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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. ScoBo

    What's the difference if someone tweets that they prayed or that they donated? It is all a request for credit anyway. Why do you feel compelled to tell your "followers" that you did either? Why not just do it and be content with it. Instead you must get on your virtual podium and announce that you have done something good. News flash – #PrayForOklahoma tweeters....God doesn't have Twitter or Facebook. So clearly, you have made this about YOU and not the victims.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Richard Jones

      God has facebook. You should friend him, he's awesome.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Wilinrome – "we" know that, do we? How do we know this? I certainly don't know this.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  2. Joel

    God's creation is perfect. In such, tornado's and acts of destruction like it are the will of God. Praying for people to be safe, is in fact an attempt to counter God's Will.

    I do believe that is a blasphemy.

    Lets not forget... –James 2:14-17 NKJV.

    “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

    So if you pray but do nothing, you are guilty of violating the word of God, which is what you people seem to call this convoluted book written by uncounted people over the last 2 plus centuries.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Even bigger load of crap.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Richard Jones

      youtube.com/watch?v=-JFfN5pKzFU

      May 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • WilinRome

      God doesn't will these disasters. We live on a voltatile planet. Bad things happen to good people. We may not have all the answers, but we know that God is for us, not against us.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • gorp

      "but we know that God is for us, not against us"

      We don't know anything of the sort. What is your evidence?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Do those people in moore feel god is for them?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Rob

      The people that died will not "get through this OK"...

      May 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I don't think it's possible to know such a thing, WillinRome.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      In the face of a tornado, I would prefer a secure bunker to god, thank you very much.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  3. Bill

    So many people have so little understanding of prayer and of our relation to the Creator. One of the best examples of prayer is when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. Jesus' prayer was that He be given the strength to handle the excruciating suffering and death on t he cross that He knew was coming his way. It was a prayer for help in accepting God's will. That kind of prayer should be our model....that we have the strength to conform ourself to the will of God, whatever that might entail. As for the question of "Why do bad things happen to good people," try reading the Book of Job for answers, or perhaps the words of Jesus when he was asked why a man was born blind.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Big time crappola.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Bill

      @Ken Margo. I've seen several of your comments. You are, apparently, a true connoissseur of crap. I'll keep you in my pryaers and hope you find some deeper dimension in your life.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @bill.......... I know crap when I read it. Prayer doesn't work. We pray after mass shootings. Yet shootings continue. People prayed Romney would win. Obviously god is a democrat. Need I need to go on?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Rob

      An alternative theory: God doesn't exist, and prayer does nothing but make you feel better.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      I thought Jesus was God. And sure, Jesus may have suffered, but other humans have suffered far more. And Jesus got to come back to life, then ascent to heaven – if you believe the stories. So, in reality, jesus got off pretty easy.

      Not really the ultimate sacrifice, is it? Not really a solid foundation for an entire religion, is it?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      Billyboy, you do realize that that occurrence almost certainly did not happen. That your holy book was written in some cases a hundred years after the events it claims to memorialize. That it was translated from Greek to Latin to Hebrew and back and none of the gospels agree on some of the most basic tales?

      Is this the book you rely on? To paraphrase David Hume, what is more likely: That the laws of nature were suspended for one moment or that a jewish woman living in bronze-age Palestine lied about the nature of her pregnancy?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Bill

      Another alternative theory: the universe is complex, God is the Creator, prayer is not some hocus pocus that automatically cures cancer or brings world peace or prevents tragedies. As I said in the original post, true prayer is our attempt to understand the will of God and conform our lives to His will as shown to us in the life of Jesus Christ. I'm speaking as a Christian, but people of other faiths are sincerely trying to do the same thing. I really don't see why those who don't share this faith feel compelled to ridicule those who do, but it has been that way for centuries and probably always will. Peace to you.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      "compelled to ridicule those who do, but it has been that way for centuries and probably always will."

