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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. LinCA

    How can you serve god if the main ingredient is impossible to come by?

    May 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      And what ingredient is that? And who told you that was the main ingredient?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      JustTheFacts ... are you implying that God is NOT the main ingredient!? You better watch out .. the bible warns you not to deny God! Or did you just not understand the point?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      "If horses had God"… Stop wasting my time. You don't believe God exist. That fine. Just know your opinion matters not. We're talking about things which exist…

      May 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JustTheFacts

      You said, "And what ingredient is that? And who told you that was the main ingredient?"
      If you serve roast beef, don't you expect to start with a chunk of beef? How would you serve god, if there are no gods?

      May 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  2. knaples

    Picking on Ricky Gervais? the point in the article was HE was bugged by people who are offering prayer to the victims of the Tornados. He assumes incorrectly that they are only praying and not doing anything to help. What he does not understand is that the majority ( im sure not all ) of the people of Moore Oklahoma are very rooted in their various faiths which include prayer. This may not seem very valuable to Ricky Gervais, but he should realize that if thats what gets someone through a devastating event like these people just survived. Give it a little respect

    May 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • XMP

      Exactly!

      May 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Some that offered their prayers didn't mention money. One could assume no money was sent.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  3. WTH

    Believers and Non-Believers of God: Please focus at the issue at hand. OKLAHOMA. If you want to send money, send money, if you want to pray, pray! But focus on what is actually important! Put your differences aside and HELP, in whichever way you feel necessary. It's sad that you all just want to argue with each other. Prayers or not, OK will recover because people will come together and help them get through it.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Lilith

      Do as I say, not as I do .. can you see the irony in your post? Maybe you should take your own advice & stop posting and help someone in OK. I'm a non-believer in unicorns, fairies & infinite other things, can I help too?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • XMP

      Oops. That's what I meant by exactly. Do what you can to help the people of Oklahoma.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      I am focusing on the topic at hand. This is a blog about religious stuff. It is not a news page or one about Oklahoma. It looks like you are the one who needs a little focus.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Oklahoma will recover because of MONEY. Period. People pray at churches all the time, that doesn't stop the plate from being passed around! The preacher needs the money (not the prayer) to pay for the mistress.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  4. AtheistsMorons

    singing...I like big butts and I can not lie, HeavenSent if my guy.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  5. Carl Goulding

    This topic so easily fly's right over the heads of even sincere feeling people.

    Let's try this, when some one is giving credit to their God for something that their grateful for, their saying thank you, I couldn't do that.

    When another is blaming "a" God, ... their certain that "if THEY were God" they would have done (whatever) differently.

    The first one, has an open heart, the second one has closed their heart, (and locked it), to the God that they "think they know". One is willing, to BE LEAD, the other, is (to themselves) ... "in charge" of their life.

    For myself, the part of me that's angry and disappointed with what God does that I don't like, I call my Ego. And that part want's me to never again be open to getting hurt when I'm open and loving. But, being closed and locked down, is a living form of hell itself, as there's going to be fear everywhere, and no one to trust, in this sea, that's full of human ego's.

    I choose to be open with an unlocked heart. That's also more frightening, as anything there is to do, in this life.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  6. JustTheFacts

    God is not a god who exists only to serve you. He does not exist for your pleasure or to be at your beckon call. Instead, you exist to serve him, and we were created for his pleasure. That is your purpose. So when have you last served God and what have you done for him lately?

    The very same people who have the nerve to write articles like this which are against God and are critical of the way he operates, are the very same people who commit enormous amounts of sin on a regular basis. They completely ignore the will of God and the word of God and don't even give God a second thought until they find themselves in a situation that only God can get them out of. And then suddenly they find themselves trying to pray to the very God they've been completely ignoring. And they have the nerve to wonder why that God is ignoring them.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      You summed it up nicely in your first 7 words .. "God is not a god who exists .."

      May 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • sam

      "The very same people who have the nerve to write articles like this which are against God and are critical of the way he operates, are the very same people who commit enormous amounts of sin on a regular basis."

      Oh, man. You have to be a poe. Please be a poe.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JustTheFacts

      Funny moniker. There are precious few facts in your diatribe.

      You said, "God is not a god who exists only to serve you. He does not exist [...]"
      You could have stopped right there and you would have been on to something.

      You said, "So when have you last served God and what have you done for him lately?"
      I haven't served any gods, lately. Got any good recipes?

