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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. Mark Yelka

    In the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, we find a spaceship full of people who say they were one of three ships escaping a doomed planet. The "A" ship carried the great leaders, scientists, and thinkers. The "C" ship carried the workers, those who actually made things. Theirs, the "B" ship, consisted of middle managers, hairdressers, telephone sanitizers, and the like. It eventually becomes clear that their planet was not in fact doomed, and that they were the victims of a ploy to rid their world of a useless third of the population.

    May 21: All Aboard, Wacky Christians!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • jnemesh

      I am reminded of the Jatravartid people of Viltvoodle 6, who believed the Universe was sneezed out of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure. The Jatravartids lived in perpetual fear of the time known as "The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief."

      May 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty

      The Angels of God's hate will come for you.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  2. shannon

    America will face judgement, but know one really knows specific dates. God clearly tells us, it is isn't for us to know the seasons, or the times, that God has set in his own time. " NO PERSON " knows when Jesus Christ will come back, God has declared this. There is no other God, if anyone believers otherwise, they don't know the truth. Jesus said, many would come in his name, and decieve many. Just because a person goes to Church, carries a Holy Bible, speaks scripture written in the Holy Bible, and claims to be Christian, does not make them a Christian. A person has to be born again. A person must be baptised with the Holy Ghost. A person has to acknowledge they are a sinner, and that they have sinned against their God, and need his forgiveness. That forgiveness is found through Jesus Christ. The reason a person needs to repent, and believe the Gospel is because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and unless you turn from your sins, you will perish. God is not a respect of persons. God never lies. Every person is considered a liar, but not God. It is appointed unto man once to die, then after this the judgement. Everyperson will have to stand before God, and give an account of themself before God, of all they have done in their life, whether it be good, or bad. God will reward everyone according as their work shall be ! Notice God's word says, according to as how their work shall be, and not as they believe it is ? Jesus said, there will be " MANY ", that will say unto me in that day (Judgement Day before the presence of God)," That will address him as Lord, and will have done all sorts of things in his name, and all kinds of works that they thought were right, and good. Jesus will tell them, to get away from him, because he does not know them, and they work lawlessness. That means they are not sincere, genuine, or true believers, but rather hypocrites. A person has to have a one on one relation with Jesus Christ, and the Father. Jesus said, that if anyone believes in him, that he and the Father will come in unto him, and sup with him, and make their abode with him. God is willing to forgive people of their sins, but they must repent of them, and turn to him in repentance. Jesus said, unless we repent, we will all perish. I don't believe Jesus would lie. We are also to not be highminded, but to fear, because God didn't spare the Angels in Heaven, that sinned, but cast them into a prison of darkness, reserved unto the day of judgement to be punished. Do not rebel, fear God, and repent, turn to him, and he will have mercy. Hear the words of the living God, the Holy One of Israel, the Almighty God, the Great I AM.. Selah..

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Mr. Wow

      The only way the world will end is by a force of nature or religious groups fighting of thier "gods", trying prove who's god is the "ONLY" god...utterly ridiculous. THAT'S HOW OUR WORLD WILL END. "acknowledge they are a sinner"...really, so you can go get forgiveness every week for being a tool and come home feeling refreshed that you don't have to worry about going to hell for doing your best friends husband, what a crutch. I can't wait to see the news when these idiots go past the hour of doom and think..."Crap, can I get my stuff back from the Salvation Army"?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Mikey

      lol!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  3. John

    He boiled for your sins. Now we shall die for ours. The Flying Spaghetti Monster tells no lies. Ramen.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  4. Lololol

    Yes Dr. Evil has targeted earth with his satellite of doom, its hovering in orbit as we speak, as he makes final prepearations. It will obliterate us all May 21st 2011.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  5. Doomsday guy

    For any of my fellow doomsday followers, I've decided to stick around for a few more hours that day. You can leave all of your possessions to me. I've always thought that it would be nice to feel rich, even if for a few hours, then kaput... it's all over! I'll take good care of all of your possessions, including jewerly and cash, prior to the end of the world!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  6. Ronnie

    LOL!!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  7. mfhpr

    And what will these people do if this doesn't happened – consume some jello and hitch a ride on a comet?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  8. chgogys

    I agree, Superman. And he can fly off and avoid the rapture.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Beagle

      OK, so we have established that Superman could in fact defeat Spiderman. However, who is more powerful, Superman or Jesus?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Rodo

      Well, if you go by what their secret weakness is, I'd say Superman. He can be taken out with a rare, exotic rock from a distant galaxy. Jesus? Two pieces of wood and a few nails.

      (Yeah, I know... no rapture for Rodo.)

