Time’s Joe Klein faces criticism over claim atheists didn’t help Oklahoma tornado victims

By Eric W. Dolan
Sunday, June 23, 2013 13:24 EDT
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Joe Klein via YouTube screenshot
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Time magazine columnist Joe Klein was “simply lying out of his ass” by suggesting that secular humanists had not offered aid to survivors of a massive tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, according to Hemant Mehta of the “Friendly Atheist” blog at Patheos.

In an article published June 20, Klein examined how volunteer work could offer relief to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Klein explained that he spent his Memorial Day weekend doing volunteer work in Moore, where he saw “church groups from all over the country.” He added, “funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals.”

Though Klein might not have seen any self-avowed secular groups during his time in Moore, Mehta pointed out that a number of national atheist groups had raised funds for disaster relief efforts. Local atheist groups also organized volunteer drives.

“Let’s make this very clear: Atheists were in Oklahoma doing everything Christian groups were doing — including handing out hot meals. To suggest that we were not there and not doing anything useful for the victims isn’t just factually wrong — it’s slander against all of us who don’t believe in a God,” Mehta wrote.

The Oklahoma tornado became unexpectedly linked with atheism in May thanks to Wolf Blitzer. The CNN host told a survivor of the deadly tornado, “you gotta thank the Lord, right?” But the woman, Rebecca Vitsmun, politely informed Blitzer that she did not believe in God. The awkward exchange received huge amounts of attention.

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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