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Who hears #PrayersForOklahoma?
May 21st, 2013
04:45 PM ET

Who hears #PrayersForOklahoma?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - God may not notice the thousands of prayers tweeted for victims of Oklahoma’s devastating tornado - but Ricky Gervais sure has. And he is not pleased.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 75,000 people have used the hashtag #PrayForOklahoma, including pop starlets, pastors and politicians, according to Topsy.com, a trend-monitoring site.

For example, the White House tweeted,

But the hashtag and the sentiments it promotes prompted a fierce backlash on social media, led by Gervais, a British comedian, and other prominent nonbelievers.

And while one Oklahoma City pastor says he appreciates the Twitter prayers, some religious scholars say devout petitions require more than moving your hands across a keyboard.

"A prayer is supposed to have a consequence for you," said Elizabeth Drescher, a lecturer at Santa Clara University in California. "It's not an act of magic."

Gervais, an ardent foe of organized religion, was more caustic.

After MTV tweeted that pop stars Beyonce, Rihanna and Katy Perry are sending their prayers to Oklahoma, Gervais responded, “I feel like an idiot now … I only sent money.”

Gervais and other atheists also kick-started a counter-trend, using the hashtag #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma.

“If all people are doing is praying, it is worthless,” Hemant Mehta, an Illinois math teacher who writes the blog “Friendly Atheist,” told CNN. “If they are praying and donating to the Red Cross, that’s more like it.”

Mehta is promoting a group called Foundation Beyond Belief that aims to provide a humanist response to crises like the Oklahoma tornado.

The prayer debate spilled into other social media sites as well, with commenters on CNN’s Facebook page sparring over God’s role in Monday’s destructive whirlwind.

According to Oklahoma officials, 24 people have died, many more are injured, and once-orderly streets look likes foretastes of the apocalypse.

In response to a woman who said she was praying for the victims, Facebook commenter Peter Tongue replied, “If prayer works, there wouldn’t be a disaster like this in the first place .... so please keep your religion to yourself.”

But believers had their say as well.

“God is still in control!” said Wilbur Dugger, a commenter on CNN’s Facebook page. “Everything (God) does is to get our attention. … My sympathy and prayers go out to those who get caught up in his demonstrations of (God) ruling the world.”

The social-media sparring over prayer and God’s will reflect a culture in which traditional notions of religion - and the places where people talk about faith - are changing faster than a Twitter feed, said Drescher, the Santa Clara lecturer.

“We’re watching people re-articulate what it means to be spiritual and religious,” she said.

Just a few years ago, for example, no one knew what a hashtag was. Now the “#PrayFor...” meme appears after almost every national and international tragedy.

But what exactly does it mean? Is the tweeting multitude really folding its hands in prayer, or is it a fleeting expression of existential angst? Or maybe just a trendy thing to say?

“It seems to express hope and anxiety, and maybe even helplessness,” Drescher said.

“At the same time, it evokes this strong response from people who see it as a cop-out, a way of claiming some kind of spiritual space that doesn’t actually have any meaning to the people who are posting the meme or the community they are addressing.”

Traditionally, prayer has required something of the pray-er: an orientation toward reverence, a readiness to act, Drescher continued. “You are meant to do something - and that something may not be an easy thing.”

Slapping a hashtag at the end of a tweet doesn’t meet that standard, the scholar said.

The Rev. David Johnson of St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City said the prayerful tweets mean something to him - even if he’s been too busy to read them.

Since Monday, St. Andrew’s has become a Red Cross command post and reunion site for families to find loved ones caught in the tornado’s path. The tragedy has also touched the congregation itself, with homes, and some lives, lost on Tuesday, Johnson said.

Told of the Twitter prayers, Johnson said, “that’s awesome.”

“People feel helpless - like God called them to do something but they don’t know what. That’s where prayer comes in.”

Johnson said his church appreciates the many material donations coming its way: the generator sent by a lady from Arkansas, the food and water sent from neighboring towns. But they also solicit, and are happy to receive, the many prayers recited - or tweeted - on their behalf, he said.

