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. Angel Moronic

    If only there was a #PrayToGod back in 1999, this wouldn't happen in 2013 😉

    May 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  2. Science

    Bigem foot print in Texas .

    iDscovery Channel Mega Beasts – Great American Predator


    May 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  3. #GervaistheHateist

    Gervais the Hateist hates Prayer

    May 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
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  8. Frank

    CNN Editors,

    I don't normally comment on any posts. I find the comment section to be repulsive and littered with ignorance, generalizations, extremism, and poor grammar. But I did want to raise an objection.

    For some reason, the editors found it perfectly allowable for articles such as this, or the pope's heaven-for-atheists article to be subject to reader comments - comments which tend to debase and degrade secular Americans to an almost subhuman status by a small minority of ultra-religious right-wingers. It is a discrimination (admittedly indirect on your part) that we nonreligious folk are subject to constantly.

    However, on issues which the vast majority of us (and of the general American public) care about, such as equal rights and equal treatment to our GLBT(etc.) brothers and sisters, you forbid commentary. For example, in the horrid, logically fallacious, and failing rhetoric that is "My Take: Why my family is quitting the Boy Scouts" post, we are forbidden from joining as a majority (for once) our fellow red-blooded freedom-loving Americans from picking apart such sanctimonious claims.

    This is ridiculous. We fully understand your desire to hear minority viewpoints... Indeed, we are often a part of the minority. But you should honor what is written below, your welcoming of "a lively and courteous discussion," especially when poor arguments can be so clearly, easily, and understandably picked apart by the majority of Americans.

    I'm sure no editor will read this or care. CNN needs to appear centrist because many a tea partying folk laughably and unreasonably claims this outlet to be "liberal," but this is out of hand. So I had to say my two cents.


    May 24, 2013 at 2:00 am |
  9. Steve


    May 23, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Can it be termed a "debate" when it is Hitchens crushing Craig like a bug?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    May 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Of COURSE prayer changes things. It certainly changed the Manhattan skyline on 9/11 when the 9/11 hijackers prayed to their god for success in their holy mission – I guess their god was listening.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      May 28, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      May 28, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  11. science

    HeroesAre Rare................are pages going to disappear here too ?

    May 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |

    HeroesAre Rare

    Oh! by the way –
    Sam stone, Science and the Doc all of whom think they're pretty sharp............ I've said what I have to say and I will NOT respond to ANY of your juvenile attempts to argue. Got it!

    May 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply


    HeroesAre Rare..........comments disappearing again aye ?

    The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

    HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

    Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

    May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.


    Evolution wins............No red devil either !


    May 23, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  12. Science

    HeroesAre Rare .........you now the drill !

    Hey Cora how are the cats and JustTheFacts

    https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/5XRFKX8N...............url for you chadie !

    But in favorites or peg IT OK !


    May 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |

    May 23, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |

    May 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  13. sweenbass

    As I am not familialar with this term, please define a "true sent preacher" can a true sent preacher be of any faith?

    May 23, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  14. JustTheFacts

    What the atheists believe is nothing more than a theory, nothing more than an opinion, and they haven't a shred of proof to back it up. And if so, then where is that proof? Why haven't they shown it? And why haven't we seen it? And, as we all know, personal opinions don't mean a thing…

    May 23, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • gorp

      We don't believe anything. We reject your claims about the existence of god.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      gorp… You stated, "We don't believe anything"… Answer: You believe that I am wrong, do you not?… Case closed.

      You stated, "We reject your claims about the existence of god". Answer: A rejection without a shred of proof to back it up. If that is not the case, then where is that proof? Show it to us…

      May 23, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • One one

      How does one "show" that something does not exist ?

      Do you believe a magic invisible Bigfoot is living in your residence ? If not, is your lack of belief just a theory because you cannot prove it is not so?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • sam stone

      What the christians believe is nothing more than a theory, nothing more than an opinion, and they haven't a shred of proof to back it up.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Ever hear of The Celestial Teapot?
      "If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes.
      But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

      If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and enti.tle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."

      – Bertrand Russell

      May 23, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      One one… You stated, "How does one "show" that something does not exist ?"...

      I've asked you for proof, and all you have given me is an excuse. So you freely admit that you don't have a shred of proof to back up your claims, and that your entire belief is based on nothing more than a theory?…

      May 23, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You keep using the word "theory", but I don't think you understand what it means.
      A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

      May 23, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Dave

      Do you believe in Leprechauns JTF's? No?

      Well then please prove to me that leprechauns do not exist.

