An Interview with Wolf Blitzer

She’s a young, articulate mother holding an adorable kid, and she’s grateful that they’re safe and unharmed.

At the end of the interview (check it out here) Wolf Blitzer asked her if she “thanked the Lord,” and after an awkward pause that you and I have, no doubt, felt before, she reluctantly says, (uncomfortable giggle) “I’m actually an atheist.”

Score!!!!

And she was sweet and gracious and so freaking….normal.

Every time the world sees a person like this, the door opens just a little bit further.

The irony? She and her don’t own cell phones because they don’t want to succumb to the modern world. And yet, she’s so ahead of her time.

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64 responses to “An Interview with Wolf Blitzer

  1. I watched this live. It was great! She also said she wouldn’t blame anyone for thanking the lord which I thought was a decent thing to say. Not sure what’s more brave, surviving a tornado or admitting to the world that you’re an atheist… living in Oklahoma.

  2. Why would he even ask such a stupid question?

  3. I’m a big fan, anyway, I had the background noise on and as soon as I heard ” no cell/modern ” I turned my head, it caught my attention and I’ll be damned (pun intended) the most elegant, off the cuff, honest to goodness breath of fresh air remark I’ve heard in a long time especially in those circumstances.

  4. Huge score – I seriously want to high five her for being so brave in every way. I would like to think I would have said the same thing to Wolf Blitzer, but only very recently. 5 years ago I would have buckled under the fear of shocking too many people in my family.

    I do have to stick up for “the modern world” with the cell phones comment she made, since she would not be alive if it wasn’t for the modern world on her laptop showing her the tornado’s projected path and saving her butt 🙂

  5. Love, love, love this story!! I’m in Oklahoma, we were in our storm shelter when this hit. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear this story. It’s hard to find other like minded people here!

  6. I was a little creeped out, actually, by Wolf’s line of questioning. He prefaced his question by calling her “blessed,” her husband blessed, and their child blessed. She was already starting to shift her body language as if to say, oh no, where is he going?! And then the question came.

    Was Wolf demographically profiling here? I think he felt so sure that, well, a young married woman with a child, all of whom survived “God’s wrath” in the form of a tornado in bible-beltish Oklahoma … these people just HAD to be xtian.

    I agree: the door was opened just a little bit more tonight. Well done!

  7. I’m proud of her for making that statement rather than simply agreeing with Wolf. Good for her!

  8. Bravo! Maybe Blitzer will think twice the next time he starts to make assumptions about someone’s beliefs. Doesn’t matter that Oklahoma is the buckle on the Bible Belt. He should know better than to make assumptions like that.

  9. This is great – thanks for sharing! What a graceful way to reply even knowing she was being watched by so many viewers 🙂

  10. sure made me smile!!! I’m working on coming out of the closet, too. would love to be as open and honest as she was. such a cute giggle:)

  11. I saw this too and thought this was so cool! I know it made her uncomfortable but she wanted to be real. She was the one who made the decision she made, not some diety. She was just happy to be alive and happy that her baby survived too. That was one of the most real and down to earth interviews I have seen. Kudos to her for not pretending for the sake of him and his audience! Earlier in the day I saw the clip of the woman who was reunited with her dog. Yes it was beautiful and wonderful and I’m so happy she found her little dog. But to hear all the “miracle” and “thank God” remarks was a bit sickening. Why would he answer her prayers and save her dog but 20+ other humans didn’t make it, even children. If he took the time to save a family pet, then why would he not take the time to save those innocent children? Such warped logic! At least this woman kept it real!! I think she inadvertantly gained a lot of fans today 😉

  12. Loved her, and loved the look on Wolf’s presumptive face when he plotzed in his chinos.

  13. Well, you’re blessed, your husband’s blessed, your son’s blessed … you gotta thank the lord, right?

    Never mind the friends and families of the 24 people who were killed in this latest natural disaster. What about them? Are they blessed? Clearly they did something to incur His wrath? Even the children?

    Seriously, Wolf’s last line of questioning was pointless, and people’s unending praise for God with respect to their own good fortune may make them feel better, but it fails to take into consideration that this same God took other people’s lives – and destroyed the lives and livelihoods of countless more.

    Ugggh .. sorry. I’ve always avoided saying a whole lot about religion during times like these because if that’s how they want to cope, so be it. I don’t want to be the quintessential “bitter atheist” … but the self-centered nature of so much of what I’ve been seeing is enough to make the blood boil. “I got mine, god is good!”

  14. Kudos to this young mother. Way to go!!

    I really really hate the xian logic about God cherrypicking who to save and who to teach a lesson. I would like to hear someone (from that particular delusion) to explain why it was okay to save a dog (I like dogs a lot!!) but kill children.

