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. Steve in St. Louis

    PLEASE let's stop giving these gullible idiots any more publicity.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  2. Pilot

    And that kids is why you don't do drugs

    May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  3. 21

    The Bible clearly state that no one will know they day nor hour, and that he will come like a thief in the night. The bible also goes on to talk about false prophets....

    May 18, 2011 at 4:20 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 4:20 pm |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans and all The Pagan Gods.

      Clinton ~ Clinton

      come out of the closet.

      God will not punish you.

      You do not have to keep this secret anymore.

      Gay is who you are !

      Celebrate it ` don't stifle it.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "The Nazis weren't a religious group" They were Catholic with a Lutheran minority, out to kill every member of a religion that disagreed with them. Are you so desperate to make your side look good that you also lie to make the NAZIS look good? I think God can stick up for Himself without you 'helping' Him.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Clinton

      Bible Cown – Now you're trying to re-write History? The Nazis did NOT try to masquerade as a religious group, they certainly did NOT try to act Christian in any means, Hitler was into Paganism in fact you moron... man idiots like you are why these conversations go no where every time they're brought up... The Nazis were a group based on sectarianism, they believed they were a master race of humans... not a religious faction you idiot... don't you DARE try to put Christianity in that block you coward try and use facts instead of inventing them.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • hmmm....

      "The German census of May 1939 indicates that 54 percent of Germans considered themselves Protestant and 40 percent considered themselves Catholic, with only 3.5 percent claiming to be neo-pagan "believers in God," and 1.5 percent unbelievers. This census came more than six years into the Hitler era

      May 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  5. Kenny

    I have a reservation to be in Vegas that weekend, either I'll be dead or partying away with drinks. I'm gonna bet my money on the latter. There's no better way to gamble than this.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  6. Patrick

    Does anyone know how the Rapture with affect the NHL Playoff Hockey schedule?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  7. Bernie

    Ok, work with....what happens if nothing happens Sat the 11th...Then what happens if the Mayans are wrong and nothing happens next year? Does that mean 2 sets of invisible men in the sky are wrong or humanity just loves drama?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  8. Michael

    I hope it gets postponed, I have to host a block party on the 28th....

    May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  9. Diana

    and i just want to say about my post above... that is JESUS speaking to HIS Disciples in the book of Matthew. So either we have a God that is a hypocrite and lies... or this Rev Camp is outside of his minds eye and is DECEIVED by the Father of ALL Lies, which is Satan. ...just say'n. <3

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

    It is people like this that give us real Christians a bad name and make people question the scriptures. We do not know when our Lord will come for us for He does not know. Even if the raoture took place Saturday, there would still be 7 years of tribulation and then 1000 years for Satan to rule here on earth... then the Lord will come and Satan will be caast into the lake of fire. I do believe our time here is short but for the unsaved you have planty of time left on this earth, it will be teh most miserable time that you will ever know but the earth will still be here!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans and all The Pagan Gods.

      r u a glazed over mouth breather?

      May 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "It is people like this that give us real Christians a bad name and make people question the scriptures." Gee, no kidding. You all look like fools right now, and as I heard a wise pastor once say "We believe in miracles and a virgin birth, and it hurts our credibility if we also believe everything anyone tells us. Christians should be down-to-earth and not easily led."

      May 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  11. running2

    I thought the world will end with the maya calender in 2012

    May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  12. Jamie

    I just feel sorry for the 7yr old girl being brainwashed by her father, Benjamin Ramrajie. If you do a bit of simple research you'll see this guy was arrested for aggravated battery on his pregnant wife 8 years ago. I guess his daughter survived that but now he's working his magic again in her life. Where are CPS when you need them?

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

      Hear Hear!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  13. Eli

    I like how the massive earthquake magically starts at the international date line.

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

      Right. God does not know anything about international date line. Human came up with that concept.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  14. Don

    Search "Isaac Newton 12.25 2060" This is what led Isaac Newton to issue his 2060 prophecy... “It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner. This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fancifull men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, & by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, & it is not for us to know the times & seasons which God hath put into his own breast."- Isaac Newton

    May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  15. Ali

    Does Christians really believe this?

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

      no well i don't and i am one

      May 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Every one of them. They also think Sarah Palin is smart. Something about that book just messes with their heads.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      sami, but they believe it so why don't you? They just found the HIDDEN SECRET MESSAGE in the Bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  16. RW

    I'm a committed follower of Jesus and this is the most absurd thing I have ever heard...people like this distort the true message of Christianity. It's absurd and stupid...

    May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans and all The Pagan Gods.

      You are correct, christianity is absure and stupid. People like this make us look like the biggest fools in the animal kindgom. Do you see any birds giving away their nests...nooooo...see what I mean. Foolish human christians.

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

      Kind of like Islam, no?

      May 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • J.L.

      I totally agree with you. There is a passage in the Bible that specifically explains that no one would know the time of when He comes. Read Matthew 24. If they say that they are true believers, don't just cut and paste things that sounds good but accept everything that the Bible has to say because it is God breathed.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  17. RicoSuave1

    It's NOT this year, it's Next Year 12-21-2012

    May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  18. gt

    The Bible is very clear on this. Only God knows when this will happen, not even his son, nor the angles in heaven. It seems to me these people skipped this very important part.

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

      true that 🙂

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

      Bible was written by human, you moron

      May 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  19. Marc

    The World is always changing geographically. If it does happen, or happens in 2 years, people will be pointing...see...told yah it was going to happen. The World will be hear on Sunday, and the Earth will keep changing long after we're gone!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  20. Senor Ed

    Harold Camping on Sunday:

    "D'oh ... forgot to carry the one and divide by the number of disciples. OK, the REAL end of the world will be October 13, 2011."

    May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
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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.