May 22nd, 2013
06:20 PM ET

This Oklahoma atheist isn't thanking the Lord

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='JRavitzCNN']

(CNN) – Behind her were ruins, a tangled mess where structures once stood. Cradled in her arms, the mother’s 19-month-old son played with a snatched microphone, unfazed by the chaos swirling around him. And in front of Rebecca Vitsmun stood CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who – after asking her about the decision that saved her and her son's lives – had one more question:

“I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she mumbled, smiling and looking down.

“Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?” he continued.

“I, I, I,” the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom stammered before adding, “I’m actually an atheist.”

She laughed, Blitzer laughed, and the moment passed seamlessly on live TV. Except it also became a clip heard across the Internet and social media – one that pointed to a reality about faith in America that exists even where, and when, people might least expect it.

Vitsmun, who chronicled her decision to flee her house with her son on CNN iReport, is one of 13 million atheists or agnostics in America, according to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.

See Rebecca Vitsmun discuss her decision with CNN's Wolf Blitzer

While only 2.4% of Americans are atheists, they fit into a broader category that is on the rise in the United States.

Nearly 20% of adults – and a third of those under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated, the Pew report found.

This group, which has grown by roughly 5% in five years, is often referred to as the “nones.” It is a term that extends beyond atheists, who believe there is no God, and agnostics, who believe it’s impossible to prove or disprove God’s existence. It includes a greater proportion of people who see themselves as nothing in particular, which means they might be secular, spiritual or believers – but simply don’t identify with an organized religion, said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center

“When we ask people questions about their religious identity, when we ask them about their religious beliefs, there are relatively few who are atheists. But I’m speaking in percentage terms,” Smith said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of them around. And they’re certainly all over.”

Oklahoma included.

In fact, when the Pew Research Center last drilled down to uncover the religious landscape of affiliations on a state level five years ago, 12% of Oklahomans were religiously unaffiliated. And just as the numbers ticked up nationally since then, it stands to reason that they did the same in Oklahoma.

We tried to reach Vitsmun by phone Wednesday but were unable to connect.

Her friend Waylon Flinn, however, shed some light on who she is. She and her husband, who Flinn said is also an atheist, aren’t the sorts who advertise their beliefs or throw them in people’s faces. When she agreed to go on camera, it wasn’t for that platform; she didn’t even see the Lord question coming.

But that she responded to Blitzer the way she did is no surprise to Flinn, who opened his home in nearby Norman to Vitsmun’s family after theirs was destroyed.

“She handled it in her style, which is very honest and true to herself,” he said.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism • iReport • News media

soundoff (2,486 Responses)
  1. Lukey

    A woman made a split second decision to help save her family, it was her good decision making ability based on clear thinking that saved them. Taking responsibility for your own survival and taking action toward that end require clear thinking and the ability to make decisions under pressure, not hoping someone or something else will do it for you, that's a cop out on personal responsibility.
    Blaming or praising God won't make up for the inability to make a decision and act on it, that is the the root of the issue.
    Too many people today refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and use the cop out of claiming it was God's will, living in a tornado prone zone requires that the individual think about the possibility of a tornado hitting them and already having a plan of action in place. Not doing so is a recipe for disaster.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  2. EJ

    Yes, let's "thank the lord" for not killing us with his tornado. What a guy! Maybe HE shouldn't have sent the tornado at all?

    May 23, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Science

      EJ.....................he .........is lower case.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Science: you may wish to brush up on the proper grammatical use of the ellipsis.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Science

      Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      i always have unfinished thoughts myself.


      May 23, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  3. Thoth

    Blitzer just illustrates the presumptuous arrogance of the religious. They tend to think everyone either believes what they do, or that they should believe as they do. This woman tried to politely ignore the comment the first time....but no...Blitzer just had to throw it at her again. She gave an honest answer and is now being attacked for doing so.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Stephen Daedalus

      Pretty brave of her too, I'm sure she'll get flack from the "good christians" of the world who are still rationalizing that god protected them from a tornado he presumably hit them with in the first place.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • OMG

      They both laughed about it. And didn't over-react.