      May 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  9. Unruellie

    I would love to see their faces if and when nothing happens......kind of like the y2k ppl 😀

    May 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  10. Susie Mart

    can someone predict the lottery winning numbers for tonight in Miami? I could use the money. Thanks

    May 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Unruellie

      Whats the Point? You cant use it anyway?? lol

      May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • mfhpr

      Funny! And funny to you, too, Unruellie!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Chase

    How does the world end over a period of 5 months? haha
    The world ends on May 21st!!!!!! buuuuuuuuttttttt, its going to take 5 months...

    May 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  12. Richard

    The flying spaghettie monster is laughing his ass off.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • jnemesh

      Yes, He is definitely laughing! He said time and again that the coming of the Great Fork would be in July!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Mikey

      Oh no! Not that guy again!! He's a saucy one!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  13. Pbsat

    This is what Bible says about this topic:in the Book of Matthew 24:36 NIV

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    So it appears Harold Camping knows something that Jesus and angels does not know?
    This is what Bible also says about people like him in Romans 2:24 YLT

    "for the name of God because of you is evil spoken of among the nations, according as it hath been written."

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Steve

      agree

      May 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Mary

      God bless you for answering this madness with Scriptures. The wrath of God will be declared from Heaven on all those who blasphemed, and the harsh words they spoke against God. I don't see how could this group could claim to be "Christians" while ignoring what God said about that hour and that day! But, His swift Second Coming is at hand, we just don't know when exactly. No one on this earth knows it either. Those who mock God and blaspheme His Word will be very sorry for eternity when He appears to JUDGE the living and the dead and give everyone according to his own deeds.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  14. Mr. Wow

    Maybe we'll get lucky and just those retards will vanish. What a bunch of complete fools to put it VERY nicely.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Mr. Wow is a genius

      If you even understood what you were criticizing you'd know that they are the only ones vanishing. So even though they are ridiculous, you are just stupid.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  15. midogs2

    Was there an exact time that this event was supposed to occur? 5:21am, 21:00 hours, 5:21pm, 20:11 hours? Give me something.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  16. Michael

    Even if everything this group is saying is correct and the end of the world is coming in a few days why would they waste their time traveling around in RVs trying to warn people? If judgement day is coming, there is nothing we could do in the next couple of days to change our fate.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • jnemesh

      Look for a good deal on used RV's come May 22nd! Only minor painting required 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • mfhpr

      I agree. If I believed it were all ending on a specific day you could bet your bottom dollar I wouldn't waste my remaining life warning everyone...I'd be killing every last brain cell available to me and enjoying this incredible planet!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • AssyrianKing

      Umm.....Maybe they are trying to make other people believe too? Well duhhh...next time think before you talk. I dont think the worlds ending this saturday because in the bible it says no one will know when that day will just like how a thief would break into your house without knocking on the door or giving you a early notice. Oh and to all the athiests....You're so ignorant. All you can do in life is try to make believers believe in your crap that no God exists and depend your whole life on science. Amen

      May 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  17. Saved Kitty

    All these negative comments make me sad! This world is such a mean a hateful place, probably why this group is hoping it will end! I am a Christian and I do think God will come take his chosen ones. That is my belief as it is their belief that the end of the world will be Sat. Believe it or not just stop being so critical and live your own lives, everything will be clear in the end, if you believe in heaven, purgatory, having virgins galore, whatever. It is human nature to believe in a higher being! I have faith in something greater cause if you don't your soul is kind of sad and empty! All I'm saying is believe in what you want and stop being so dam mean to each other!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Mr. Wow

      Saved Kitty, Maybe if if the bunch of ya stopped shoving your beliefs down peoples throats, the world would be a much better place. You are betting on a sucker bet. Steven Hawkings RULES

      May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Steve

      Do you presume to speak for God. To interpret the scripture from someone who has been told by God that no one knows the day or the hour. This world is a horrible place, but the people in it can be saved.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • boogieman

      How do you know my soul is sad and empty if I don't believe in a higher being? How pretentious and hypocritical can one be...

      May 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  18. mfhpr

    I sure hope not...I just paid to get my pool refinished and am planning a big party...can't this wait while?!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • SuzanJanet

      Loved your answer!!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • mfhpr

      Thank you, SuzanJanet! Hope you're planning a big party AFTER May 21st!

      May 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  19. jason

    we have absolute control over when life on this planet ends however the beliefs of some will determine the outcome

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • rofwe

      Your right until you go to the hospital and doctors have seen unseen forces when people die and come back..

      May 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  20. Susie Mart

    No one can make such a prediction. It's sad that people believe stuff like this. One should become peaceful and righteous to make this a better world and not just because the world might end. So, if there was not a prediction there will be no relationship with GOD? blahhhhhhhhhhhh

    May 18, 2011 at 4:54 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.