“We’ve seen quite a lot of trauma in the last day,” Johnson said. “Obviously, people are going to ask why God allows tornadoes to happen. That’s just part of this world. God doesn’t promise us that bad things won’t happen, he promises to help us get through it. That’s what prayer helps us do.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • United States

soundoff (3,515 Responses)
  1. One one

    Saying "I'll pray for you" is really saying I'll do nothing for you.

    Here is a question about the power of prayer:

    Two armies are engaged in a battle.
    Who has the advantage ?
    The army with the most prayers ?... OR
    The army with the most men and weapons ?
    t

    May 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, it's most likely the ones who don't waste time groveling on their knees, but use that time instead to prepare for battle.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Colin

      Ask Israel......Yahweh beats Allah every time, not because of prayers......

      May 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Chris

      Here is a better, more fair example: Two sides are of equal strength, one prays for five hours a day, while the other uses those same five hours to further train as well as develop a battleplan. Which side has the advantage?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Smack

      I have another example.

      Lets use the major floods that happened recently in thailand that destroyed thousands of homes and engulfed the downtown area of Bangkok. Many people died, thousands left homeless, animals were killed, etc...

      What was more beneficial to stopping the floods that lasted a few months;

      A – Billions of prayers from Christians, billions of prayers from Muslims, billions of prayers from Buddhists, etc..

      OR

      B – A single grandmother that is 80 years old that used her grandsons plastic toy shovel to fill one bag of sand

      Think about it hard. Not a single drop of water had defied the laws of physics, but the grandmother filled a small bag of sand to put at her front door.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Heather

      What about the army that does not have the weapons, training, nor means to acquire either, but who is told prayers are not welcome? Should they just do nothing? Cause I'm broke, so donations are out. I live in Austin, Tx so can't donate my time assisting in any rebuilding efforts, and work FT M-F 9-6, so it'd have to be outside of those hours. Guess I will do none of the above, then. Yw, OK.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • yoyo

      Satan thanks all his supporters

      May 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Lisa

      I know I will get heat for this but here it goes: I am believer and I am saved by the blood of Jesus. I am a working mom with family that is military. I usually am not too vocal when it comes to these sorts of chats but I feel urged today. There are many great stories in the Bible and real world accounts today that demonstrate "underdog" accomplishments through the aid of prayer and faith in Jesus. He is real and is waiting on us to turn to Him. I understand fully how tragedies such as these can lead people to question His existence but by no means is that true. We are born into this life sinners and it is by the blood of Jesus that we can be saved. It is times like this or personal times of hardship that God will allow us to be broken in order to be humbed and seek His face. I completely believe in monetary and physical aid as well but ultimately, He is our provider, our teacher, our doctor, our everything. I hope this helps and I hope it sticks with you!! I appreciate you taking the time to read this and allowing me to speak. Have a good day!

      May 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • knowmoststuff

      Lisa, you just totally contradicted yourself!!

      May 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Theola Ward

      A majority of people believe the effects of "attractions" and this book hit the best sellers list, even beloved "Oprah" loved it, The Secret is a best-selling 2006 self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne, if people can believe in this and not be accosted, then why or how can you belittle people for the belief of Prayer in something Good, guidance, protection ect? The prayer was not for themselves or about greed or things, as The Secret is.. its for a stranger they never met. This society astonishes me , in its failed attempts of political correctness. Its sad to think that the British man who started all of this never prayed for his own country , his own people and belittle other countries for praying for theirs & that man is "outraged" by this , why are we not "outraged" by his behavior?

      May 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Jason

      Hmmmm to the question of who has the advantage in battle.... Might be the religious side. If you trick your warriors into believing that they will get to bed 99 virgins or gain wings and fly up to the clouds they are less afraid of dying. I would say that the side that is not afraid to die has a distinct advantage.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  2. Craig

    Along with your prayer, do something that actually helps like donating blood or giving money to relief foundations.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Dee

      Why can't I do both? If I have to pick prayer OR send money. I will pick prayer. Because there is nothing more powerful. And I am praying that you will send money.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • sam

      Dee of course you can do both, but rather than posting #praying for oklahoma why not link the local red cross site instead. Atheists don't care that you pray atheists get annoyed that too many people think praying actually helps and so they don't bother doing anything helpful.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Kafir

      Dee must own a ridiculously comfortable couch.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  3. homalh

    why are people so afraid of prayer and faith? If they truly don't believe it why should it hurt them?? I can tell you when the tornados hit in Alabama in 2011 the people that stepped up and provided food, money supplies, diapers, etc everything and anything that people would need and lost, was provided by churches. And I am sure they will again. You don't realize how much failth based organizations provide. Do a little research before belittling it.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Colin

      Now imagine if they did none of that and just prayed....

