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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. TIM

    Still waiting on an answer:

    JUST ONE QUESTION FOR THE CHRISTIAN MAN.

    HOW IS IT THAT YOU KNOW YOUR RELIGION IS CORRECT AND OTHERS ARE FALSE??

    I NEED A RESPONSE OTHER THAN BC THE BIBLE SAID SO, THEY HAVE BOOKS WRITTEN BY MAN ALSO...

    May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Nwest

      Faith.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • tony

      Faith is the question, not the answer.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Twister Sister

      Faith that the Christian man's fairy tale is better than some other random dude's.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I think I hear crickets .. or is that a tornado being sent your way TIM? lol

      May 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  2. John H.

    As god is all knowing and all seeing, and that nothing happens that is against god will, he is directly responsible for this tragedy. As it is his will why pray for these people? Believers should be happy this happened as it was part of god plan. The fact they don't feel this way tells me even "believers" don't 100% believe.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jim

      Didn't Lucifer revolt? Was that not against His will?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Ivan Libya

      Exactly, it's even divine, I hear. 🙂

      May 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Jim, are you saying that god is not omnipotent or omniscient? Do you hold that sometimes god's plan is messed up and he didn't want it to be and didn't know it would happen?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Jim – Didn't Lucifer revolt? Was that not against His will?'

      apparently not because he is supposedly all knowing and all powerful, never makes mistakes and everything that happens is part of god's will...so no, that wasnt.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • drpprmt

      Believers use the Bible to rationalize anything. "I was saved by God's Grace" etc. I guess the baby and children didn't have God's Grace. Their answer to any questions that may make them think is, "I don't know." God is all powerful. One of the most difficult beliefs to challenge is belief in religion dogma. Fairy tales! Just plain fairy tales. God no more made man in his likeness then man was made from mud (as the Chinese believe) or that Raven is all powerful as the Native Americans believe. For some however, they need to rely on the belief because when something happens that they can't wrap their mind around, praying or believing in God helps them cope.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Twister Sister

      God got distracted from Moore, OK. He was preoccupied with watching an asteroid hit Mars, a Zebra crapping in the African grassland, and a housewife giving a trucker the middle finger on the Santa Monica Freeway.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  3. tony

    The true and devastatingly evil effect of religious belief is that it is used by religious leaders, to override the consciences of otherwise good men, in order to get then to do awful and bad things, because it is "right", or "god's greater plan".

    That's why governments put chaplains into armies.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Captain obvious

      Religion is dangerous nonsense, dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Religion can be dangerous but so can a tablespo on of water and a bee sting. It being nonsense is totally subjective.

      I've known many people that are quite humble and are the opposite of a person with unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  4. Jim

    I would think Christians would welcome death when it comes from a natural cause–it means a quick trip to Nirvana, Heaven, etc. It means perfect eternity. The only catch is that you can't kill yourself, but a tornado comes roaring at you, hey, that's just a good deal, right? Bam–Heaven doesn't have to wait. Remember, compared to infinity, 100 years is utterly without relevance.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  5. dswe

    The Kindness of God

    Divine Providence is that quality of God's action by which He brings good out of evil, or by which He permits us to do evil so that he may eventually bring good out of it. The Kindness of God is the best answer to the age old complaint, "Why does God let them get away with it?"

    We are all aware that people just don't act the way they should. Some are mean, arrogant, selfish, vicious, ungrateful, and malicious all the time. Even the very best (are you listening?) are mean, arrogant, etc., part of the time.

    Why doesn't God do something about it: He could, all right; but, strange to say, that would ruin everything. He created us with free will, that is, the power of choosing to do good or to do evil. He realized very well that some people would abuse free will, but He gave it to us anyway, because if without it we'd be robots. His plan is to reward us with Heaven but you don't reward a machine for doing well - it can't do otherwise. No free will, no reward.

