Oklahoman Who Told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer ‘I’m Actually An Atheist’ Speaks About the Disaster

You remember Rebecca Vitsmun, the Oklahoma native whose family survived the nasty tornado this past spring. During an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, she had this notable exchange:

Blitzer: Well, you’re blessed. Brian, your husband, is blessed. Anders is blessed… and I guess you gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord? For that split-second decision?

Vitsmun: I… I… I’m… I’m actually an atheist… [Laughs]

Blitzer: Oh, you are! [Laughs] But you made the right call!

Vitsmun: Yeah, yep. We are here! And, you know, I don’t blame anybody for thanking the Lord.

Blitzer: Of course not.

It was fantastic :)

At the Atheist Alliance of America 2013 National Convention this past weekend, Vitsmun spoke about the disaster, the aftermath, and TIME magazine’s Joe Klein. (Skip to the 12:00 mark to hear the actual speech!)

In the last few minutes of the video, Vitsmun receives a well-deserved — and perfectly-titled — award. If only we could all have that sort of courage to admit we’re atheists when there’s so much pressure to do otherwise.

(via Steve Ahlquist)

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.

  • Lance Finney

    Also, the Ask an Atheist radio show was in Oklahoma in July, and the episode was released this week: http://askanatheist.tv/2013/09/01/okc-between-two-ponytails/

    Rebecca asked a question/made a statement from the audience at 42:45 into the episode.

  • Deus Otiosus

    I know that this is a sort of high-brow group that reads Hemant’s blog, and that we’re supposed to be showing off how super moral we are without god. And she’s (I assume) married. But Rebecca Vitsmun is pretty damn cute. Am I the only guy thinking… hell yeah I would?

    • Deus Otiosus

      OK, so I’ve never seen more than the short clip of her saying she’s actually an atheist. I just watched the whole segment, and yeah, she’s married. Whatever. I’m a douche, ok?

      • Croquet_Player

        The point isn’t whether she’s married or not. The point is you feel perfectly entitled to post public comments about this woman regarding how “hell yeah I would”. Why should any of us, particularly her, hear about your sexual impulses? Human beings are often attracted to each other, and that’s perfectly fine. But women don’t put up videos like this so others can make comments like yours.

      • Jennifer T

        Yes, she is married. To BRIAN BLESSED! (As a Brit, this amuses me…)

      • GubbaBumpkin

        You’re a douche, but it’s not OK.

    • Daniel_JM

      It’s sad that you think it was a good use of your time to let us all know whether you would do her or not. Stay classy.

      • Deus Otiosus

        Oh whatever, I just thought she was cute.

      • Drew M.

        EDIT: I’m a moron. /facepalm

    • the moother

      It’s summer.., all those ladies that want you to hit on them are dressed scantily especially for YOUR voyeuristic pleasure… why don’t you tell us about the dozen women you passed in the mall today that you’d also hit? Did you take pics? Pics or it didn’t happen.

    • JKS

      I didn’t find your comment offensive at all, and I don’t understand what’s offensive about saying someone is attractive. I believe 100% that if it was a good looking man in the video and a woman had said that she was physically attracted to him, nobody would get pissed. But for some reason, it’s offensive if a man does it? Wth is up with that?

      • Vanadise

        I don’t think it’s offensive, but I do think it’s wildly off-topic and inappropriate for the discussion. Who cares who the original poster finds attractive? Why did he feel it was so important to tell us he would have sex with her (gee, what a compliment)? In what way did that meaningfully contribute to the discussion at hand?

  • fry

    Didn’t see Wolf interview the relatives of the dead and comment on how unblessed they were, or ask them if they wanted to tell the Lord what a capricious, murderous prick he is.

    • the moother

      That’s kind of how I would have handled his incompetence too… By asking why the “lord” didn’t bother preventing the tornado in the first place.

      • Ironica

        And that’s kind of why Rebecca’s handling of it was so great. It didn’t turn into an attack; instead, it put all of the discomfort and awkwardness back on the guy who assumed that everyone in Oklahoma is a Bible-beater. Most of us wouldn’t have done this well under those circumstances.

        • Marisa Totten

          Well said, Ironica. Not every battle needs to be fought.

      • Temper

        And he very well might have laughed at you lol *continues ignoring all the other tornadoes that don’t happen and/or happen without hurting anyone*

  • Criamon

    I was there and met Rebecca and Steve. It was my first atheist event and it was awesome. She was inspiring and I hope she and her projects grow into great success. And she’s just about as nice a person as you’d suspect from any video you’ve seen of her.

  • Ron Stephens

    I met Rebecca at the Great Lakes Atheists Convention a few weeks ago and she is a wonderful person. She talked about her experience of going through the tornado at the GLA con too. I am so glad she survived. I’m also very happy that she has the support of the atheist community. Live long and prosper Rebecca!

    • AskAnAtheistBecky

      She also appeared on the Ask An Atheist radio show (full disclosure: I’m an assistant producer) and on the Atheist Nomads podcast. Her wonderful-person-ness indeed abounds in lots of places!

  • the moother

    The “lord” saved her BECAUSE she was an atheist so that she could get on CNN and tell the world… He works in mysterious ways…

  • Celsus

    Little did Wolf Blitzer know what an intelligent, talented, articulate, and giving indivual he was randomly interviewing. Such poise, confidence, courage, and charisma.

  • Rain

    I don’t see how the “Blitzer buffs” could possibly justify Blitzer on this one. Sometimes it’s just best to leave the religion back in the news room where it belongs.

  • magsmagenta

    She is absolutely right about crisis response, Churches and religious groups have the infrastructure in place to respond to crises like this, and they take full advantage of this to proselytize their beliefs on people who are in a very vulnerable state. I have had a similar experience in a house fire about 10 years ago, and we were very lucky that our neighbors pulled together to help us without trying to convert us. The difference was that we were one family and the rest of the community was intact and able to help without much infrastructure. Also I’m in the UK which means there is more government help available.

    There is a need for more secular and Atheist charity organisations to respond to crises and people in need so people aren’t forced to turn to religious charities for help and risk being proselytized to, especially in parts of the world where government help isn’t available.

    It’s a shame that the article doesn’t make it obvious that this is what she’s talking about without watching the video, and that there are no obvious links in the article to secular charities to donate to or volunteer for. So I thought I’d include one I found: https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/humanists-doing/good-causes-and-charities/

    • Xuuths

      Part of the problem, is that in the US, churches automatically get tax exempt status immediately. Every other group has to jump through a series of hoops that can take months or years to get approved — and they have to keep providing evidence that they deserve that tax exempt status all the time. Not so with churches and their outreach programs. That government subsidy makes a BIG difference.

      • magsmagenta

        Churches and religious groups get tax breaks here in the UK too, as they are automatically considered to be charities. I hate to think how much they spend on perpetuating their myths as opposed to helping people in need.

  • SeekerLancer

    The girl that had the gall to say, “you’re raising that bay without Jesus?” should be ashamed of herself.

  • Ed Buckner

    I heard it live and in person–at the Atheist Alliance confab–and she was great. Not only is she a hero to us all, and should be, she is a gifted, natural public speaker. Brava!


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