      May 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Anon

      Because tragedies like this contradict the supposed all benevolent nature of your specific desert deity.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Homalh

      Reread what you wrote. It wasn't the prayer that helped these people, it was the supplies and the labor provided that was the real help.

      I'm thrilled when any organization, religious or not, pitches in to help out when a disaster strikes. The only issue I see is when a religious organization helps out and then takes advantage of people in a vulnerable state in order to try and convert them.

      Is it necessary to try and convert someone after their house has been flattened by a tornado and their loved one was killed? No, and yet religious organizations persist.

      I would reccommend you actually do a little research yourself on the organizations that want to help and end up just taking advantage of needy people.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • OMG

      --Now imagine if they did none of that and just prayed....

      Kind of like the atheists around here that do nothing but talk about their superior beliefs.

      A bunch of do-nothings.

      All talk, no action.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • homalh

      But, there are a lot of people that will step up and help, but my point is they do more than just pray. They are proactive and will get in there and work also. Help these people get back on the their feet and try to let them get back to normal.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • homalh

      chuckles, you can't win with you people, first you whine because they just pray, then when it is pointed out that the people do things also, well it is whined about that also, whatever, The people I worked with didn't do anything with anyone that it wasn't wanted. They just wanted to help. Why is it so bad just to tell people?? Just give them the information do whatever they want to with it. Some may welcome it and some may not, let them decide.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Homalh

      Like I stated. I'm all for people helping others in the aftermath of a disaster, or setting up soup kitchens for the homeless. It's when they target the vulnarable that becomes a problem.

      For instance, there are a growing number of people on the streets who would rather starve and brace the elements that go to a shelter, get a meal and a bed because they are being hassled by religious folk who want to push their agenda while simultanously handing out bread. I think that's wrong just like I'm sure you would think it was wrong if a religious muslim group descended on OK in the aftermath, provided supplies and work but also went around to each survivor asking them to accept Allah as the one true god and convert to Islam.

      The help is wonderful, it shouldn't come at the price of religous proseltyzation. If you don't understand that, then I hope you are harrassed by Jehovah's Witnesses everyday for the rest of your life.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      The secular government passes out aid in order to get votes. The difference is that believers help because of who they are in Christ not to take advantage of the people. Certainly there are some Christians that help for the wrong reasons just as there are a few secular government politicians that actually care. Regardless if there is or is not God peoples true nature is revealed in this fallen world.
      Why do you find the need to attack Christians?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • OMG

      A growing number of people. Like 2?

      Hey, a private group has the right to provide help and also preach.

      It is not a government program. It is charity.

      If a person would rather starve than listen to how Jesus Christ helped that man – that says more about the man than the charity.

      And really, most churches give out food freely. They don't push their agenda like you imagine in your head.

      Seriously, go to a shelter and see how it works.

      Most of the shelters have rules (no drinking, respect others) and that is what the "growing number of people" have a problem with.

      Why don't those people just go to the atheist homeless shelter (do they have those?)?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • homalh

      chuckles, look at what I posted, No they shouldn't be targeted if they don't want to be and no I don't want Jehovah's Witnesses everyday at my house, but when they do come and I tell them I don't want to talk to them, they go on and don't bother me, that is what I am saying, I believe, you don't, if we were standing there and you told me you didn't want to talk about it I would say "ok" and leave you alone. Most people will. But, anyway, churches will be out there helping and people will be glad of it. I don't think any religous proseltyzation will be going on, they will be too focused on feeding and getting supplies to the people that need it.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • charckles

      dar, i keep coming to a religious blog... and people keep talking to me about GOD. WHAT AN OUTRAGE!