      You said, "They completely ignore the will of God and the word of God and don't even give God a second thought until they find themselves in a situation that only God can get them out of."
      Since there are no gods, there are no situations it can get anyone out of.

      You said, "And then suddenly they find themselves trying to pray to the very God they've been completely ignoring."
      Not me. I don't pray to non-existing creatures.

      You said, "And they have the nerve to wonder why that God is ignoring them."
      Again, not me. I know why gods ignore their sheeple.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • MasterProp

      What in this article makes you think it's against God? I didn't get that at all. It touches on both sides, both Gervais who is an atheist, as well as the pastors who welcome the prayers. It is an informative article, without a bent on either side that I could see.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "If horses had Gods" and "LinCA"… If you truly believe God does not exist, then your opinion matters not, because you're not qualified to have an opinion about that which doesn't exist. Only a fool would have an opinion about that which doesn't exist…

      May 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      MasterProp… If you can't see that this article is against God, then you seriously don't know God...

      May 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      JustTheFacts ... If something does not exist it's ALL opinion .. including yours. Believing something does not make it real, Get it?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      "If horses had Gods"… How ignorant are you. If something doesn't exist, then to spend time discussing that which doesn't exist would be a senseless waste of time. Even opinions would be a waste of time. I have better things to do. I only speak of things which exist. And Jesus Christ truly existed. And he says his father exists…

      May 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JustTheFacts

      You said, "If you truly believe God does not exist, then your opinion matters not, because you're not qualified to have an opinion about that which doesn't exist."
      Bullshit. There is no reason to believe that your god is in any way different from the Tooth fairy. While you are free to remain blissfully ignorant, I choose not to. My opinion about what does, or doesn't exists, matters as long as those that can't seem to shake their infantile beliefs try to force me to live by their delusions.

      You said, "Only a fool would have an opinion about that which doesn't exist…"
      Logic isn't your strong suit, is it?

      May 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "LinCA"… If you can't talk to me without resorting to profanity then please cease responding to me. There are enough words in the english language for you to adequately describe how you feel without resorting to profanity...

      Secondly, even most grade schoolers are fully capable of separating fact from fiction and real life from fantasy, and can fully understand that things like the "Tooth Fairy" is fantasy, while "the eternal God" and "Heaven" are real. How is is that you do not?…

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

      "Secondly, even most grade schoolers are fully capable of separating fact from fiction and real life from fantasy,"

      Then I'd like to know what your excuse is. Nothing in the article was 'against god'. If you can't cease posting nonsensical rhetoric, then cease posting.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JustTheFacts

      You said, "If you can't talk to me without resorting to profanity then please cease responding to me. There are enough words in the english language for you to adequately describe how you feel without resorting to profanity..."
      Get a grip (I'd say "get a fucking grip", but I'm sure you'd be offended).

      I'll stop responding to you when I get bored with you, you stop posting nonsense or stop posting altogether, whichever comes first.

      You said, "Secondly, even most grade schoolers are fully capable of separating fact from fiction and real life from fantasy, and can fully understand that things like the "Tooth Fairy" is fantasy, while "the eternal God" and "Heaven" are real."
      Do you have any, and I mean ANY, evidence to support your ludicrous claim? Let me help you, you don't. All you have is your silly and infantile beliefs that you were probably indoctrinated in by your parents.

      The only reason you still believe in your god, and not the Tooth Fairy, is that your parents allowed you, probably even encouraged you, to shed your belief in one but not the other. You believe the nonsense you believe, because your parents weren't any smarter and believed the same bullshit, oh, sorry, nonsense.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "sam"… If you truly can't see that the article is against God, then you truly don't know God at all…

      To "LinCA"… Then you'll be responding to yourself because I don't have time for your foolishness. Enough said...

      May 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JustTheFacts

      You said, "To "LinCA"… Then you'll be responding to yourself because I don't have time for your foolishness. Enough said..."
      Like I said, I'll stop responding to you when I get bored with you, you stop posting nonsense or stop posting altogether, whichever comes first.

      I'm not bored yet and you haven't stopped posting nonsense yet.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Why should we "serve" god. He's got it made already?

      May 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  7. Archeopteryx

    There simply is no reason at all to think that prayer works or that there is a God that is doing or has done anything at all, no reason in the slightest.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Colin

      So,are you a bird or a reptile?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Archeopteryx

      Yes!

