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. William Demuth

    I enjoy bashing Christians as much as anyone else, but let’s not forget these lunatics have children with them.

    Where amongst our societies so-called leaders are those with enough courage to admit the damage that is being done to the smallest members of this cult?

    If one of these mental patients slits their kids throats, CNN will have their blood in its hands.

    This is not cute, and it is not funny. These zealots are seriously ill, and we are collectively failing their children.


    May 18, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Bruce

      “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.”

      I don't think these are the words of a person who is going to slit their kids' throats on Saturday or Sunday if this doesn't come to pass. Just sayin'.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • larsonab

      very good points

      May 18, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      Indeed. If you Google the name of the guy mentioned towards the end who looks fondly on as his 7 year old daughter talks about dead bodies and death, ("Benjamin Ramrajie"), you'll see that he was arrested for aggravated assault on a pregnant woman...just over 7 years ago. You do the math.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Eric

      There have already been people who have killed their kids over this.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • smrtaz

      That is just a idiotic statement. As crazy as I find this particular group's belief, murder and/or suicide would not be among the things I would be concerned with. This is a group heavily against abortion, but you think they will "slit their child's throat"? You are just showing you are equally crazy, but just on the other side of the arguement.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • No

      Yep, gotta watch out for those PRO-LIFE christians!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • William Demuth

      I suggest you all do some research on what happens to unstable people when their paranoia is interrupted by the truth.

      Christians have been sacrificing children since their supposed God killed the entire first born of Egypt.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "I enjoy bashing Christians".....
      And you and your ilk claim maturity, reason and superior intelligence?! When I read some of the posts atheist mockers write, I could laugh myself to tears ! But that's not usually what Christians do when they spot a post of a fool! As for the children being in danger, I don't think this is "that kind" of a cult. They are in danger much more being in custody of god-less parents!
      P.S. No "rapture" will happen till God's time, and He asks no man when he likes it to happen! So, don't pretend you didn't see the P.S.part of this post!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Eric

      They're only pro-life until your alive, then you're on your own. a nine year old with a spinal cord injury who can't walk and is in constant pain all day every day is less important that a blob of stem cells, yeah, because that's a noble position to take.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      Eric Rudolph is a "Pro Life Christian," and so is Scott Roeder. Yeah, being a "Pro Life Christian" doesn't mean you won't resort to murder. And when you've already got at least one guy (Ramrajie) who assaulted a pregnant woman (and likely the mother of the 7 year old daughter mentioned in the article)...and things aren't looking very good for those kids.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  2. Neil Peart

    LUNATICS!!! Gullible, brainwashed humans have been (wrongly) predicting the 'end of times' for centuries now. Not once were they correct. These losers are an embarrassment to intelligent and rational people everywhere!

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

      Does the dude from Rush know you're using his name?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  3. Proud Christian

    All that I know is that the rapture could happen at any time. (A few seconds from now or in the distant future?) We all need to believe in Jesus and put our faith in God. 🙂 No harm can come from believing in His word.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Eric

      Unfortunately this article is proof that belief in the non-existent is harmful.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  4. Eric

    why people follow Camping is beyond me. The guy is an idiot and obviously doesn't have as much faith in his prediction than his followers do. He's not selling all his stuff to spread the word, only the followers are, that guy's laughing all the way to the back. Call them and say you want to donate 1,000 bucks under the condition that if the world doesn't end you want the money back. But this just goes to show how easy, regardless of how stupid a claim, to get people to follow you. Jesus had it easy (if he even existed), he didn't have wide spread literacy and information to contend with.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  5. CP

    I hope not because the Hangover 2 will be out on the 26th. I cant miss it!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  6. One Happy Atheist

    Jesus didn't say sh!t – he is a myth

    May 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      Actually he had immaculate p00p ~ it did not smell

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

      Actually, Jesus of Nazareth was a real person. According to historical discoveries, he really did live around the beginning of the common era. He was somewhat of a pimple on the face of the Romans, casting aside their laws and spreading his own views. That's the real reason for his dying; he became a thorn in the side of the Roman occupiers, making their authority a little less affective over some. So they killed him. I mean, 33 c.e? Who the H are you to try and change the minds of the people. They're the freakin Romans. They've been killing and conquering for over a thousand years. They eat people like you for breakfast.