      Billyboy, are you talking about the anger and venom aimed at nonbelievers by the armies of god?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Bill

      @Religious Kooks Unite: your very moniker makes my point. You are the one who feels compelled to ridiicule. My comment was "Peace to You." You're the one who calls me "Billyboy" in a condescending way. I call you be the name you posted. I wish you well, but will never understand why it's so difficult to simply accept the fact that some people feel the call to faith in God and others don't. My first interaction with a professed atheist shocked me when he saw a military chapel and asked "what's that building with religious graffiti all over it." Needlessly disrespectful of the heartfelt beliefs of billions of believers. So be it. I say again, peace to you.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Maybe you could enlighten us with a brief summary of the conclusions reached in the book of Job. I don't think you can, but give it a shot before recommending that others read that drivel.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Bill

      SDFrankie, if you're interested in the Book of Job, you should actually read it...or maybe it's just easier to dismiss it as "drivel" without having actually ever read it. That's not exactly an intellectual approach, but it's an easy one.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      I've read it. It explains nothing. It's drivel.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      For those who haven't read it, here's the synopsis:
      No rules for God. If he wants to whack you, he will. Shut your mouth.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • .

      I'll pray for you = christian shorthand for 'screw you'.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Bill

      LOL. Hey, SDFrankie..I'm pretty sure you didn't major in world literature!

      May 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  4. David

    To all those who have given, thank you! Those donations are, in part, answers to many prayers!

    May 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Doug Jensen

      I'm glad I didn't donate to answer misguided prayers, I did it to hopefully actually help someone in reality.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  5. tparker602

    Do I believe that God sent the tornado through a school and town killing innocents... No. Do I believe God willingly allows such devastation to occur to serve a purpose that I as a simpleminded human can't comprehend... Yes. Only he has the full picture of what happened that day. My prayer is that someone would somehow come to know Jesus Christ through all this and that we all would be reminded how precious life is and we are to each other. A Christian's peace that passes all understanding is a peace that this isn't our home nor the end of our journey. This is simply like a plane ride en route to our final destination. No one on a plane wants to stay on the plane. Will the ride be bumpy and at times scary? Yes, but it is the destination that we focus on. Without this foundation, an unbeliever can never understand where God fits in times of devastation and loss. I can assure you, the Lord was in the midst of that storm and those he touched know without a doubt. God Bless!

    May 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • gorp

      You have to say things like "I assure you" because you haven't got any evidence

      May 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      What a load of crap.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • barlowc

      Come on, you're just making stuff up.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • tparker602

      Spoken like two who have sat in the dark all their life and the light was just turned on. Fight the urge to jump with anger to block the light, and try to understand what it reveals. It takes more faith to believe in man's wisdom than God. Creation is his fingerprint. Until you can fully explain the creation of all things (beginning with where the atoms came from that created the bang), then your faith in man is unproven while mine in God is.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • fintastic

      ..."that I as a simpleminded human can't comprehend"

      Simpleminded.... yup.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      It's so reassuring to hear that God was there in the midst of the storm and let nine little children feel the terror of a tornado before their "plane ride" came to an abrupt end. Thanks for the lame poetry.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      "such devastation to occur to serve a purpose that I as a simpleminded human can't comprehend... Yes."

      Your comment is disgusting and an insult to the parents who lost little children. How dare you. Serve a purpose? You mean like, teach a lesson? How about just give us the knowledge without the suffering because if your fake god cannot do one without the other, then he is a masochist.

      WAIT. Where have I seen a masochistic god before? YES. The By-Bull. That's where.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      "Until you can fully explain the creation of all things (beginning with where the atoms came from that created the bang), then your faith in man is unproven while mine in God is."

      What garbage. Boiled down to its essence, you are saying, "I don't know therefore god." Total cop-out. If the great men of history had felt the same way, we would still be living in wood huts in Africa dying from smallpox.

      Fortunately, enough great humans strive for knowledge and fight against ignorance that the human race advances and you benefit from that despite your love of ignorance.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • tparker602

      Why do you think one of us in this discussion is coming from a place of love, while those appose come in anger? To approach this in anger is to be angry at God (who you don't believe in). I don't suggest that those children were a price that should be paid for some lesson from God. The truth is "The wages of sin is death", and because of man's sin this is the world we live in. A world of turmoil and sometimes destruction. As a father of five children, my heart goes out to each of those parents like none other. My prayer is for those parents, my hope is that none felt pain or fear, my money goes to the people of Oklahoma as we all should take action beyond our prayer.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • tparker602

      "Boiled down to its essence, you are saying, "I don't know therefore god." Total cop-out."

