Wolf Blitzer asks atheist survivor if she 'thanks God'

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Wolf Blitzer asks atheist survivor if she ‘thanks God’

May 23, 2013 - Jim Denison, PhD

CNN Wolf Blitzer interviews Oklahoma tornado survivor and atheist Rebecca Vitsmun and he asks her if she thanks God for her survival (Credit: CNN)

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was interviewing a survivor of the Oklahoma tornado.  “We’re happy you’re here.  You guys did a great job,” he said to Rebecca Vitsmun, who escaped from her house with her 19-month-old son just before the twister tore through it.  “You’ve gotta thank the Lord, right?  Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?”

Vitsmun hesitated for a moment, smiled, and said, “I—I’m actually an atheist.”  Then she added, “We are here, and I don’t blame anyone for thanking the Lord.”  Huffington Post comments: “Blitzer would be well-advised not to assume that every interview subject believes in God.  After all, America experienced a 13 percent drop in religiosity between 2005 and 2012.”

Stories like this one don’t help: The son of Westboro Baptist Church’s pastor is blaming the tornado on support for openly gay NBA player Jason Collins.  His tweet: “OK Thunder’s Durant flips God by praising fag Collins.  God smashes OK.  You do the math.”  He later called the tragedy, “God’s wonderful wrath in Oklahoma.”

Since Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has publicly stated his support for Collins, are tornadoes headed next for Dallas?  What about all the other cities whose sports franchises endorsed Collins as well?

Here’s a third way to respond to the Oklahoma tragedy: Find a way to help personally.  The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA and an outspoken Christian, has donated one million dollars to the relief effort.  Such cash contributions are the most effective and immediate way to meet the overwhelming needs faced by survivors.  From the Red Cross to Oklahoma Baptists, a variety of organizations are making a difference.  As Jesus met physical need to meet spiritual need, so can we.

One columnist said it well: “There’s no need to wait for an invitation.  Because when you spend time on your knees on behalf of Oklahoma, you’re doing God’s work.  Because when you shed a tear for victims you’ve never met or weep openly for a mother who will never again tuck in her little one, you’re doing God’s work.  Perhaps we already know more than we realize about this devastating tornado.  Recovery in all its forms is God’s work, and there’s plenty to do.  Let’s get started.”

Anne Frank was right: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

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