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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. LongXin

    Hurricane is an act of science, we better understand it.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  2. Dan

    God is calling us back to our Home, but is certainly not running the particulars of this world or any other. Nor is God intervening in the affairs of individual lives. Nature is unmerciful to the unprepared. The Great Waves of Change are coming and all we can do now is accept that we have created them. Instead of looking to God to deliver us from our difficulties we must recognize that we have been given a part of God that lives within us and is available to guide us during our state of separation from the rest of Creation. But how few of us even know that this connection to our deeper selves is the aim of all true religion? All the world's religions were initiated by God, but they have become so overlaid with human invention. A new Way back to God has been delivered into the world, a pure pathway that is free from the corruption of history. There is a New Message from God in the world. newmessage.org

    October 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Dandy, that is absolute nonsense.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Good for you. You found god in a website.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Your behind. Try newnewmessage.org

      October 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  3. Veritas Lavinga

    The only true relationship is Christianity and God's people are the Jews. Jesus himself was a Jew and Christians are those who follow Christ. God can definitely send storms to wake people up who have rejected him, but he also gives us free will. Whether or not he sent Hurricane Sandy is not known, in the end he does have full control over storms like this, and what we do know is that we have a choice to follow Him or reject. He is our creator and designer after all, without Him there is no hope. Believe in Jesus Christ as being the Son of God and to forgive you of your sins and you will be saved from eternal damnation.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • blogo

      What and how many pills did you take?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Listen to yourself. You are so brainwashed. You write god might not have been responsible but he does control everything.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      You are delusional.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Very Lava Lamp, you're full of horse feathers my confused friend. God does send hurricanes or anything else because there is no God! I firmly believe that the waves and wind were caused by unicorns stomping their hooves in unison under the direction of leprechauns.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • GATORpride

      Im jewish and I disagree completely. We are not God's people as you Christians claim. Sorry.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @GATORpride

      The jews may not be god's chosen people, and neither are the 'Gators' this years as a football team. 😀

      Ouch... on that loss to Georgia. That one hurt, doesn't it ? 😀

      Peace...

      October 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  4. No fool

    I hope my latest blog on "Think before you donate" did not get "lost."

    October 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  5. blogo

    It's beyond me that we tolerate provably delusional (religious) idiots that make rules for the rest of us. It's like having a bunch of drug addicts, high on mushrooms, making decisions on things vital to the nation of 360 million people. Incredible! And that's just in the U.S.!

    October 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Daniel10

      Well said.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Yes, well said!

      October 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Live4Him

      We are all religious. Some are Christians, some are Atheist, and still others believe in a different religion.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • parkinson45auk

      although i agree with the idea of the post, there are a few things that i need to clear up
      first of all, i bet people high on mushrooms could run the country better, at least at a low dose, as you tend to put deep thought into many things, and would likely think of many ways to better the country
      also you cannot get addicted to mushrooms as tolerance builds fast and they are not addicting in any way, so it would be better if you said crack addicts or something similar

      October 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • fintastic

      @livefor Atheist = lack of belief in god........ sorry, not a religion.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  6. right4life

    Is man good or bad?

    October 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • caleb

      neither man is broken

      October 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Both. What about women?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Is a hummingbird good or bad? Is a lion good or bad? Is a shark good or bad? Is a tree good or bad?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  7. DumbAllOver

    Why is it that at a certain point in our childhood we understand and accept that Santa Claus is a fabrication of our imagination, yet somehow cling to the fantasy of an almighty god? If there really is a god (and there isn't) he's a sadistic ass clown.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • BC

      good point – I would bet it's because Santa Claus doesn't promise "ever lasting life"

      October 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  8. Steve

    Religion's are nothing more than political movements.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      They are much more than that. They are a method of fleecing the flock and making them think they got the best end of the deal. The perfect scam.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  9. No one

    Religion: Look!
    Others: Evacuate!

    October 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  10. jeff

    Praying for help in the storm implies that god will listen to you and not others. Do it if it gives you comfort, but know that nobody is listening.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Steve

      That's what religion is all about, the belief that you are a preferred class of individual. It provides what is missing within in people who are not well formed.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  11. PE

    "Dear Children, Satan desires to destroy not only human life, but also nature and the planet on which you live. Therefore, dear children, pray that through prayer you can protect yourselves with God's blessing of peace". Our Lady of Medjugorje

    October 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • End Religion

      "One fish, two fish. Red fish, blue fish." Our Doctor of Seuss

      October 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Jane

      You may follow Our Lady of Medjugorje Apparitions and Messages to the world at many web sites including: medjugorje.ws medjugorje.org medjugorjenet.com medjugorje.hr

      October 30, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • End Religion

      You may follow Our Doctor of Seuss' words to the world at any good library.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  12. blogo

    All religions are hate groups. All claim they are the religion of "peace", but are in fact murderous. Nazism, Communism, religion – all substatially hateful dogmas to promote the self-serving interest of the groups.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Live4Him

      So Atheists are a hateful bunch?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are you asking yourself questions, now, 4? What's the matter? Can't your god answer them for you?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • End Religion

      not surprisingly Live4Him failed Reading Comprehension.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  13. right4life

    Story would end at death if we didn't have a soul. There is an eternity awaiting us all when we die, my God has promised me eternal life. He has the same promise for you. See the cross,

    October 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Steve

      Does this "god" speak to you all the time? What does the voice sound like? Have you recorded it?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      CS ? "Poe" ?