      May 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Read BC to find out.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Colin

      Switch-hitter......

      May 22, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Archeopteryx

      Oh yeah, I swing both ways!

      May 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • XMP

      What would be so wrong with those that don't have a religion to not pray and those that do, to pray. A person that prays for help or comfort doesn't seem like it is a bad thing or mean-spirited so why get into a heated conversation.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • One one

      Yes there is. Promise of heaven and threats of hell sells tickets and can be very profitable.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Archeopteryx

      XMP my post said nothing of being "wrong", "mean spirited" or "heated". Me thinkst thou doth PROJECT too much!

      May 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  8. Jon

    The problem with Ricky Gervais and his ilk is that they see people praying and they think that that is all they are doing. Most people of faith are not only praying, but are also giving monetarily to these causes, because being a person of faith is not just about praying, but also about service and action that benefits others, giving back to society in a meaningful way. Many Christian denominations, for example, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church have relief organizations that give resources and goods to help those in need in disasters. It is complete absurdity to chastise people for praying and accuse them of doing nothing when that is simply false.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      They problem with Jon and people of his ilk are that they really didn't read and understand the post. Also, they don't realize that Gervais is a comedian. And Jon takes things way too seriously.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  9. XMP

    Perhaps respect is the only thing really required. Your thoughts may be different than mine but I will always give you the respect to have your opinion. Maybe just maybe we could then move past all the anger and vitriol that engulfs our everyday life.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Colin

      XMP, the problem is, religious people are expecting rational people to respect eally childish nonsense, whereas atheists expect nothing of the sort from believers. I mean, gods, spirits, devils etc. -that is childish garbage.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • One one

      Believers don't respect non-believers. Their bible says non-believers deserve everlasting punishment.

      2 Thessalonians, 8-9:"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

      May 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  10. CWill

    #prayforrickygervais

    May 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      #PrayforthosewhoprayforRick

      May 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  11. Adam B. Embry

    Southern Baptists have a site to donate – http://www.okdisasterhelp.com

    May 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  12. Colin

    Yesterday morning, soon after word got out about this tornado, there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.

    John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

    Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

    John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

    John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

    Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

    Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

    Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

    John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

    Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

    Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

    John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

    Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

    Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

    Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

    John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

    Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

    John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

    Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

    Mary: "Well, we have faith in Hank. It’s good to have faith in Hank. It's bad to have an open mind or to question, doubt or think skeptically of what Hank says. Hank will kick the guts out of you if he finds out that you do that.

    Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

    John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

    Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

    Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

    John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

    Me: "Who's Karl?"

    Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

    Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

    John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

    From the Desk of Karl
    1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    2. Use alcohol in moderation.
    3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
    4. Eat right.
    5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
    6. The moon is made of green cheese.
    7. Everything Hank says is right.
    8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    9. Don't use alcohol.
    10. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

    Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

    Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

    Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

    John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

    Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

    Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

    Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

    Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

    Me: "How do you figure that?"

    Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

    Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

    John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

    Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

    John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

    Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

    Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

    Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

    John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

    Me: "We do?"

    Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

    Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

    John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

    Me: "But...oh, never mind.

    From jhuger.com

    May 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      A little long .. but I actually enjoyed that!

      May 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  13. MomentofClarity

    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.”

    That still doesn't satisfactorily answer the question of why these things happen to begin with, from a religious standpoint. Either the god in charge of the show is malevolent, incompetent, or wholly imaginary. Someone might say, "The lord works in mysterious ways," but there is NOTHING mysterious about extremely violent tornadoes that do horrible things to people, their homes, and their communities. No mystery at all because again, it's either malevolence, incompetence, or non-existence. Simple as that.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Colin

      Exactly. Giving God credit for the hits but excusing him for the misses. A CEO might as well ignore the liability side of his balance sheet and declare it a miracle that his company just doubled in value

      May 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • One one

      The quoted statement is nonsense. It implies god does answer prayers, and helps, but only up to a limit. Why would god limit the help he provides ? Also, as usual, the person is claiming to know what god thinks and how he handles particular situations. How does he know this ? OR, Is he just making sh1t up ?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Yeah, why is it when something good happens, people say it was a miracle? But when something bad happens, it was God's will? Shouldn't they all be called miracles or all be called God's will? When something benign happens, why isn't that God's will or a miracle? The religious pick and choose world events carefully to reinforce their beliefs. Oh, wait, that's what they do with Bible passages isn't it?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @moment..........The phrase "The lord works in mysterious ways," Is actually code for I HAVE NO IDEA!

