- (Photo: YouTube/CNN Screen Shot)
Rebecca Vitsmun, the Oklahoma tornado survivor who told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that she is an atheist, is going to be receiving tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the secular community, who decided to support her for speaking out about her non-belief.
"It's important that our community shows that we have your back when you come out publicly as an atheist," the Indiegogo Internet community Atheists Unite stated. "Let's show the world that you don't need to believe in a god to have human compassion nor does all charity fall under the banner of religion. Let's get this courageous woman and her family back in their own home."
Vitsmun managed to escape unharmed with her 19-month-old son on Monday after a tornado ripped through her home in Moore, Okla. A day later, when she was being interviewed on TV by Blitzer and asked if she was "thanking the Lord" for managing to escape on time, the mother said, "I'm actually an atheist."
"You are. All right. But you made the right call," Blitzer continued, to which Vitsmun responded, "We are here, and I don't blame anyone for thanking the Lord."
The story was picked up by a number of news organizations, and the secular community has said it is glad to see atheists being recognized in the wake of the tragedy, which killed 24 people. As of Friday, Indiegogo users have raised $39,000 in support of Vitsmun, with a total goal of $50,000.
The purpose of the fundraiser, according to Atheists Unite, is to show that the atheist community can also express itself through "compassion and decency," rather than just "sitting in bars or chat rooms mocking people of faith."
Faith-based groups have been on the forefront of providing relief to victims of the tornado disaster that damaged as many as 13,000 homes. Damages are estimated to cost between $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
Several Christian churches served as open shelters after the tornado, while organizations such as Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team sent relief and chaplain teams to help the victims.
"Our hearts are breaking for all of those in the path of this horrific tornado. Words can't do justice to the pain that is being experienced in and around Moore," said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. "Please pray continuously for all of those who lost loved ones, and for those who may still be trapped amidst the rubble."