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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. Remy

    I remain endlessly amazed at the totally crazy and obviously impossible things that religious people actually believe.

    I am similarly amazed at their almost universal inability to write coherently.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Innerspace is God's place while outerspace is for the human race.

      The cohesive ratios of catatonic 'imbecilia' is but window dressing for the thinly veiled.

      October 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  2. Cowgirl

    We need to be talking about GLOBAL WARMING. There is so much evidence that the severe weather patterns around the world are the results of man's actions, not God's. We have the technology to reduce carbon emissions and that is what we need to be talking about – otherwise, we are just paying the price for our folly. We know the reason why and have the technology to do something about it...time is not on our side on this one.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  3. ThinkerInTheSun

    So God gets the credit when a person threatened by a superstorm is rescued using science and technology? And that same God is not even blamed for causing the superstorm or for putting the person in danger to begin with?
    Ha ha. Pretty good gig that god has.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Agreed.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  4. gdaym8

    Yes, human behavior can be odd during a "crisis", whether it be a hurricane or a predicted snowstorm or whatever. What will be even MORE interesting will be how human behavior plays out as we get closer to the date of 12/21/2012. Whether you believe something will happen or not (I personally don't think anything will happen), can you imagine what the human behavior out in public will be like as we get closer to that date? I worked for a major grocery chain for many years...everytime there was a (KEY WORD) PREDICTION of a snowstorm, all hell broke loose.....everytime.

    I am making plans NOW not to be anywhere out in public for at least two weeks prior to that date. I believe, like myself, most people don't think there is anything to worry about, BUT, as that date gets closer, more people are going to say to themselves, "Hmmmm, maybe I better stockpile on necessities......JUST IN CASE!"

    Yes, I believe human behavior is going to get very interesting starting about the middle of November! Good luck out there! I can GUARANTEE you will witness and hear about some very strange human behavior very soon........................

    October 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Robert Hall

      My God does not honor Paganism. He abhors it. Jeremiah Chapter 10, God Degrades the Pagan Gods.
      December 21st is the Winter Solstice. A Pagan Festival.

      Bah! December 21st belongs to demons. Not God.

      If anything happens, you better Run, Because it won't be God you have to worry about

      October 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  5. Only a KING Could Control Things Like Storms.. Bow to Our King, Or Else!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8

    October 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Robert Hall

      My God does not have to be carried. Notice yours requires manpower to move.

      Praise Melchizedek Forever!!!

      October 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  6. God / Allah / Yahweh / Great Pumpkin / Lord Bubba

    Sandy was a sign of my wrath. I am angry. You must pray to me at least 5 times a day. And sacrifice more livestock on burning altars. And send more virgins.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Robert Hall

      Sandy was a warning.
      Virgins are Churches without a Nation (Husband) when they are born.
      Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes at Pentecost in the last days when God is pouring out His spirit on All Flesh.
      The Animals being sacrficed are humans being sacrificed to God as either Burnt Offerings (Godless People) or Peace Offeirngs (The Saved).

      Of course you haven't rightly divided the word of God, so you choose to mock it instead. Surprise, Surprise.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  7. rose from the ashes

    Having faith means having hope. Having lost everything and barely escaping with our lives and just the clothes on our backs a couple of years ago taught me this. Wait and see the response. If you allow yourself to, you'll see God working in the hearts of all the people who are coming to help, the volunteers from around the country who will hand you clothes, money, water, a chainsaw, a helping hand and ask for nothing in return. People will come and remove trees, put tarps on damaged roofs, clear out debris and arrange it in piles. This is what faith is about. It's about hope, not blame. It's about making the lowest of the lows a little higher out of love.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  8. Live4Him

    @tony: Please read his book "A Brief History of Time", 1988. He argues for the string theory in the book, after concluding that the Big Bang never happened.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Anyone who understnads Relativity knows the big bang did not happen; for a century.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Hawking's doctoral thesis was said to have proven the Big Bang, if only two premises were true. Relativity and sufficient time.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Live-Relativity disproves the scientific basis of the notional hypothesis known as the big bang, but I do not doubt some preacher said what you quoted.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @John: Unlike you, I've read Hawking's book. I actually have two copies of it, too.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      No matter how many severly handicapped people challenge Relativity, it will continue to be true.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • youreyesareweird

      @Live4Him - yah, this is a re-post. People like you come on here and start throwing around scientific terms and models trying to poke holes in them, roping in philosophical fallacies. You say there is proof the Christian God exists, so let's all be quite and let's see the scientific proof.
      As I stated earlier:
      what evidence seems to support the Christian God? And stuff like: well something had to start it all, or the human anatomy is just too complex for evolution, or the Bible says so, or it couldn't have happened by chance, etc...will not work. You've quoted string theory, relativity, singularities, Big Bang and other scientific models and terms. Please post the mathematical model or theory, complete with solvable equations, reproducible and testable observations, the scientific magazines this model/theory was published in and any other scientific processes that all reputable models and theories go through. Put your money where your mouth is and show us all how math and science has proved that god exists. if you can not do that, you have no substance here. Philosophical conjectures about "there must be a beginning" don't cut it man. Put up or shut up, simple. Let's see your god proof.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  9. Rational Libertarian

    If you believe in the Abrahamic god, God's wrath is the only logical explanation.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      When Abram met his nameless God at Ur that God was believed to control the weather. Ever read the story of Elijah?

