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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. Anotherdayjustbelieve

    this story is giving me panic attacks..... FRIENDS, WE ALL MUST FEAR GOD....

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

      Anotherdayjustbelieve – what are you Moronic?

      What happens to their belief system when May 21st comes and goes? That's what I'd like to see.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Don't fear God, fear His looney followers.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Shamrock6

      Why must one fear God. I have NEVER understood that. Fear and love are mutually exclusive.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Diana

      This is what the BIBLE says about the RAPTURE taking place. Read so closely and pay close attention to verse 36,37,42,44 and notice in verse 43 & 44 that God says we should be sure to be "prepared" for when that day does come, so that we are honestly and whole heartedly ready... being ready means living an obedient Life FOR Christ, being obedient to the Word of God. anyway... her are the verses that disproves this man Rev Camps claims --> Matthew 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[b] but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[c] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

      See, God lets us know this in the Word so that ppl like this Rev Camp does not bring undue stress and confusion to people. This is why God tell us in His Word to STUDY to show ourselves approved unto HIM/God. If people would just turn their lives to Christ. Live according to the scriptures and STUDY there would not be fear being provoked on peoples minds. There would peace. Thus the saying... "No God, No Peace, KNOW God, KNOW Peace." 😉

      I hope some "Light" has been shed on this subject. =)

      May 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Mikoid

      Why are these folks so intent on getting others to believe that the end of the world is nigh? Isn't being Christian enough, now you've got to believe in a specific Armegeddon date also? Sounds like this is contrary to what Christ taught...

      May 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  2. conoclast

    OK, so we have the Mayan calendar mysteriously ending its count of the days on the winter solstice 2012 - but weren't the Mayans PAGAN?? No way can self-respecting christians accept a godless pagan calendar - so despreately searching scripture they conveniently find another date (an EARLIER one, of course!) so that they can properly "own" armagheddon. It's all so transparently stupid-but then that's christianity for you!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  3. David

    Christians have been predicting the rapture and return of Jesus from day 1. Both Mathew and Mark told you when this was going to happen. There is no great mystery. No need to look for Phi patterns or encrypted text embedded within the bible. They were fairly specific.

    Most assuredly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen. (Mark 13:30 )
    Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place (Matthew 24:34).

    Now unless that generation lived to be 2000 years old the time has long passed. Another glaring error in the bible that followers choose to ignore. It is amazing how literal the bible thumpers will make you believe when they want to use it against you, but when it is counter to their ramblings they can spin a verse a hundred ways.

    So picking dates and missing them is nothing new and will do nothing to the faithful waiting for the afterlife while ignoring the precious one they have here.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  4. juanpo

    I want to find these people and make a bet... if the world ends I get to go to hell, if the world does not end as they have predicted I get to kick them all in the nuts

    May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Mr. Camping is misinterpreting 1 Thessalonians 5:4: "But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." This verse does teach that we can avoid being caught off-guard by the Lord's return, but not by having God announce it to us ahead of time, but by being ready at ALL times. The five diligent maidens in Matthew 25 were prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom, not because they knew the time He would arrive, but because they remained ready throughout the night. (Review this entire section of 1 Thess 5.)

    May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Randy

    Those people are idiots and whoever believes them are the same. Our sun still has roughly 5 billion years of life left to it. When it finally exhausts all of its fuel our world will cease to exist.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Paul G - Texas

    Bunch of nuts but what to expect from religious extremism.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  8. Dave

    Well we can be sure they are correct, since they are using ENGLISH measurements and ENGLISH terms and idioms to predict the end of the world.

    It helps that the Bible was originally written in ENGLISH, with absolutely no risk of mistranslations from non-Germanic or Latin language sources. (snark).

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • David

      lol..it reminds me of a religious debate in college between a street guy (the Hate man in Berkeley) and a preacher. The preacher was trying to argue an assertion that the homeless guy had made. Claiming that Jesus had said something through a quote. The homless guy then said Jesus didn't say that. The preacher became infuriated and started skimming through his bible to show the homeless guy the very passage. When he found it he proclaimed victory with grand arrogance. The Homeless guy then said Jesus didn't say that because Jesus didn't speak english. He then quoted in Hebrew what Jesus had said.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  9. Fidei Coticula Crux

    The Spirit of Truth vs. the Spirit of Error.

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. - 1 John 4:1

    John speaks of the SPIRITS of teachers in a way similar to what Paul says about the spirits of the prophets in 1 Cor. 14:32. John is not referring here to demon possession, but to teachers who promote error. Believers have the Holy Spirit (3:24); but FALSE PROPHETS obey evil spirits. A true prophet is one who receives direct revelation from God. A false prophet claims to have received direct revelation from God but in fact promotes erroneous ideas. So let us review what Jesus and Paul taught about the end times to see if this so called prophet is a false teacher.

    For 2,000 years people have wondered about the events of the end times and when Jesus will return. Terms such as millennium, tribulation, 666, and antichrist are used in the media and the supermarket tabloids, but questions remain:

    – Will Jesus return physically and reign on earth for 1,000 years?
    – Will Christians go through a seven-year tribulation?
    – Will the second coming of Christ occur at the same time that believers meet Christ in the air (the rapture)?
    – Will Christians be raptured (removed from this earth) and other people “left behind”?
    – What does the nation of Israel have to do with the end times?

