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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. brokenteeth

    Kinda defeats itself in actuality . If it happens on Sunday then the prayers from all the Sunday services will collectively combine into a metaphysical spiritual partical beam to thwart the ending premonition . Kinda like the Fifth Element.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • king soloman

      i like the way you think!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  2. B-day Boy

    Yay!!! It's my b-day on the 21st. The best present ever would be the annihilation of the most destructive species to ever walk the Earth. I think I'm gonna be let down though. Phooey!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  3. ngc1300

    If it starts in New Zealand and goes west at one time zone per hour, I've got 12 or 13 hours to get repented. I'll worry about it then.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • civiloutside

      How unfortunate for the New Zealanders. Buy perhaps they are exceptionally wicked and don't deserve the warning that everyone else will get...

      May 18, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  4. Morbo

    EARTHQUAKES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY

    May 18, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Mike

      rofl! Best comment so far.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  5. 1Thessalonians5:2-6

    Almost anyone who grew up in the church, myself included, remembers being told over and over that Christ's coming will be like a thief in the night. In other words, no one can know when His coming will occur. One place we read about this is in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 so let's examine this passage verse-by-verse, beginning with verses 2 and 3:

    2"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."
    3"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
    Teachers have always used these verses as proof that people will be caught off-guard by Christ's coming. It is true that these verses are teaching that, but verses 4 and 5 instruct us that there is more to the story:

    4"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."
    Here we discover that there are some people who will not be caught off-guard by Christ's second coming. We have all been taught time and time again that Christ's coming will be like a thief in the night, but here we have a clear statement (at least, it's clear to us now) that it will not come as thief for the children of the light.

    5"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."
    The light of the world is Christ (John 8:12). Therefore, the children of light are the believers. They are the ones God is addressing here. Verse 6 then reminds us to watch:

    6"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."
    So we learn that those who will not be caught off-guard are those who are not "sleeping"; that is, those who are watching. This does not mean those who are watching will simply know that Christ's coming must be getting close. According to the 2008 World Almanac, about one-third of the world's population calls itself Christian1. A recent study indicates that 85% of professing Christians believe the end of the world is near 2. So there are about 2 billion people who think we are living in the end times. This large percentage of the world's population is not the group of people God is referring to when He says the end will not come as a thief in the night for the children of the light.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • William

      A whole lot of nonesence....Creepy

      May 18, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      my sister is just a little bit crazier than you are.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Thats your interpretation

      dont confuse us with facts.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  6. Tim

    Um...I just went to a page explaining Camping's reasoning for May 21 being the date of the rapture. It takes about 3 seconds to realize he's already mucked up his numbers. His entire argument is based upon the belief that Jesus hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. Unfortunately, Jesus died, more likely, in 29 AD, since the calendars are all about 4 years off from what they should actually be, due to changes between the Julian and Gregorian calendars in the 1580s.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Mike

      Tim, you can't bring facts into a debate about religion. That's cheating.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  7. Mike

    I guess being a preacher I should go ahead and cancel service on Sunday. Wish I would have read about this sooner, I dont know, maybe in school or the Bible so I can let people know. I wish folks could devote this much energy to actually helping people.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      Mike the god money wh0re ~ bucks for jesus

      you got a pinky diamond? gold bound bible? big flashy car?

      liar

      May 18, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  8. Adam H

    I am a Christian and I can't stand groups like this who give us a black eye. On May 22nd I plan to send an email to this group with the simple statement "How about now?" then on the 23rd, "Now?", etc.

    The leader of this group has made 10 previous predictions of the second coming and has been wrong every time and will always be wrong.

    It's amazing how they claim to know more about the teachings of the Bible than anyone else, but seem to ignore the part about being a false witness (over and over and over again).

