What Good is #PrayForOklahoma Without Action to Back It Up?

Daniel Burke of CNN reports that the #PrayForOklahoma hashtag was used 75,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon — and I think it’s safe to assume most of those times weren’t snarky. But does it help? Of course not. Prayer might make the people tweeting it feel better — though, are they even getting on their knees? — but it does nothing to help the people struggling in Oklahoma right now.

At least Ricky Gervais had the right idea:

Gervais has also used the hashtag #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma :)

The CNN piece also quotes me talking about how prayers aren’t needed after a tragedy:

“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.

To clarify, I think most Christians would agree that prayer is meaningless unless it’s backed up by action. All I’m saying is you can skip the first step altogether. And atheist groups have done just that.

Prayer plus action = action. Given the choice between receiving someone’s prayers and receiving food/shelter/water, I’m going with the latter every time.

Meanwhile, commenters on CNN are flipping out that anyone would even dare to question the well-meaning-but-ultimately-useless gestures of religious people.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.