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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. Frank

    People of the World,
    If the RAPTURE does occur on this SAT 5.21.11 two things.
    Will I still have to go to work(HELL) Monday.
    and since my wife will be swept up in the RAPTURE does that mean I am single again? OH,and the L.A Freeway will need to be renamed "The Highway to HELL".

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

      What else do we know:

      1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

      2. Asteroids continue to whiz by us daily.

      3. One large hit and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

      4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

      5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture. Paul "prophitized" that the JC would return in Paul's life time. Obviously, Paul was wrong yet again.)

      Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  2. OmegaXS1

    Yawn. So which Bible edition is this from?

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

      The one that starts with Once Upon a time in a far away land ...

      May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  3. Jason

    What do these people say to this scripture in Matthew 24?

    "But of that aday and bhour knoweth no man, no, not the cangels of heaven, but my Father only."

    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  4. albert

    The sad part is that this "End" is not going to happen. The Bible even makes clear that no one would know the day or the hour. The real problem with so called Christians are far removed from anything that the Bible teaches. Jesus warned that the majority would follow their own teaches. Look at all the Pagan holidays that "Christians" follow and observe (Easter, Christmas, etc.), not to mention all the false teachings (Trinity, hellfire, etc.). They have only themselves to blame. The truth is in the Bible, you just need to find it.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  5. dudebro

    Rather than laugh and point fingers at anyone who actually believes anything significant will happen on May 21, I'll go to church May 22 and keep my faith in Jesus Christ, God's only son, who WILL return at an unannounced date, hence the phrase "like a thief in the night."

    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  6. tonny

    BIBLE IS NOT THE WORLD OF GOD , IS A SATANIC BOOK , CHRISTIAN ARE JUST USE THE BIBLE TO DECEIVE PEOPLE FROM TRUE WAY OF GOD . WHO EVER FOLLOW WHAT IS IN THE BIBLE IS GOING TO HELL FIRE , ABOUT THE DAY OF JUDGMENT NO BODY KNOWS . ONLY ALMIGHTY KNOWS WHEN THIS WORLD WILL END. I ALWAYS ASKED ALL CHRISTIANS THAT IF TRULY BIBLE IS WORLD OF GOD .JESUS CHRIST NOT USE BIBLE OR MENTION THE NAME OF BIBLE BEFORE . THAT'S WHY I GO AND STUDY ISLAM WELL BEFORE I REALIZE THAT ISLAM IS THE WAY AND T5HE ONLY WAY . JESUS IS NOT FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY , JESUS DON'T HEAR BIBLE BEFORE , JESUS IS NOT USE BIBLE BEFORE, . CHRISTIANITY IS A SATANIC WAY THAT IS USE T5HE NAME OF CHRISTIANITY TO DEMOLISH THE PROGRAMS OF GOD FOR THIS WORLD

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

      um........im guessing jehovah witness????

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

      And your headed right now to blow up a building and kill some infidels to prove it.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • thessalonian

      By the way why would Jesus mention the Bible. His words and the words of the prophets were not bound in to one until a couple hundred years later. Mohomed was a false prophet if ever there was one.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  7. Lenny Bruce

    I am not afraid.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  8. ThisIsNEWS?!?!

    How in the world is this news? Good job CNN! I'm not sure who is dumber... this group of dull tools or CNN for reporting this as news...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  9. thessalonian

    Dam! That's my birthday! No German Chocholate cake with goey frosting for me.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  10. Jim

    These people are no different than those who fly airplanes into buildings. Why even give them ANY press, nevermind front page news?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  11. The Dimension Machine

    all the truth is in the sensational book at www TheDimensionMachine DOT com

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  12. Conspiracy much?

    If christians believe that you should become a christian as soon as possible and preach to others as soon as possible, then why are all these people waiting until now? Shows what christians they are. And with all the times people have claimed the end and still nothing seems to change, what makes them think they'll change now? And suppose they do get them to change. So they're going to pay all this money in offerings and other stuff to make them seem like the "perfect christian" while they still can. May 21st comes and...OH LOOK we're still here. They paid all that money and such preparing for the supposed rapture day. Guess who's keeping the money? Those saying it was going to end. now who has all the money? And these "decipherers" are going to cover it up by saying they were wrong.