      Unlike you.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  4. Dave D.

    LOL “I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” “Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?”
    Good job Mrs. Vitsmun.
    Hats off to you.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  5. WASP

    i wouldn't have been able to help myself, in reply to his question i would have replied......." yeah i would like to thank him for sending a tornado to destroy my house so i can get a new one." ROFLMFAO!

    May 23, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Science

      Morning WASP...............or does he read the comments from is open mouth insert foot deal ?

      Do you have any..............faith/chad?

      Where do morals come from?.....................NOT THE BIBLE>

      By Kelly Murray, CNN


      Hey faith..................the peach........... did you learn or hear from that Discovery show about the LAND BRIDGE ?

      How many years ago did we cross into North America ?.................faith chadie and Good news..........not

      Free learning videos go viral

      By Salman Khan, Special to CNN



      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 !

      Evolving Genes Lead to Evolving Genes: Selection in European Populations of Genes Regulated by FOXP2

      Apr. 18, 2013 — Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.


      Oldest of the old.............the RCC ...........BedVrooooom.............and the red devil................not funny !

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

      NOT ........peachy ?.............but below IS..............please help .........thank you.

      A project of DC Entertainment to support Save the Children, Mercy Corps and IRC


      The Greatest Action Movie Ever (G.A.M.E.)


      Again Chadie................SPLAT = E mc2...............(U-Pb)...........dating process for link below


      And a little carbon – 14 from chondrites..............and water =

      WHAM-O........horn-y planet and life.

      Mom and Dad............did it faith !

      http://www.discovertheforest.org/...............To Grandmas house we go !


      May 23, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • WASP

      MOURNING science. how you been. had a bit of a slump myself, feeling better though.

      however this is hilarious, i love how christians have attacked CNN for "supposely" doing this on purpose. XD
      you can tell he was caught off guard when she tried to avoid the question then just laughed it off for being put on the spot by him.

      no conspiracy, just badly placed question and timing.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Science

      WASP................Glad you are feeling better.......................maybe he will read the comment section and

      learn something.............that there is no................... you know.


      May 23, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  6. benji

    The Lord exists, but the sad thing is today's Christians are too focused on using the Bible to spread hatred than to spread the message of God's love. Jesus said to go out and teach people about Him and baptizing them, NOT whine about guns, gays and abortion all the time. Or use his word to stir up hate toward a black president.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Benji, I don't know if there is a god (kind of doubt it, although anything is possible), but you're certainly ent-itled to believe it, and your post is one of wisdom. Thank you.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Dj65

      Wow. The prejudice against religious people here is really rampant. Here's my view -People in my church bring food every month for the poor, donate baby items for mothers in need, make shawls for the sick and elderly in nursing homes, build ramps for wheelchair bound parishioners, work suicide hotlines etc. IN short – they are good people. Whining about guns? Really? That's a political issue, not a religious one. As for abortions – their point of view is it's murder. If you saw someone trying to knife a child to death, would you intervene? That's the logic they use. I understand if you don't agree, but for you to condemn every religious person just because you don't like some of the beliefs is just a bigoted as you claim religious people are, which makes you...a hypocrite.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • ironman59

      It does not exist, never did. Religion is and was nothing more than a tool used by those in power to control those that were not in power. More to the point it was used to control those without education. As you see more & more people become hihgly educated you see less & less religion. Why do you think that religion fights so hard to get back into schools?

      Simple fact is that what happend in OK was a simple act of the weather, nothing more. It doesn't take an "act of gawd" to know that you should get out of the way of a tornado.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    "I'm proud to be an atheist – it helps me stand for so much more and fall for so much less." – Dan Barker

    May 23, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  8. TG

    Many now use the term "imaginary sky fairy" to portray the thought that God is just a figment of a person's imagination. However, the evidence that an Almighty God exists is all around us, but most are unwilling to examine it. For example, we are made up of proteins, the basic building blocks of life. The odds of a protein coming into existence at random has been calculated as 10 followed by 113 zeroes, and in which mathematicians have noted that anything above 10 followed by 50 zeroes is impossible.

