(Photo: REUTERS/Sue Ogrocki)
A new study from LifeWay Research reveals that more than half (57 percent) of Americans become more interested in God when a natural disaster occurs.
About one-third (31 percent) said their interest in God doesn't increase after such catastrophes, the Nashville-based research organization found, and 12 percent were unsure. The study, which was conducted just days after a powerful EF5 tornado ravaged Moore, Okla., on May 20, also revealed that Americans were divided about how they feel toward God "when suffering occurs that appears unfair."
One-third (33 percent) of the 1,040 American adults surveyed said such suffering causes them to put more trust in God. One-quarter (25 percent) said it makes them confused about God and 16 percent said they don't think about God at all during such times. Suffering that appears unfair causes another 11 percent to wonder if God cares, seven percent doubt God's existence, five percent become angry toward God and three percent resent Him.
"Disasters, particularly natural disasters, perplex all of us," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, in an article about the research. "While some call them 'acts of God,' others question why a good and loving God would do such a thing.
"The fact is, God does not give us all the answers. But, as Christians, we believe that God gives us Himself – and that is why we have faith. Faith is believing God when you don't have all the answers. But, disasters test that faith – some people draw closer to God, some pull away."
More than a third (34 percent) of Americans believe prayer can avert natural disasters, while 51 percent disagree and 32 percent strongly disagree.
When it comes to supporting the victims, nearly 60 percent of people donate to relief groups following natural disasters while 32 percent do not. More than half (56 percent) of Americans trust faith-based organizations more than secular organizations with their donations.
The destructive twister that hit Moore a week and a half ago killed 24 people. Eqecat, a disaster-modeling company, expects insured property losses from the deadly storm system to range between $2 billion and $5 billion.