When Wolf Blitzer asked Rebecca Vitsmun on CNN last May if she thanked “the Lord” that she and her family survived the tornado that had just ripped through Moore, Okla., she informed him that she is “actually an atheist.”
Then comedian Doug Stanhope answered her prayers.
With the help of 4,475 other non-believers, Stanhope launched the “Athiests Unite” Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign shortly after seeing the proud atheist living in the grief-stricken area of the Bible Belt, and ended up raising $125,760 within two months to help Vitsmun’s family rebuild their home that was completely destroyed in the storm.
“Saying ‘I’m an atheist’ in Oklahoma is like screaming ‘Jihad’ at airport security. That took some nuts,” Stanhope explains in a new video (above) addressing his successful fundraiser. “
While many crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo rely on “perks” in exchange for a donation, Stanhope’s got absolutely nothing in return other than proving — as Stanhope wrote in his pitch — “you don’t need to believe in a god to have human compassion.”
Still, Stanhope took advantage of the perk system to poke more fun at Christianity, promising a “Get Out of Hell Free Card” to anyone donating $50, a “lucky break” to those donating $100, a “Phone Call from God” for $125, a “Guardian Angel,” and even “The Holy Grail” to someone willing to pony up $10,000.
Nobody claimed the Holy Grail, but one person was willing to part with $2,500 in exchange for “First Choice for Reincarnation,” because “all those eagle & dolphin spots go fast.”
Stanhope says he did not launch the charitable campaign because he felt sympathy for Vitsmun, but did so “simply to be a prick to her Okie-Christian neighbors.”
For the record, Vitsmun was much more tolerant toward her neighbors’ faith, and told Blitzer at the time of the interview, “I don’t blame anybody for thanking the Lord.”