    But many still say that life, such as the complete organism of man, came about by theoretical evolution. Yet, they fail to factor that if man "evolved", then where did the woman come from ? For man ceasing to exist, a woman would have to "evolve" at exactly the same time, at exactly the same place, for if she "evolved" at a different time or location, they could not have gotten together to reproduce and both would died without offspring. And how is it that "evolution" knew that the man needed to supply 23 chromosomes and the woman the other 23 to bring about life in which 46 is required ?

    What does the evidence (and logic) say ? That life and the universe did not happen by chance, but is an intentional act of a Supreme Designer, just as a well organized home is not an accident, but the result of a well arranged mind. The Bible identifies the Supreme Designer as Jehovah.(Zech 12:1)

    May 23, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      The theory most scientists currently favor for the origins of life is called “abiogenesis,” the gradual emergence of life on Earth from non-living matter. To understand why it is thought that life arose on Earth from non-living matter, one has to understand some basic biochemistry. This is where you “talking snake crowd” have such a problem. You have to actually understand some very basic science, you can’t just rely on what you were taught at Sunday school as an eight year-old.

      All life is comprised of complex arrangements of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, all orchestrated by DNA and/or RNA. DNA/RNA and proteins are by far the most important components of a living organism, carrying out virtually every function in a cell. Fats and carbohydrates are generally simpler molecules and play critical, but subordinate roles in cells.

      DNA and RNA are made of five nucleotides – adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine and uracil. They act as the cell’s “mission control,” orchestrating the cell’s activities. Proteins are made of 20 amino acids. They are the workhorse of the cell – the nails, wood, steel beams and machinery that make the cell run. It is the order of amino acids in a protein that determine its shape and, therefore what it does. This order and shape of proteins is itself dictated by the DNA through RNA.

      So, in short, life is made up of complex arrangements of:

      The five nucleotides – adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine and uracil – arranged into DNA and/or RNA
      The twenty amino acids – that form all proteins, including enzymes and the other 100,000 or so proteins in a complex organism’s body.
      Carbohydrates – literally “water-carbon,” which include sugars and starches. These are much simpler elements than proteins or DNA/RNA and act as an energy source.
      Fats – also called lipids, these are important in constructing cell membranes.

      The simplest cells are prokaryotic cells. They exist today principally as bacteria. Stromatolites and other fossils from all over the planet suggest that, for the first billion years of life on earth, all life was simple, prokaryotic life. These cells consisted of a fatty cell membrane, like a balloon skin, with DNA/RNA, proteins, fats and carbohydrates on the inside. They had no nucleus. Cells with nuclei, called eukaryotic cells (which make up virtually all multi-cellular organisms) are much larger and more complex that prokaryotic cells and likely resulted from the early combining of prokaryotic cells.

      So, can a simple prokaryotic cell come into existence without the intervention of God, Allah, Shiva, Vishnu, Yahweh or any other divine/magic being?

      Beginning in the 1950s, scientists started trying to mimic the conditions on the early Earth to see whether some kind of “life-fairy” was necessary to get things started. In the most famous experiment of this era, the Miller-Urey experiment of 1952, Stanley Miller demonstrated that heating and running an electric spark through an atmosphere of water vapor, ammonia, methane and hydrogen for a few weeks resulted in these very simple molecules self-assembling into all 20 of the amino acids upon which life on Earth is based. This is a startling result. All 20 building blocks of proteins, which comprise over 99% of the cell’s functional structures, self-assembling without a magic wand from God, Shiva, Vishnu, Allah etc!

      The experiment was groundbreaking because it suggested that, under the perfectly natural conditions of early Earth, the building blocks of life can and will self-assemble. Indeed, it now seems that major volcanic eruptions 4 billion years ago would have created an even more diverse atmosphere than Miller used, including carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). When these were added to the mix in subsequent experiments, they have resulted in the creation of all 5 nucleotides, all 20 amino acids and basic fatty membranes and various carbohydrates. That is to say, with no magic/divine intervention, all life’s building blocks WILL self-assemble.

