May 24th, 2013
04:46 PM ET
Has the Oklahoma atheist been saved?
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) - Just days after she announced to the world from tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, that she is an atheist, it looks like Rebecca Vitsmun has found salvation.
Not from the Lord, mind you, but from other atheists and friends of atheists.
An Indiegogo campaign titled “Atheists Unite,” launched late Thursday by stand-up comic Doug Stanhope, is raking in dollars to help her family rebuild. Less than 17 hours after going live, it met its 60-day goal of $50,000. A little more than an hour later, as we prepared to publish, donations were at $55,000 - and growing.
“Holy @#!%!” Stanhope said, by way of hello when he answered his phone Friday morning.
Vitsmun, whose home was destroyed in Monday’s deadly tornado, unwittingly became a sensation Tuesday after participating in a live TV interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer asked if she thanked the Lord for the decision she made that saved her and her 19-month-old son, she stammered before saying, “I’m actually an atheist.”
She and Blitzer laughed and moved on. But that TV moment took on a life of its own, spreading online and through social media.
It also inspired this outpouring of atheist love.
“It's important that our community shows that we have your back when you come out publicly as an atheist,” Stanhope wrote on the Indiegogo page. “Let's show the world that you dont need to believe in a god to have human compassion nor does all charity fall under the banner of religion. Let's get this courageous woman and her family back in their own home.”
While a serious matter, the campaign offers “Perks” for giving – including a “Get Out of Hell Free Card” for a $50 donation, a “First Class Upgrade” on “the flight to the afterlife” for $500 and, just because, “Full Access to God’s Planbook” for $5,000.
Stanhope said he often weaves his beliefs, or lack of belief, into his stand-up routines. While Christian missionaries run around Third World countries – feeding the poor, Bibles in hand – he bemoans how atheists do nothing.
“We sit around in a dark bar and mock them,” he said. Meantime, “that book [the Bible] is a lot more appealing when there’s a bowl of rice under your nose.”
He saw this as an opportunity to do something, and his 2,021 contributors – and counting – clearly did, too. This wasn’t the only group to get into the atheist-supporting game.
On the website for FreeOK, Oklahoma's freethought convention which is scheduled for June 22, T-shirts are being sold to benefit Vitsmun and her family. The shirts are emblazoned with her quote, "I'm actually an atheist."
And as Stanhope's Indiegogo campaign reached its goal Friday afternoon, a press release came in from the American Humanist Association – announcing that it just forwarded to Vitsmun a whopping donation of $10,000.
“Rebecca Vitsmun’s courage to speak forthrightly about her atheism inspired humanists and others who are good without a god across the country to help her through this difficult time,” said the association’s executive director Roy Speckhardt, in the written statement. “Natural disasters are a product of our environment, not supernatural forces, and we have a responsibility to help those affected by them.”
While we are in contact with Vitsmun through sporadic e-mails, we were unable to get a reaction from her before publishing.
But the American Humanist Association shared a statement from her in its press release.
“People from all around the world have reached out to us and the people of Moore and Newcastle and we don’t know how we can ever thank everyone enough for their generosity,” she said. “It is really hard to even know where to begin, but having so many here to embrace us while we figure it out makes the path ahead less intimidating. Thank you all so much.”
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.
None of this matters. None of what you do matters. Those that are too smart, arrogant, enlightened, educated to the point where they can't believe anything more powerful than themselves could possibly exist in this ever expanding and wonderful universe are going to burn in hell anyway. Ciao.
Au contraire. I know this guy. See he got bit by this radioactive spider. Next thing he gets really, really strong and can even climb straight up walls. It's so cool.
And it's true too. See there's this book, well a whole bunch of books actually, that tell about all his adventures. He's a real good fella and often stops the bad people from doing harm to others.
Now gawd al phoney is writing crappola on this blog.
How perfectly charming of you, Gawd. You seem to know so much about the future for so many people.
it's another case of donations do more than prayer
She will have to answer to the Lord...I feel sorry for her and everyone like her who has their head in the sand "Justice is mind says the lord"
"...I feel sorry for her and everyone like her who has their head in the sand "
Oh the irony.
I guess those 10 dead kids already answered to the lord.
Wonder if she was praying to the loaf of bread wrapper as the tornado ripped down her house. Now she'll be on government assistance, food stamps, welfare, just like the other liberal trolls in this country. Might not even live in the area and was just visiting and got on TV to push a political agenda for CNN. One never knows with all the immorality and lying that goes on in this country now. Starts with our Faux President. Can't wait for the pathetic comments from the losers who will spew, Rush, Hannity, Faux News, and the other idiotic comments from the looney left.
haha ... To call you an idiot would be an insult to idiots.