      May 22, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  14. BelieveitorNot

    Just because someone says that they are praying for the victims automatically means that they haven’t donated any physical or monetary contribution? This sounds a lot like Gervais (whom I am a fan of) spewing self-righteous garbage and pushing a personal agenda, which is the case with most vocal religious types, atheists and comedians/celebrities.
    I am praying for those affected by this tragedy. I’m also donating.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jon

      Well said.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  15. Rationalintn

    I get so tired of hearing people,who have survived tornadic storms, explain that they were saved because "God heard their prayers and answered them." That is such an ugly thing to say when 24 people, including 10 children, lost their lives in that same storm. What? Were they not praying loud enough? Are the survivors more deserving in God's eyes? Or, were the survivors praying louder, so God heard them over the others?

    May 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • dina

      That one I've got to agree with. It's the ultimate nasty to say "God spared me!" when the person standing next to you lost a loved one....

      May 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • One one

      And what does it say about god (assuming he exists) ? So, god must be thinking "I'll let those people die but spare these people". Such a strange way to think.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  16. fsmgroupie

    so god sends a tornado, killing scores of people, and then he helps the victims get over it-- total nonsense!!

    May 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • ME II

      FYI, score = 20

      May 22, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  17. ann

    I do not see why anyone feels the need to pontificate and lecture their opinions about prayer when people are hurting. What is the goal? To make people hurt more? Leave it for another time when people are healthy, have a safe place to stay, and actually are up for a debate. As far as suggesting that people who are praying are not doing anything, I would suggest that anyone who says that obviously has no concept of the power of prayer for those who believe in it and not to mention that most people I know who pray also are right out there next to the person who lost their house helping to pick up the pieces, they are sending money and donations, and doing there part. They just aren't bragging about it on Twitter like Gervais.

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

      I like how you suggest we should stop debating right before you start debating.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • ann

      @gorp I like how you enjoy making snide remarks to people who almost lost their niece in that tornado!

      May 22, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • gorp

      I'm only responding to your snide comment.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • .

      ann we like how that seems to make you special.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • ann

      Wow and just wow. You two must have a heart of granite.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • gorp

      It's not my fault you attempt to shut down debate before stating that we just don't understand the "power of prayer"

      May 22, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "@gorp I like how you enjoy making snide remarks to people who almost lost their niece in that tornado!"

      How the hell would gorp have known that when you didn't say it initially? Many people 'almost' loss someone and many more did lose someone. No-one is more special than the other.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • sam

      What on earth are you doing on the internet complaining when you should be comforting your family and trying to help??

      May 22, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      Are you going to steal my handle tonight, Sam?

      May 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Well Ann, I am sorry for all those who died, were hurt or lost property in the tornado or in any disaster. However, the "power of prayer" you celebrate did not save any of those 20 lives did it? This is a blog about religion – for people who believe or not. Sorry if you feel offended, but natural disasters happen every day. They are not caused by some mystical being, they are caused by nature. In the case of tornadoes, they are specifically caused by the sun, geography and the spinning earth. There were no miracles, there were people nowhere near the storm, close calls, coincidences and there were people who had calls that were too close.
      If you don't want debate on religion, don't come to this blog. If you can look at the damage around your town and see any reason why there would be a loving "god" who would cause this to happen, then more power to you.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  18. Peter

    What about the crusades!!!!!!! What about the crusades!!!!!!!!

    I Just can't get over it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    PRAISE SCIENCE derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr........................

    May 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      Crusades? You don't have to go back that far. Look at all the killing in the Middle East in the name of god. That should keep you busy for awhile. The most religious countries right now are the most violent. Coincidence? Don't think so.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  19. derek

    youll remember you wrote this article. As it says they will reap what they sow.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • sam

      No one's keeping score, dude. Grow up.

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

      derek, is that a threat? It really sounds like you want people – or maybe God – to punish the author of this article, for writing things you don't want to read.

      That's scary.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Sam: Evidently Derek is keeping score for the big guy, the head honcho, you know, the boss. We best not tick Derek off, he may put a few frowny faces in our columns out of spite. It's a tough job, but luckily it keeps him from causing too much damage out here in the real world.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  20. boredofceleb

    Interesting that the topic of faith–especially Muslim or Christian–is guaranteed to ignite HATE from within most humans....Why do people become so inflamed regarding this topic? That's why the media creates articles like these–to spark intense controversy and bring out the worst in people. Atheist, (and yes, I consider Atheism a faith in that it is a firm belief in the absence of a God), Muslim, Christian, whatever–if you are not in agreement with them, venom spews from deep within. Seems only the agnostics can take it in stride.

