Thunström and Noy divided a group of participants into Christians, agnostics and atheists. (No other religious or spiritual groups were considered in the study). About a third of the group were directly affected by Hurricane Florence, which devastated the Carolinas in September 2018, while the rest were asked to base their responses on some other hardship they had experienced.
Each participant was given $5 and asked how much they’d pay for thoughts and prayers from either a Christian or a nonreligious person in response to their hardship.
While self-proclaimed Christians were willing to pay for prayers—$7.17 if from a priest, $4.36 from another Christian—most atheists and agnostics were willing to pay priests and Christian strangers not to pray for them. Atheists, in particular, were willing to hand over $1.66 to avoid prayer from a priest, and a whopping $3.54 to avoid prayer from a random believer.