    There are four different views of end-times events, but all share some key points:

    – Jesus will come again for those who love him.
    – Jesus calls his followers to be ready all the time.
    – No one knows the day or the hour. Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Matthew 24:36

    What JESUS Taught about the End:

    Jesus promised his disciples that he would come again. Before his return there would be:

    “Birth Pains” (Events before the “signs” of the end)

    – Many will claim to be the Messiah.
    – People will be deceived by these messiahs.
    – Wars, famine, earthquakes, pestilence.
    – Believers in Christ persecuted and killed.
    – Believers will be witnesses of Jesus to kings.
    – Many will turn away from the faith.
    – Betrayals by parents, brothers, and friends.
    – Increase in wickedness. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:12-13
    – Fearful events and signs from heaven.

    The Signs of the End

    – Jerusalem surrounded by armies.
    – The “abomination of desolation.”
    – Great tribulation like never before.
    – Jerusalem will be trampled on by Gentiles.
    – False prophets perform signs, miracles.
    – Sun darkens, moon doesn’t shine, stars fall.
    – Severe ocean activity disturbs the nations.
    – People will faint with terror.
    – Jesus will appear in the sky.
    – The trumpet will sound.
    – Angels will gather God’s elect.

    (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21)

    What PAUL Taught about the End:

    1. The Lord will descend.
    2. The dead in Christ will rise first.
    3. The living will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord and be with him forever.
    4. Don’t believe those who say the Day of the Lord has already come.
    5. The Day of the Lord will be preceded by:
    – Rebellion
    – The revelation of the man of lawlessness who will:
    - Oppose and exalt himself over God
    - Set himself up in God’s temple
    - Proclaim to be God
    - Be revealed when the one holding him back is taken out of the way
    - Be accompanied by satanic, counterfeit miracles
    - Deceive those who do not love the truth
    6. When Jesus comes, the man of lawlessness will be overthrown and destroyed.

    (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 2)

    So is this the spirit of truth or the spirit of error? I'll leave it up to you to decide.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Artist

      You forgot about the part of getting on your knees for god for his offering.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Cletus

      Your posts are similar to your physical presence...they take up to much space.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      If atheists have evolved beyond belief, why are they on a Belief Blog website?

      May 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • David

      I totally respect people's desire and right to believe what they want to believe, but to me it seems there's so much time, effort, thought, study, and learning that goes wasted on this rubbish.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      David,

      I couldn’t agree with you more… Why do atheists spend so much time, effort, thought, study, and learning to rebuke a god(s) they believe doesn’t exist? It’s like a boxer is in a ring by himself, swing away a nothing.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  10. Steve

    LOL @ the guys who said the apocalypse is starting at the international date line... great to know that God also uses artificial means of measuring time.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  11. Frank Nitty

    so I guess all the homeless people will be ok as they are constantly outside and away from danger, such as the danger of the earthquake.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  12. Sagebrush Shorty

    Just had to do it on my day off.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  13. Love Islam

    LOL

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  14. BlackDynamiteNYC

    The World is coming to an end Saturday?
    I really wanted to see a goat win the GOP Nomination!
    BD

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  15. Irma O'Neil Robinson

    A Christian Broadcasting Net Work? I always thought the Bible said We would see signs when the end was near. I also thought the Bible said We would not know the DAY OR EXACT TIME? Some of these so called "Christian shows and Talk Shows" need to repent!!!!! PEACE!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  16. Sandi

    So when May 21st comes and goes, what will they do then? No jobs, no homes. I pray this is not another Jim Jones/Guyana situation. My Bible says no man knows the day or the hour. How'd they get their information???

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • David

      They have 5 months before the Rapture is over to collect unemployment and complain about taxes.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  17. Jim

    Satan has got to be livid right now given that he only has a few days to prepare for 100's of millions of souls that are coming on saturday.
    His backorder for flaming Iron Maidens still hasn't come in yet.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  18. MostCriminalsRliberals.........

    Another attempt by CNN to diminish or attack Christianity while ignoring the nutjobs of Islam murdering molesting raping and showing utter racism............hypocrisy is a word that does not do justice to what CNN is............

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Steve

      Yeah, cause there are totally no stories about Islamic extremism on CNN, ever.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • David, CA

      Is CNN out on street corners claiming the world is ending in 4 days? Are they the ones who blew thousands of dollars on billboard nonsense? Are they the ones who threw away their life savings on this bee-ess? No- it was these "christian" nutbags. Nice try to play the victim. Next time try playing the idiot.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • David

      Well, at least you won't have to worry about that crazy CNN much longer!

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

      You will never understand how hilarious it is for us agnostics/athiest to hear religious people call other religious people nutjobs.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  19. Althea Rowe

    As Victor Etilo syas no one knows the exact day, hour or moment that Christ will return, so they do not know. We have all fallen short of the glory of God though and should pray for forgiveness and follow his words so that when he does come back, you will be accepted into heaven.

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

      Or we could get drunk. That would be just as pertinent.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Cletus

      So you are saying that we should apologize for using the gift of free thought, the most powerful gift that God gave man. That does not make any sense. If anything you will be punished for not using it.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • joey

      Shut up you moron.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Rebecca Hemple

      this is balanced. love God. live God.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • David

      Well we didn't know the exact time but we do know the time has passed.

      Most assuredly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen. (Mark 13:30 )
      Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place (Matthew 24:34).

      Unless there are 2,000 year old people walking amongst us I think it is pretty clear that the prophecy was wrong the first time and will be wrong this time and every other time until one of these idiots get's lucky and makes a prediction that coincides with a natural disaster.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      @David

      One shouldn’t confuse “The Transfiguration” with the end time’s prophecies. You see, a common mistake people make when reading the Bible is that they don’t cross reference what they read with other scriptures in the Bible. That’s why they end up quoting scripture out of context.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  20. Sutemi

    I hope he's right, my mortgage is killing me.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:58 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.