@John the toilet...............There's no bigger liar than your white president ol' bushie. Remember the weapons of mass destruction? We're still looking for 'em. Trust me, They'll be plenty Christians on public assistance also. Praying may make you feel good, but it doesn't provide money for the bills.
On the contrary, she will be help tremendously by the efforts of her comrades. It will be the christians on the welfare, the ones whose houses blew down and each have a 1000 people praying for them rather than doing anything useful.
I'm just glad they got help. Who cares how it came about?
We humans, regardless of religion or lack thereof, can do great things and help the other members of our species.
Awesome! I just contributed $10.00. Wish it could have been more!
Wow, this is really cool. It's about time we stood up for our own instead of wasting air complaining about "them". Imagine if we all pulled together and helped our own kind the way certain other groups tend to do.
The only one who benefits from prayer is the person praying.
You just found the cure for cancer. Wahoo! No more deaths.
The only atheist in Oklahoma, I presume? To do list for the Okies:
1. Start digging basements
2. Start teaching Science in schools
Look up which group has the most loaned out on Kiva.org.
What's it mean
I was just about to post about the Kiva team! Good call.
This is all possible due to the absence of prayer.
I prayed for this to happen.
Are you saying NOBODY prayed in OK.
If a Christian group raised funds and only made it available exclusively to a Christian family.... And then went on CNN to boast and discuss how loving they are... oh my... the atheists would flip out.
You missed the point. And that's not even when happened in this case. I doubt everyone who donated was strictly atheist. Feel free to stir up shit just to look cool, though.
What if the Christian group put up a website like that one.
Look at the 'jokes' on the side.
Why do they have to be so smug about?
If you had knew of a whole group that devoted their life to say, 1+1=3 and you knew that this wasn't the case, wouldn't you laugh about it too? Don't you think the "3er's" would think you were being smug?
Looks like you're just butthurt because atheists are funnier than christians.
Oh I'm sorry, the last I checked, christians still (sadly) outnumber any other faith/lack of it, around here; have YOU been to Fox news lately? Have you seen what the marvelous god fearing folks over there 'joke' about, every DAY?
This was a lighthearted campaign to help out someone who was taking flak from her fundie neighbors because she let slip that she doesn't believe in god. There are still laws on the books in this country that say atheists can't hold office. Open discrimination happens to nonbelievers every day.
When you can show me a christian who talks about their faith on the news and gets death threats soon after, come tell me about it. Until then, jam it sideways, snickers.
I know not all atheists are not like this group. I was just hoping 1 atheist on here might see what I mean. My atheist friend agrees with me! So I did find 1, yay!
Thanks for coming along to be a smug jackass.
Where does it say she receieved flack from her fundie neighbors?
I think you are making that up.
I haven't heard her complain about any problems like that.
What is your problem? Stop making trouble where there is none. You're just looking for attention so you can say 'haha look I made people mad'.
Try checking sources other than CNN or Fox. She lives in the bible belt, did you not notice?
I don't give a shit what you think, obviously. Are you done trolling yet?
I guess you didn't read the article....it was started by a comedian, and part of what a comedian does is make jokes....and people who listen to comedy make jokes too...
Try not to act too persecuted anyway.
Local web sites were talking about some stuff getting said to the lady, too.
I live in the Bible Belt. I've been an atheist in the Bible Belt.
There is nothing on the fundraising page about her receiving death threats. No news stories on it. It is cool it has happened – but if it was the other way around – I just don't think you would be supporting a Christian group doing the same thing the atheist group is doing. I honestly think you would call them out on it.
@sam – Christians see the smugness and feel the sting from atheist comments on these CNN articles on a DAILY basis. The original commenter has an absolutely valid point. If the situation were reversed, atheist commenters would be commenting in DROVES with scathing retorts.
@ .it was started by a comedian,
Publicity stunt. Got it. Self promotion.
Reverse discrimination is always the cry of the bigots that get their hands slapped away from the cookie jar.
Christians do it all the time. It's called a church.
Well, welcome to the club!
and guess what I'm not 'flipping out'
I'm an atheist and I donated to the Red Cross for Oklahoma too.
Yes, a group that accepts donations from Christians and gives exclusively to Christians then hits the television to brag in it is called EVERY ORGANIZED CHURCH EVER! You claim to be an Atheist in the bible belt yet this escaped you? Go to Hell!
from now on, xtards must qualify everyone in a disaster line. the days of indiscriminate helping others are over. if they r xtards, they r helped. if not, they go to dodo.
btw, i have just renounced my faith and i'm waiting for my check.