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

      Because they are full of butthurt and blame everything bad that man does on religion instead of human nature.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • ME II

      "I consider Atheism a faith in that it is a firm belief in the absence of a God"

      Many atheists would disagree and say atheism is simply the lack of a belief in god(s).

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

      Faith is belief in something without any evidence. You don't believe in unicorns do you? Do you need any faith that they don't exist?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      boredofceleb:
      Maybe it is because Muslims and Christians are the most obnoxious about screaming their silly beliefs at the top of their lungs and trying to convert the rest of the world to there fantasies. The media creates articles like these because it is a BLOG about belief. Note there is a difference between blog and news!
      Atheism is not a belief. Apologists can't accept that as a fact since it makes their own faith seem a little weaker. I don't belief in Santa Claus. Do you? Then would you say that it is a "belief" that you don't believe in Santa Claus? That Not believing in Santa Claus is part of the Christian belief system?
      I defend secularism in the world and especially in the United States. I would not be so vocal if it were not for the right wingers who are trying to turn the US into a Theocracy. Go to Saudi Arabia or Iran for a taste of that if you like it. I have no desire to outlaw or abolish religion. I just want it out of my government and public laws. It's not venom. It is defending my right as an American.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Edwin

      boredof... You misunderstand. Atheists, Muslims, and christians are – more often than not – decent people who are able to hear rude things about their understanding of the universe without going ballistic.

      Perhaps the reason you misunderstand is this: people who are generally well behaved, calm and collected, and able to handle insults are not the ones who tend to post or make headlines. It is well known that the people who respond to a poll or blog are in no sense of the word a representative sample. The people most likely to post are the angry ones – because they have an issue with what was said or written. Additionally, the anonymity of the Internet allows posters to express dark and negative things they would NEVER dream of saying to a real, live person.

      The percentage of 'in your face' posters is therefore dramatically beyond what one would find in the normal population.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      Riiiiiiight. Religion is the belief in a supernatural being that answers prayers and atheism is exactly not that.

      But, I can understand that you have a twisted sense of reason because you believe in a sky fairy so it makes sense.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Edwin

      Also, biobraine: faith is the belief in something without concrete proof, not the belief in something without any evidence whatsoever.

      There IS evidence that God exists: the very facts that the sun rises everyday, that we exist and can form communities, and that we are capable of potentially appreciating the divine ARE evidence that God exists.

      Now, before you get all bent out of shape and write nasty things about my comments, understand two VERY important points:
      1) evidence is NOT the same as proof, and 2) I am an atheist myself.

      So... how can I, as an atheist, say there is evidence that God exists – since obviously I do not believe He exists? The same evidence that God exists can be used as evidence instead that the universe behaves according to certain physical rules. Simply put: evidence is not proof. It supports a thesis or argument, but others can use the same evidence to support a DIFFERENT hypothesis.

      Atheists do actually believe things without proof. The majority I know – the vast majority – believe the world is real (as in, not an illusion sort of like in The Matrix). They might acknowledge – if in a humorous mood – that the illusion hypothesis is conceivable, but, really and truly, they do not believe it for a minute. Without any proof at all, they accept that the world is real, that the universe is governed by unchanging laws, and that these laws are ultimately simple enough to be at least partially comprehensible to humans.

      Those are beliefs – unproven, and only supported tangentially by evidence. Most atheists also profess a strong devotion to science – a blanket assumption that scientific discoveries are TRUTH – which only wavers when it conflicts dramatically with observed evidence. That is not quite the same as religious devotion, but according to MRI studies of the brain it does mirror it biologically.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • boredofceleb

      @ Religious kooks–Did I say I believe in a sky fairy or Santa or unicorns? Or anything at all for that matter? See what I mean–you say I have a "twisted sense of reason" based on what? Already the labeling begins. Exactly my point. Noone seems to be tolerant of what they "perceive" as someone who is not in agreement with their beliefs.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • boredofceleb

      Excellent post, Edwin–well thought out, and presented without anger or name calling.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • BukkakeJack

      Calling Atheism a "faith" is like saying off is a tv channel or saying not-playing-football a sport.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:50 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.