      But nails, wood, wiring and bricks a house do not make. Even the simplest life requires these building blocks to be arranged in very, very complex ways. In various experiments with various conditions, scientists have been able to create a wide range of cell-like structures of increasing complexity on the road toward a simple self-replicating organism. These creations are called protobionts or coacervates and if you “you tube” or google these terms, you will see many examples.

      This is still a far cry from a cell, but the important thing is that the experiments uniformly demonstrate that organic molecules have a natural tendency to clump together in increasingly complex ways under early Earth-like conditions. They are not being pushed into doing something “against their will”.

      Where it gets really suggestive is that scientists have been able to isolate what they believe to be some of the most primitive genes of Earth, by comparing the DNA of two organisms whose last common ancestor lived soon after the formation of the Earth. For such genes to be common to both such organisms, they must be very, very old. When these ancient genes produce amino acids, they are rich in the amino acids most common in the Miller-Urey and similar experiments! This suggests that these experiments do indeed reflect early Earth conditions and that life itself did arise under such conditions.

      The other important factor is that these impressive results have been achieved in laboratories over small periods of time. Imagine the whole Earth as the “Petri dish” and hundreds of millions of years as the timescale. Simple life gradually emerging from such a “soup” does not seem at all incredible, certainly not incredible enough that we in the USA have to give up and call the remaining gap in knowledge “God,” while our Indian colleagues do the same and attribute it all to the Lord Shiva.

      Scientist are also approaching it from the other side too, gradually stripping away at prokaryotic cells to see how stripped down they have to become for life to “stop,” while others continue to build up from coacervates and protobionts. The gap is narrowing as our knowledge continues its inexorable march.

      The Christian sky-fairy is being pinched out! There’s not a lot of room left for him now. The pincers of science are closing in from both sides, squeezing out the phantom of religion and ignorance. Soon, the two sides of the pincer will meet and this unnecessary holdover will have to flutter off and find another dark corner to settle in, where the penetrating light of science and knowledge has not yet shone. Fortunately, the weak, forgiving mind of the believer will always be there for him, acting as an eternal refuge from enlightenment and advancement.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • WASP

      @TG: " For example, we are made up of proteins, the basic building blocks of life."

      actually everything is made of energy and in it's most basic form CAN NOT be created NOR destroyed so the odds of proteins combining are greater than you think.

      however feel free to belittle all of human accomplishments to that of " god planned it"

      May 23, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • benji

      You are so right. I do not believe in evolution of humans. God put us on the earth and we have remained the way we are for thousands of years.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ TG – if humans were designed by an intelligent designer, then why do humans have:
      – an appendix
      – a coccyx (Remnant of a tailbone)
      – remnants of nict-itating membranes in the corners of our eyes
      – one orifice to take in food, water, and air, causing untold numbers of people to choke to death every year
      – eyes that are "built" upside down

      Not very good design, is it?

      May 23, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Not to mention putting a playground right beside a sewage treatment facilty, Tyson Degrasse has pointed out.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Mark

      @Dyslexic Dog

      Very nice plagarism work. We're all duly impressed you know how to use the cut & paste on your computer.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      I don't believe in evolution either. I accept it. There is no debate about the validity of the science and the mountains of evidence that supports it. All life on this planet evolved from earlier forms. Even if we had zero fossils to examine the DNA evidence alone confirms it. Dispute the facts all you want. If you wish to be taken seriously then your peer reviewed paper disporving evolution will win you a Nobel Prize. Until then (and I'm not holding my breath on this one) you just sound stupid..

      May 23, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Don camp

      @doG. Nice summary of what science has so far accomplished. Still after, what, 50 plus years of pretty intense study and many attempts to create life, no one has done it.That suggests tome that someone smarter than us just might have had a hand in it.