    If only every religious person started to trust in themselves and their loved ones and got totally rid of these delusional magic friends…

  15. It was unprofessional and unnecessary for Wolf to ask such a question.
    I agree that to thank God for saving one person, while others perished is ludicrous.

  16. Debbie, does anyone know all that her family lost? Is there any way we can send her money, supplies or gift cards?

    If you hear anything I know you’ll let us know.

    I hope that you and your family are all safe. Please let us know how you all are doing.

  17. Rebecca, are you and yours okay? Were you all kept safe there in Oklahoma?

  18. Yes! I showed this to my kids, so brave to be honest in such a situation!

  19. Wolf is an idiot, and has proven himself to be one time and again. This is just another hash mark for him.

    That woman, though — good for her! I just might have nodded and gone along with his question, were I in that situation with my house gone, a camera in my face, etc.

  20. In “light ” of the destruction and the loss of life, the following quote, will always be timely:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able ?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing ?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing ?
    Then whence cometh evil ?
    Is he neither able nor willing ?
    Then why call him God.
    Epicurus 33AD

  21. She has friends and relatives that visit reddit. I read that there are several folks trying to find a stuffed lion that her son had lost. http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1esk9g/wolf_blitzer_asks_tornado_survivor_if_she_thanked/

    • @Lee Thanks for the link. I don’t know that community, but one of the guys volunteered to take donations to her.

      Someone mentioned the women received threats. That’s shocking. Does anyone have a link to that?

  22. I thought it was VERY brave of her to admit on live national television. But I’m saddened at the fact that she’s being berated and threatened online now because of it.

  23. A big high five to her for being so brave on national TV. However, I’m very sad to hear that she’s apparently being berated and threatened around the internet for this.

  24. What an idiot Wolf made of himself. Why presume the woman is a believer? Good for her!

  25. I guess it was only a matter of time before people started hating on her 😦 This is what is so heartbreaking. She’s a survivor and it shouldn’t matter what her beliefs or lack of beliefs are. I was talking to my 10 year old daughter the other night and told her that I suspect many people who claim to be religious do it to fit in rather than go against the grain. She very honestly stated that she would probably pretend just to avoid all of the hate. I can’t say I blame her especially hearing about this.

  26. She’s my hero 🙂 How completely awkward on Wolf’s part! I steer clear of most r/atheism debates though (as mentioned in the comments here), they have some very bitter and cruel users sometimes that do not help the cause. I’ll admit this did have me very edgy yesterday when a storm line was marching through the DFW metroplex. Luckily it was all straight winds.

    • So much of what they say is canned pablum to begin with, but it’s only when a disaster like Monday’s storms hits that you see exactly how utterly thoughtless they are when they try to pursue a story. Not only are they asking people to re-live the utter destruction they went through only two days ago, but asking if they feel “blessed” because they’re still standing in the wake of it all is just an insult.

      • Yes, it’s kind of sad that we’re so “in your face” about what happened.

        I don’t think Blitzer was trying to be a jerk by asking that her about God, and I think she actually tried to avoid answering the question at first (like most of us do!). I think he was just pandering to the audience. People expect comments like that.

        Obviously, with the number of people commenting on here, the tides turning.

        Yes, even our kids know to send money and other help.

        • I agree … Wolf was just asking what everyone expected him to ask. I don’t think there was any kind of agenda on his part, but we just noticed it more in this case because it’s one of those rare situations we managed to get a little positive representation on national cable news 🙂

          (Well, unless you hop on over to the Blaze … they all think it’s some liberal conspiracy.)

        • Deb – I want to make sure you knew what I was referring to because you said you weren’t familiar with the atheism community at Reddit. r/atheism is their community at http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/ and that is the one I was referring to that gets out of hand…it is a haven for anonymous comments that people would never make in person or if their identity was known. Some are ingenious and hilarious but the ranters and haters steer me away from regularly checking up on it, sadly. I much prefer to read your blog 🙂

  27. We are fine here, thanks for asking. We were relatively far away, as far as tornadoes go. We went to the shelter pre-emptively, as it was on a direct path for us eventually, then turn straight east as it crossed I-35 and died out shortly after. I’m not one to wait to the last minute to seek shelter 🙂

  28. Good for her! One only needs to look at reason. So why didn’t the Lord help the others? All that happens is randomness in the natural world……

  29. Wow, I don’t watch the news regularly but I am so glad you posted this! Way to go, so glad she was honest and did not bow to pressure on the topic. The thing that bothers me the most about these types of disasters is everyone telling me to pray for this and pray for that. Instead of praying, which will not do a person any good, why don’t these Christians donate money, or blood, or basic life necessities and do some actual good for these people

  30. Deborah, I agree w/you about Blitzer making small talk and not intentionally being a jerk. It was an uncomfortable moment to say the least but she handled the question appropriately. Especially how she stated that she would understand why people would thank God after a situation like that. It was nice to see a fellow Louisianan be upfront about her belief.