      Wrong. In its essence I am saying, I see God in his creation as "matter cannot be created nor destroyed." Therefore there must be some unexplained way that matter came from absolute nothing. Not from a blob of something that created something else... Man will forever strive to explain what was before what, and before that in vain. That's why many scientists have found God in this quest as the answer is that there has to be a beginning and thus a creator. I love science and I welcome man's advance. True science can only lead to God.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Doug Jensen

      And that is a very real problem. Christians think the reality of our planet and its future are temporary and disposable, to be used up in order for their god to reign over their hell on earth. Christians aren't lovers, christians are haters and fatalists.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  6. Michael

    I find it sad that we are in the middle of a tragedy with loss of life and some group of athesists want to pick a battle over people offering prayers to those affected. Whether you personally believe there is a God or not, what bad timing to spark such a debate. I'm sure not everybody affected by the tornadoes believe in God or care about prayers, but there are a lot of them that do and to begrudge those that do of that comfort to know others are thinking and praying for them, just becasue a select minority thinks it's silly is obsurd.

    Why does it matter, if you don't believe there is a God, just don't pray and do whatever you feel you can do to help, why worry about what others are doing? I can assure that a vast majority of people that say they are praying do help in some way, either by time or money donated. However, if they don't, there is an emotional side to the tragedy beyond just the physical side and it is a comfort to most people to know they are being thought about and prayed for. Some people can't financially afford to give and live far away enough that they can't be there physically or afford the time and travel to get there, so the best they can do is offer their thoughts and prayers.

    This is really obsurd and goes to show you, that while I'm sure there are some well meaning athesists out there, there is a huge push to try to rid everything possible in this country of religion. They are so bothered that people believe in God that they will go to great lengths to condemn people for praying in the middle of a tragedy.

    I personally am tired of being told that as a Christian I am to just be quite and ignore social issues and just let others have the choice to do it if they want to and if I disapprove of it just don't participate in it myself. Only then to turn around and be told that we can't hang up anything that reflects our believes at Christmas time, we can't say Merry Christmas to people in a gesture of good will, and now we shouldn't tell people we are praying for them during a tragedy. How about if you don't believe in God or think praying is a waste of time to pray, then just don't do it and allow those who think that it is worth time and does work do it.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • gorp

      Secularists only claim that government shouldn't prefer a religion. You're inventing things to criticize.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Saying Merry Christmas is only relevant to a christian; can you tell a christian by sight?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Michael

      You said, "This is really obsurd and goes to show you, that while I'm sure there are some well meaning athesists out there, there is a huge push to try to rid everything possible in this country of religion."
      Your delusion is fine in your own home and church. You don't get to force your imaginary friend in the sane part of society. references to your imaginary friend don't belong on public property. they don't belong on or in public buildings. They don't belong on our money. they don't belong on our Pledge.

      You said, "They are so bothered that people believe in God that they will go to great lengths to condemn people for praying in the middle of a tragedy."
      You are free to pray. We are free to point out that far more people were recovered from under the rubble by hands that were moving debris, than by hands folded in prayer. We are free to point out that far more people were provided with a warm blanket because of a donation to the Red Cross, than were kept warm by prayer.

      You said, "I personally am tired of being told that as a Christian I am to just be quite and ignore social issues and just let others have the choice to do it if they want to and if I disapprove of it just don't participate in it myself."
      You simply don't get to tell others what to do or don't do based on your fairy tale. Only if you have a rational reason, supported by evidence, you may have a point to prohibit certain behavior.

      You said, "Only then to turn around and be told that we can't hang up anything that reflects our believes at Christmas time, we can't say Merry Christmas to people in a gesture of good will, and now we shouldn't tell people we are praying for them during a tragedy."
      You are free to wish whomever you want a merry xmas. Just don't expect everyone to do it too. There are far more holidays in December than your silly little celebration. You are free to decorate your home as you see fit (within the limits set by your community). you simply don't get to put your crap on public property.

      You said, "How about if you don't believe in God or think praying is a waste of time to pray, then just don't do it and allow those who think that it is worth time and does work do it."
      When you get hit by a bus, do you ask the ambulance driver to take you to a church, or a hospital? Unless you refuse medical help, you can't be too sure about the efficacy of prayer.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • sam

      'Social issues'. Right.