      May 21, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @OMG

      I spend my time at soup kitchens once a week. I'm well aware of the places that push their religious agenda, how they do it and the decreasing amount of people who go to the kitchen because they're sick of being preached at.

      There are other kitchens run by local chairties and churches alike that I have no problem working at because they choose to keep their beliefs to themselves and just serve food and help. I've said it a couple of times but will repeat it again for the dim-witted. I have no problem with churchs providing the necessary help to fellow humans. I'm all for it and am happy to help them. It's the ones that have a religious agenda that are odious and should stop. They have the right to do it, but that doesn't mean they should. Westboro as the right to protest military funerals, but obviously they are wrong.

      @homalh

      I hope you are right and it's kept to a minimum. Unfortunately that's not how it always works, far from it. More and more faith based charities are growing bolder and using the charity as a soapbox. I know this because I worked for a group specifically created to temper the religous groups from lobbying for more rights to spread christianity to vulnerable men and women. Furthermore, that's nice that you stop when someone asks you but a) in my opinion you shouldn't be approaching a random stranger about your faith to begin with and b) unlike you, many people persist even after they are told to go away.

      I've personally witnessed many, many times men and women being harrassed by the religious, in a soup kitchen no less, and end up leaving without finishing their food because they're fed up with being pestered. I'd reccommend you take off those rose colored glasses and understand not everything is fine and dandy when it comes to faith based orgs.

      PS – This specific disaster will probably involved a lot more help and a lot less preaching mainly because most people in OK are already christians. The real thing you have to ask yourself is, would you be as supportive of many muslim based orgs heading to OK and preaching Islam while helping? What about Hinduism? Or Buddhism? Do you think it's appropriate for people of different faiths to talk to a survivor about how the faith they have is wrong and they should convert?

      If not, then you and I have a lot more in common than you're willing to admit.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      The words of Jesus are clear that for those who do good out of the goodness in their heart receive their rewards in Heaven. Those who do good before the eyes of man for any purpose other than onto God have received their reward already.
      We are always out there helping in the community. It is the people that want to know why we take the time help. You're not suggesting we lie or say nothing are you? We tell them Jesus said to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty etc, for what you do for the least of these you have done as if for me. The intent is to show faith in action and pray that any who want what we have will ask.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Therein lies the rub, eh fred ? Why in the world would anyone wish to be as condescending and arrogant as the vast majority of contemporary Christians who post here ? Why would anyone "want what you have" ?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • OMG

      -Chuckles

      You paint of picture of people starving and suffering in the elements, or be hassled by religious folk who just want to push their agenda.

      Yea right!

      Most of these people need to listen to what these preachers have to say.

      What is it that they are saying that is so horrible? What are they saying that is so bad, that these guys would rather starve or freeze to death?

      Are they calling them bad names and yelling at them?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • OMG

      @midwest
      On that same token… the atheists on here are condescending and arrogant, too.
      A vast majority – and this is a religion/belief blog. Why come to a religion/belief blog if you hate religion and believers? To be just as condescending and arrogant?
      Why would anyone “want what you have”?
      Seriously.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • OMG

      @fred

      Nicely put.

      We should feel free to share why we are feeding the hungry. (Not just sit there and silently give food and then say "bye bye").

      May 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • homalh

      chuckles, I hate it that some preach to the point of what you are talking about, that doesn't help anyone. Jesus said he would knock on the door not knock it down. And I don't just go up to perfect strangers and start spouting off, most people will just start a conversation and see if it is wanted or not. There is nothing wrong with talking, but there is with what you were talking about, pestering, shouldn't be allowed, Why is this?? I guess there could be a shelter run by a non believer?? Maybe there are some out there, but most of the places I have seen is christians. But, you are right, I wouldn't want to be pestered, if I say I don't want to talk they should respect that.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • fred

      Midwest rail
      Well I don't call atheists godless when I see them but I use that word on this anonymous format. Your right it is a very bad example. I also do not intend to be condescending yet it comes off that way because I actually feel the Holy Sprit has spoken the truth into my heart. To say I know something that is of Gods Kingdom and actually feel that way is hard to present in a humble fashion.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • homalh