    We may as well accept the fact that "It's a sinful world!" We don't have to remind God of that; indeed, no one ever suffered more from it than He Himself did when His Son was on earth. The big difference is that He accepted the injustice done to His Son and did not rebel against it. It was through that very acceptance that He was to save us. Everything that was done to His Son was permitted by Himself for our salvation. For His Son's part, he accepted it as the will of his Father. "Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; but not my will, but Thine be done."

    Do you claim to be the victim of a greater injustice than His Son? Or more important than His Son? You'd gladly escape your unbearable situation, but cannot. His Son could have, but did not! "Is the disciple above the Master?"

    The Providence of God turned the most horrible injustice of all time into the greatest blessing of all time. Divine Providence is still turning evil into good, if the victim of injustice accepts his lot, even as Christ accepted His. When you bow to the inevitable and accept injustice, you are not ignoring it or excusing it or explaining it away. You are simply accepting the indirect or permissive Will of God.

    God does not will evil or condone injustice; He merely permits it, even while He works the marvel by which it results in good. So if we find ourselves in an apparently hopeless situation, with every avenue of escape blocked, we must not rebel. Instead, we must realize that God has His reasons, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, for permitting it. And so we accept it, saying "Thy Will Be Done!" Immediately the load drops from our shoulders, and the assurance that all will be well, brings peace to our soul.

    Look back over your life. Honestly, now, can't you see how the loving Hand of God has brought a happy ending to many events that seemed to be unmitigated tragedies at the time? "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?"

    May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jim

      So your saying black slavery in America was a GOOD thing?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Twister Sister

      The Loving Hand of God just killed a bunch of kids, you loon.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      dswe:
      Long post, full of nonsense.

      Divine Providence is that quality of God's action by which He brings good out of evil, or by which He permits us to do evil so that he may eventually bring good out of it. The Kindness of God is the best answer to the age old complaint, "Why does God let them get away with it?"
      Where is the Kindness of God in creating tornadoes that kill people? Do you suggest that sin creates tornadoes? Who sinned? Only those who died? Anyone in the tornadoes path? Someone else who was nowhere near the tornado? If anything, God doesn't have good aim.

      Why doesn't God do something about it: He could, all right; but, strange to say, that would ruin everything. He created us with free will, that is, the power of choosing to do good or to do evil. He realized very well that some people would abuse free will, but He gave it to us anyway, because if without it we'd be robots. His plan is to reward us with Heaven but you don't reward a machine for doing well – it can't do otherwise. No free will, no reward.
      Free will. I have free will to use common sense and logic to see no evidence of God. He left no physical evidence that He does or ever did exist. Not a very logical move on his part. My years of education shows that incredibly unlikely things require incredible proof. God fails. God's story is best believed by the uneducated and non-reasoning mind.

      We may as well accept the fact that "It's a sinful world!" We don't have to remind God of that; indeed, no one ever suffered more from it than He Himself did when His Son was on earth. The big difference is that He accepted the injustice done to His Son and did not rebel against it. It was through that very acceptance that He was to save us. Everything that was done to His Son was permitted by Himself for our salvation. For His Son's part, he accepted it as the will of his Father. "Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; but not my will, but Thine be done."
      How do you know God suffered the death of His son? God chose to do it. Of all His powers, that is the best scenario He could think of? The whole sacrifice thing is a pagan one. Jesus taught not to sacrifice, but God sacrifices Jesus? What was he thinking? I didn't ask anyone to accept my sins. I am responsible for my actions, not some bronze age Rabi.

      Do you claim to be the victim of a greater injustice than His Son? Or more important than His Son? You'd gladly escape your unbearable situation, but cannot. His Son could have, but did not! "Is the disciple above the Master?"
      What? How is claiming to be a victim? It's funny you talk about God killing His son as the greatest injustice. Injustice it is. What kind of loving God would perform such a crime?