      There's no war on christianity, man. It's just that a greater part of the population is finally tired of this whole 'the bible says' nonsense. We don't need social issues addressed by the bible. Sooner or later all this superstitious stuff is going to be given a back seat to the things we really need to deal with.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  7. KennyG

    "God may not notice the thousands of prayers tweeted for victims of Oklahoma’s devastating tornado": this is exactly the type of statement I would expect in a CNN blog/report. CNN is has become one of the leading liberal/secularist media. God does answer prayer, but he did not make us puppets. He created the earth and set laws (of nature) to cause events to happen naturally. When man attempts or causes changes then bad things can happen (global warming?). We serve God, not the other way around, though he loves us and gives us the means to survive.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Doug Jensen

      Not much sense in making up prayers then, as your god is required by you to let things happen naturally, even if your god were to exist in an imaginary place somewhere.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  8. Steve

    Wait, did someone from the UK just criticize Americans for empty gestures and meaningless symbolism? That's royally funny.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      No, Steve, one person from the UK criticized a few Americans. You're painting with an awfully wide brush.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  9. sally

    One does not have to think that prayer can change events or give us what we beseech to believe in a god...there are very devout religious people who do not think that God intervenes in our daily lives in the least. They believe in an all powerful deity that created the world and then let it alone to act in ways which were set out as natural law. Too many people pray for things, for good fortune, for good health or when they don't have anything else to offer, say that they are praying for other people.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Yes. I remember Vonnegut's Church Of God The Indifferent. I'm not sure I see the functional distinction between a God who doesn't exist and one who just appears to not exist in any detectable way.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • ed dugan

      I'm with you. If I thought the creator of the universe would stoop so low as to bother with the day to day minutia of our everyday lives he would be greatly diminished in my eyes. People who pray have never had a single independent thought in their lives. However I have an alternate theory. Every day zillions of prayers are offered up. They are each given a number and thrown into a pit as large as the US. At the end of the day an angel is designated to pull one number from the pit and that is the prayer that is answered. The others are disgarded and they begin all over.Sort of like a heavenly lottery to give the angels something to do.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  10. Thomas Fines

    Thanks, Ricky Gervais. How do you know they never sent money or that they aren't helping out in some way. Do you know each of them personally? And appreciate your LETTING US KNOW you contributed. We'll try to make sure you get some credit for that. What does it benefit anyone to question another's sympathy or desire to send out good will to people suffering - whatever form it might take.
    Jerk.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • gorp

      It's implied because they made an effort to inform the world that they were praying. If they were both praying and donating time/money/real assistance, surely they would announce both efforts. Why is it bragging if Ricky Gervais says he donates money, but ok for people to announce their claims that they're praying for others?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Thomas Fines

      You know, who knows why they didn't mention that....maybe they weren't making a financial contribution, maybe they are.... I have a thing about disclosing who or what I make a financial contribution to, I think that is a private matter and I don't like to showboat. However, I don't mind offering a condolence or encouragement over an email or twitter, and letting someone know I am praying for them...

      I just don't see it the way you do. So leave me alone to share my sympathy with others the way I want, and you can do it your way....

      May 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • gorp

      You don't like to showboat but you're ok with announcing the fact that you're praying? In what way is that not showboating?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Thomas Fines

      That is not even an intelligent argument. Putting an email or a twitter to someone isn't about "letting the world know" anything. It is someones effort at providing sympathy or best wishes to those who are suffering. If you can't see that, I feel sorry for you.

      Putting a comment out criticizing others and announcing what "YOU DID" is a different matter altogether.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Putting out a Tweet ISN'T telling the world something??? Are you serious? That's exactly what sending out a tweet is: it's telling the world something.

      My father had a special name for such people: "Look-Me-Do"s. It's people saying, oh, look at me, notice me, look at what I did!!

      It's arrogance.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Doug Jensen

      So if I understand you correctly, under your morality, it's great to inform someone that you've invoked some creator of the universe on their behave but, totally unforgivable to merely express that a monetary contribution has been made to hopefully alleviate the stress a bit. Yes, I think you are right, you might be a jerk.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • gorp

      Putting out a twitter is precisely announcing to the world you did something. Announcing via twitter that you're praying for people is exactly the same as announcing via twitter that you've donated money for people, except the person that donated money actually accomplished something.