      And to the Westboro Baptist church, I don't like what they do and don't agree with it. I don't know why they are out there spouting off this hate, I don't know of another church that is like it. I would hate to stand in front of my God and try to explain why I did these things. They are so hateful it is pitiful. Christians don't agree with them and really wish they would stop their hateful things that they do.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • fred

      OMG
      I spend a great deal of time in prayer before I go into the community so that it is God who sends people my way. I am there first to help and in helping they have plenty of time to ask a question, I never need to start the God Talk.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • OMG

      Big difference between:

      1. Using your own money to pay rent on a building and buy food, pass it out – and tell the people how Jesus Christ helped you get off the streets.

      2. Yelling slurs at people at a funeral.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • homalh

      and just one more thing and I will leave you alone, as far as the muslins and hindu's are concerned, this country has the right to freedom of religion, if they want to come help that's fine. I also am friends with a couple that are hindu, nicest people you would ever meet. I love them, I know their views and they know mine and we just don't talk about it. All christians are not the hateful people you think they are.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @OMG

      I would reccommend you actually spend the day among the impoverished instead of pretend to understand the huge problem of poverty in America. People are starving on the streets, people are dying on the streets. Maybe if you left your suburb once in a while you might realize that.

      @Homalh

      When did I ever say that all christians are hateful people? Looks like you'e prejudging me huh? What did your god say about judging other people?

      Hindu people and Jewish people don't really count as their religions are not at all about proselytization and you won't find Jewish or Hindu charities trying to convert people, it's not part of the religion.

      You also ignored the main question I was asking, which is would you think its right for a muslim group or a buddhist group to fly to Oklahoma, and try and convert people who come looking for food and clean water? I mean, talking doesn't hurt and buddhists and muslims alike believe they are doing a public good by spreading their message and yet I'm sure it makes you uncomfortable to think about muslim men and women discussing the 5 pillars of islam and Allah while grieving families who just lost a loved one are trying to put their lives back together.

      All I've ever pointed out is that although it's perfectly legal for a privately funded group to travel to a disaster stricken area to help and preach their religion, is it right? My answer is no. I think the charities should be there to provide relief and it's a valuable service, but the last thing they should be doing is trying to pimp their religion, regardless of how innocuous it might seem.

      May 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @OMG

      "Big difference between:

      1. Using your own money to pay rent on a building and buy food, pass it out – and tell the people how Jesus Christ helped you get off the streets.

      2. Yelling slurs at people at a funeral."

      I see very little difference actually. Both privately funded groups are following the law but also trying to spread their religion in different ways. But sure, pretend like #1 is somehow completely justified because your giving them food first. I guess when a ped.ophile offers a child candy before molesting them, at least they gave them food first right?

      May 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Dragon Slayer Lights Your Fire

      we are not afraid of prayer. we know it is useless and a waste of time.

      May 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Heather

      @colin – Now imagine you can't afford to do any of that and can only pray? What then?

      May 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Redoran

      @OMG – Atheists have NO beliefs in the supernatural. Rethink what you are writing.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • knowmoststuff

      Why can't we leave religion to the side in this and just help. If you have no money, time or abilities that are needed, give blood. If you can't give blood then help one of YOUR neighbors with child care while they shop, or go to an appointment. Get out of your house and help someone, then they will pass it on and on and on and so on. Then if the people you help thank god for the help, so what. You did it as a good deed not because you had to or needed to but because you want to. Humanity should be good to each other cause we are all on this ball of dirt together, regardless how we got here.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Rachel

      You would hope that would be the case, that if someone doesn't believe in something that it won't hurt them. It all boils down to how people react to it. There are many people of all faiths who are truly open minded and don't let other people's beliefs weigh on their own. Then there are those who believe that their faith or lack there of is the only way to go. "How can someone believe is something of which they have no proof" or "You /must/ believe in G-d" or also "You must believe in Christ your savior". Those who force their beliefs on others are the reason why people feel like they will be hurt for not believing in religion or even a specific religion.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • CHRISTINE