Why is it when atheists make comments like this, it's suddenly not "hate speech"? How delightfully hypocritical.
You can find hypocrites in every walk of life, religious and non-religious alike. That's nothing new. If you don't want to be judged as a group for what some Christian posts here then you'll probably not want to do the same to the non-religious as a group either.
Education changes things.
Ordinary compassionate people willing to work together to help others are what changes things.
No prayer changes things
i agree, John - no prayer has ever changed a thing.
"Religion is a strange waste of time
Ordinary compassionate people willing to work together to help others are what changes things."
i, 4 1, am mmighty glad xtards never work together.
should a heard them pilots praying to god floating 4 weeks in the pacific ocean w/o food or water after they ran out of fuel attacking enemy positions in ww2.
(o hercules, come and help me babe! zeus, where r u big fella?)
boy, that was rough 2 do, dodo
i agree, John – no prayer has ever changed a thing." nazi god-hating fascist punks lie, just like dodo has here, all day and night as "good" people
save us Zues, and Hera, and Apollo, and Hermes, and Venus, and Aphrodite, and Thor, and Zinsi, and Zinsu, and Sakpata, and Gu and Gleti, and Aro, and Adroa, and Cagn, and Lotuko, and Jah, and Roog, and Oya, and Jeebo, and Epona, and Lugus, and Taranis, and Ogmios, and Tarvos, and Vulcan, and Bacchus, and Neptune, and Dagda, and Rhiannon, and Borvo, and Sirona, and Bodua, and Belobog, and Podaga, and Skrzak, and Rod, and Perun, and Allah, and Shiva, and Catequil, and Ekkeko, and Urquchillay , and Wiraqucha, and Kiwa, and Ao, and Tangaroa, and Agloolik, and Odin, and Loki, and Pinga.
every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that u no who? is lord god almighty
Thank you Doug Stanhope, for starting up a great project to help Ms. Vitsmun. Delighted so much money was raised so quickly – great work fellow atheists!
Jesus smiles. 🙂
as does Herules!!!
I don't remember Hercules asking us to do things like this.
So does Zues, and Hera, and Apollo, and Hermes, and Venus, and Aphrodite, and Thor, and Zinsi, and Zinsu, and Sakpata, and Gu and Gleti, and Aro, and Adroa, and Cagn, and Lotuko, and Jah, and Roog, and Oya, and Jeebo, and Epona, and Lugus, and Taranis, and Ogmios, and Tarvos, and Vulcan, and Bacchus, and Neptune, and Dagda, and Rhiannon, and Borvo, and Sirona, and Bodua, and Belobog, and Podaga, and Skrzak, and Rod, and Perun, and Allah, and Shiva, and Catequil, and Ekkeko, and Urquchillay , and Wiraqucha, and Kiwa, and Ao, and Tangaroa, and Agloolik, and Odin, and Loki, and Pinga. All religions eventually just become mythology. The clock is ticking for our current obsessive nonsense.
Oh and that was only about 1/100th of the total gods people have worshiped throughout time. Your cult just threatened more people to get so many to believe.
A record number of people are accepting Jesus Christ – world wide. Huge revival happening in China right now.
I can't say the same about: Zues, and Hera, and Apollo, and Hermes, and Venus, and Aphrodite, and Thor, and Zinsi, and Zinsu, and Sakpata, and Gu and Gleti, and Aro, and Adroa, and Cagn, and Lotuko, and Jah, and Roog, and Oya, and Jeebo, and Epona, and Lugus, and Taranis, and Ogmios, and Tarvos, and Vulcan, and Bacchus, and Neptune, and Dagda, and Rhiannon, and Borvo, and Sirona, and Bodua, and Belobog, and Podaga, and Skrzak, and Rod, and Perun, and Shiva, and Catequil, and Ekkeko, and Urquchillay , and Wiraqucha, and Kiwa, and Ao, and Tangaroa, and Agloolik, and Odin, and Loki, and Pinga.
a record number of people are thinking for themselves and turning away from religion. if you want a much better ethical system, try humanism, an atheistic philosophy. no orders to kill anyone, no prejudice and bigotry. it's based on reason and compassion.
btw, jesus told slaves to obey their masters if they want any chance of getting into heaven. and he said to beat the ones that disobey "with many stripes." i think we can find a better "messiah" than someone that supports slavery.
@ Bootyfunk –
Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this **parable** to us, or to everyone?"
The Lord answered,
"Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
He is not advocating beating servants.
He is stating that it is already a common practice in this instance and is using it as an analogy.
