In the Event of a Tornado, Saying a Prayer Isn’t on the List of Survival Strategies

Things that will help you in the event of an impending tornado:

Getting the hell out of wherever you are (if time permits).

Going into an underground bunker or basement.

Moving to a windowless area.

Things that will not help you in the event of an impending tornado:

Praying to God, as Anthony Khoury did over the weekend when a tornado hit his area in central Illinois:

His home was spared — and I’m grateful for that — but anyone not taken in by the story will tell you that had nothing to do with the guiding hands of God.

Memo to reporters covering this video: If you interview someone defending Khoury, who believes God spared him and his home, please ask that person why God wanted to destroy the rest of central Illinois. That would be riveting television.

(via Christian Nightmares)

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.

  • kielc

    “Oh, I guess you didn’t pray hard enough.” = victim-blaming

  • bad_cook

    That just proves that we Oklahomans need to spread the faith of our Weather Lord and Savior, Gary England. Ducking into a tornado shelter (after spotting a funnel from the backyard, of course) is a sacred pilgrimage here.

  • severalspeciesof

    Funny, the video has been removed by user… hmmmm, god not happy with this?

  • Greg G.

    The Bible says that Jesus said that if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can tell a mountain to go jump in a lake and it will. Why doesn’t that work for tornadoes? Or mountains?

  • cyb pauli

    Confirmation bias is a powerful motivator. All the cognitive errors are like giants towering over reason… reason is a little squeaky mouse saying “but but… why would a loving God send a tornado in the first place?”

  • Baby_Raptor

    If you have to pray, pray once you get somewhere safe. o0

  • NotThatGreg

    Mustard seeds have hella awesome faith.

  • Rationalist1

    Let’s hope a bit embarrassed at the whole thing.

  • Rationalist1

    Ever seen what happens to a mustard seen in a tornado?

  • Guillaume Bérubé

    Well mountains are actually moving… maybe it’s not tectonics and instead it’s due to the power of mustard seed faith…

  • TiltedHorizon

    “please ask that person why God wanted to destroy the rest of central Illinois.”

    Well obviously Anthony Khoury was the only “True Christian” in central Illinois.

  • TheUnknownPundit

    Within the last couple of years, tornadoes ripped through Harrisburg, IL and nearby Ridgeway, IL. In Ridgeway, the tornado did extensive damage to an old church there. A Xtian co-worker of mine stated to me that she just couldn’t understand why god would damage his own house that way.
    When she said that, I mentally sighed and face-palmed simultaneously. I replied saying something like “I think you know why”. There was a pause and she replied saying something along the line that maybe god doesn’t control the weather after all.
    Baby steps, baby steps.

  • Todd Heath

    Our Saviour Gary England has now ascended to the heavenly heights of the Griffin Communications corporate offices. We now have access to Lord England through his prophet David Payne.

  • C Peterson

    The god these guys worship is perfectly capable of not creating any tornadoes at all, but then does so, choosing to save some people who beg convincingly enough. It is then thanked for its mercy.

    A father is perfectly capable of not beating his kids with a tire iron, but then does so, choosing to avoid permanent physical damage to the kid that begs most convincingly for mercy. Why don’t we praise this father for his goodness? Why no YouTube videos of parents whipping their children, praised by thousands of commenters for their mercy when they stop in response to pleading?

  • Jacqui H

    “ask that person why God wanted to destroy the rest of central Illinois”?
    because Bishop Thomas John Paprocki asked him to?

    But yes, thats what *I* always wonder during these stories

  • KMR

    I wish all Christians would remember that publicly thanking God for a “miracle” or whatever they want to call it when you were the only one to be spared in your community is a pretty shitty thing to do. It implies that everyone else around wasn’t worthy of the same miracle you received. It just heaps on some more pain to an already ungodly amount of it. Regardless though I’m glad Khoury and anyone else who prayed and received their “miracle” is okay.

  • Brodestar

    This looks like a Lot situation. There are just a few differences. This guy didn’t run like that punk Lot did and unlike the fire and brimstone “God” decided to destroy the town with a tornado. Now you have to wonder why a loving deity would do something like that in the first place. Maybe just maybe “God” doesnt exist and this guy just got lucky that the tornado didn’t turn in his direction while he was praying to something that wasn’t listening in the first place. My deepest sympathy goes out to all effected by the recent devastation in the midwest and great lakes states.

  • dfghdfgh

    “video removed by user”.. In the future, you might want to copy it instead of just linking. (Yes, thats possible, even on youtube)

  • The Other Weirdo

    “Well, yes, but you also know there is another answer.” A mean thing to say, perhaps, but I believe necessary.

  • texcee

    Put down the damn camera and seek shelter!

  • atheismFTW

    I’d like to see a report with the balls to ask that question. Too bad the answer would come back as something obnoxious like “God works in mysterious ways” or “Who are we to question God?”