      We're not talking a private conversation between two people, we're talking about a massive public announcement read by millions of people on an open forum.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  11. Heretic

    Oh I'm sorry you have an imaginary friend? Tell me more how you think your argument is valid.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Boanerges

      No, there are many gods throughout the Universe, There Is Only ONE GOD ALMIGHTY. None of them are Imaginary. Your just ARE NOT AWARE which god Or GOD your are a child of.We're NOT all Children of GOD.{Matt.13:24-30, Matt.13:33-43}. In the history of this EARTH, there have been many wars waged to see who's god would rule.{Matt.18:18} Presently It Is being Waged between allah & Yhovah{Jehovah}. I DON'T Blame Gervais or others who DON'T believe in organized religion,{Luke 17:20-37}. Seek the Kingdom, & Learn The TRUTH. {Matt. 21:33-44, Mark 12:1-11, Luke 20:9-18

      May 22, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • asinbacall

      Right? That's like saying Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny can help in these situations. Infuriating!!!

      May 22, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  12. Stella

    Ricky Gervais is a bitter man who makes lots of $$$ for insulting the rest of us....definitely going to pray for him

    May 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm sure he will to "nothing" for you as well. Quid pro quo.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • bradm85

      Totally agree with you, Stella.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Sorry you feel insulted. If you don't like being insulted, don't believe in stupid stuff (and let the public know you believe it.)

      May 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  13. KJ

    People spend way too much time worrying about what OTHERS are doing...pray if you want..don't pray if you don't want...WHO CARES...people are so quick to judge each other and assume their way is supreme to others.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • TheRationale

      The whole point is that some people think praying counts as doing something. It doesn't. If anything, it inhibits real help and real action because people think they're already done something that matters when they haven't.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  14. LilySue

    There is a serious problem here – trying to intimidate believers into silence. And using a tragedy as the justification. Some people may not be in a position to just "send money." A prayer is their way of reaching out. People should be free to respond in whatever way they can, without having to endure a backlash from anyone else. Please let's not turn this into an exercise in "religious correctness." If someone doesn't believe, that's their personal right. It's someone else's personal right to believe and to verbalize that belief through a prayer for those in distress. It's called "compassion."

    May 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Wrong. I have the right to point out ignorance and stupidity when I see it. Praying is not reaching out. It's nothing. It's talking to yourself. Talk to yourself all you want, but don't tell people it's doing something for others. It's mumbo-jumbo.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • gorp

      Yeah, atheists are well known for telling theists to believe like them or they'll be damned to hell for eternity.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • barlowc

      If you think that praying is "reaching out" or an act of "compassion", and not an isolated, self-centered act of thinking to yourself, then you are one mean, selfish, and deluded piece of work.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  15. jim

    Those who are blaming Gods lack of intervention here might wonder if God would reply- why in the world would you choose to build cities in the middle of "tornado alley"?
    We know right now beyond any doubt that San Francisco and L.A will one day be destroyed by an earthquake. We do nothing about it now, but when it happens will sure be blaming God for "letting" it happen.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • TheRationale

      So kids those kids who died are just too stupid to leave and deserve to die. There we go, that's the good Christian morality we're all after. Spare the tornado, spoil the child. Close enough, right?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • jim

      TheRationale, you are kind of missing the point I am making. I'm just saying don't blame god for the poor choices we make as people. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I do know evolution has given us pretty good brains- we really need to use them more often

      May 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Atheists are merely pointing out the stupidity of praying to a deity for help when this supposed deity couldn't be bothered to help in the first place. We don't actually believe there is such a deity.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      You couldn't possibly put blame on the children because they aren't the ones who made the choice to live there. And I admit I'm struggling with trying to grasp why you mentioned blaming them. Doesn't society usually blame the individual who made the choice? Aren't innocent bystanders usually, well, innocent?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  16. Rochester

    The truly sad part is that the federal government spent hundreds of thousands studying the efficacy of prayer. After they were done, they opted not to publish the results. Gee, I wonder why.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • jim