      The Providence of God turned the most horrible injustice of all time into the greatest blessing of all time. Divine Providence is still turning evil into good, if the victim of injustice accepts his lot, even as Christ accepted His. When you bow to the inevitable and accept injustice, you are not ignoring it or excusing it or explaining it away. You are simply accepting the indirect or permissive Will of God.
      So victims of natural disasters should thank God for the "favor"? Should we all move to tornado ally? How about the Gulf coast? We should get in line to be God's nest victim so we can thank Him for his demolition? What is permissive about a God who destroys his believers? Do you know how demented that idea is? You belief in a spiteful, revengeful God who punishes on a random basis for the sins of others.

      God does not will evil or condone injustice; He merely permits it, even while He works the marvel by which it results in good. So if we find ourselves in an apparently hopeless situation, with every avenue of escape blocked, we must not rebel. Instead, we must realize that God has His reasons, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, for permitting it. And so we accept it, saying "Thy Will Be Done!" Immediately the load drops from our shoulders, and the assurance that all will be well, brings peace to our soul.
      So where is the good in the holocaust? Where is the good in Moore being hit be three massive tornadoes? Where is the good in 9/11? Tornados existed before man, does that mean God punished the plants and animals for their sin? Or do you belief in the young earth?

      Look back over your life. Honestly, now, can't you see how the loving Hand of God has brought a happy ending to many events that seemed to be unmitigated tragedies at the time? "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?"
      No, not one thing that points to any sky fairy, thanks.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  6. Ivan Libya

    In light of recent events, I will no longer help by sending money, it seems simply asking God to ease the suffering of those affected is enough. Thanks believers!

    May 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  7. dswe

    Acceptance

    These various "home remedies" -blaming everybody, self pity and the rest - have but one result: they make everybody including ourselves more miserable and add to our difficulties without solving them. Shall we curse God and die? No.

    Do what the politician does: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! If you can't solve your problems, learn to live with them and in spite of them.

    "Oh sure, sure; just like that! All very well to say "Learn to live with them", but it's another thing to do it! Just how do you go about doing that?

    Very simple, my friend; so simple you wouldn't try it unless you were desperate. If you are desperate enough you'll try anything. So try something that works - try acceptance!

    Acceptance is the only real source of tranquility, serenity, peace. It is also known as "surrender", Bowing to the inevitable. Joining 'em. It can be acquired if you have an urgent desire to help yourself and are willing to ask God to help you.

    Luckily for us, the perfect formula for acceptance, simple and practical as a can opener, is ready at hand, waiting for us to use it as hundreds of thousands before us have. Written by Reinhold Niebuhr, it is known far and wide as "The Serenity Prayer."

    Here it is:

    God grant me the

    Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

    Courage to change the things I can; and

    Wisdom to know the difference.

    You simply ask God to give you the ability to take people and things as they are, if you cannot change them. We can very seldom change people though we can change ourselves. We ask God, further, to enable us to convince ourselves that we would not have things otherwise, even if we could. Only God is powerful enough to control all things and He seems to prefer to make some things come out right without changing them.

    In practice: face up to the problem that is driving you wild, and say "Is there anything I can do about it right now, today?" If there is, do it! Don't put it off another minute. If there is nothing you can do about it today, accept it and forget it.

    You don't get over a forty foot wall by banging your head against it, you just get a headache. If you sit down in the shade of the wall and say, "Maybe I'm better off on this side, after all." You may be sure that God will make things turn out better for you and for everyone else. This ability of His to make things work out for the best is known as Divine Providence, or "The Kindness of God."

    May 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  8. jmartin7

    Question: Why can't atheists mind their own business? Who cares what Gervias thinks? Thankfully, he had the decency to send money to the victims(for which he wanted the world to know). Now, he needs to just shut up!!!

    May 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • tom

      I agree but it's a two way street. If the believers shut up I suspect that Gervais and other non-believers would be do the same.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jim

      But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • peridot2

      Ricky has a point. I respect, esteem and admire him. Look at the GOP, which claims to be Christian and to follow the Word of God. Then look at their acts: defunding programs which pay for food for women and children, cutting food stamps, school lunch programs, taking funding from schools that educate kids and medical programs and defunding Medicaid.