      May 23, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      sam stone… That is all people like you can do is evade the question. We already know you don't have a shred of proof to back it up. If that is not the case, then show it to us. You show us your proof, and we'll show you ours. Either put up or shut up…

      Stop evading the question and stop giving excuses. Show us your proof...

      May 23, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • gorp

      I don't need evidence to reject your evidence-less assertion. Calling yours a 'theory' is overgenerous.

      May 23, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I don't believe a theory; I simply think your theory is stupid and I don't beleive it like you do.

      What evidence would you accept for unicorns not existing, or god not existing. If you'll let me know what sort of evidence you would accept, I'll see what I can do about providing it, although I'm not sure how you would prove that I don't have a refrigerator-sized diamond in my living room.

      May 23, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      Doc Vestibule… Sure I do. A theory is nothing more than an opinion without proof to back it up. And that is all you atheists are offering. A theory is not proof. A hypothesis is not proof. No theory or hypothesis becomes proof until you have evidence to back it up. And I don't care if a million people believe in the theory, if there isn't proof to back it up, it is still nothing more than a theory. People once believe the world was flat, until someone came along and actually proved it was round. So just because millions of people had believed it was flat doesn't make them right or make it proof. It was nothing more than a theory they had.

      Stop changing the subject and stop evading the question. Show me proof to back up your claims. Or admit that you don't have any. Either put up or shut up…

      May 23, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Stop evading the question and stop giving excuses. Show us your proof..."
      Nobody is evading the question. They are simply trying to explain where your premise is faulty.

      There is no "proof" that gods don't, or can't exists. But that doesn't mean a belief there are, and a belief that there aren't, are on equal footing. Without evidence in support of the hypothesis for the existence of god(s), it is unnecessary to give it any further consideration. Without evidence in support, gods are equally likely as every other imaginary creature, and it is entirely unnecessary to prove they don't.

      Believers make a claim. They make a claim that is not supported by any evidence. Rejecting such a claim requires no evidence. Rejecting such a claim until evidence is presented to support it, is the default position.

      I'm almost certain you do the same. If you doubt that you do, please ask yourself what you would do if someone claimed that he (or she) believed the Tooth Fairy took his/her dentures and left a stack of quarters in their place? Wouldn't you at least want to see the quarters?

      May 23, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      gorp.. You stated, "I don't need evidence to reject your evidence-less assertion."…

      Answer: Maybe not. You are indeed free to "reject" whatever I say without proof. That is your prerogative. But for your rejection to be valid, and for you to "disprove" what I say, then you must present evidence and proof to back up your claims. Otherwise, your so-called rejection don't mean a thing. And you can't show me any evidence because you know you don't have any…

      Stop dancing around the issue and evading the question. Show me the proof to back up your claims. Or admit that you don't have any…

      May 23, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Until you are capable of grasping basic scientific definitions like "theory" (whose proper definition I gave you but you ignored) and "falsifiability" (whose principle is explained in the Celestial Teapot example), you should probably refrain from trolling so hard.

      May 23, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      Cpt. Obvious… You stated, "I don't believe a theory; I simply think your theory is stupid and I don't beleive it like you do."

      Answer: You don't believe in a theory, but yet you have one. Now that is really funny. Sometimes I have to wonder whether you guys ever went to school...

      May 23, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      Doc Vestibule… You're playing with words, Doc, in an attempt to keep from admitting that you don't have any proof. Everyone on this forum fully knows what a theory is, except maybe you. So stop trying to play us for fools. Show us the proof to back up your claims or admit that you don't have any. If the answers you've given thus far are any indication, then we already know you don't have any proof to back up your claims. We already know you don't have a leg to stand on. Which is why all you can do is evade the question. Which means your opinion is worthless…

      May 23, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I haven't made any claims.
      All I've done is explain certain principles of the scientific method that you are ignoring in an attempt to be deliberately contentious.

      May 23, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Doug Jensen

      This is what JustTheFacts thinks a theory is in a scientific context:

      "Sure I do. A theory is nothing more than an opinion without proof to back it up."

      Now, that is clearly wrong and any educated person even an educated christian person knows that JustTheFacts statement is wrong. Education in the United States is producing rather low proficiency scores when compared to other advanced countries. That represents a desperate problem for the United States in the future if the low trends continue.

      There are a lot of people that prefer to disregard christian influence when attempting to solve the problem of the low proficiency scores in the United States. However, and again and again, it is clear that the practice of christianity is strongly correlated with low proficiency in general. The problem will never be solved by ignoring the obvious.

      May 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      JTF is either dumber than Topher or being deliberately obtuse. Either way, he is losing this one very badly.

