“Christ Came to Take Away Our Sins, Not Our Minds”

On 21 May 2013, a tornado devastated many homes in Moore, Oklahoma, and 24 people died — ten were children. When natural disasters occur, often some people survive and some people die. Often, one or more survivors thank God for saving them, but even believers can ask why God did not save the people — including children — who died. Rebecca Vitsmun made the decision to leave her home with her 19-month-old son. She made the right decision because the tornado tore her home apart. Television journalist Wolf Blitzer asked her, “You’ve gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?” Ms. Vitsmun replied, “I’m actually an atheist.” Mr. Blitzer said, “You are. All right. But you made the right call.” Ms. Vitsmun added, “We are here, and I don’t blame anyone for thanking the Lord.” A group named Atheists Unite decided to have a fundraiser for Ms. Vitsmun. A web page devoted to the fundraising project states, “It’s important that our community shows that we have your back when you come out publicly as an atheist. Let’s show the world that you don’t 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.” As of 10:30 a.m. on 25 May 2013, the group had raised $73,248 although its goal was to raise $50,000. Atheists Unite is capable of very effective satire, as shown by its perks for contributions. For example, a $10 contribution will get the donor a prayer from comedian Doug Stanhope, who promises, “I will say a prayer on my knees for everyone [who] donates ten bucks. It will be twice as valuable as a real prayer or your money back.” A $25 contribution will get the donor a free Bible: “For 25-dollar donations, we will leave a free Bible in the nightstand of your next hotel stay. Go ahead, take it. It’s yours.” A $10,000 contribution will get the donor the Holy Grail: “Of legend. Can use for both hot and cold beverages. Special powers. Dishwasher safe.” Only one Holy Grail is available. Moral evil as well as natural evil exists. In May 2013, three women were rescued from a man who had kept them as sex slaves in Cleveland, Ohio, for approximately 10 years. The rescue is an excellent thing to happen, but we can be believers and still ask where God was for the past 10 years. Syndicated columnist Connie Schultz wrote about the Cleveland case, “I am a deeply flawed Christian. I want to know where God was during the past 10 years. If this had happened to my daughter, I’d want to ask God, ‘What were you thinking? What was the plan?’ I mean no disrespect, and I feel guilty even asking. In my heart, I accept the mystery. In my head, the questions persist. I draw some comfort in the words of the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin: ‘Christ came to take away our sins, not our minds.’ Perhaps I am forgiven for questioning what I cannot understand.”

For Further Information: Chris Gentilviso, “Rebecca Vitsmun, Atheist Oklahoma Tornado Survivor, Sees Thousands In Indiegogo Campaign Donations.” Huffington Post. 24 May 2013


For Further Information: Braden Goyette, “Wolf Blitzer Asks Atheist Tornado Survivor If She Thanks The Lord’ (VIDEO).” 21 May 2013


For Further Information: Atheists Unite. “Rebecca Vitsmun — while in a sea of “God” rhetoric in the aftermath of the Moore, OK tornado – was being interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.” Indiegogo. Updated 24 May 2013. Accessed 25 May 2013


For Further Information: Connie Schultz, “She Thanked God, and the Debate Rages On.” Creators Syndicate. 22 May 2013


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