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Online conversations around Sandy feature God, prayer and atheism
A church sign from Sunday in a town on Long Island, New York.
October 30th, 2012
04:54 PM ET

Online conversations around Sandy feature God, prayer and atheism

By Conor Finnegan, CNN

(CNN) - As millions of Americans begin to clean up from Superstorm Sandy, many will  turn to insurance companies to cover damages caused by an “act of God.” It’s legalese for natural disasters.

Some of the online conversation around Sandy have treated it as such an act, with the term “prayer” trending on Facebook on Monday, as the nation awaited the storm’s landfall.

We noticed four themes emerging that touch on God and religion on Facebook, Twitter and in CNN.com’s comments sections:

1. God bless: It was a message expressed by well-wishers around the world. Those spared by Sandy took to social media to show their support and sympathy as the images proliferated of New York’s flooded streets and New Jersey’s eroded beaches. Despite different faiths and nationalities, the upshot was the same: Our prayers are with you.

From Facebook:

Waleed Obaid My Prayers to all family and friends in NY and the rest of East cost OH Allah please help People to stay safe and no harm...

Darlene Guillen Bohorquez if this storm knocks you to your knees, you're in the perfect position to pray, and I will be praying with you. Keep safe and remember to help those in need in the aftermath.

Andrea Holmes My prayers go out to all the people who are affected by this storm. And praying does help. God is in control of everything whether you like it or not.

From Twitter:

Bishop Hanson ‏@bishophanson
Merciful God, for the millions who this night are experiencing the fury of Hurricane Sandy we pray for safety and comfort. Amen.

2. Thank God: For those caught in Sandy’s path, the conversation was different. More than 7.5 million in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast were without power on Tuesday. Those who could post online expressed gratitude, with “thankful” the 8th most shared term on Facebook by Tuesday morning. And from Twitter:

Demetrius Minor ‏@dminor85
Thanks to everyone who prayed for us during Hurricane Sandy. We were not affected. I thank God for that. Please pray for those who were.

Sam Gentile ‏@SamGentile
Thank God we escaped unscathed from Sandy except for power last night. This is unlike a lot of South Jersey that had lot of damage

3. God’s wrath: A small minority saw Sandy as God’s judgment.

This Tweet is from a leader of Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas congregation known for its anti-gay pickets at military funerals:

Shirley Phelps-Roper ‏@DearShirley
We bow in humble thanks 2 God 4 Sandy! Thank God for a plain message delivered to a puddle of states that proudly flip Him off! #FagMarriage

We found these on Facebook:

Nikola Ilievski 24.03.1999. – 10.06.1999. God remembers everything, your NATO bombed us, now enjoy. Greetings from SERBIA!

Hassan Chandio -Disrespecting others religion. and destroying others country killing thousand and millions of people in afghanistan, libya and syria . this is what you get

4. God does not exist: Some used Sandy to question religion or at least the idea of blaming the storm on God, employing science, humor and venom. A back and forth between believers and nonbelievers sparked a tense conversation in the comments section on CNN.com.

From Facebook:

Johnny Trujillo Praying won't do any good. Send some aid or go volunteer if you really want to help. Talking to your imaginary friend won't do anything.

From Twitter:

Anonymous ‏@YourAnonNews
No, #Sandy is not evidence of God's wrath. It's evidence of our refusal to even discuss climate change & global warning.

What do you think? What role should faith or God play in the conversation about Sandy? Post your thoughts in the comments section.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Comments • God

soundoff (2,260 Responses)
  1. Joan

    This is living proof that God is in control and not man. If man was in charge Romney and Obama would have stopped the storm or prospone it for another time. Obama and Clinton has big plan to go to Florida on Monday.... that was cancelled. Romney and his millions of dollar plan to hit the airways with a barage of false adds distorting the President records. That was also tampered down. God is in control and no man can change the tides. God is patience but he is sure. This is a sign to remind people that we are nothing and we have no control over the universe.
    We have control over our lives and what we do. Do good and it will follow you. I wish some of these leaders would try that. Stop the lying Mr. Romney.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Turp Griswald

      This makes no sense. True – neither Obama nor Romney can stop a Hurricane. But you haven't made a case for anybody or anything that can.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • James

      .... or its proof that humans cannot control weather patterns, low pressure systems, and other weather events..... nope, nope, it must be god and not a myriad of other things that cause weather events... all those things are lies... you have the ability to critically think now use it, or has that ability atrophied?