      History rant ended.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • ADiff

      Actually there's absolutely no "historical evidence" for the real existence of "Jesus"...which is (according to the Christian scriptures) a good thing...since it's "by faith ye are saved", and proof negates faith along with any need for it.....

      May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  7. Rosiepose

    This kind of thing is what makes people apathetic...........there will be big earth changes that have already started and will last for a couple of years,(which will make some people wish they were dead) but it will not end for a long, long time.............

    May 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  8. Mark

    Its funny how anyone who believes in the bible can fall for a date set on judgement. So I guess you believe in Jesus and at the same time he must of been lying when he says no man not even he knows when that day will come. Its pretty bad to believe in Jesus and call him a liar at the same time. Then you believe in a Rapture you say? Its funny how that word was never in the original Hebrew and Greek texts of your very own bible. Then you have a 7 year tribulation? Its funny how there is no set number of years on that as well. The christians raptured will be in heaven watching all these people still on the earth for 7 years undergoing a literal hell on earth? Sounds a little wrong and harsh to say the least! Its sad how people twist the scriptures to fit to their religion and in the process they remove people and take them even farther from the true God. Is it no wonder why people turn away and say there is no God because of all these fanatical Zealouts who know nothing of Gods word. This date will be another failed date like the many that came before it. May 21st nor 2012 will bring about the end simply because someone predicted it. Wake up and stop putting such an evil face on God he deserves better than this!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  9. Geoz

    This belief is is as real as any other religious nonsense. If you are a Christian and think this is crazy, I ask you too look in the mirror and say it again.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  10. NJN

    At least some of will be surprised, when ever it comes. (forgot that part – it is my closing argument with my friend.)

    May 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  11. Dead Man Blogging

    People in Oakland, California also root for the Raiders. And they're right across the Bay from Nancy Pelosi's home district. No wonder they're waiting for Doomsday.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • DGH

      Nacy rock's as long as she keep the conservative birther teabagger at bay.....

      May 18, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  12. Red

    Yes, I think that sums it up quite nicely.
    Just when you think you've heard the stupidest thing ever, you get blind-sided by an even stupider thing.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  13. Joe in Pittsburgh

    Awesome! That means I don't have to go to work on Saturday!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  14. dave

    You will never believe unless God chooses for you to believe. I doubt that anyone will be swayed by anything written on this message board. It is hard for me as a Christian to accept the fact that I really have no control wheater people are saved or not. I try to live as good a life as I can and spread the word as often as I can. All I can do is pray that God chooses to open the eyes of more people. I have been miracluously healed of 2 compulsive addictions by the power of God. I see his power first hand in 12 step programs. If you choose to believe there is no God and that the universe created itself and then you, you are free to do so. I don't know what else to tell you. You are playing a high stakes poker game that your conscienciousness fades to black in the end or some special cool thing that doesn't take it to account anything you have done on earth happens when you die. It is insanity on your part to not at least read the Bible and pray and determine wheather it is madness or not. Most people have never read the Bible and condem it outright, just from bits and pieces. In a lot of cases it tells you what you don't want to hear or believe.

    Really. Do you really believe that the univerese popped in to existenece from nothing? that planets and stars ordered themselves. That plants animals, whole eco systems just evloved in to existence? That human beings were once omeba or fish or squirrels? Come on? Your children that you love, where were they before they were born? Were they electrons or protons? Did the life energy come from the tomatoe you ate the other day? in 1000 years will they be a great oak tree?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • The Spiritual Leader of the Pagans

      one word dude ~ xanax

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

      Dave...in a phrase....WE DON'T KNOW! NEITHER DO YOU! It's baffling that some humans claim to have an understanding of the unknown from reading a book.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Mark

      I respect you and what you went through. You have contradicted yourself by saying God chooses you to believe and everyone can choose what they want to believe. If God chooses you have no choice and that would make us all robots and not agents of free will. Satan had a choice nad he chose to leave God. H

      May 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • yep...


      May 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Laughing

      Hey davie, can I call you davie?