1. Conduct a double blind study on prayer and see how well it works
2. Really read the Bible and don't let people tell you what it means. Just clear your mind and read the book cover to cover. Take a month. Don't call anyone just read it with a view of a modern educated person. If you are courageous and unbiased and do this you will be amazed. .. also you will become an Atheist.
40 years a Christian and just woke up.
30 years an atheist and I found Jesus Christ.
Prayer really does work for me when I don't pray for my selfish desires – I pray for the knowledge of God's will for me and the power to carry it out.
He hasn't failed me yet.
I have read the Bible in various ways – I think it works best for me in a community setting with people who love and trust in God. With people like me who want to love like Jesus did.
The miracles for me happens outside of a book.
Oh and that was only about 1/100th of the total gods people have worshiped throughout time. Your cult just threatened more people to get so many to believe.
prove one was god.
Care to explain how I was threatened to believe?
You said, "30 years an atheist and I found Jesus Christ."
I find that hard to believe. I can't imagine that I could ever believe again that the Tooth Fairy is real, or the Easter Bunny, or any god.
What exactly was it that caused you to go from not believing in imaginary being, to believing they are real?
And what is your definition of "atheist"?
@ What exactly was it that caused you to go from not believing in imaginary being, to believing they are real?
I didn't believe in God. Probably around the age of 10 or 12 I started having doubts. I wasn't raised in a religious setting at that point in my life.
I started to believe in the possibility of a God later in life.
I was successful in my career. But it just seemed like there had to be more to life than working and then dying.
There were people in my community giving a lot to those in need. I started to get close to them. They helped me. I saw God working through them.
I can't deny God anymore. He is real.
@ And what is your definition of "atheist"?
A person who does not believe in God or gods. Especially not Jesus Christ.
Or Jesus could have just said – Don't be an @s5hole and have slaves!
"While Christian missionaries run around Third World countries – feeding the poor, Bibles in hand – he bemoans how atheists do nothing."
i definitely applaud doug for his efforts in helping to make it okay to come out as an atheist, but atheists do nothing? umm.... just because atheists don't feel the need to wear it on their sleeves like the religious do doesn't mean atheists do nothing. bill gates is a non-believer and his organization is on the brink of wiping out polio world-wide forever. i would think that saving thousands if not millions of lives would count for something. atheists do plenty. we should all do more. the two biggest donators to charity in history are non-believers. atheist and humanist organizations don't raise money for charity? check the records - they do.
comment contains more than usda recommended daily allowance of bull sh it
Bootyfunk – you do nothing – but post on the blog – in a dark room. Go help someone.
you don't know me at all. i live in hawaii in a sunlit ohana. i regularly do charity work, even at church organizations helping to feed to poor. my sister (also an atheist) runs a charity organization in los angeles feeding the homeless.
seems like can find no fault with what i posted and just want to attack me.
both a liar and an ass hole no wonder its always desperately trying for approval
Yep Bill Gates:
For those who want to believe in the fairy tale that Christians give the most along with the fairy tale of your invisible friend.
I think he means that atheists don't go around doing charity work in the name of atheism. They do it for other reasons but not to publicly spread atheism.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet since he didn't spell it out. In case the believers want to believe in another fairy tale in addition to the one about their imaginary fiend (and no I didn't misspell that).
don't you recognize bull sh it when you see it bippyfink wouldn't help anyone but itself if its life depended on it
you sound like a broken record with all your goofy handles saying the same garbage, never taking on the argument, always attacking the arguer. shows you know you're wrong and can't think of a way to debate what is being said.
Booty, you've apparently pissed off the idiot middle school faction today.
Prayer changes things
actions cause change; prayer wastes valuable time.
bittyfink is wrong
unclasp your hands. get up off your knees. think for yourself. go outside and put those hands to use helping your brothers and sisters.
^^ much better than talking to yourself ^^
A $10 donation does more than 10,000 prayers.
A $.01 donation does more than all the prayers in the history of the world.
Proof that prayer is useless and can be deadly: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/24/prosecutor-parents-refusal-to-seek-medical-attention-led-to-infants-death/
proof that liar prefails is useless as hell provided by the useless pos itself on a regular basis
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!
"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!
She has to thank wolf blitzer
Next time Wolf Blitzer holds the microphone to ask her-do you thank The Lord?
She answers:I I I i I gotta thank you my lord!
Now, that would not be complete without a 😉
she should actually thank Doug Stanhope and Bingo (his GF) for starting the campaign and ppl such as myself who donated.
No, fairly certain she'll still be an atheist.
How exactly do you know that she's a skank?
Such wonderful christian values you're displaying.