Sometimes it pays to be a nonbeliever.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) said on Friday that it has donated $10,000 to Rebecca Vitsmun, the Oklahoma tornado victim whose live interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer went viral after she avowed her atheism.
Blitzer spoke with Vitsmun after her decision to leave Moore, Okla., at the last minute to avoid the tornado that would ultimately destroy her own home.
“You’ve gotta’ thank the Lord, right?” Blitzer asked.
“I’m actually an atheist,” Vitsmun replied.
Blitzer’s question sparked an array of reactions from social media users, but was largely seen as presumptuous and even discriminatory by secularists and nonbelievers. Following what the AHA said was an overwhelming response from members wanting to donate to Vitsmun, the AHA’s charitable arm, Humanist Charities, set up the Rebecca Vitsmun Fund, asking members to donate to the young non-believing mother who spoke “bravely and honestly.”
“Often after natural disasters, mentions of prayer, God and religion play a big role in the media -- leaving out humanists and atheists who find greater value in taking direct action to support the victims.”
The $10,000 donation, forwarded on Friday, will go to help Vitsmun and her family rebuild their home. In a statement, Vitsmun said the outpouring of support has made her journey ahead less intimidating.
“People from all around the world have reached out to us and the people of Moore and Newcastle and we don't know how we can ever thank everyone enough for their generosity,” Vitsmun said.
Founded in 1941, the American Humanist Association says it wants to create a society where “being good without a god is an accepted way to live.” The group advocates for the rights and viewpoints of nontheistic Americans, including atheists and agnostics. Headquartered in Washington, the nonprofit comprises more than 160 local chapters and affiliates across the United States.
Watch the Blitzer/Vitsmun interview below.