      Most believers in a Creator acknowledge the role that processes play in life. We are not afraid that science will crowd out the Creator.We expect that science will reveal the a tremendous wisdom and skill of the Creaator. As science has done for all of history – or at least since Solomon began to examine and catalog living things.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • ironman59

      It is not an act of "gawd" or some intelligent designer. Quoting the bible as "proof" that gawd created the world is not proof either. We see it every day in organisms and life cycles that continue to adapt to the environment around them. Even something as simple as moths back in Industrial England adapted from white to black to fit into the polluted environment around them. It is basic biology & simple evolution that creates life, not your non-existent being.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • colin in Florida

      You said "The odds of a protein coming into existence at random has been calculated as 10 followed by 113 zeroes, and in which mathematicians have noted that anything above 10 followed by 50 zeroes is impossible."

      Obviously, your knowledge of math is below poor. A one followed by 51 zeros is not impossible-the math says it is possible.

      And scientists have created amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, in simple lab experiments many times, from simple naturally compounds-water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen-and within a single day. Read about the Miller-Urey experiment.

      Urey, BTW, is one of the most famous scientists of the 20th century. This Nobel Prize winner not only did this experiment to prove that amino acids can form from simple naturally occurring compounds, he also discovered deuterium or heavy hydrogen, which forms heavy water, a critical part of the work on atomic energy, while working on the Manhattan Project.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • justbecause

      Atheist: A person who prays and prays and prays to God, gimme money, gimme fame, gimme girls, gimme drugs, gimme a big home – then God does not give him what he asks. So like a rebellious child, the atheist says, hmmmmm...i dont like God because He does not give me what I ask. Hmmmm.....i dont get anything I ask of this God. Therefore God does not exist.

      Silly man !

      God is much beyond your request and wishes and logic. God cannot be contained within logic and time.

      Consider this: An employee of a large company, the one at the lowest end of the food chain, can only complain and whine about low pay, less benefits. No matter how much you pay this man, no matter how much you increase his pay, his needs are directly proportional to his pay. the more he gets, the more he spends. He will never be happy.

      This is how man is. He is never happy. He always wants more and more.

      Now, the CEO of the company, the top most in the food chain, looks over more than 100,000 employees. His vision is not just for this one individual worker. His vision is for the company as whole. How can he take the company forward. How can he make it grow into a successful organization.

      This is similar to God's plans for man. But to God, every Man is important. That does not mean that He will pamper you with wealth and riches and put you in the Garden of Eden where you will have no worries, no fears, no need to work and no pain.

      God did that once, and we men, betrayed Him.

      Now we live here, and we need to earn our way back to Him. He may choose to wipe us out, but He wont. We are His beloved creation. His children. Yes we have troubles, trials, tribulations, pain. Without all this, we would all have led a lazy life, devoid of faith in God. It is because of this pain and want for rest, we, the ones who have put our trust in Him, continue to worship Him. We continue to trust and worship Him even our deepest pain and our darkest hour. God needs to know we trust Him.

      The rest of mankind, the so called "Atheist" the ones who deny God, they too know God exists. But they just deny Him because God will not answer their selfish requests.

      If my child asks me for food, I will provide. If my child asks me for candy, and McDonalds every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner , I will NOT provide. If they ask me for every single toy in the store, i will NOT provide. Because if I give my child everything he or she asks for, then they will loose the value for the things I provide. Instead, i provide for them the things that they need the most. I provide for their education, so they can grow up and become good citizens. I provide for their needs. If they fall down and get hurt, if they break a bone, if they fall sick, i comfort them. I do not enclose them in an oxygen chamber and fill them with antibiotics so they never fall sick or have an infection.

      God, the father, loves you. He will provide and take care of you. Even if you do not believe in Him.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • tallulah13

      TG, your limited knowledge of science, indeed humanity's understandably incomplete knowledge of every natural phenomena is not proof of god. It's simply proof that not everything is yet known, and in fact may never be known.