    That is, if the reporter can even get a response at all. The other night there were some bad storms in my area that left some people without power. My mother calls to say that she still has power and how she has God to thank for this. I respond back with, “Well, who do the people without power have to thank?” It went right over her head and she continued on talking about how thankful she is to God for keeping her power on. *sigh* I thought it could be a teachable moment, but she refused to even think.

  • atheismFTW

    Agreed. Shaming on the victim is another reason to kick Christianity (and other religions with that sick mentality) to the curb.

  • TheUnknownPundit

    Yours would likely be my response if that conversation were to happen today. But I was new on the job when this happened and hadn’t shared the fact that I was an atheist with any of my co-workers. They now know and we all get along fine.

  • TheUnknownPundit

    I beg you, stop making sense!

  • atheismFTW

    Yeah, C. Peterson’s going to make Christian heads explode with all this logic.

  • islandbrewer

    Wait. So … if I had faith like a mustard seed … I’d wind up ground up in vinegar and a little sugar spread over some sausage, or on a slice of rye?

    Screw faith, I’m not winding up some condiment.

  • C Peterson

    If logic exploded Christian heads, there would be no more Christians.

  • 3lemenope

    If logic exploded human heads, there would be no more humans.

  • severalspeciesof

    The video is watchable here:

    However, the comments are much more interesting with regard to how christians of different denominations react to each other…

  • C Peterson

    Unless there’s a dose-response relationship combined with different degrees of tolerance.

  • JET

    We often visited my grandmother in Kansas during tornado season. When there were warnings, she herded us into the windowless basement and sprinkled us with Holy Water. We survived. It was totally the Holy Water.

  • 3lemenope

    Perhaps. In my experience, people who lionize reason (just as those who lionize any human quality) tend to embody that characteristic better than the average monkey, but worse than they think they do.

  • Greg G.

    Luke 22:19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he dipped it in islandbrewer sauce and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body with mustard, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

  • C Peterson

    Yes, I’d agree this is true for those who lionize human qualities. But not generally for those who value and respect them.

  • Paul Zimmerle

    We’ll probably never know how many people get killed by this advice.

  • Miss_Beara

    I suppose the people that died were not true Christians or “god called them home” It is a win win situation for god. And the tornadoes were testing their faith… or something.

  • matthew zamecnik

    people need to know that just because one person was still alive and that hey HAPPENED to pray is not proof for god, if a tornado came through again and they all prayed to the flying spaghetti monster at least one would still live

  • Kerry

    Ugh. A video like this one made the news in the last big tornado outbreak here in Texas. It was annoying because the person was on her porch, yelling at the “Devil’s tornado.” Then the reporter talked about what an amazing feat it was to pray the tornado away. *vomits*

  • Leiningen’s Ants


    I’m sorry. :[

  • quawonk

    It is on the list of Darwin Award winning strategies, however.

  • sara

    Without the sound it’s a really terrifying video. I understand why a believer might want to pray at such a moment. I don’t understand why he didn’t get the hell away from the window. Prayer and moving away from danger are not mutually exclusive.

  • Bdole

    I wonder what she’d do in case of hurricane.
    Or flood?

  • jael

    I heard someone say “our house was spared, we were blessed” and I thought “and the ones whose homes were destroyed…. cursed?

  • Mick

    Actually that’s the one thing Jesus got wrong. In Mark 4:31 he incorrectly stated that the mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds and ever since then all mountain-jumping and tornado-halting miracles have been cancelled.

  • Greg G.

    So I need to have the faith of an epiphytic orchid to move mountains?

    That’s not even the first thing Jesus got wrong, though. In Mark 2, the Pharisees bust Jesus and his followers for plucking grain on the Sabbath. Jesus tells them that David ate sacred bread from a temple and shared it with his companions back when Abiathar was the High Priest. Matthew and Luke noticed that the story comes from 1 Samuel 21 so they dropped the priest’s name because it was actually that priest’s father, however they failed to notice that David was telling lies in that passage.

    David had told the priest that he was on a secret mission for the king and needed supplies and a weapon and that he was going to meet his men. Actually King Saul wanted to kill David so he was on the lam alone. He didn’t share the bread with any companions. David lied to the clergy.

    And that’s why the Christian clergy lie to everyone on the Sabbath to this day.

  • Aspieguy

    I saw this on television. I am beyond appalled. I may be mistaken, but I believe I heard children’s voices in the background. Although we suffered no storm damage, we were without electricity for only a day. A tornado did form 10 miles from us which heavily damaged a middle school and elementary school. A megachurch is providing classroom space for the elementary school. I am impressed by the generosity of this church. Hopfully, they can refrain from evangelizing the children.
    My daughter and I sheltered for an hour in the basement during the storm. No prayers needed.