      October 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • fintastic

      Don't you mean Zeus?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  10. Elias

    When the election gonna be? I expect December 06,2012. Did I guess right over the rebellious demon? That is a monster and so devastating hit.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The election of 1864 was held on time and the electoral college was convened.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  11. John P. Tarver

    The climate is a consequence of solar storms and the precession of the earth on it's axis. Global Warming is redistributionist hoax, like Obama.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The climate is a consequence of solar storms and the precession of the earth on it's axis.

      Of course it is.

      Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere to levels the planet hasn't seen for millions of years is a dangerous gamble.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  12. Robert Hall

    Sandy is sent by God not as much as punishment, but rather a warning. God is calling His Children home through these natural disasters.
    In these last days, God is gathering the 144,000. he has reserved the Storehouses of Snow and Hail for Such a day. See Job Chapter 38.
    Sandy's name also proves it is the hand of God. Not Her physical name, But the Meaning of Her Name.
    The Meaning of the Name Sandy is "Defender Of Men"

    God has sent Sandy to Defend Men in these last days against the churches, Which Lie about God. They teach prosperity and nothing but love. Nothing but what the world wants to hear instead of what God actually Says.

    In Hosea Chapter 4, God Says "My Complaint is with the Prieists, The More Priests there are, The More they Sin against me, They have replaced the Love of God for the Shame and disgrace of Idols"
    My People are Destroyed for a lack of Knowledge because they do not know me, Because you priests refuse to know me, Irefuse to recognize you as my priests God Says.

    God Wants your attention. Not to Punish You. He wants you to Wake up and Come out of confusion. The World is confusion.

    1 John 2:15 Says Do Not Love the World, nor the things which are in it. If any man Loves the World, The Love of the Father is not In Him.

    May This message of truth shed light in the remnant it is meant for.

    Shalom.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  13. Lamb of dog

    I'm just saying. If we all cooked our noodles better the flying spaghetti monster wouldn't cause all these storms.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Missileman

      Ramen, brother.

      October 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  14. altapres

    Maybe the U.S. need to wake up & repent especially nonbelievers, abortionists, those favoring gay marriages as well as Obama & company or God will send more devastation that you can imagine.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Good grief...

      October 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      The true devastation is the waste of your brainwashed mind.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • altapres

      You are gonna be wasted lamb of dog if you don't repent....More devastation for unrepentant people.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • fintastic

      I'm guessing you didn't get the note about the brown acid?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  15. organically

    Religion is the biggest scam in the history of humanity!!!

    October 30, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Common Sense

      I thought it was liberalism

      October 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  16. Mary Ross

    Wal Mart, Home Depot and Lowes are our true "saviors". Get off your knees and stop wasting everybody'd time.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  17. Really?

    It's just weather. Get a grip.

    October 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Ryan M.

      People died, and lives were dramatically changed- how can you say such a thing?

      October 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • fintastic

      Because it's the truth!... it was JUST WEATHER.... nothing more. not mythology.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  18. tony

    Praying... never helped anyone.. people help people, believe in people (humanism) and not imaginary dieties.. You know the old saying "there are no athiests in foxholes"... actually its totally the opposite, their are " ONLY athiests in foxeholes" and natural disasters..the number one thing soldiers ask for when wounded is each other's help..not some god... because if there REALLY was a heaven no one would be afraid to die!

    October 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  19. cosmictwang

    Wouldn't a better conversation be, how can we improve infrastructure to help people out in situations like this? Like how can you invent a water pump that can be carried on a truck/boat have some sort of hose attachment and pump water onto a burning flooded neighborhood? FEMA might could use those, maybe. Or the pros and cons of above ground power grid? IF there is a god who might help you based on believing in him, then pray, if there's not then you wasted some time. But we could prevent something bad in the future!

    October 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  20. retief1954

    "God", "prayer", and atheism all have NOT ONE THING to do with this storm. It is purely a natural phenomenon. Here's something to think about, though... with the size of this thing, and all the other wild weather phenomena we've seen recently, are you SURE that no climate change is going on?... that it's all a big hoax?

    October 30, 2012 at 8:20 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.