      Humanity has been replacing the word "unknown" with "god" since the dawn of time. Don't you think it's time we grew up as a species and allow ourselves to say that we simply don't know?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • tallulah13

      Just because: You are posting for a position of ignorance. You are assigning motives to atheists instead of actually seeking to understand why they don't believe. It's dishonest and renders your entire post pointless.

      And in case you wondered, even when I did believe, I didn't feel comfortable asking god for anything beyond the safety of my loved ones. I thought to ask for more was selfish. Not very christian of me, I suppose.

      As I grew older, I stopped believing in god simply because when you look objectively at history, you realize that gods are cultural constructs that require humans to survive and thrive. I suspect christianity is successful because of it's appeal to the common man, it's simplicity and because it came to prominence at a time when transportation was improving (although it took 1500 years and the endeavors of explorers and conquistadors to make it to the new world).

      So, please, for your own sake, stop lying. If your god is real, you will end up in hell with us atheists, and wouldn't that be terribly embarassing for you?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Arch Stanton

      That argument doesn't work at all, and I don't know why people keep trying to use it. Can't you see it explains nothing and just passes the buck toward an even-higher-level of implausibility?

      "Things are too complex to have just spawned themselves, so they must have been designed by a creator... who just spawned himself."

      You can't accept that things developed through slow scientific processes and evolution, so you come up with a creator... but when it comes time to explain where the creator came from, you don't have the same rules - he gets a free pass and was just "always there," already all-powerful and all-knowing.

      Instead of explaining anything, you're just doubling down on the unlikelihood of the odds. Because if it's "10 followed by 113 zeroes" against a simple protein being developed, what are the odds of a far-more complex, already-fully-developed ultimate-being being around *before* there was even protein?

      But, no, you take *that* piece out of the game entirely and just say "Oh, rules don't apply to God." That's freaking SILLY.

      May 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Joey

      Don, You mean a scientist couldn't accomplish in 50 years something that took nature at least several hundred million years? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.

      May 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  9. Lynda

    Blitzer had no business asking her that question at all. But Kudos to her. However, I am an atheist and I really don't understand why people are reluctant to say they are. I have no problem with it. And if YOU have a problem with it, that is YOUR problem, not mine.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • William Demuth

      Because in Redneck Land you can be beaten up, fired, threatened, ostracized, molested, and have your house burnt down and your car vandalized for being outed as a non-believer.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • WASP

      let's not forget also have your children harrassed and exciled from their "friends".

      it's hard on adults, it's worse on your children.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • ed dugan

      I think that two percent figure is dead wrong. There are many more people who are like me; I am not an athiest and I am certainly not a "believer". I simply don't give a damn about all that crap. I am completely disinterested. So, you can call me an athiest if you want and I don't care. Call me a believer and I get insulted.j

      May 23, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • OMG

      He probably had talked to hundreds and hundreds of people who were thanking and trusting in God during this horrible tragedy.

      He assumed she was like all these other victims – it was a simple and forgivable mistake.

      She and he laughed about it. It was funny.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • colin in Florida

      Because this brave lady lives in the middle of the bible belt and she is likely ostracized from society already, or fears she will be ostracized because she does not believe in imaginary sky people.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Bob

      Hey, I think some atheists might not want to say they do not believe in a God because currently Atheism while on the rise is a minority. As well as they may not want to be attack by some religious/anti religious nut (every lack of or religious affiliation has a couple of them) that may be lurking around the area and they could possibly attack the Atheist or just make their life miserable.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • OMG

      He asked a question – they both laughed.

      Why imagine that people are being dragged off and tortured?

      This happens in Iran to Christians and atheists? But in America?

      May 23, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Mark

      @William Demuth

      "Because in Redneck Land you can be beaten up, fired, threatened, ostracized, molested, and have your house burnt down and your car vandalized for being outed as a non-believer".

      Please list a SPECIFIC instance in the last 5 years for EACH of the possible scenarios you mentioned. I would also like the link to the story or some other way to verify.

      Thank You.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • OMG

      The Bible Belt? Oklahoma?