  31. I just saw the interview this morning and immediately came to your blog to see if you caught it as well. She is getting lots of Kudos on here and I’m going to add 1 more to it!!! Very refreshing to hear amongst all those claiming the lord saved them. So tired of our society’s assumption that everyone is a believer! Not sure who was more uncomfortable, her just before her admittance or Blitzer after her confession. 🙂

  32. John Lamberth

    I haven’t see as much negativity towards her as much as I’ve seen it towards CNN. Several comment sections are filled wuth people who claim this was green screened and scripted so that CNN could take a jab at xtians. Wolf does seem a little forced, but then, he’s not terribly great at what he does anyway.
    Personally, I just loved the way she handled the whole thing.

  33. With all this talk about “praying” and such did anyone recently catch the story about the Schaible couple in Philadelphia? Their 2nd child died back in April after refusing medical treatment for him. They are believers in faith healing. Their first child died due to the same neglect and were put on probation. Shouldn’t this be a prime example that praying doesn’t work? Both illnesses from what I understand were easily treatable. The medical examiner just recently filed this case as a homicide.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/faith-healing-death-of-child-ruled-a-homicide-philadelphia

  34. LanceThruster

    Howard Stern would catch a lot of flak when he fervently mock-prayed for one of his enemies to get cancer. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it picturing God as some overworked bureaucrat mistakenly stamping ‘APPROVED’ on the prayer petition.

    One comic was asked how he would feel if he wished somebody would die a horrible death and they did. Wouldn’t he feel bad then? He said, “Are you kidding? I’d feel great knowing I could direct this ultimate power to do my bidding.”

  35. Inspiring news:

    Arizona lawmaker publicly announces “I am an atheist” – A state lawmaker acknowledged that he is an atheist as he gave the daily House invocation Tuesday, urging legislators to look at each other, rather than bow their heads, and “celebrate our shared humanness.” Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, who said it was freeing to be open about his secular views, also introduced about a dozen fellow members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, who watched from the House gallery. In his “invocation” Mendez quoted Carl Sagan and said, “I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you to take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state….let us root our policy-making process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans regardless of religious belief or nonbelief.” Tuesday’s invocation was to have been given by Serah Blain, executive director of the Secular Coalition of Arizona, but she was stopped at the last minute. Mendez said that House staff later told him they had no record of his request to allow Blain’s remarks, so he offered the remarks himself. You can view the video at the Secular Coalition for Arizona.

    At least one legislator, Republican Rep. Steve Smith, took issue with Mendez’ “invocation” because he said it wasn’t a prayer. So, he led his own–and about half of the 60-member body joined him. He said, “When there’s a time set aside to pray and to pledge, if you are a non-believer, don’t ask for time to pray.” Mendez responded, “If my lack of religion doesn’t give me the same opportunity to engage in this platform then I feel kind of disenfranchised. So I did want to stand up and offer some kind of thing that represented my view on what’s going on.” Mendez’ invocation was an opening for discussion with several legislators saying they supported Mendez’ actions, including a Navajo Indian representative, Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, who said, “I want to remind the House and my colleagues and everybody here that several of us here are not Christianized. I’m a traditional Navajo, so I stand here every day and participate in prayers,” even without personally embracing them, said Peshlakai, D-Cameron. “This is the United States, this is America, and we all represent different people … and you need to respect that. Your God is no more powerful than my God.”

    • LanceThruster

      This is very illustrative of the monopoly that believers think they’re entitled to in the public sphere. It is certainly encouraging to see Rep. Juan Mendez choose not to be marginalized. Someday, believers won’t be traumatized by by expressions merely for lacking a god component.

    • @Gary in DC Thanks for posting that!

  36. @Deb & Gary in DC…We can only hope that this is just the very beginning of more politicians to come out along with Mendez. Loved the advice that Blain gave Mendez saying “he should use his time to challenge religious privilege by showing that atheists, too, have “beautiful, powerful beliefs and convictions.”

  37. LanceThruster

    I saw a little snippet in the break room this AM where CNN’s Ashley Banfield said, “I don’t know if you believe in miracles but this might change your mind.” I didn’t see if she was talking about the bridge collapse that happened somewhere this morning or the aftermath of the OK twister but it’s like they’re pushing a particular take on disaster stories that makes sure the god component is not neglected.

    • @LT “I saw a little snippet in the break room this AM where CNN’s Ashley Banfield said, “I don’t know if you believe in miracles but this might change your mind.” I didn’t see if she was talking about the bridge collapse that happened somewhere this morning or the aftermath of the OK twister but it’s like they’re pushing a particular take on disaster stories that makes sure the god component is not neglected.”

      I wonder what she expected us to change our minds into?