      I am not afraid of prayer...I am afraid of the apathy that many people fall into because of it. When tragedy strikes, REAL action is required to help those affected. You can pray all you want; I don't care. But don't let it replace real action that could actually help someone.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Opinion-man

      But lots of other organizations do good also. I don't think anyone who's reasonable would fault a church for helping people in need. Indeed, that's a basic tenet in all religions.
      The issue here is with lame theology and poor thinking. Saying words doesn't do anything. Actions do.
      I recently saw a photo of a grandmother type on her knees praying at the Boston marathons bombing. I don't know what she expected to happen. The bombs had done their damage. Did she really think that saying words on her knees would–what?–help someone keep a limb?

      May 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  4. Matthew

    Why must atheists complain about everything? A hashtag that encourages people to pray doesn't harm them at all.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • 911 - all lines are busy please die

      Oh, look, someone complaining about how other people complain.
      Time to call the WAAAAAMBULANCE!!

      May 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • homalh

      Matthew, don't you know they are the only ones that can complain lol.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • His panic

      Because they are in State of total Panic! 😉 Especially that one Gervais or whatever his name is, I even I may be his Panic!

      May 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      It's an opportunity to point out the pointlessness of praying in particular and religion in general.

      The time spent "praying" instead of "doing" is just silly.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • knowmoststuff

      We don't complain about everything, just don't believe in silly stories that all.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  5. Science

    #Comedy Gold......http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/21/vatican-pope-didnt-perform-exorcism/comment-page-1/#comments

    please donate $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !

    Peace

    May 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  6. disgusted retiree

    Why should anyone send money? I say now is thw time for the tax exempt churches to dig into their 10% fund bank accounts and send money to do Gods work.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • mikaman3000

      you should definitely think about changing your name to disgusting retiree.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Let the bloodbath commence!

      That would mean prying it from their cold, dead fingers.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Someone has to look after the non-delusionals, the atheists and agnostics. I wouldn't trust cult members, led by shamans and charlatans, to do that.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  7. Shayna

    Oh yes, let's all thank god for everything that's good, but not blame it for anything that's bad. I want that job. I love the people who thank god for saving their life while others got killed in the same event. Hmmm....you somehow are more important? God likes you or your family better? How arrogant...or is it just plain stupid? So hard to decide.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Colin

      Yep. You can’t have it both ways. If you believe that the Christian God is responsible for natural events, you must accept that he sent the tornado over the top of the school. If causation goes no further than nature itself, then don’t credit God with the inevitable near misses. Doing so is to reduce god to nothing more than a metaphor for “good luck”.

      Claiming miracles in the debris of a summer storm is as vacuous as praying for a four to come up on each of six-hundred times you roll a die, and then claiming that God answered your prayers “about a hundred times.”

      May 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Anon

      Welcome to 'MURICA the land of the christards.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • mikaman3000

      judging by your comments, and mention of someone else's supposed arrogance(according to you), it has dawned on me that you may be w/out a mirror. if you would like for me to start a mirror fund for you, so you can finally look in the eyes of a hypocrite, I would like that job.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • OMG

      Maybe God has chosen to limit his powers. It is better for humans to overcome tragedy.

      It hurts, but the pain and suffering is temporary. It does pass. We can survive.

      If we all got what we wanted and life was a bed of roses – we'd just be spoiled brats.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • One one

      @OMG, isn't that what is supposed to happen in heaven ?

      May 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • OMG

      – isn't that what is supposed to happen in heaven ?

      No.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Marsha in Michigan

      I do believe this is the most intelligent comment I've seen here so far....

      May 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  8. One one

    Praying now seems like shutting the barn door after the horse already got out.

    If people really think god will respond to their prayers and help in some way, why didn't he prevent the death and destruction in the 15-20 minutes when people knew the storm was comming and prayed for his protection ? For that matter, why did god allow the storm in the first place ?

    Playing the "free will" card won't work this time.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  9. sly

    Okies better pray, cause there shouldn't be any federal money sent to that state until both Senators resign, and are replaced by non-TeaBaggers.

    These selfish Senators said No Money for New Jersey victims, so let's be clear: No Money for Okla victims.