      October 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      The only thing that's been proven is that you like to jump to conclusions.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      No, it's living proof that no one is in charge. The Universe simply is, and it doesn't really know or care about us, its children. We're on our own and have to make the best of it. Unfortunately, some of us make the worst, and some of us delude ourselves that there is a Big Sky Daddy in control.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Joan,

      "This is living proof that God is in control and not man"

      This really is a perfectly ridiculous assertion. The CIA doesn't control the weather. Those sattellites just take pictures you know.

      In what scenario (existing outside science fiction) would man 'control' the weather?

      October 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If prayer worked, Joan, and God controlled the weather, why is the central part of the country suffering crippling drought? Why did the farmers there lose all their crops and have to slaughter their herds because they had no feed for them?

      October 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • sridhar

      Its strange that people scold mother nature for the death of just 30 people, while almost 8 billion people are sustained by mother nature, inspite of these 8 billion or so abusing mother nature on a second to second basis.

      What a shame.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • BWANA DIK

      AND HAVE ANOTHER JOINT, JOAN

      October 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • richard g

      Mankind needs to walk away from religion as a species

      October 30, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Pray in one hand and crap in the other. See which one fills up first.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Now I have a hand full of crap. Thanks.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  3. bigdawg1

    Why don't athletes point to "heaven" when they drop the ball, or strike out, or miss the goal? Wasn't that "god's will?"

    October 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  4. joao

    The almighty had it recorded: "The race is not always to the swift... ...but time and unforseen occurance befall them all."

    God doesn't interfere with our lives and our free will. Tho he may if HIS will is involved; he's that much above us.

    He has given us enough in our intellect and our industry to overcome the challenges of nature.

    Read God's Word, the Bible Daily.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Answer

      I would recommend that everybody read some science instead.

      That bible is for retards.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Or we can all pray for help.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      joao
      "The almighty had it recorded: "The race is not always to the swift... ...but time and unforseen occurance befall them all.""

      Do you really think that it took a "divine" being to think that one up?

      October 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • lavern

      Or, people can read something that's actually useful or helpful, like – I don't know – just about anything else. Keep your ridiculous stories to yourself.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  5. Journey

    The biggest irony is that evangelicals will be the first ones to cut funding for FEMA...that the disaster relief agencies are the "evil ones" for interfering with God's Will.

    Evangelical America has no moral standing left in this Nation or the world...what a cultural disaster that movement became.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • BWANA DIK

      WHEN WAS IT ANYTHING BUT A RACIST HATE PARTY?

      October 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  6. Richard Marks

    If one gives God credit for saving his life, property, family from storms, airline crashes, etc., then one MUST blame God for causing these things in the first place! You just cannot have it one way – ALL good things from God, NO bad things from God. Whenever I hear someone say something like, "God saved my house, family, etc." I am also hearing "God destroyed others' lives and property! GO GOD!!! Better them than me."
    Maybe it is just time to rethink this "good god idea".

    October 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • sridhar

      God doesnot get involved for every one. We are given our free will to act and if we misuse the free will to go against the rules of the mother nature(Mother nature was made to be incharge of us by GOD, until we get closer to GOD), we incur wrath of nature. If we donot misuse, then we are good.

      This subject is not that easy , but we have to start using our intuition rather than mere eyes and ears to understand what is there is the spiritual texts of the world, like Christianity, hinduism and Islam or Buddhism.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Kafir

      That's not the sort of god anyone should be getting behind. Unless of course you're scared of being bullied by him. That I could understand, I suppose.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  7. John P. Tarver

    Prayer is the least you can do, in any situation.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      It's the least anyone can do. Because it's essentially the same as doing nothing. Except it might make the person praying feel like they are helping even though in reality they aren't.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Gary

      It's like rooting for a sports team.

      October 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  8. Hitchens

    Religion is organized schizophrenia. Religious people should go see a neurologist before mumbling about god and imaginary friends and they should get a LOBOTOMY and get their brains fixed.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Fvcking Moron

    I spend more time on this blog than I do in real life. I don't know whether to be happy or cry my eyes out.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor little you, keeping track of my comings and goings. Are you obsessed, dearie?