      Sure they did. They were in a very small article on the back page of my local newspaper. Anyway, the results were that the prayer didn't do any good.
      I would be surprised if it did. Like, if my mother is dying, doesn't god KNOW I want her to get better? Why do I have to pray. And does this god decide to intervene or not depending on how many people pray? Some god that would be.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  17. Just Call Me Lucifer

    Here's an idea.... if you live in a place referred to as "Tornado Alley", assume your particular god has already warned you about living there.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      That's why I don't understand why people are surprised these things happen.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • ME II

      Unlike hurricanes and floods, the likelihood of an individual home getting hit, even in tornado alley is pretty small. Unlike hurricanes, a direct hit is often worse.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • ME II

      "Grant Darkow, a University of Missouri professor emeritus of atmospheric science,... predicted that any given point in the studied region, which includes Missouri, has a 1 percent chance of being struck in a 50-year period. "

      http://agebb.missouri.edu/news/ext/showall.asp?story_num=3702&iln=61

      May 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @ME II........The people of moore will feel better knowing that.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  18. According to the bible prayer is useless

    If god's supreme plan rules in the heavens then prayer is useless. If you pray for something that's not in the plan it won't happen, no matter how hard you pray. And if you pray for something in the plan, it would have happened anyway even without your prayer.

    If god gives us free will then no matter how hard you pray god refuses to do anything, like not doing anything for the 6m Jews because that would interfere with Hitler’s free will

    May 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Carlos

      Have you talked to God lately? If so, have you asked him where he has been all along? Gosh, when will humankind evolve beyond childish belief? Perhaps our earth world will be forever infantile. Prayer will work if it is an affirmation that we will do everything in our power to make a difference in the world. It is up to each and every one of us to make this world a better place; nonetheless, we are all destroying every bit of it and suffering the consequences. Those who wait on this religious anthropomorphic God for a solution will have to wait forever.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • bob

      often people forgot that prayers are also meant to shape our hearts and thinking. it is through prayers that we seek to know God's good & perfect will and align ourselves to it.

      bottomline, people suffers and needs help – any helps, whether materials, time, action, encouragement, or prayers will do.
      i hope those who are not offering prayers are helping in some other forms, because for some, the only thing they can offer is prayer.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  19. Sarah

    Most of you have no respect for God. I do not recognize America anymore.

    Many Christians I know are giving money, praying and on the ground helping those in Oklahoma while atheists like you sit in front of your computer screens.

    God have mercy on you.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      God did have mercy on me. I wasn't in Oklahoma.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Sane Person

      News flash little sheeple, god doesnt exist. You're welcome.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • ME II

      @Sarah,
      Are you being prideful? Atheists are donating and on the ground as well.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Sarah:
      I don't respect Santa Claus either. Do you? You can't respect something that doesn't exist.

      Many atheists I know are doing good things all the time. They don't need pats on the back for doing so. Not from a God, not from other people. They do it because it is the right thing to do. Many religious folks do good deeds because they feel guilt or fear punishment for not doing good. Doing things out of guilt or fear is less noble for doing things because they are the right thing to do.

      Glad you aren't suiting behind your computer making comments. Oh wait a minute......

      May 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Carlos

      May God have mercy on you too, Sarah, because you are also in front of the screen judging the rest of the world. If you are such a great God believer, roll up your sleeves and go help those in need.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Bells B.

      If we can't prove it with certainty (like God), it cannot exist. That's science.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bells B.
      "If we can't prove it with certainty (like God), it cannot exist. That's science."

      That is not science. Science does not normally deal in certainty, but in likelihoods based of observation and experimentation.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      Not just for guilt or fear but also for the grand reward in heaven. Being allowed in to sit next to the sky fairy's throne and have drinks with all the dead celebrities.

      You should do good. Look how much fun you will have in the next life.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • dina

      Sarah... Atheists help people too, their motivation is pure because they do it to help others, not because they think it will get them into heaven.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Doug Jensen

      I often have an inner argument with myself when I help someone that would like me to burn for eternity but, I help christians and never ask or accept anything in return.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  20. Ken Margo

    Will the tea baggers block fed help. If the feds don't help areas like this, eventually towns like this will cease to exist.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:59 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.