    May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  9. john

    lol

    May 18, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  10. MightyMoo

    Should make it a national holiday, "National Dooms Day" and everyone gets a day off from work the next day to just rub it in the face of those thinking it's the end of the world.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Bill

      Sorry, Happens on a Saturday. No day off this rapture

      May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  11. Rebecca

    i am one who does believe that the end is coming soon, as see the things happening around me that Jesus said would happen. But i also agree no one, not even the son knows the day or the hour. if you were to die today are you 100% sure you would go to heaven. To get to heaven you have to believe in him, believe the father sent him, that he died for your own personal sins and invite him to come into your heart forgive you and that you will live for him and then thank him. That doesn't mean you will never sin again, but his word says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God loves people, his creation. He does not want anyone to go to hell.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • john

      the Morells ARE crazy and should be charged with child abandonment.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • B-day Boy

      Jesus didn't say these things would happen ya idjit! Read your Bible again, and when you're done read something else, like a science text or a history book. Introduction to Logic is a good one too. You might pick up some critical thikning skills that way. Dolt!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • JJ

      Bibilically and nicely said!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      Becca, Becca, Becca ~ lighten up ~ no one is going yto burn and kill us all
      why would you pray to a god who is such a miserable pr!ck?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Ruth

      AMEN.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Ruth

      AMEN to rebeccas response that is.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  12. Patrick Deninger

    I'm glad some people are demonstrating a sense of humor about this, like the post-rapture looting party and the post-rapture pet-care service. But hey ... if I'm gobbled up and taken to heaven, I'm grabbing my dogs and cats. They're coming with. Snausages and laser pointers for eternity!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  13. scooby B

    At least I can watch the Bruins game at 1:30 on Saturday before we all die. They could make it to the cup but we will never know Bad timing...Once again. I blame Kendrick Perkins for this.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Dead Man Blogging

      Fear not. Tyler Seguin is the One whose coming was foretold in Prophecy. For he hath Rolonson's number.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jeneen

      I totally blame Jacobs. He's DETERMNED we never win another cup! Damn.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  14. phoenix

    the best thing about the heathen is their culinary skills , can t wait for christ s return or warning saturday night, there will be a lot of trouble in the delta though.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  15. Godshamgod

    I have my tinfoil helmet prepared for Saturday!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • B-man

      i hear thats the only way to be immune from the armegddon attach that + a case of bush light

      May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  16. Chris in Florida

    I hope we won't wake up Monday morning to news of a mass suicide.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Roger in Florida

      Why not? That be cool. A bunch of nutjobs gone in one fell swoop. Brilliant. I pay for the coolaid

      May 18, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      if there is a mass suicide I hope it is all the christians in florida ~ get back to 1950 population levels ~ would be very nice

      May 18, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  17. Ed

    Religious believers are LOOSERS! Talk about stupidity at its highest.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Dave Summers

      If you said that statement toward any other group of people, whether it be the gay community, a race of people, etc., you would be called out as a bigot, which you indeed are. Who are you to judge peoples faith?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      Davie ~ davie ` remember ` smoke a joint ` chill out ~ read a good coic book
      relax

      May 18, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • junkhead

      Speaking of stupidity, it's spelled; "LOSERS!"

      May 18, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • @ Dave

      Yes, but those characteristics are not a lapse of reason. Yours is. Big difference.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Amused

      So are people that can't spell. What was that about stupidity?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Loser

      get it right! looser? wow you suck at spelling.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • LinCA

      @ Dave. Being gay or of a certain race is not a choice. Believing any of the religious nonsense and choosing to stay ignorant is.