      May 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Doc Vestibule… Everybody in the world already knows what a "theory" is, Doc. And we don't need you to explain it to us. Nor do we need any scientific principals to understand it…

      May 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      This is my last post for now, as I have things to do. But I will leave you with the following…

      No person who had any proof to show would have any need to keep evading the question or changing the subject. They'd simply show us the proof and be done with it. But since the atheists have no proof to support their claims (as I have stated) and don't have a leg to stand on, that's why all they can do is to continually spew out worthless posts of outlandish craziness yet without a shred of evidence to back it up. Their whole belief is based on nothing more than a theory, and is nothing more than a personal opinion, and in this case, an opinion without a shred of evidence to back it up. And without any evidence to support their claim, it is also an opinion that is entirely worthless and don't mean a thing…

      May 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What theory do I have, JtF? Why can't you prove what you say exists? If yuo could prove that your god exists, wouldn't that shut us up pretty good? Too bad you can't do it.

      May 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      As the good Doc has been patiently trying to explain, there are at least two definitions of the word theory – a scientific one and a non-scientific one. They are vastly different. For example, a believer's theory that their god exists is a non-scientific theory because there is no evidence to support the theory – it is just an opinion. Evolution on the other hand is a scientific theory – it has been thoroughly examined and there is lots of evidence to support.

      Atheists' disbelief in gods is not a theory – it is merely a reaction to believer's unsupported, non-scientific theory that gods exist. That being said, believers are free to continue to attempt to provide the first bit of actual independent, verifiable, objective and factual evidence that might put their childish beliefs on the road to scientific theory. Please proceed – we are waiting. . .

      May 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Sean

      You're making a lot of assumptions here, JTF. What exactly is it that you want proof of? It's fairly obvious that you are a troll, but disregarding that fact, it is also fairly obvious you have no idea about atheistic claims. If you can tell us what it is exactly that you want proof of, there will be a starting point in the dialog. All you have done so far is demand proof of something but you haven't said what you want proof of.

      May 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      EXCELLENT Just The Facts. Well said.

      WE have the New Testament written by EYE WITNESSES at the time of the words, miracles, work, and death of Jesus Christ -NOT written from hearsay after hundreds of years as THEY say [they were the Apochryphal gospels]

      We believe what science is closer to proving every day – that the world and the universe was created by a Supreme Intelligence that is GOD as written in the Inspired writings of the Old Testament. – THEY believe in a .........wait for it..........
      *A loud noise*
      *A muddy puddle*
      *A single cell that crawled out of the muddy puddle*
      And within a short space of time that itsy bitsy cell SOMEHOW developed into the Trillions of different species on the taxonomic scale!
      Bearing it takes thousand of years for just ONE cellular change to take place in any organism!!!!

      Now as intelligent people capable of rational thought and logic – you'd opt for the first , right? But not atheists. They spend their lives trying to reduce God made human beings to animal status!

      May 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • One one

      You have been bashing atheists about what they believe. What specifically do YOU believe.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Cora how are the cats and JustTheFacts

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/5XRFKX8N...............url for you chadie !

      But in favorites or peg IT OK !


      May 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |

      May 23, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • J the Agnostic

      JTF if your God is all powerful, then why does he need an Army of Angels? If he is all knowing, why does he seem surprised by the events happening every time he returns in the Old Testament? If he is Omnipresent, then where the F*uck is he?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  15. sweenbass

    When it comes to matters concerning all of the books that people consider to be "holy" (Bible, Koran, Gita etc...)

    Are there some interesting stories in those books? Some stories are & some are not. the ones that you think are interesting may not be the ones that interest me but that's personal taste.

    Do those aforementioned books contain philosophies that people can use to help improve their lives & the lives of others? Of course that is true of all those books & more

    When it comes to questions of a spiritual nature (A deity, A life force or soul, existence after natural death etc...) however, the best that those books can do is speculate. That is because they were written by people.

    Some people wish to hang their spiritual hat on a speculation that one of those books offer. I do not.

    Is there a spiritual component to the universe? I don't know.

    However, I have not read anything in any of those books that convinces me that the speculations in them are anything but that.

    That is why i refer to myself as an agnostic.

    May 23, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      sweenbass… You stated, "the best that those books can do is speculate. That is because they were written by people.",,,

      So you're saying that every book written by man is nothing more than speculation and that none are based on fact? Get real. There are plenty of books that are based on reality and are a recording of real events that happened. The bible is no different...

      May 23, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      aqwwbass… You stated, "Is there a spiritual component to the universe? I don't know."… The most wisest answer you could have given. I congratulate you for admitting you don't know. If only all other atheists had at least half as much common sense.

