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. Abdul

    Knowledge of the last day rests with Allah (GOD) and Him alone.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  2. Robert

    Their world will come to an end on the 21st. When the very things that they so fervently believe fail to happen, their world will end. The world that they have crafted for themselves.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  3. TheZone

    Yah.... got it.... more NutNiks we have to listen to because they are *****different****. The mental hospitals are full of them....

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  4. Clinton

    Just because of the sheer Volume of posts i wanted to be sure my reply to statements others made on page 66 were read by those that responded to my original post.... here ya go
    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 4:14 pm |
  5. Bill

    who cares what the bible says at all? It is a book, people. A book that was written by men and subject to numerous redrafts and revisions. Can't people just be good because it is the right thing to do? Must there be the looming carrot and stick of heaven and hell to make people be good? I don't think so.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • NC

      Good post.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  6. Rick

    Hahahahahahahahahaha...silly Christians, myths are for kids!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  7. Shifter

    The Bible says two men ought not lay together. But I don't reckon the Good Lord would send anybody like you to Hades.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  8. Diane

    READ MATTHEW 24:36.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  9. Jase

    The problem is that people don't know how to read the Bible and understand some of the most simplest ideals. They take what they read and go completely overboard with it. Will the world end on Saturday? It is possible. Will it end today tomorrow, month from now three months from now, years from now, I would say yes. I believe in God and the Bible and it says simply that NO ONE can predict when Christ will come back, but if you believe in HIm, stay away from a sinnful life, treat each other with love and compassion as Christ has for you then there is nothing to fear. Whenever Christ comes back you will be with HIm.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  10. twiddly

    Yes, most of us realize this is absurd.
    And yet, it's no more (or less) absurd than belief in god in the first place.

    If you're a christian (or muslim, or jew or whatever) then you might be less wacky than these guys, but you're still wacky.

    Time to stop believing in santa claus.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • f

      This is no more or less absurd than Stephen Hawking claiming to know that there is no heaven as per the article and posting from Monday and Tuesday here on CNN. Not saying I believe the end is Saturday, but I'm just saying.........

      May 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • f

      By the way, exactly when should I tell my little girl there is no Santa Clause?

      May 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  11. james

    was the virgin mary a lesbian?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  12. dskgfzsfgzhsdgfl

    i think that taylor sucks penis-

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  13. A guy who hates stupidy


    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Will

    There is a FANTASTIC business opportunity here. On May 22, these nutcases will need money, and fast. We can give them emergency "May 22nd" loans, no questions asked, at 30% interest! We'll make a killing! Literally, if they default, we'll send Vinnie to fix things and make it right...

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • f

      Vinnie Boombatz ??? Hey I used to hang with Vinne Boombatz. Say Hello to Vinnie and pinch his cheek for me !!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • NC

      Haha. Great idea.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  15. Dan

    God said no one knows when He is coming again. So to all of this I say – Deut. 18:20-22. But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die. “But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared."

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  16. Joe Talks

    1 Thessalonians 5
    1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. THE BILE SAID THAT IS COMING AS THIEF FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN DARKNESS,, BUT THOSE WHO ARE IN LIGHT HE IS NOT COMING AS A THIEF READ THE BILE... BRUNO

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  17. tcrowl18

    "Real" Christians are calling the kettle black on this one. How is the end of the world any crazier than a talking snake?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Will

      I disagree. The evolution of a talking snake is at least theoretically possible. The ability of an 89 year old nut to predict the future is not even a theoretical possibility. There is NO chance this guy is on to anything. Even if it all happens exactly like he said, exactly when he says it, it would still just be a total coincidence (a really big one). There is no theoretical means by which to predict the future.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • f

      And if the END really does come on Saturday, are you ready to meet God?...............

      May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  18. Judge Smails

    I wonder what stupid excuse the religious crazies will have the day after...

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  19. james

    did jesus wear anything underneath his robe?

    just asking

    May 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  20. David, CA

    Obviously these people haven't read about all the errors and contradictions in the bible:


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

      I'll field that one "the lord works in mysterious ways". That's the horse-blinders I use to protect my reality from the truth. I believe the same thing Wednesday as I did on Monday; NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS ON TUESDAY!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168
About this blog

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.