#prayforjapan…then #givetojapan


Oh, the ire this hashtag has caused!  Atheists jumping on believers for praying to a god they don’t believe exists when money is what is needed; Christians angrily defending their God when there are people dying from this powerful earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.

Whatever we believe about God and about prayer, the fact of the matter is this: many people have died, many are missing, and many need help.  WE need to be the ones to help them.  Donate $100; donate $50; donate $10.  Seriously…all you college kids, just skip Wendy’s and Chipotle for a couple of days, and give that money to people who really need it.

For atheists, I think I’m preaching to a choir.  Strangely enough, I get the feeling I need to preach to the Christians more.  While God will do miraculous things through prayer, prayer is almost never the end – it’s the beginning.  God uses prayer, often, to convict us to do something.  Remember that James said that faith without prayer is dead; you might as well replace faith with prayer and keep that mantra in mind.  God does miracles, but time and time again, He’s shown that He usually works through His people.  No surprise there if we see Him as a relational God.

If you’re looking to donate directly to Japan, there will certainly be a number of programs set up today.  The Red Cross is accepting funds, though past criticisms of their financial managment have made me wary.  I know little about Global Giving, but they’ve quickly set up a donation page and may be the best charity to give to at this time.

Please pray.  Then…please give.

Edit:  The Huffington Post has a page listing a number of different charities to give to.


21 thoughts on “#prayforjapan…then #givetojapan

    1. I believe prayers matter and that God works through the prayers of His people. So even if you have no money to donate, prayer is definitely, still, a wonderful thing to do!

  1. I’m an atheist, but I try not to shrivel up like Dracula at the sight of prayer. :p As long as people do something tangible to help, then I don’t see the harm in saying “please pray for Japan” or whatever. Everyone needs to take the sticks out of their behinds and just help out instead of getting distracted with petty arguments.

  2. I think it really comes down to consideration for others. Being an atheist I don’t think that prayer is going to do anything as I don’t believe in any god(s) but I think every atheist has to remember that people who do say to “pray for” people in need are expressing their own goodwill and support. Whether or not that’s backed by a deity is irrelevant in my view since it’s genuine compassion no matter how it’s phrased. Starting an angry religious argument over that sentiment just comes off as a slap in the face to that goodwill. It doesn’t consider thinking as someone else would about the same issue. And it annoys me because it makes my view of religion look bad by association.

    I like the way you frame taking action in the context of your faith, and neutrally appealing to both sides to chip in what they can should help bridge any divides over other issues. After a disaster really isn’t the time to fight over this stuff (if there ever is a time), whether it’s of the “there is no God” or the “this is God’s punishment” variety. It’s the time to act in whatever capacity one has at their disposal.

    As a note on Global Giving, they’re a good organization to donate to in my opinion. Started by former World Bank leaders and they use a ‘ideas market’ sort of system for their projects to make the most effective use of funds. And if William Easterly likes them then they have to be good!

    1. Thanks for chipping again and for the kudos. 🙂

      And thanks for the info about Global Giving…sounds like a really terrific organization. Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/) gives them three out of four starts, which is pretty good. A charity that I’ve consistently given to over the past decade, World Vision, is given four stars for their use of funds – though this is a Christian organization and I don’t think they’re giving all funds donated to their disaster relief program to Japan.

  3. Show me someone taking offense at #prayforJapan and I’ll show you a sad narcissist. Simple as that. This is about helping those in need, not using a tragedy as an opportunity to cast unfounded aspersions on others.

    So yes. Pray and support. And meanwhile anyone who thinks prayer and charity are somehow mutually exclusive to Christians can save their absurd ignorance for another time.

    1. Thanks for the comments. Absolutely – those of practically every religion and those without religion do pray. And certainly some faiths incorporate prayer MUCH more than Christians do, in fact.

  4. No kidding. Even as a nonbeliever, there is nothing about the idea of praying for the victims that offends me whatsoever. It is still positive affirmation and thoughts about a terrible situation. And the idea that people are taking offense to this probably offends me more than the idea of people thinking this is some sort of divine retribution against the nation as a whole, because I can at least rationalize those particular brand of crazies as ignorant.