      She might not get invited to coffee after the PTA meeting by a few housewives – probably the worst oppression this atheist will face.

      Quit imagining being an atheist in America is like being a Christian or atheist in Iran.

      We got it so good, we complain about a man asking a question (free speech)?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Try this test yourself and see what results you get. For the next month, tell people you are an atheist. See how loving of thy neighbor christians really are.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Angela

      See William there goes your ignorant comments again "In red-necked land". You must have a very sad life to criticize people.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • OMG

      Richard Cranium

      Try this test:

      Start posting on here and say you a Christian.

      Get back to me on how great the other atheists treat you.

      I have been an atheist and a Christian – most people, both Christian and atheist – didn't give a f&ck.

      I certainly didn't feel threatened like the loonies on here like to imagine that happens in 'red neck land'.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • midwest rail

      OMG – try this test – pick a new screen name, and post here as a gay person, or in support of gay people. Wait for the contemporary Christian love to flow your way.
      Having said that, I agree with you to a point. The level of discourse on these boards has degenerated, and is often pointless.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Ann

      @Richard C – good suggestion.

      I generally describe myself as an agnostic rather than an atheist. One reason is that I am certain that it's impossible to know for sure (as they say, it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist!). I'm willing to admit that the probablility there's a god is (very slightly) greater than zero. Still - I don't believe in one. So, atheist would probably be a more accurate term, but it's not an easy label to take on when you live in a conservative area.

      I have religious friends, and we respect each other's views – as much as we can. But yes, I have experienced hostility for my lack of belief.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  10. Jen

    It was a pretty disrespectful question, really.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  11. Joseph Bleaux

    Good for her. This just shows that there's at least one intelligent person in Oklahoma.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Back Nine

      Thousands of our greatest minds throughout history have been theist. I understand your belief, but to cast all people who don;t believe just as you do as lacking intelligence is not, well....intelligent.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • OMG

      I bet you a $1,000 Amazon gift card I can find a theist that is smarter than you (higher IQ, more successful career, innovator – you name the reasonable criteria).

      Play to care?

      May 23, 2013 at 9:52 am |
  12. Dyslexic doG

    Why does God maim and kill innocent little elementary school children shot in Newtown CT and now by his tornado in Moore OK and by starvation all over the world. Even if you say he didn't cause it (so much for omnipotence!), why did he let it happen?

    One logical gap that needs to be addressed is the reason that a compassionate, all-powerful deity would tolerate suffering, even if it does not cause the suffering.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • benji

      Maybe if we called upon the Lord Almighty when things are going great then perhaps He will hear our prayers when things turn bad.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • lolol

      you have abandonned him since the beginning of times. now deal with it.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • TG

      God did not "main and kill innocent little elementary school children shot in Newtown CT" , nor is he responsible for the tornado in Moore City, Ok. Many have a strong propensity to blame God for acts of nature or terrorism or mass killings.(Prov 19:3) Because of having no understanding of who he is nor of what occurred in the Garden of Eden, that the issue of God's sovereignty or right to rule was called into question by a former "son of God" now called Satan, these summarily condemn God.(Gen 3:1)

      They fail to grasp that in order for this question to be answered fully, that our Creator Jehovah God who is "abundant in loving-kindness and truth" (Ex 34:6), gave over to Satan the "world" of mankind, those born after Adam and Eve rebelled. Satan himself acknowledged before Jesus that "all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth....has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it."(Luke 4:5, 6) Hence, for the past 6,000 years of human history, Satan has been controlling the reigns of mankind as their "ruler."(John 14:30)

      This question whereby even the angels in heaven were involved has almost been answered, for it is Satan's rulership over the earth that has been the cause of all the wicked acts and not God. Not to far into the future will this question be resolved completely and in which Satan, his demon angels and all his those who listen to him, will be eradicated from the earth.(Ps 37:9, 10; Rev 20:7-10)

      Those left over from this destruction (and this is from God) are "meek" ones who fully recognize Jehovah's rulership as being righteous, who will then live on an earthly paradise forever "in the abundance of peace".(Ps 37:11, 29)

      May 23, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • G to the T

      That's right Benji – when the leader is "perfect" it can't help but be the followers fault...