      Prayer without good works counts for NOTHING. It's hypocrisy. Ricky Gervais with his atheism is a better Christian in his good works than most Republicans in the US. He gives to charity all the time. Meditate on that.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  9. TIM

    JUST ONE QUESTION FOR THE CHRISTIAN MAN.

    HOW IS IT THAT YOU KNOW YOUR RELIGION IS CORRECT AND OTHERS ARE FALSE??

    I NEED A RESPONSE OTHER THAN BC THE BIBLE SAID SO, THEY HAVE BOOKS WRITTEN BY MAN ALSO...

    May 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • peridot2

      ...and in your opinion, Tim, Christian women count for nothing?

      (I simply couldn't resist!)

      May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • jmartin7

      Tim, you need to know that Christians don't practice "religion." We believe in and worship a Greater Power who is very real to us. Also, we have the decency and value others enough to NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS!!!

      May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Tim, you need to know that Christians don't practice "religion." We believe in and worship a Greater Power who is very real to us."

      And believers in other religions don't do the same?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      jmartin7, How did you prove to yourself that the thousands of other gods are not real when there is exactly the same evidence for them as there is for your god (i.e. none)

      May 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  10. dswe

    ACCEPTANCE

    By Vincent P. Collins

    Facing Life

    Sooner or later, everyone arrives at a point where life seems to become to big to cope with. Life is never really too much for us, but it can seem to be. When this happens, we have to get life back in focus. We have lost our perspective, but it can be regained.

    You may have to come to think of the world as unspeakably vast - the earth, twenty five thousand miles around, and outer space, full of unknown worlds. But, practically, the world is limited to your house, your shop, and your town. Even if you fly to India or Paris or Hong Kong, your world is no bigger than the interior of the airplane, and no further away than the nearest airport.

    You may have come to regard the world as teeming with millions and millions of people. In reality, your world consists of a very small number of people - those you live with, those you work with, and those you're acquainted with.

    And the awful menacing future, that unending nightmare of shadowy days and years! Can't even bear to think about it. Well, quit even thinking about it at all. You live only a split second at a time; that's right this minute. You can think of only one thing at a time, do only one thing at a time; you actually live only one breath at a time. So stop living in a tomorrow that may never come, and start living one day at a time - today. Plan for tomorrow, but live only till bedtime tonight.

    In short, that big bogey-man, life, can be cut down to his real size. Life is only this place, this time, and these people right here and now. This you can handle - at least today.

    "But my life is just one problem after another!" Of course it is - that's life.

    I don't know how it is with you, but it took me a long time to realize that at least some of these problems were of my own making. For instance, I thought that it was my duty to try to solve other people's problems, arbitrate their disputes, and show them how to live their lives. I was hurt when they rejected my advice. I finally learned that you cannot help people unless they really need help, are willing to be helped, want you to help them, and ask you to help them. Even then, you can only help them to help themselves.

    An old Arab, whose tent was pitched next to a company of whirling dervishes was asked, "Don't they bother you?"

    "NO!"

    "What do you do about them?

    "I just let 'm whirl!"

    May 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  11. Candee

    God listening to all the prayers! The people that died were too good for earth! I know that isn't the best comfort. God is there. He loves all even who don't believe in him. Open your eyes and hearts to the truth! GOD IS REAL!!!!!

    May 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Why is YOUR God "the truth"?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Dan

      LOL. Maybe they were all future serial killers and your imaginary friend was trying to save more people.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jim

      for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

      May 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Ivan Libya

      @Jim, jealousy = envy = is a sin? So your perfect god is a sinner? Interesting.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      which god is real, candee?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  12. Lyndell Stansell

    (Proverbs 3:5-7) Trust in the lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. I too was once an unbeliever. I have now seen the glorious things God has done in my life. Even in natural disasters, God's ever presence in our lives is reaffirmed to believers. Acts of kindness and amazing miracles occur during disastrous events. As much as Gervais' comments may be cheered by non-believers, his comments have also given believers an opportunity to reflect on their own relationships with God and those relationships are strengthened.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      1 Corinthians 13:11 .. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. just sayin'

      May 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • .

      "Don't ask questions, just cross your fingers."

      May 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • TIM

      WHAT AGE DID YOU GIVE UP GOD?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I have now seen the glorious things God has done in my life. Even in natural disasters, God's ever presence in our lives is reaffirmed to believers'

      go to the latest news story, and look at the faces of the children killed, including a 4 month and 7 month old and tell me again of the glorious things god has done.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Dan

      Santa Clause 12:25

      May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Dana

      You can't have a "relationship" with an imaginary person in the sky. Get over it.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  13. Lorri

    Who cares what Ricky Gervais thinks?!?
    One of the MANY blessings and benefits of having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is in part to position us for protection from harm. God doesn't send this stuff, but He can and does when His will protect us from it. Even if He allows tragedy to come, for whatever reason, if we lean on Him, and continue to live for Him, He WILL ALWAYS turn it around for our ultimate good, and give us peace, strength, and even sustaining joy through it. Too bad more people don't understand Him, and either blame Him, or figure if something bad happens there is no God. Wrong on both counts; He's a good God.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • sam

      So he's strong enough to protect us...but not strong enough to move a tornado away from a town.

      You get a 9.9 for mental gymnastics.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • tom

      Apparently you care about what Ricky Gervais thinks.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Dan

      He exists only in your head. Grow up.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Even if He allows tragedy to come, for whatever reason, if we lean on Him, and continue to live for Him, He WILL ALWAYS turn it around for our ultimate good, and give us peace, strength, and even sustaining joy through it'

      Tell that to the parents of the 4 month old and 7 month old babies killed in this. How will he turn it around for them?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "One of the MANY blessings and benefits of having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is in part to position us for protection from harm. "

      Really??? So what exactly did 9 innocent children do to not deserve protection???

      May 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  14. Romans 11:34

    “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” – Romans 11:34. We may not understand why such terrible tragedies befall us, but it is not ours to understand or judge. We are not God, and he is not like us. It's scary to image what it would be like if He was like us. Turning a tragedy like this into an attack or judgment on God's fairness completely misses the whole point of the Bible: we are sinners, unworthy of the God that made us, but by His grace alone we have hope of salvation in Jesus Christ and His blood. So, we pray for those who have lost much because we believe in "actually doing something". Prayer is not for us, it is for God, and it is of much more worth than sending resources alone. So, please do help those affected if you can by donating time, effort, or money, but ignoring, rebuking or doubting the importance and power of prayer is dangerous and arrogant.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  15. HamsterDancer

    Damn both sides (believer & atheist) just love these articles.
    People may complain in some comments about the awful arguments between the groups in the Belief section of CNN. But it is one of its most widely read sections. It brings people into the website. Of someone doesn't like they will have to not read the articles and more importantly not comment.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  16. dswe

    add

    May 22, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  17. Jill

    Oklahoma gets my money, and my prayers. Ricky Gervais gets neither.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • cw

      Jesus would be proud of that sentiment.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Dan

      Ricky did something to help. The average religious person sat around and talked to his/her imaginary friend(s).

      May 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Gervais wouldn't want your money sweetheart, he'd only want you to be doing something truly useful instead of wasting time speaking to imaginary creatures.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      Jill: If god is omniscient, and has a plan, what is the point of prayer?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  18. davessworks

    Since when did anyone care what Ricky Gervais thinks or says? Geesh!

    May 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  19. PrayingforOK

    He's right...He's an idiot!

    May 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  20. CMW

    The fool says in his heart, "There is no God".

    May 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • sam

      The fool brays out loud, "LOOK I'M PRAYING."

      May 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Really? A book about a belief said that if you don't believe like the book says, you're a fool. Wow. Taht's amazing.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Dan

      Don't try to justify your belief in absurd, magical nonsense. You should read some non-fiction once in a while. You might learn something.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      The fool says "my god is the correct one"

      May 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
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About this blog

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.