anything else was right, wouldn't rock my world. Can you say the same about the bible?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Clintoff

      Well said Clint. Everyone except you should just shut up. Even me so I'll shut up now. But I just want to say one last thing. Everyone who disagrees with me is wrong so shut up.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      THANK YOU!!!!

      You hit the nail right where it was needed!! Great comment and I agree 1000%!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • roshinobi

      thank you for saying it. i've always been too lazy to bother.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Clinton

      plenty of folks responding... that's good i hope you learn something... lets go through the list,
      -first Colin – LMAO Energy released from an Atom bomb is an atom changing it's state, the energy released is not More matter it's other atoms changing their state it doesn't create or destroy matter it changes it's state
      -Sporifix – name a law that is there because of religion that you feel is unjust to those that don't believe. Then explain to me why a population that is a majority Christian should be subjected to laws that go against their religion? how's that Democracy?
      -YAThink – Please source your findings i'd love to see where it says 890 million people were killed because of religion, second, The Nazis weren't a religious group they killed Millions in less than a decade... findings – people will do harm to others regardless whether or not it's a relgious reason or simple politics or fighting over resources.
      - Artist – what can i say at least you're being honest... still makes you a jerk.
      - Laughing – so your argument is that I'm wrong because my belief in God is strong and your belief in Scientific theories can change as many times as it needs to until hopefully an answer is found... that's kind of a weak argument

      May 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Nick B

      You really don't understand atomic physics, do you? Matter (mass) is converted into energy in a nuclear reaction. This has been measured. Matter can be completely turned into energy via a matter-antimatter reaction.

      Preventing gay people from marrying. Gay people marrying has no impact on those who believe. We aren't a democracy, we are a republic, because it was recognized that tyranny of a majority is also a bad thing.

      We science-types accept the evidence and the things that the evidence suggests is true about the world. If new evidence means we need to revise our understanding of the world, that's the proper thing to do.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • YoClinton.....think on this....

      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 lifestyle is flawed somehow... and when questioned why they try to push their God on everybody else, they get frustrated and say we are possessed with Satan... That's funny because there are about 10000000 comments on this thread that prove this... 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 beliefs... They know that believing in a God and when pinned down to the facts ……they simply back away….well... yeh but eventually we'll die then it will prove God actually exists!!!..., 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 “Clinton” + “Heaven Sent” + “Prism123" if you're so sure in your beliefs.. that's great, we are secure in ours... your beliefs aren’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.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Laughing

      "- Laughing – so your argument is that I'm wrong because my belief in God is strong and your belief in Scientific theories can change as many times as it needs to until hopefully an answer is found... that's kind of a weak argument"

      Although I didn't outright state you're wrong, I will say, sure I think you're wrong on the basis that as I think I'm right and our beliefs clash, that would in fact... make you wrong in an implied fashion. I have no doubt that whatever I say won't make you stop believing and if it does then I take it back. I understand that some people really need religion and that it actually does make them a better person. Who am I to tell someone who is pure of heart, gives to charity, loves their neighbor and is genuinly a good human being to stop because its based on a lie? My comments have and always will be directed towards bigots and hate-mongers who use the bible in a twisted way to thrust their beliefs upon others for the simple reason that "god says so".

      As for my backing of scientific theory. I'm sorry to have contributed to this, but science and religion aren't really one in the same on the basis that science is always evolving so changing along with it is accepted and understood. religion is very rigid and conservative and generally always fears change so strong belief is ingrained.

      I can't really speak for anyone else, although I will also point to what Spor said, mainly about right-wing christians trying to force their beliefs down the rest of our throats. Look how devisive abortion is in this country because religion is involved. You might also notice the group called FBI dedicated to spreading the gosple to recently released prisoners, trying to reintroduce them into society AND convert them. You have a flawed version of democracy if you think ours is flawed because the majority of our country that are christians not getting their way is wrong.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Clinton

      to the person using the name (YoClinton.....think on this...)... I think you've failed to read the comments in this thread at all, i don't see hardly any Christians jumping out of their shoes calling you names or insulting your beliefs, i do see dozens of Atheists taking pot shots at Christians and trying to generalize us all into a category of your own making... I haven't once said to anyone in my entire life... nor have i seen a single person claiming to be Christian say....... BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE OR ELSE!!!!!! i also haven't seen any wholesale slaughter of non-christians because they don't believe, Please show me where you see this... when have i or anybody else on here said... Atheists are just stupid people ... look how naive they are!!! wow i can't believe you believe in a STUPID Big Bang that's not EVEN possible according to science!!!! WOW THOSE ATHIESTS ARE IDIOTS!!!! .......... no you don't see that... i see a ton of people talking mad crap about Christians though, and you are being jerks for that, because nobody's doing that to you... I think you want to throw me into some category and try to make me into some guy that's using a doublestandard... but it's not working dude... i'm not insulting your beliefs you're insulting mine.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Laughing

      Oh Clinton, buddy I would love to have a separate debate with you on religion. I would find if fascinating. As for asking for anyone to point out where a christian has tried to a) force their beliefs on atheists b) call them names and disparage them and c) get angry about christians not believing in the big bang theory. I can only say this, having been personally verbally attacked for not believing in god I can tell you right now that although you might want to live and let live, a lot of your compratriots do not. Instead of calling atheists names, a lot of christians resort to quoting bible versus that basically fall along the lines of "atheists are fools" and calling us a whole bunch of different names and condeming us to hell. There's mean things said on both sides so its pretty outrageous for you to think that Christians on this comment board can take the high road of turning the other cheek, that's just plain silly. (please do not construe that I'm saying the atheists on this board are any better, like I said plenty of people are calling christians dolts and morons and the like)

      Also when atheists question christian tradition, that's not insulting you, its asking you and all christians to come up with satisfactory answers. Of course many ask these because they know you will never, ever be able to so it's fun to watch you quote scripture thinking that's a good explanation.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Karen

      Nice post Laughing!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  17. mike

    This is NO different from the Heaven's Gate cultists. Hopefully these people at least will have the sense not to kill themselves.

    But man oh man, are they going to feel stupid on Sunday morning.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  18. Tom

    Wait, am I the only one who noticed that this massive "super-earthquake" will destroy most everything in it's path; yet it will take an hour to get from one time zone to another? So 6 time zones will be destroyed in 6 hours? Who's running this earthquake; American Airlines?

    May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Nick B

      Not to mention that said earthquake apparently moves slower near the poles because the time zones are much closer together.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  19. HS

    When the world doens't end on Saturday, these people will either 1) probably kill themselves (they'll say God told them to do it) or 2) simply choose their next date.
    And it goes on and on.... yay.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  20. greg

    LOL 63 pages of comments and counting! I love it!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:51 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.