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. LK2

    Seriously? People believe this, huh? And I thought "Doomsday" was 2012?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  2. kalster

    Maybe I should re-do my W-4? I mean, why let the government withhold income tax if I'm going to miss out on getting my refund next year? Also, note to self: don't stock up on too much toilet paper from Costo..... Question: Once the Rapture begins, will cell phone service still work?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  3. Jerry

    As a non believer I think this is funny. Christians are nothing more than brainwashed fools. The bible was written by the same people who thought the earth was flat just saying. lol

    May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • meghan

      don't talk about all christians....there are lunatics in every walk of life...religious or not

      May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Clarity

      Actually, in the book of Job, it speaks of the world suspended on nothing. Seems a little ahead of it's time seeing as it was written several thousand years ago and we didn't realize this fact until the early 1600s.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Correction

      Actually, in the book of Job (in the Bible), it says the Earth supsends on nothing. This is a little ahead of it's time, and contrary to your comment, considering this book was written at least a several thousand years ago while scientists didn't determine this fact until the 1600s.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  4. Me

    I'm eating nothing but bad food for the next four days, not shaving my legs and letting the laundry pile up! Sunday, I'm gonna be really busy!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  5. Deborah Hernandez

    Does anyone have a plan for making sure these nutcases don't murder their own children on Saturday? If so, I'd like to hear it. The folks at Jonestown may have been feeble-minded sheep, ignorant, misguided or whatever, but the children were just victims, pure and simple.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |

    Dats probly Y, sworzanegger i coming clean..lol

    May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  7. jmua04

    Darn it...and the weather was supposed to be nice this weekend.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  8. cerebral1

    This is all so laughable. Religion is a myth created by ancestors who did not have the benefit of scientific inquiry and discovery to explain the now understood-but-no-less-beautiful rising of the sun or the awesome destructive power of an erupting volcano or strong hurricane. Do not fear the truth. Be a free-thinker.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • SkatinChic98

      Thank you. Some common sense.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  9. life to live

    im 16, and when i heard about this i was like it cant be true. I believe that only GOD knows when this world will and when the rapture will take place. when i hear crazy stuff like this i think why are people so negative. you should be saying no, it will not happen in Jesus name, but instead your just acting like bums. I pray to God everyday to let me have my future and let me have my kids and to let my kids have kids. I have dreams and aspirations and i feel that people are trying to take my dream away by saying crap like this. It makes me really angry because we all know the truth yet even kids my age are rolling with this wack story. Please people if you know that you dont want the world to end, help me pray, because i want to be somebody and i want to go somewhere in life and i while still believing in Jesus Christ. But if God should end the world when ever that is, it shall be so. Thank you, and let pray!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      You'll get far better results praying to a jug of milk. If you don't believe me do an honest test. Pray to both for the same thing, but at different times. Give each a week to answer your prayer.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • GravityWorks

      Chillax, and enjoy yourself this Saturday.

      Ever wonder why there are so many different versions of the Bible? Or so many 'Christian' denominations?
      Man invented religion to explain the unexplainable.
      Look for yourself, learn about the scientific method, and don't trust 'blind faith', especially someone else's.

      Jesus of Nazareth was most likely a Buddhist anyway.

      "The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills."
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

      May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  10. YawnYeahWhatever

    No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matt 24:36

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Lil pp

      Thank you guy who believes a book tells him what a god and his boys are doing imagination land

      May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  11. Rob

    There better be a follow up story on May 22nd CNN! Even if you have to hide from demons riding on segways- there better be a follow up article.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty

      Your blood will soak the ground with thousands of others.
      All in the name of the Glory of God.
      Angels of Hate and Doom will spear children with pitchforks.
      Mothers will be forced to eat their children
      Praise the Lord and bring on the rapture.

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

      His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty

      Your blood will soak the ground with thousands of others.
      All in the name of the Glory of God.
      HIs praise, etc. said: "Angels of Hate and Doom will spear children with pitchforks. Mothers will be forced to eat their children
      Praise the Lord and bring on the rapture."

      sanjosemike responds: You are seriously ill. Please seek psychiatric care. Your god is a hideous monster. And WE are supposed to worship him/her/it/they? If it were me, I'd spit into your dieties' face.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  12. AJ

    Well im screwed... y'all wanna get wasted?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  13. His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty

    Baby Jesus will send his Angels of Hate to punish all of you heathens.
    You will suffer unspeakable tortures for the Glory of God.
    Your children will be rent asunder.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Rob

      And if he doesn't, can I do a dance on your face?

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

      A baby is going to send demons to torture us? Okay....

      May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • sanjosemike

      "And rent asunder your children?" You have a really NICE diety there. If your deity were real, he would be a psychopath.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • TJ

      God doesn't hate and your statement is completely ridiculous!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Lil pp

      Is this Ricky Bobby?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      I thought Jesus was all about love. So much for that. What a dick he turned out to be.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Me

      I disagree. Why would it be baby Jesus? God would not send down a baby for this.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • tmichelle72

      His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty why would you write this? sanjosemike this guy is nuts and found an audience in you. Don't get suck in by the crazy. That is not the God I know nor is that the God in lovingly expressed in the bible. Yes I said lovingly. READ all of it and you will see. With regards to the end of the world. No one knows this. NO ONE.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  14. tstockt

    EVERY ONE of these people need to sign a legally binding contract, giving me sole possession of all of their personal holdings, sans debts. so all Cars, houses, boats, furniture, stocks, checking accounts etc. etc. etc.. that way they will learn an extremely harsh yet valuable lesson about credulity. and maybe they will hesitate to follow nut jobs in the future.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  15. dudebro

    why does the media keep reporting that may 21st is the end of the world??? Nobody ever said that. its Oct. 21!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Me

      Noooo! Not before Halloween. I have a rockin' costume planned for this year. Pillsbury doughboy.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  16. mpearce

    thats impossible...i have homework due on the 24th

    May 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  17. Finchley

    To quote "Inherit the Wind" the bible is a good book but not the only book. There have always been people who believe that God has given them the vision and the power to see mankinds fate.

    Don't drink the Kool aid

    May 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  18. Michael

    October 21st? Awesome I'll be able to play Dark Souls for 10 days.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  19. believe

    Mark 13:32 "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." End of discussion. No one knows when the world will end!

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

      I don't understand why nobody has brought this up to Mr. Camping or any of his followers. All of the youtube debates and arguments regarding this doomsday prediction don't mention this verse, which trumps anyone who comes up with a prediction based solely on the bible.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • nimitta

      Yes, the author of Mark is the final authority about this.


      May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • thessalonian


      That would be God. Yes I think he trumps mr. Campi who may have done too many mushrooms and heroin in the Vietnam war.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      You obviously haven't read the part that says end times come when gas hits $4.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • meghan


      May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Valerie

      dudebro- that is exactly what I was thinking! Christians all know this bible passage...........this doomsday rapture stuff is just ridiculous.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • tmichelle72

      Thank you.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Jules

      dudebro, You're watching Youtube debates on this? Sorry about your life.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  20. Timetraveler

    When do they roll out the koolaid? That's the best part. We'll get to watch natural selection at work.

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

      What about the children? Will they be forced to drink cyanide too?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't say cyanide! It's KOOLAID!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:17 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.