      You stated, "However, I have not read anything in any of those books that convinces me that the speculations in them are anything but that." Answer: That is your problem, you've been reading too many books, and those books have got you confused. Perhaps you should try listening to a true sent preacher. They're the real experts on spirituality. They're the ones who can show you it's not just speculation.

      1 Peter 1:16 – For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

      As the above scripture proves, what the apostles wrote in the scriptures is not just idle speculation or cunningly devised fables, but they were eyewitnesses of his majesty, meaning they personally witnessed the savior Jesus Christ and the many things he did. And they have left behind in the scriptures their testimony of the things which they had witnessed. Thus, their testimony is not idle speculation, but is a recording of actual fact and events that happened…

      May 23, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • gorp

      Are you seriously using the bible in an attempt to prove the bible? Despite what it says at the beginning of Star Wars, it didn't actually happen a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

      May 23, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  16. Karin

    “If all people are doing is praying, it is worthless . . .” If “all” one does is pray, that’s fine. Prayer is a wonderful (a precious) gift given to us by God and for us; it’s not a tool to get God to do something or to change His mind. Prayer is the most important work we can do—and it should be the first thing we do; sometimes it’s all we can do.
    “If prayer works, there wouldn’t be a disaster like this in the first place .... so please keep your religion to yourself.” We live in a sin-cursed world, so regrettably, tragedies—both natural and man-made—will always be with us.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • One one

      Please explain the connection between "sin" and tragic events like this tornado.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      6.The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H.Sapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the sacharrine adoration of his creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not recieve this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history.
      [Robert Heinlein]

      May 23, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • One one

      "it’s not a tool to get God to do something". Wrong.

      Read the Lord's Prayer, that's exactly what it is.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • sam stone

      if god has a plan, what is the point of prayer?

      can you pet-it-ion the lord?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • sam stone

      why do you feel we live in a "sin cursed world"?

      iron age hearsay, translated and edited?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  17. One one

    God lets bad people kill at will.
    The devoted say it’s because of “free will”.
    Then why do they pray, and pray, and pray?
    For god to help them, day after day?
    They pray to god to improve their fate
    Their own free will they ask god to negate
    “Free will” for us all…, from the god of peace!
    Who sends us to hell for a wrong belief.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  18. #keepPrayerlessnessOut

    Thoughts & prayers go out to those in need!
    If don't want to pray,don't pray. Keep those thoughts to yourself!

    May 23, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And if you want to pray, then pray!
      But keep your psychic conversations with the divine to yourself.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Just for arguments sake

      Why the obsession with silence, Doc?

      May 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Just for arguments sake

      Actually both of you..why silence? Who says forced silence is better?

      May 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  19. Mark

    Ricky Gervais is a contemptible little puke. He donates some trifle of his wealth and makes sure everybody hears about it on the Internet. Meanwhile, Christian organizations like the Salvation Army pour out millions year in and year out, quietly.

    I suspect that if all the celebrities stopped supporting their high profile causes tomorrow, it would make no discernible difference in the world. But if Christians suddenly stopped giving, a great deal of need would go unmet.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Making a particular issue a cause celebre can cause a momentary influx of cash and interest, but it is seldom maintained.
      The tragedy of the day will capture people's short attention spans while long term, dedicated campaigns are full of folk who toil endlessly with little material reward.
      This is true of religious and secular charities.
      Irreligious humanitarian organizations like UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders have steadily been doing their work for decades with little or no help from atheist celebrities like Gervais or Christian stars like Bono.
      So sure, if Christians suddenly stopped giving, a great deal of need would go unmet (and we'll not argue today about making the charity contigent on being preached at), but the same is true if you were to remove any large demographic group.
      If all the secular charities were shut down, the would be grave consequences as well.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • derp

      Great, another whining punk christian.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • sam stone

      Awwwww, marky-mark....having a little hissy fit?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  20. Mona

    Love your neighbor as you love yourself...and one way of loving our neighbor is to help them in many different ways...if we can't do good in kind because we are helpless ourselves, we can kneel down in prayer and pray instead...telling people we pray for them is a show of care and sympathy...the best way of saying, "I sympathize." If some people have money to give and I have none as I myself am lacking, then my prayer should not be mocked as that is the only thing I could give as of the moment...using these calamities happening as proofs of the non-existence of God is nonsense...all that is bad belong to the devil...all that is good to God...Why all of these disasters are happening then?...because God allowed them for a reason...and may we work on finding the reason for all of these instead of finding proofs to the non-existence of God...you are proof yourself...I am proof myself.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:58 am |
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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.