      After CNN ran the piece I wrote, the editor told me that they’d received so many folks saying “It was fair.” Or that they were an atheist network. So CNN decided to run that other piece by the Methodist father. It wasn’t as controversial, of course. But the thing is, I think they were so worried about being “fair and balance,” that they’re not really being fair to the news business. You don’t report on stuff that’s not news; you don’t try to “balance” things out by inserting religious sentiment.

      • LanceThruster

        I wonder what she expected us to change our minds into?

        A believer of course (generic version – your “flavor” is entirely up to you…as long as it’s not one of those outcast sects).

        It must have been a story like this.

        Something potentially bad happened, but then through sheer “luck” (i.e. the power of God to intervene on behalf of humans), the bad thing was not as bad and somebody lived…or was not injured…or not injured too badly…or found their missing Rolling Stones ticket just in the nick of time.

        No other explanation is possible!

  38. LanceThruster

    The Rude Pundit has a piece about how the Family Research Council says OK tornado a message from God (jeez..we’re no more than ants in a bottle to the Big Guy it seems) – see: http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2013/05/evangelical-family-research-council-as.html

  39. This all reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad a couple of weeks ago. He called me and told me of how sick he’s been for weeks. He then says “I thought God was punishing me for something I did”! With a savior like that who needs satan? Is that how far his faith has taken him after five to six decades with Jesus?

    There’s a local blogger who often talks about her super sick child. Her words often sound like frantic nonsense every week, sometimes everyday, of will god take her child “home” or not? What lesson is god trying to teach her and others by her child’s sickness? And of how god has used her to minister to others who have sick kids in hospitals. Even while I was a christian myself I would NEVER use the “god’s will” conversation with the sick and dying. I felt that it was almost belittling to the hurting, and insulting to the situation at hand.

    I would also dread VBS invites to churches I didn’t care for and prayer in public schools. I felt that those scenarios would leave my children wide open to indoctrination and various abuses that would take me years to undo.

    All of these things just seem so crazy and it’s no wonder so many of us in this “godly nation” have had mental illness issues as frequently as the common cold. If any parent pulled just one of those tricks that god gets away with every day we would have our children ripped out of our homes!

    While I’m on a roll, free will is the most stupid argument of them all. We all are born into sin because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden six to seven thousand years ago. That’s not free will! Jonah and Saul of Tarsus didn’t have free will, nor did Esther. Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have agreed to being pregnant with her son, but I hardly think it fair that she was just 12-15 years old already engaged to a man at least twice her age!

    • @Charity Yeah–sounds so sick. Makes you wonder if that mom has Munchausen by proxy syndrome.

      I love all the free will soft determinism/hard determinism arguments. There is a great book called, Philosophy and Contemporary Issues that is a compilation of great essays I think you’d like. It may not be in print any more since I read it centuries ago in grad school, but you might be able to find it at a Half Price bookstore….

      • Stephanie Faulkner

        Great comments!!

        On Fri, May 24, 2013 at 3:44 PM, Kids Without Religion wrote:

        > ** > Deborah Mitchell commented: “@Charity Yeah–sounds so sick. Makes you > wonder if that mom has Munchausen by proxy syndrome. I love all the free > will soft determinism/hard determinism arguments. There is a great book > called, Philosophy and Contemporary Issues that is a compilation o” >

  40. Hey ladies,

    I’m pretty certain that blogger’s child is sick, however, I agree that the mother does seem to seek attention at times. The christian faith seems to encourage that. (Most of her readers are christian.)

    I think I knew I was becoming an atheist when I realized that the scriptures and doctrines alone were enough to keep me away from the whole idea of god. I absolutely loved “Mr. Rogers” growing up. He was a nice, christian man, but someone like him would not be enough to evangelize me back into the fold. I know too much to allow myself to be bound and oppressed like that again. As far as I’m concerned religion thrives on tormenting the innocent, that is why I believe it to be harmful to a person’s mental state. Even when I thought I was in control as a christian I can still see all the side effects of programming. No matter what I thought, said or did I would never be “enough”.

    I admire this atheist mom, Rebecca, on this video. She is far more brave than I am. She sounds so seasoned for her age, and I’m just beginning this journey at 40.

    Debbie, thank for the info about that book, I’ll look into it.

  41. I shared this video on fb today because I felt so proud of this woman. A fellow okie brave enough to tell the world she’s an athiest. I hope hope hope that she doesn’t suffer for it. She’s been thru enough already and was so brave to not just quietly go along with his comment.

  42. I wish I had the nerve to wear one of those “I’m actually an atheist” T-shirts.

  43. I find it interesting that atheists banded together to send this woman and her family $10,000. Why? Because “pray for this or that” is a lazy copout. While I do believe that some people really do believe that praying will effect change, the evidence is overwhelming…action really DOES change things!

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