    So please, for these folks who elected their Senators and support withholding all federal money for disaster victims – you had best pray and pray a lot.

    Goes around, comes around.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Can you provide a reference for the OK senators vote on Sandy relief funding? The OK governor was very thankful for FEMA's immediate involvement, so there could be a very entertaining story here.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      http://w w w.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-rt-us-usa-tornadoes-congressbre94k18z-20130521,0,969107.story

      May 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Thanks! *After* the folks in OK are well looked after, I hope the Dems ram this down the Pubtard's throats, and make it a very significant issue during the next election cycle.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  10. MagicPanties

    My invisible pink unicorn is praying that all the folks talking to the sky try doing something "real", and get a clue too.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Anon

      Is it pinkie pie? :3

      May 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      But but but my purple and gold spotted unicorn was praying first...my unicorn is the only True Unicorn-What will it take to convince you? 😉

      May 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Marsha in Michigan

      Amen MP....am I allowed to use that word as an atheist?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  11. Colin

    Image I built a golden calf. I put it on an altar and I assured everybody that if you prayed to it, it would answer your prayers. Now think about what would happen when people prayed to it. Most times what they asked for would not transpire. Every now and then, through sheer luck, it would.

    Now, if people doubted my golden calf, how would I respond. I bet I would say things like:

    1. The golden calf always answers prayers, it’s just that sometimes the answer is “no” or “not yet.”

    2. The golden calf moves in mysterious ways.

    3. The golden calf knows what is best for you. You should take into account the bigger picture.

    4. Sometimes the golden calf has a plan for us all. In the long run HE looks out for you.

    5. You should not question the golden calf.

    Now think about the excuses Christians give when God does not “answer prayers.”

    May 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      tee hee

      May 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  12. Lisa

    Seriously this is a story? It's also ironic that it contains the word meme coined by the most famous atheist.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  13. Choconet

    This article makes me want to do neither. I'm starting a new line called the indifferent.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  14. Ken Hughes

    I'm sure that many Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Wiccans, and people of all belief systems and faiths are praying or meditating or observing whatever traditions they have in order to call for supernatural help, whether they take to Twitter to encourage one another with a #prayfor hashtag or not.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  15. Four Two

    Good ol' CNN, always wanting to start an argument and controversy when it comes to tragic events.....vultures.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      What was it that Pat Robertson had to say about Oklahoma?

      May 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  16. Durannie

    Instead of "praying" why not do something tangible and effective, like volunteer, give blood, or donate money?

    May 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Jean-Sartre

      Exactly!

      I'm so tied of thee people "prayin'" and asking the "Almighty" to help people in a disaster, or the poor, and the sick; do something useful and give money, your personal help, etc...

      May 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Dave Harper

      Praying allows many people to feel like they're really doing something without having to really do something.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Trondidit

      But I wanted to send a message to the universe to fix it for me without me doing anything!
      I has a sad.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  17. peter

    It's called nature. Humans have no control over it. Tornado, hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, etc......We're on a planet with constant changes with no ability to affect much except prepare for those disasters.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      shhhhhhhhh, be very qwiet you'll stir the crazies and they'll spew hateful moronic fairy tales at you about how god punishes sinners or how god has left this world because it is fallen or how god somehow always has a plan....any facts given to them might drive them to resort to using scripture to defend their imaginary friend and when that isn't enough, they'll spittle like rabid wolves and curse you with some place called hell

      May 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Matthew 24:8   All these [are] the beginning of sorrows.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Once again with your laziness HS...your fairy tales mean nothing to intelligent people...have you gotten off your fat saggy ass and made a donation yet?

      May 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Psalms 94:4

      [How long] shall they utter [and] speak hard things? [and] all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?

      Amen.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tommy, you forgot to switch dummy handles. You posted your venom under Truth Prevails handle. LOL.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  18. HotAirAce

    Please donate to the victims of this tragedy via Non-Believers Giving Aid at richarddawkins.net.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Science

      Agree

      Peace

      May 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • OMG

      No, please be donate through a Christian disaster relief fund.

      http://cdresponse.org/

      May 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Science

      OMG..............you might enjoy this ?

      http://www.ibtimes.com/atheists-fight-gideon-bibles-books-christopher-hitchens-richard-dawkins-georgia-state-parks-1271125

      May 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |

      May 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Science

      HEY........OMG..................is that the cat ?