      May 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • G to the T

      TG – I noticed you don't quote the book of Job anywhere... convenient that....

      May 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  13. irunner

    Brave woman. I would have never uttered those words in a red state. I'd expect a tealiban backlash.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  14. PeterD

    Wolf Blitzer does not need to put make-up on Halloween Trick or Treat day.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    One logical gap that needs to be addressed is the reason that a compassionate, all-powerful deity would tolerate suffering, even if it does not cause the suffering.

    Why did God maim and kill all those innocent little elementary school children, and even if you say he didn't cause it (so much for omnipotence!), why did he let it happen?

    May 23, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Almighty finds it necessary to do things in His official and public capacity which in His private and personal capacity He deplores.
      – Robert A. Heinlein

      May 23, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Framco

      I do not know. Why do I have consciousness? I do not know....so many why's and no answers.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  16. crabman1

    the churchs just take and take any way -– why belong they don't give back as much as the take - first hand knowledge -thanks --tough to believe in something when the church won't support the people that support them

    May 23, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Bob

      Could you please state your reason as to how the Church (I'm assuming you mean RCC) takes and takes away? As we speak the RCC is helping women who have had abortions overcome the chemical depression as a result of their abortions. Also the Church is giving kids an education and guess what? The taxpayers do not have to foot the bill it's on the parents of the actual children. Oh and not to mention the Roman Catholic Church also tries to save babies that are being killed against their will. Alright I'm stepping off of my soapbox now.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:58 am |
  17. toodark

    Good for her, but tough to be outed in OK on live TV. I'm sure she can hear the Thump, Thump, Thump of theists coming her way. But jeez...Ms. Ravitz. Atheists, typically reject the claims for the existence of god(s)...that is very different from "believe(ing) there is no god.)

    May 23, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  18. ds_thomasv

    When a Hurricane strikes New Orleans during a gay pride weekend (southern Decadence) the Christians say its the wrath of God or Gods punishment for wicked behavior and letting gays run a muck in the streets. what was going on in Moore OK to bring this devastation to what has been said by one Voice contestant as a "Praying State" ??

    May 23, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Lynda

      Ask Pat Robertson. He will have an answer soon.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • derp

      God tried to punish that atheist lady. The rest was collateral damage.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  19. Vic

    I don't know why people are under the impression that the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma was apocalyptic!

    Weather is basically the atmospheric conditions that comprise its state in terms of temperature, pressure, winds, precipitation, etc. Natural Disasters are due to Natural Processes, and are repeating in many cases!

    The very Moore, Oklahoma was hit the same way back in May of 1999!


    Regarding Wolf Blitzer's interview with Rebecca Vitsmun, the first impression I got when I saw the clip was "it was an inappropriate question!"

    May 23, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Who is God's God

      It sucks the tornado happened... And yes, that was such an inappropriate question to ask. Just another person trying to influence their beliefs on another...

      May 23, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Science

      To say the least VIC.....?...............you KNOW do you not ?

      May 23, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Science

      Hey Vic ...............you can type..................so I expect you can read that typed word no ?

      May 23, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • derp

      "Weather is basically the atmospheric conditions that comprise its state in terms of temperature, pressure, winds, precipitation, etc. Natural Disasters are due to Natural Processes, and are repeating in many cases!"

      Only an atheist heathen would deny that tornadoes are the wrath of the almighty.

      Listen to yourself using those big sciencey words.

      I bet you are one of those college educated liberal elites.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • sam stone

      "I don't know why people are under the impression that the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma was apocalyptic!"

      Ask Topher/Gopher

      May 23, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  20. Science

    Blitzer asks atheist if she thanks God...................does he understand facts ?...............Blitzer that is ?

    Not funny ?


    May 23, 2013 at 9:19 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.