      Peace...

      October 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • right4life

      Steve, he left a book. You've got ? God has answers.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      The story does end at death.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  14. BC

    3-4 thousand years ago people would wonder why Zeus was angry and why would he cause storms. Fast forward to 2012 and people have replaced Zeus with the god of Abraham – nothing has really changed except the imaginary god

    October 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • caleb

      Except God was around before the time of Zeus and has with stood the test of time

      October 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Zeus was a Greek god, i.e. 2500 years ago at most.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      A book? So what?

      If that's the extent of your evidence for an omniscient, omnipotent god, 4, you're in sad shape.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  15. Kafir

    I prayed and prayed for hurricane Sandy to hit the east coast. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      All those Obama voting blue states?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Kafir

      Now yer gettin it.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  16. Lars

    Other civilized countries practice free religious expression and are relatively moral, just, happy, and productive societies.

    But America seems to be plagued by the kind of fundamentalist zealots that promote ignorance, hypocrisy, and intolerance.

    Why? Because America was founded by the religious crackpots that those other countries evicted hundreds of years ago.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      "...But America seems to be plagued by the kind of fundamentalist zealots that promote ignorance, hypocrisy, and intolerance...."

      Hey, don't be so hard on Atheists.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Mr. N

      exactly what 'fundamentals' are atheists so zealous about?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  17. theorycraft

    Atheists also tend to have a more negative view of society in general and require more empirical evidence before trusting someone

    October 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • saggyroy

      "It's not that we don't have anything to live for, it's ust that we don't have anything to die for" – Gervaise

      October 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  18. solex

    The Christian and Muslim cults are simply mankind's desire to live forever.

    yes – ALL religions are cults.

    yes- mankind wants to live forever.

    End of story.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • jeff

      Well said, sir.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  19. Fallen

    Fallen world, removed from God by our own choice. We are about to see why we really, really need him.
    These are not acts of "evil" from a loving God, this is the result of choosing to live in a evil place, removed from Him, because most have turned their back on HIM. Not the other way around. Oil doesn't mix with water. BP knows that all too well. Yet, so many of us claim "a loving God would not do this"....he didn't. We choose life without him every day, and it just grows the chasm. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Death / "The devil" / the Lake of Fire. This is not where he is sending the fallen, this is the only place LEFT for them, because our nature (sinful / oil) just won't mix with him (holy / water). Don't you GET IT? If we choose to coat ourselves in oil, and not take a bath in the ONLY purification system he has provided, we simply can't enter into his purity...it just doesn't mix.
    You can gripe, complain, shake, stir, agitate, chant, your oil all you want, it still won't mix with water. Ever.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Jesus

      You are delusional! The weather on this planet have nothing to do with a God of any religion. It's called science. Educate yourself about it. Ignorant people.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Jesus

      You are delusional! The weather on this planet has nothing to do with a God of any religion. It's called science. Educate yourself about it. Ignorant people.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      I think oil will let me enter into him nicely. I guess I could always use spit. Will that help?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Fallen

      I'm almost certain I have much more education that thou. 🙂 Unless you hold degrees in Physics, Astrophysics, Biology, and computer science?
      I'm well versed, so to speak. I'm not your normal ignoramus spouting bile. I'm a much more intelligent ignoramus.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Ernie

      What the hell are you even talking about dude? Natural disasters occur and have occurred since the beginning of the earth. "God" didn't cause this and "God" didn't not cause this. Its simple occurrence that is ultimately random in nature. You are really deluded.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Ernie

      I refuse to believe anyone with a degree is astrophysics, physics, and CS can spout such NONSENSE and stupidity. If you're smarter than that then act like it.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      No chance you hold all those degrees.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Kafir

      Assertions without evidence can be dismissed without argument.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Fallen

      I'm currently tracking storms on Jupiter and Saturn, so I do know a thing or two about them. But I look at the Glory of God every single night. I know it intimately. Biology taught me there was a creator.
      We will all find out soon enough, though. If I'm right, we'll know if for eternity. If "no God" humans are right, then...no one will ever know it. Kind of takes the bite out of "I told you so..." doesn't it? 🙂

      There are plenty of colleges that hold many more, and higher, degrees than I that are very certain God exists. Unless you think all this energy came from nothing....you, then, have MUCH more faith than I. Something from nothing breaks all of "our" laws. The same laws you defend. The Bible tells me where everything came from. Until someone else can do a better job, I'll go with it. First order of business – explain how this unfathomable, unmeasurable amount of something came from nothing. And don't give me that "multi-verse" junk. That's a cop-out.

      October 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  20. Slender Bender

    HOLY JUMPING JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!!!!

    I prayed and POOF in an instant all the waters that was in my house disappeared.... HAIL JESUS!!!!! HAIL GOD!!!!!

    October 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • theorycraft

      that's really not funny to someone looking at a flooded basement

      October 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • fintastic

      That's another way of saying "I flushed the toilet"

      October 31, 2012 at 1:35 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.