      Anyways Davie here's my beef with just about everything you just said. First of all I'm happy you got over your addictions, but why should you attribute that to someone other than yourself? You were the one to go into the 12 step program and you were the one who picked yourself up. Secondly do I really believe that everything popped up from nothing? Well the Big Bang is just a theory so it isn't concrete, however aftr 13 Billion years and the force of gravity planets can align themselves and with a couple billion years of earth being created from sun stuff, yes things do evolve. You and I have both witnessed that the Earth isn't stagnet but is constantly changing, so why is it hard to believe that over a really really really long time everything that we now know has evolved from something else. I find it harder to believe that just some thousand years ago a guy in the sky decided on a lark to create earth and populate it with people and make them do his bidding. Where do children and other things come from? Yes, electrons, protons and all that other stuff that comes from space has formed inside of women for thousands of years to create man.

      Please come back to sanity and logic, we're waiting for you.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Mark

      I respect you and what you went through. You have contradicted yourself by saying God chooses you to believe and everyone can choose what they want to believe. If God chooses you have no choice and that would make us all robots and not agents of free will. Satan had a choice and he chose to leave God. He had free will just like we do. God doesnt want robots serving him because they are afraid of burning in a ficitional hell. He wants free agents serving him and choosing to through accurate knowledge of him and a fear of displeasing him out of love not a morbid fear of burning. Everyone has the right and choice to believe and accept was God has offered. God would be a hypocrite if he offered Adam and Eve everlasting life knowing they werent going attain it.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • dave

      I guess I can reply to myself. Being a crazy Christian person that is what I do right? Anyway. I am not going to be able to solve the Free Will/Predesitnation stuff here that Mark brought up. Someone brought up "Why do I have to attribute my 12 step program success to God?". I do know this for sure... I did not heal myself of my 2 addicitions by fooling myself into thinking that there was a God. I know how gone I was and how sick I was, I have not been healed by some mental toughness willpower thing or other psychological technique. My recovery is pure and true and by God's direct intervention. Mock on and tease. I get it... I remember how it was before I truly beleived in Jesus Christ and handed my life over. I pray that someday your eyes will open.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  15. Byrd

    I'd do it on a Monday instead. I like Saturdays, but Mondays pretty much suck and Tuesday's not much better.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  16. Jack D

    I like that the end of the world is going to work its way around the planet starting at the international date line. I didn't realize the bible was that detailed on how judgment day was going to work. Laughable!

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

      I really love the detail that goes into this prophecy. It wasn't enough to predict the year, the month, or even the day. He picks the very hour and explains how it will be the same hour on every part of the planet.

      We may complain all day about how laughable this prophecy is, but we can't accuse him of making unfalsifiable claims!

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

      especially since the international date line didn't exist when the stupid book was written.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  17. jo jo

    Knock the doors... Called Jewish Temple, Muslim Temples, Buddhist temples, Hindu temples.

    Tell them the MAY 21, 2011 is GREAT EARTHQUAKE DAY... Stupid evil Governments for creating bad future.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  18. NJN

    I have had a running discussion with a friend who is a Jehovah Witness. We both agree the world as we know it is coming to an end. I have beliefs closer to 'Conversations with God' so we do have our differences. Personally, I am hoping for Dec. 21, 2012. The scientific and archeological evidence is satisfying. But with all the crud the politicians are pulling on us, the sooner the better. I'd prefer that the beautiful buildings of the world be spared, if nothing else but to confuse those in the future.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Dead Man Blogging

      Future? Are you confusing the end of time with the Planet of the Apes?

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

      the end has been coming for billions of years, though it's going to be a few billion more until the complete end of the world. Though humans will probably die out before that happens.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • LinCA

      @NJN. Please enlighten us. What "scientific and archeological evidence" is there for ANY doomsday scenario?

      Just because the Mayan calendar starts a new cycle on December 22nd, doesn't mean their calendar ended, and even less that the world will end.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • William Demuth

      So you sold out the Four Horsemen for the Three Amigos?

      Mayan calendar meets Christian lunacy

      I Guess Jesus is coming back as Pedro the next time?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • DGS

      The "scientific" evidence?! You have to be kidding. Is the world still flat in that 'science' book you've culled your evidence from?

      May 18, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  19. Nonyo Bizniss

    Cant the end of the world wait untill after then NBA finals are over?

    May 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Dead Man Blogging

      If The Rapture is anything like the last 2 minutes of an NBA game, it will take Eternity.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Silver Chair

      If the Mavericks win, the world will indeed come to an end. Or Hell has frozen over.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  20. Faith

    But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matthew 24:36

    May 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Dead Man Blogging

      In my house, it's my wife who knows everything.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • xeno

      And maybe Stephen Hawking...

      May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
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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.