    1. I wonder if maybe people that are upset at prayers are those that have a firm image in their mind that Christians are simply hypocrites. Kinda like they assume Christians will just say a prayer and then move with their lives, as if that’s enough – and to be honest, many will. Kind of a gut reaction thing.

  5. We find the stupidest reasons to fight. Who cares if someone else is praying.

    The power of prayer and religion can do great things–though that, the Presbyterian Relief Fund has been created which we’ll be giving our (my family) money too.

  6. I was appalled when I read that Haiti is basically the same today as it was the day after the earthquake. That’s despite millions upon millions being raised. The Red Cross either pocketed that money or misused it beyond belief. I’m leaning toward the former.

    Celebrities took full advantage of Haiti to self-promote, and they got tons of publicity out of it. Here we go again. How long until the first “Japan Relief Concert” where some singers get to promote their new songs?

    It’s sickening how both charities and celebrities use disasters for their own good. At least I don’t see any politicians doing that… yet.

    1. Yeah, the Red Cross has come under a lot of fire. I’m not sure about the specifics. I do know that they’ve had a bunch of Presidents (CEOs?) in recent years. It’s certainly hard to have a very effective organization when your top leadership isn’t consistent.

      Ugh, and yeah, I hate that. Blah. And perhaps the politicians won’t come out. The conservatives want to save, so you probably won’t see them, and the Democrats may already have their speaker in Obama. Dunno.

  7. Guys, I want you to know, as an American living in Japan right now, I am working with an organization that has people on the ground working to assess needs as we speak.

    I hate to post just to plug, but visit crashjapan.com for more details. We are deeply affected by this tragedy, and are doing our utmost to help our friends and neighbors.

  8. “For atheists, I think I’m preaching to a choir. Strangely enough, I get the feeling I need to preach to the Christians more.”

    I find that mildly offensive and misguided.


    Now if you based that statement merely on personal perceptions and merely about Christian and atheist viewers of anime specifically and didn’t specify, that’s one thing. But what you said is something different and, based on the evidence I’ve seen (not to say that there have never been studies that have produced opposite results; if you’re aware of any I would appreciate if you shared them), the relative charitableness of different faiths is not as you perceive.

    My objections shared, I do appreciate what you’re doing and certainly think it’s a very good thing to encourage charitable donations by anyone who is able.

    1. Hey, Adam. Thanks for the comments.

      Well, I think we need to discuss the context of this post. It was written one morning when the hashtag, #prayforjapan, was trending on Twitter. There were many who were upset about that, believing that individuals were praying, feeling that prayers would do nothing in such a horrific situation. Many atheists and agnostics see prayer in such a way – that it has no real effect. They believe that one must “do something” to really help others.

      The purpose of my post was to address people, Christians particularly, who prayed, and then left the situation at that. As your links suggest, the religious in America tend to give charitably. I wanted to speak to those who didn’t intend to give. As the numbers have shown, people gave a lot less for this disaster than in past, recent ones – so across the board, I assume, giving is down. I was hoping to influence those that thought prayer was enough to do more than that. And this is a biblical idea – I mentioned James’ idea about faith and action. Additionally, a purpose of prayer is stir believers into action.

      Thus, my post was aimed at a segment of Christians (while also inclusive of others, including non-believers). If one gave to Japan, then the post probably didn’t mean a whole lot more to that person than being an interesting read (I hope). If one didn’t, I hope the post convinced that individual to donate.

      1. By the way, I’d seen the first link before, but not the other two. They were informative and encouraging. Thanks!

      2. I was aware of the situation, but I do think I misunderstood you. For that I wish to apologize.
        I thought, with that line, that you were overrepresenting the charitableness of atheists and and underrepresenting the charitableness of Christians which offends me as it’s a myth many anti-theists cling to, and I’m sure many overly apologetic (not as in Christian Apologetics) Christians feel guilted into believing. I see now though that you were referring to each group’s understanding of the limited scope of the power of prayer, not their respective charitableness.
        Again, I’m sorry for misunderstand and I’ll try to better analyze what people write in the future. I’m glad I could share those links with you though.

        1. No need to apologize – this post was written as a response to back-and-forth tweets and without setting the proper context, it certainly reads the way you interpreted it. I’m glad you responded as you did, because I was able to add some background for those who read this in the future and who may feel the same way about my writing.

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