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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. gromitz

    I can't believe how many people can mock God, so confident that they exist from a random explosion, that came from nothing?? Nobody knows for sure the truth, but to mock God seems pretty stupid. On another note, 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 5:45 pm |
    • God

      Gravity BABY! Gravity!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Brad

      Why is it people always assume energy and mass came from nothing? Maybe it had no beginning and has no end, I mean, according to your all knowing book, God had no beginning, so, he came from nothing.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Virtual Banality

      the mockery is actually aimed at those who believe in God and to a lesser extent those who believe in Santa

      May 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  2. mike

    these silly ass bible thumpers...lol

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  3. Ben

    This is the FRONT PAGE HEADLINE.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  4. Watcher

    What a bunch of loons. religion is so stupid.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  5. MoWest

    For peace of mind, read Matthew 24:36 OR Matthew 25:13 OR Mark 13:32.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Jason

      OR use your brain.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  6. Jennifer M

    Not sure why this is headline news...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Brad

      This is foxnews, and most of it's readers are christians.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  7. MIke V

    Hint to moderate Christians: The "crazy" part of these people's beliefs is the "Rapture" part, not the "May 21" part.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mark from Canada

      No such thing as a moderate Christian. Any adult believing a fairy tale is real is anything but moderate – it is a radical idea that defies logic, reason, and science. Time to stop believing in this archaic myth and to start believing in real things people. Drop the stupid delusion and start to see the world in a more meaningful way. Jesus Christ it is annoying.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  8. WayToSerious

    Won't you all be tripping if the Earth is shaking like a dog passing a peach pit on Saturday... regardless of time... Many of you are inwardly undecided... but make a good show with your comments.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  9. Leo

    It would be awesome if something like this was grounds for losing your right to vote.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Jason

      On the contrary Leo, believing in this nonsense is a requirement to being a registered Republican.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  10. Timetraveler

    WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN????!!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Rabbi

      Screw the children!

      May 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Catholic Priest

      Do we have time?

      May 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  11. Bobby

    The world will never end. It's the human race that will deteriorate from this world

    May 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  12. Bob in Asheville, NC

    I, as a Christian thought all the doomsday forcasts were a lot of drivel til I read the posts here. After reading the self-centered arrogance of the postings here I realize just how desensitized mankind has become. Maybe God has realized that humanity has hit rock bottom and Saturday is the day to pull the plug.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • God

      Or maybe you are just stupid.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Jason

      Not sure I'd make any bets on that Robert.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Mony

      Parents will not kill their children. Thus, God will not kill people. If God kill people it would goes again his 10th commenmands ("Thou shall not kill"). I think those who believe in this crap (dooms day) should go back and re-read the bible again. Duh!

      May 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  13. Robert Chretien

    First off, they need to study more! The world will be destroyed by "FIRE" so says the bible. Not an earthquake. SO yea, right there, tells you that they don't know anything about God's coming. (If there is a God; Which I do believe there is one, just saying for the people who don't believe.)

    SO NOT EARTHQUAKE
    FIRE!
    And they are not GOD! They do not set the day for us! God will not take us until he feel everyone is saved.
    FREAKING IDIOTS.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Jason

      Ah yes, but wouldn't earthquakes create massive fires because of power lines, natural gas explosions, etc? Touche! That being said, yes, Freaking Idiots. 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Brad

      ROFL, I don't even believe in God and I know more about the bible then you do. The end of the world happens in stages, with God using all the elements, remember in revelations, each time an angel empties a bowl, a calamity happens. Maybe YOU should read more from your own book if you are going to down someone. Geees, so many christians are so freaking uneducated about their own freaking book.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  14. John

    Ha-Ha! . It may be, but it will be effect those who are believe in christian. No mentioned in Buddhist, Muslim and other religious.
    So Judgement day should be prepare for the CH, not for other.
    In 2012 Maiyar will be gone, not for other.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  15. Better odds

    Superman > Spiderman

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  16. nitrous

    The waves coming through my pyramid tin foil hat is makin' my scrotum tingle!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  17. RichardSRussell

    Hey, can I have your radio license? You clearly won't be needing it after May 21.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  18. Lori

    You know that when the 21st comes and goes just like any other day, these nuts will find some reason in their crazy little heads as to why the rapture didn't happen. They will justify it not happening with some other tidbit from that crazy bible. Too funny!

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

      Correct... I can hear them now... "Well God decided to spare the world and give everyone one more chance to turn back to him... I'm sorry... Him... And repent for their evildoing." And then the next time around it will be the same story... And again... And again... And again...

      May 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Brad

      I'm glad they quit their jobs, now they can't get unemployment, and when nothing happens, they will be on the street, broke, and have lost everything, just what they deserve for their stupidity. Think is, on that day, somewhere in the world, their will be an earthquake, so they are somewhat right, I guess.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  19. joey

    13
    If any one lie with a man as with a woman, both have committed
    an abomination, let them be put to death: their blood be upon them.

    26
    You shall be holy unto me, because I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from other people, that you should be mine.

    27
    A man, or woman, in whom there is a pythonical or divining
    spirit, dying let them die: they shall stone them: their blood be upon
    them.

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

      dummy

      May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • David in Corpus

      Man, how I hate religious nuts, of all denominations/cults.
      Y'all really take the fun out of just living for livings' sake.
      I am glad I will be worm food when I die, how boring heaven would actually be, especially after 10's of thousands of years.
      YAWN!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Mark

      You gotta love those lyrics of Britney Spears songs!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  20. Andrew

    So I made a facebook event.

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=199229700095087

    I invite you all to come join. I will bring the beer hats.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 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.