    Face it. it's obviously some conspiracy that these people are playing to get money and attention. its simple and can easily be covered up.

    NO ONE EXCEPT GOD KNOWS WHEN THE WORLD WILL END!!!!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  13. mary

    "On that day and hour know one knows"...
    So though we all can read the signs...And those of us that believe the bible. We are living in the time of the biblical end...
    We are still assured we do not know the day or the hour... Because God does not want us screeching to a halt ,and being good at that moment, so as to not be caught being or "normal" selves....:)

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  14. Brenda, Milwaukee WI

    I feel sad for them as they are very sincere, devout Christians who want to save others. When this is over and the world doesn't end they will have to pick up the pieces and go on. Throughout history for many centuries various groups have prepared for the end certain it would come in their day. Regardless, we all will day eventually, one way or another and most won't know the day or the hour so it's still a valid message to prepare your heart and soul to meet God and give your heart to Jesus. I for one am glad I belong to Jesus and have peace that no matter what happens I'll see Him when I die! The truth is the end of the world may be closer than you think with the rise of Israel as a Jewish nation, nuclear weapons, global communication,etc. Read the book of Revelations and you are promised a blessing. Most important prepare your hearts for God as you never know when your time will come. Look at so many people who died suddenly, unexpectedly and never had the time to say goodbye, make amends or turn back to God. Death can come unexpectantly murder, accidents, heart attacks or natural disasters so we should live our life to the fullest letting our loved ones know how much they mean to us and serve God to the best of our ability to make the world a better place while we are still alive and be ready to meet our Maker at any time.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty

      Wh0res like you will suffer unspeakable tortures.
      Your blood will run in the praise of God.

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

      @His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty

      I feel sorry for you.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  15. jit

    I also don't believe in this May 21st thing. If it happens, it is is because of technology, and someones control of it. Now, the Space shuttle just went up. If this May 21st thing happens, you can be sure it's those in control of technology. The World has come to know too much of their plan. And they must do away with us (Whoever they are). We have come to know too much through the internet, and whoever they are, don't want us in their future. This my friends, Is the truth.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • His Praise, His Glory, His Majesty

      God in his wisdom and justice will spill blood all over the world.
      Millions will die and suffer unspeakable torture.
      Praise Jesus ~ kill the non-believers.

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

      LMFAO!!!! What a kook!

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

      I'm sorry but I don't remember a verse about Jesus teaching to kill non believers. It's people like you who give the Bible and Christianity a bad name. Shame on you.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  16. dmnewberg

    I've got a Bar-B-Q planned for Saturday. What time is the rapture, so I can plan the Bar-B-Q around it ?

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

    Damn it!!! I knew I would die at work AUGGGHHH!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  18. Rob

    I wish I had an email list serve of these people so I could construct a fake CNN page claiming that the apocolypse is happening and that demons are attacking souls, and that if you haven't risen to heaven, its because you didn't pick the right religion.

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

      mmm yes Mormon. Mormon was the correct answer– sorry.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  19. Derek

    Your really going to believe all of this crap? The world will not end....I seen a guy yesterday at giant eagle buying, 20 sticks of anti BO, ten things of tooth paste, 20 packs of toilet paper, 20 packs of paper towels. * cases of pop and 40 cases of water, 60 razors and 15 bottles of liquor...I hope the liquor does him justis because that was the biggist waste of money and time. I bet he will feel like a moron once he realizes nothing will happen......

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

      this doesn't make any sense

      May 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Erin

    If you REALLY believe in this doomsday thing, give me all of your money, all of your worldly possessions...It's not like you'll need 'em after Saturday. No takesies backsies on Sunday, though.

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

      thats what im saying haha

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

      Too funny!

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

      I feel sorry for the people that actually believe this.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • CNN, the leader in "news"..... HA!

      Agreed. ...sad

      On a side note: CNN... you pay people to write up this crap?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:26 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.