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. CB

    Why is a group of 20 idiots given so much air time on this? On May 22, I want to call each one of them and laugh. Of course, they'll be away from the phones to trick people into thinking they were raptured, yet Billy Graham will still be visible. It's all BS, and yet another reason I'm an atheist and will not follow some fairy tale book (Bible, Koran, or other). You can keep your prophet, your dead rabbi, and the tortoise that supports the world. I'll stick with reality.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  2. DC-JD

    Can someone PLEASE give me the actual location in scripture where you are getting this? I'm sorry, it just sounds like so much BS.

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

      Go to familyradio.com Click on literature and read for yourself. I hope it changes how you see things.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • DC-JD

      No, I've tried that. There is nothing on there that contains temporal references of any kind. Is there one or two that actually says May 21 2011, or is this just someone's poor attempt at reading patterns in tea leaves? Again, one or two scriptures...cite to them please. Thank you

      May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • DC-JD

      See, that's exactly what I thought. I challenge to people to cite just one or two passages that actually state (or at least make reference to) the date 21 May 2011. I've gotten nothing but crickets. Please get a life and quit distracting the rest of us from ours!!!! :-/

      May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  3. Dr.Tong

    Look at the bright side. The world ends in three days, so all the wacky Christians will be swept up into the sky and be gone, leaving us normal people to enjoy life. If only the wacky Muslims could go with them, it would be wonderful.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  4. Lord Giggles

    Ugh just when the PSN is working again!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  5. Max

    I hope this happens because im a huge fan of zombies and those resident evil films and this would be super fun.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  6. Doledart

    all I want to know is "dude, can I have you car on Friday night since you won't be needing it?"

    May 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  7. mbgreene

    Uhhh... superman vs goku?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Jonah

      Son Goku 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  8. Towely

    Wanna get high?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  9. yeahyeahyeah

    Ummm....how do they know the world hasn't already ended? Cause from my vantage point, it kinda has.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  10. Jonah

    I see a lot of attacking. I don't see the need to get so worked up if you don't agree. What people do with their money is on them. Where are you were Corporate Bailouts buy Jets. When the rich have been not paying their fair share and living in luxary while others live in squalor throughout history? If you think time will go on that is you and you fufill this verse...

    2 Peter 3:3-6 (New International Version)

    3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

    If you cant see this as service I don't know whats wrong with you. Wherever these people go they help out with the plight of others. No they can not fix everything b/c they are only human but what's wrong about preaching the promise of better things to come? It can only bother you if you're scared deep inside. Live every day like its your last. I may die today and never see the 21st. Always be ready so that they day wont run on you like a thief. If the thief comes in the house they have to bind the strongman and woman first right. If the strong person is watching as we all should we'll be in good shape.Noah, Abraham, Lot, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were also warned of their captivity and destruction with the promise of Israel once again returning in the end times... 50 years ago, and Jonah were all warned of Judgments, Destructions and Tribulations of their days before hand. You have until 6pm Kiribati Time 12pm EST, 9pm Pacific. I hope and pray for the best for you all!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  11. bush limbush

    Now that CNN has written this online article. Will they also write an online article on Monday after NOTHING HAPPENS. I know the crazy christians will rationalize the fact that nothing happens just like they rationalize the fact that the god they believe in allows babies to die and people to get cancer etc. but will CNN show how foolish their beliefs are on this belief blog when the world DOESN'T end?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  12. HA25

    Why doesn't anyone I know believe in this? They could sign over their cars, boats, jewelry and cash to me so I could use them between May 21 and Oct 22...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  13. Alina77

    I am so happy its going to be over soon and it will stop my struggle to sell my stupid house 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  14. Mary Peter Paul

    I want all those who are planning to be raptured. Please let me handle your estate while your gone. I'll take good care of your pets and keep you pool clean for as long as I'm able to hold out. Please stock your bar and fridge before you leave. Oh, and put your car keys on the kitchen table. Thanks.

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

      Haha! Good one. I will help! ;P

      May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  15. Marty

    I smell a mass suicide

    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  16. nena

    I think those people are preparing for something else, I think that is likely maybe they are going kill some people. the police should be more closer about those people
    because if nothing happens, chances they can kill people. as happened in Texas I guess.
    what is the name of that community who died because of a madman who said that he was a prophet of God

    May 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Virtual Banality

      That would be David Koresh. They should definitely watch more closer. It would be very unsmartness to not to.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Rob

      I hope you don't need proper grammar to get "raptured." If that is the case, you're screwed.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • pinkinmybrain

      I worry for them to come May 22nd and how they may react.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • pinkinmybrain

      *them come...

      May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  17. BD

    This will FINALLY teach those g@ddamn nutters not to believe everything the bible says when the sun rises on the 22nd.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Virtual Banality

      Oh how I wish it were true. Sadly you overestimate the learning capacity of the mindset that subscribes. Thanks to the miracle of the false attribution error, no one really ever has to learn from their mistakes if they don't want to.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Rob

      Yeah right- It won't teach them a thing. Too many layers of crazy- crack the top layer and it doesn't do much.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • RD55

      Its not the Bible saying the world is going to end but a bunch of nuts saying it!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • pinkinmybrain

      I am a firm believer that Christ will return and that believers will go directly to be with Him in Heaven and that nonbelievers will be left behind. However, we don't know the date and time, only the Father knows. This group is only hurting the Christian Church because when their prophesy doesn't come to fruition then there will be people who use it to say the Bible was wrong, when in actuality it was this group that was wrong and not the Bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  18. HIH

    Jesus is coming, look busy

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


      May 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  19. Guster

    This guy has been wrong before. Please don't lump all Christians together because someone has come up with a "date". This doesn't diminish the message of Christ in any way. Love one another.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • John

      That's his message? Love one another? No offense, but I think we could've figured that out for ourselves.

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

      "This doesn't diminish the message of Christ in any way. Love one another."

      That message is fine. It's the made-up vengeful, sword carrying, havoc producing, pie in the sky Jesus that is the problem.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Jonah


      Since you're the expert. Why hasn't the world figured it out yet?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  20. Todd

    I am still mad that the world did not end with Y2K. It's too soon to get me believing in another forthcoming apocalypse.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:00 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.