      October 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Gary

      Tom Tom's postings are far more interesting than any "Believer's".

      October 30, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  10. John P. Tarver

    The Bush hurricane destroyed a part of New Orleans that had been in need of redevelopment for 50 years, but this is the second Obama hurricane to attack New York.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional idiocy.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      "Obama'" storm. Because we all know the POTUS controls the weather.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • SUSAN MADDERN

      this wasan't the obama hurricane.It waS hURRICANE SANDY AND WHY ARE YOU BRINGING POLITIC'S INTO THIS.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  11. bigdawg1

    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move!

    -Douglas Adams

    October 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  12. Sherri

    Well for all those who believe in 'god's will' I guess it was god's will that your houses get flooded, or blown away. And also his will that 30 innocent people died as a result of this storm. It always amazes me that people pray for something to not happen, then when it does, they still say 'oh it was meant to happen' or that it was 'god's will'. If that's the kind of god you believe in, I want no part of it.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • sridhar

      Yes. God has also given the free will for me to act. Because of kmy stupidness and because of my ignorance about how this universe operates and how I am supposed to live, I am incurring the good and bad but I still strive to enlighten myself and know the truth behind the drama of life and death and solve the puzzle of life.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Kafir

      @Sridhar,

      and the babies born with birth defects? Or children maimed in tragic accidents or by war? What's their sin?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  13. David Ouellette

    Yes, God exists, but this Presence is not a man-being in the sky. It is beyond our human comprehension. God does not cause disasters but is there to respond and help when we are in need.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Answer

      I want to bust out some Q Tips and earfvck you.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Answer

      "I want my god to exist."

      Fixed it for ya.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      You state that like it's a fact. But you are just assuming.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jon

      Dude, your belief in a fairy godfather/helping hand in the sky is incomprehensible. I wish you people would wake up and read a (recent) science book...and yes I said "YOU PEOPLE".

      October 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  14. Good day

    Acts 17:22-31 NASB
    "So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.""

    See it at YouVersion.com:

    http://bible.us/Acts17.22.NASB

    October 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • fintastic

      2+2 = chicken means about as much as what you posted.

      October 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  15. chuck

    I'm shocked to find there are some people that quote Grimes Fairy Tales. Oops, I meant the bible.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  16. bigdawg1

    Oolon Colluphid proved, unequivocally, the non-existence of god in his seminal trilogy! You can read about in "the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!"

    October 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  17. The People Vs Tom Tom

    Tom Tom needs to clean up that period pvssy of hers. I got a horrible case of clown mouth last night after going down on her.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Boo hoo. Tell it to your mother/your sister/your daughter/your wife/mother/your sister/your daughter/your wifemother/your sister/your daughter/your wife/

      October 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  18. Mick

    Here's how prayer works: I stick a turd in your pocket. You say "Please, Mick, I implore you to remove the turd from my pocket." I either take it out or leave it in. If I take it out you say "Gee, thanks, Mick, you're great and merciful!". If I leave it in you say "Mick's mind works in mysterious ways; I'm sure he had a good reason."

    October 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  19. scott

    The 'evolution" of our concept of God is going in the right direction - from nature (mountains, beers, etc) to things produced by man (talisman, idols, etc) to the belief that WE are the IMAGE of God (a God that made us but is better than us). The logical next step is this: we ARE god. Which means that we, as humans, created the NOTION that all men (and women) are created equal, that genocide is wrong, and stealing is bad. It will be only when we take that last giant step - something Milan Kundera called "The unbearable lightness of being" - where each of us stands up, individually, for moral decisions, then and only then, will peace have a chance.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  20. us_1776

    The Sky Fairy does not exist.

    Get over it.

    Now get out there and help your neighbors.

    .

    October 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hoo-rah!

      October 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Sherri

      Hooray! Good thought. Quit moaning about god willing this or not willing it etc.

      October 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • BMW

      I wish everyone thought this way. Things would then be taken care of instead of "wished" to be accomplished.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • It must be Done

      Jesus taught on loving your neighbor and helping the unfortunate. We are made in Gods image. This is Gods nature and therefore we have the same in us.

      October 31, 2012 at 10:05 am |
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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.