      Pointing out the inconsistencies in any religion is fair game.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Dave Summers

      1 Peter 3:3 – First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

      Scoff at your own peril

      May 18, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Frogist

      While you may have a right to point out the logical deficiencies of a certain position, being rude about it just makes whichever side you're on look bad.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  18. Dave Summers

    First of all, according to the Bible, once the rapture occurs the 7-year tribulation begins. The first 3-1/2 years will be a time of world peace, but it will be a false peace. The latter part of the 7 years will be times of great trial and tribulation (thus the name...) The antichrist will force those who refuse his number (666) to be put to death. Those who do receive it will be damned to hell for eternity. After the 7 years, everything on earth will be wiped out in a ball of fire. Then the new earth will be created, and those Christians who were raptured will return to earth with Christ for 1000 years. After the 1000 years, there will be the Battle of Armageddon, where Christians will battle the souls of Satan's followers. Nothing in the Bible says anything about the earth being destroyed after 5 days of the rapture. It also clearly states that no one will know the day or the hour. This is completely bogus, and makes a mockery out of the Bible and Christianity. God will hold these people to extreme judgement.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      Davie ~ lighten up ~ smoke a joint and read a comic book

      May 18, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Laughing

      After everything you just said you think THIS article is bogus? I couldn't even keep a straightface while reading your post. Sorry to break it to you buddy but this whole Devil, God, armegaddon business is just plain stupid. My favorite is "The antichrist will force those who refuse his number (666) to be put to death. Those who do receive it will be damned to hell for eternity" What does that even mean?! So the antichrist is going to kill everyone who says no and send them where exactly? Hell, isn't that for the people who said they would accept it? It's that kind of wordplay contradiction that just makes me die of laughter

      May 18, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Mike Descado

      Gee whiz, how could ANYONE mock what you just said...?!?

      (insert sarcasm here)

      May 18, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Aniram

      That’s your interpretation. Everyone interprets the bible differently.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Dave Summers

      1 Peter 3:3 – First of all, you must understand that in the last days SCOFFERS will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

      Yup, that pretty much sums you guys up for me...

      May 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Not Laughing

      the antichrist is going to chop off everyone's heads with a guillotine. and they will go to heaven. GOSH didn't you watch the movie? I did and it scared the shizzle out of me when i was a kid.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Not Laughing

      I could have avoided Bible College altogether if only i had read this post beforehand. BOY I could have saved a LOT of $$$!

      you just laid out in plain english what theologians have been wrestling over for more than 2000 years.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Dave
      *scoff scoff*
      Got any scoff medicine?
      Revelation is the fevered dream of a madman.
      7 headed dragons who spew torrents of water and follow women around to eat their babies?
      Grasshoppers with men's faces, women's hair, tiny little crowns on their heads and scorpion tails?
      The zombification of God's only Son who somehow is also God is easier to believe than anything in Revelation.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Im Laughing Now

      your armageddon factoids are a little off the mainstream. I love it "ball of fire" HA ha ha...

      you're doing exactly what those rapturites that you are passing "extreme judgement" on are doing: assuming that you know exactly what the bible means. This apocalyptic prophecy is anything but plainly stated in the bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Dave Summers

      I've spent most of my life studying the Bible and having it taught to me, so I think I have a good idea of what I'm talking about. I'm not leading anyone astray like these people are.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Dave : I love the democracy of religion esp Christianity where everyone can claim authority because "I've spent most of my life studying the bible". Except so has the guy you're criticising. You've both come up with differing opinions. But in the end that is all you have – interpretation and opinion based on your personal feeling. Why would that make you more right than him?

      May 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Random

    Could the rapture please come already? I'm really looking forward to a world rid of Evangelical nutjobs – that's my idea of heaven on earth.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  20. Andacar

    If you look at your history you'll see that Doomsday has been predicted hundreds of times. Everybody went crazy in the year 1000. The Jehova's Witnesses have predicted The End several times. And remember the HarmonicConvergence way back in 1987? I'm happy to see my church isn't getting all lathered up about this. After all, I thought it was 2012. Live Science has a great article on doomsday prophecies: http://www.livescience.com/7926-10-failed-doomsday-predictions.html

    May 18, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • john

      they play on the fears of people with the ultimat goal of getting donations. The god I believe in is not strapped for cash. The world is not ending on May 21st.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:43 am |
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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.