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.”
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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.
Dear CNN Readers:
Nobody knows that day and hour in which the Son of man shall return as it makes mention in Matthew 24 and Luke Chapter 13, In fact things will continue to go on as usual with drinking, marrying and giving in marriage even as it was during the days and times of NOAH's time and as for how things will unfold we are not totally aware of. Other than in fact the times which we will be faced with will be worse than Sodom and Gemorah's Days and no one knows the day nor that very hour but OUR FATHER which is in HEAVEN. Certain things we would notice and see in taking notice of; such as, wars, rumors of wars, famine, pestilences and signs in the heavens. But these things must preceed the event of the last days before the true people of God gets Raptured up into heaven and The Antichrist reigns on earth for 3 1/2 or 7 Years (which I'm not sure if it will be the full 7 years or if the people of God gets raptured up during the Midtribulation period). We can only remain faithfull to God, respect all people and stay in prayer as often as possible as well as alert. As to not be caught of guard in the second coming of Christ and to pray for the needs of others. These natural disasters are things that we can be praying for the sake of others and pray that we don't get caught up in simular disasters. The 1-800-BE-READY campaign is not an accidental capaign or alert system for what to do if you must leave out of urgency of emergency. It is my prayer that God will spare more people than allow for them to be harmed by these earthly catastrophies. But I think that more will be caught off guard than not. Simply because the Bible states that broad is the road that leads to distruction and narrow is the way that enters into eternal life. Keep looking to Jesus and do as Jesus would have you to do and keep praying to Jesus as the Lord would have you to pray.
Concerned Reader & Listener
The only thing I look to Jesus for is to mow my lawn and trim the hedges.
What a bunch of lunatics. They call this religion? geez, for christ sack, go back to your caves morons.
yay, lets celebrate. got nothing to lose
What about Super Spiderman?
JLO! Is that you?
I figured it was cool to tell Maria what I did since its almost all over anyway.... "I am da baby daddy".
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
So from this verse, we can deduce something very important: There is no Trinity – Jesus is NOT God because if they were, the Father and Son would know the same things.
seriously.. these people are doing a GREAT DISSERVICE!!! there is no point in spreading the word... they are wasteing their time..
if they were trues Christians, or a member of any religious group.. if they wanted to do service.. why not help others.. there have been plenty of natural disaster lately in the US and abroad.. yet how many collective hours have they wasted telling people the ending of the world is near.. that is selfish... what is the point.. why not just live a good life being kind to others and helping others who deserve it as best they can? Why is this soooooo difficult for soooo many!!
It seems as if people are getting more and more shallow these days.. everyone only cares for themselves... If you look at them psychologically they are doing great damage to many... how many people have sold off everything they have because of what these few believe? who are they to spread this word? they have ZERO proof!!! if it happens it happens.. but to put other families at risk is just crazy!!! If they were doing the right thing they would be selfless and help others in the natural disasters that have already occurred... that seems way way more important and would look better in the eye of God than going around telling people the world is gonna end.. if it really is then there is no point in telling people.. it all doesn't matter.. according to the bible there pastor doesn't even have the power of god.. he has no direct link to Peter and Paul like ALL Greek orthodox priests and Catholic priests have. all the others unless they broke away from the church have no powers at all according to the bible.. what about that.
Just be a good person and help others who are good and struggling.. Life is really that simple!!! it is the shallow selfish people that are ruining society!!
Precisely. People who are happy to sell everything and go out to tell people how they're about to burn eternally would never make the same sacrifice to go out and help the poor or heal the sick.
Amen to you! You have a way of speaking the truth and only if others would listen.
what happens if nothing happens tho? oops mistake must be next saturday mybad
There is no judgement day. There is nothing to judge and nothing to be judged. There is only the universe, which does not care, does not hate, like, or preach anything.
Thanks for the heads up about Saturday. I think I'll pillage and philander until then and repent at 5:59. Please give me a heads up if the schedule changes.
The hate Angels of Baby Jesus will smote you tonight.
Me too!! I like pillaging! Um, what are hate angels? just checking. do they like pillaging?
Do we know which time zone the 5:59 is taking place? Could be real confusing for Eastern and Pacific time zones....
Isn't Christianity convenient?
Just walking by, see anything you like, speak up.
These same people were calling for the end of the world in the 80s as well.
You are right Mike 🙂
However their 'fearless' leader found a mistake in his equation and that has led to his updated date for the rapture. I'm sure glad God has a sense of humor, too bad for these people because it is doubtful their earthly bosses will be so forgiving..
What a sad and pathetic bunch of complete losers.
Yeah. As long as you're not talking about me I totally agree.
NO ONE KNOWS THE DAY AND THE HOUR, NOT EVEN THE SON. ONLY THE FATHER.
So how is it that these people say they know what not even Jesus Christ knows?
No one know the day and time. Still it is good to remind us from time to time and Jesus will come anytime. Regardless on earth or in heaven, we serve the Lord forever. God Bless and Jesus Rule!
This is real all you foolish people. You do not have 4 days left.
Bow on your knees now or face the wrath.
The Angels of death will smote all you sinners.
Careful as you risk angering the Gods Pedantic!
See you Sunday
i like the word, "smote". it makes me giggle.
Yeah! God will torture you all until the end of time if you don't grovel now and rub his ego. It might sound harsh, but it's done out of love.
my god says it is not going to happen, so there. Lets see who's god is still standing when the date goes by and you are holding your sign.
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
Did you skip that verse when you read into this theory the judgment day was this sat? The marking of the beast has not happened, the world has not come together as one, and the anti-Christ has not emerged. Those are all things that are "supposed" to happen before judgment day comes. Lets see how you feel on Sunday...
And before you question me- I do believe in the word of God I just don't read into the little things like you guys are doing.
to lovemusic3: you are just as retarted. your belief is about as legitimate as his.
You don't need to be rude. Just because not everyone shares the same views as you doesn't mean you have to throw them under the bus. If we turn around and there is no higher power after we go six ft under then so be it. I'm not an extremest like these "followers" but you still don't need to be hateful. If you don't see eye to eye w someone then AGREE TO DISAGREE stop being immature and calling elementary names.
oh they are gonna feel soooo silly the next day, like I do when I got drunk the night before.
This doomsday prediction is nothing more than an insult to all of the people worldwide who have lost loved ones and property from the many natural disasters that have occurred in recent months and must deal with this loss always.
What's sad is the havoc some of these end of days believers have wreaked on their families and children. NPR had a story where various of them quit jobs, spent savings and the kid's college money, all because it wouldn't be needed down the line.
In the larger picture, the extent to which fundamentalist beliefs have infiltrated our politics and culture is far from funny. Politicians in order to be "electable" have to feign religious piety. Schools are under fire to ban books and add ridiculous "alternate to evolution" teachings to the roster, science and history are under attack everywhere.
Doomsday is any day that facts and proven theories are allowed to be set aside and shouted down and where anyone's on the soapbox opinion is given the same respect as an expert one.
These people are dangerous and deserving of scorn. Like the "birthers' they can't be convinced by facts and probabilities, and it is all driven by a need to feel special and better than others, under the guise of religious zeal.
Those that suffer deserve to suffer.
That is God's wish for them ~ pain and suffering.
They should accept their lot with thanks.
AMEN!!! Beth is my new god. I shall worship her.
Thus confirms the first rule of economics: a fool and their money are soon parted.
Atheists and non-believers are not concerned.
Oh I'm concerned! Pat Robertson ran for president. Is that a finger you want over the shiny red button?
Neither are most believers.
Wow, fools fools fools