      Science books........videos.............trumps the 666.................beast.................or red horn-y thingy....does it

      NOT ........peachy ?

      May 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/19/proofs-of-heaven-popular-but-not-with-the-church/comment-page-48/#comments

      May 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |

      May 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • OMG

      Crazy fundamentalist and loonie atheists –

      So much alike.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      richarddawkins.net sends 100% of all donations to the agencies they work with. I couldn't find a similar guarantee at cdresponse.org.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • sam

      Sorry, 'OMG', no one is going to trust any recommendations from an ass like you.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • OMG

      I just randomly chose that website – I volunteer with secular and Christian charities.

      All are generous – none seem to have an exclusive claim to helping their fellow man.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      The following lists numerous ways to donate and explains a little about the charities, these are both secular and religion based:
      http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/20/18381508-how-to-help-oklahoma-tornado-victims?lite

      May 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • richarddawkins.net scam alert!!!

      Don't donate to the "Charity" – they just send annoying know-it alls to disasters. They just sit in lawn chairs and yell at everyone.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      richarddawkins.net sends all donations to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Are you criticizing the Red Cross and DWB? Please provide evidence for your allegations, or admit that you are a liar, probably a christian liar breaking your alleged ggd's commandments.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • richarddawkins.net scam alert!!!

      When the JoUplin, MO tornado hit – Richard Dawkins crew came and ba.nned us from praying. They said .the street was puDDblic and that pra.ying to G.od is unco.nstt.uti.onal.

      They bUrned Bibles. I sa.w one volun.teer take candy from a 4 year old.

      Their re.lief eff.orts consis.ted of free tic.kets to a Penn and Teller Magic Show (in Las Ve.gas – the fol.lowing week. Really? H.ow rude.)

      WORST.RELIEF.EFFORT.EVER

      May 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And you can back that with independent reporting?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • richarddawkins.net scam alert!!!

      http://www.gsa.gov/falseprofits/RichardDawkinsFoundationFactSheet.pdf

      May 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Do you have a link that works? A search for "Dawkins" at GSA yielded nothing. Googling for the pdf document yielded nothing. Are you sure you are not lying?

      May 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And I couldn't find any articles critical of the Richard Dawkins Foundation in Joplin. . .

      May 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • OMG

      Come on!

      Stealing candy from kids.

      Just sitting in lawn chairs yelling at people.

      I'm not lying – I'm joking. 🙂

      May 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      While there were a couple of humouress lines in the later posts, the original intent was to defame a legitimate relief effort. You lied. You need to get on your knees and beg your god for forgiveness. And then send a healthy donation to richarddawkins.net.

      May 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  19. Bob

    #MoneyForOklahoma is what is needed. Prayer is a worthless exercise meant only to comfort the person practicing it. It is equivalent to jerking it.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • OMG

      Sorry, they need more than money.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Bob

      Whatever they need, they can only get it from their fellow man. It is not going to come from a magic wizard in the sky.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The authorities in Moore said (on CNN) that money is exactly what they need! Not more responders, not more waving of the hands – good ol' money that can be used for many, many things.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  20. Skalamoosh

    You are all missing the point of this article. Saying you are praying for those affected is essentially doing nothing. Actually praying is putting your heart and soul into what you believe, and God hears every prayer. However, if you actually feel strong enough to pray for someone, you also believe it will be done and take ACTion in addition to your prayers.
    Point is- many are being "Trendy" and "sending prayers" when they really are doing nothing. It's not discounting prayer, it's discounting saying you are praying when you are not in the least bit religious. You're really sending positive thoughts if you really don't pray.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Brandon

      Somehow I think you missed the point of the article as well. You can pray pray pray all you want to but that's not going to help not one single person. Now money on the other hand is a tangible item that can help these people recover.

      May 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Marsha in Michigan

      And the difference between "praying" and "sending good thoughts" is??

      May 22, 2013 at 2:19 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.