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July 19th, 2012
07:55 AM ET

Zimmerman: Shooting 'God's plan'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) -  It was "God's plan" that brought together George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin in a fatal confrontation in February, Zimmerman told Fox News host Sean Hannity Wednesday in his first television interview.

Zimmerman, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder for shooting Martin in what he says was self-defense. Martin was unarmed when he was killed while walking back to his father's girlfriend's house in a gated residential area of Sanford, Florida.  Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and has been free on $1 million bail since early July.

Zimmerman, who said he routinely carried a gun except when he was at work, told Hannity he didn't regret deciding to follow Martin that night, after deciding the teen was acting suspiciously, and he didn't regret having a gun.

"Do you feel you wouldn't be here for this interview if you didn't have that gun?" Hannity asked.

"No, sir," Zimmerman responded.

"You feel you would not be here?" Hannity pressed.

"I feel it was all God's plan and for me to second guess it or judge it..." Zimmerman said, pursing his lips and shaking his head.

The 17-year-old victim's father didn't agree with Zimmerman's claim.

"We must worship a different God because there is no way that my God would have wanted George Zimmerman to kill my teenage son," Tracy Martin said in a statement after Zimmerman's interview was broadcast.

CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the big stories

There's an old joke about a Christian who falls down a flight of stairs and then says, "Thank God that's over."  For some Christians, there is a belief that God is in control of everything in their lives, good and bad, from finding a parking space close to the grocery store to the death of a loved one.

When things go horribly awry, it's not uncommon for people to look to God as the one who drew up the plan, says David M. Carr, professor of Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary.

“What's particularly striking to me in this instance,” Carr told CNN, was that “George Zimmerman is attributing something he did to God’s plan.”

“It's one thing to attribute a natural disaster to God’s plan to try and make sense of the world,” he said. “It’s another thing to justify something you did as God’s plan. That’s taking it to another level.”

“That lets you off the hook, but I think it can look to other people as a pretty transparent attempt at self-justification,” Carr added.

Carr is an expert on the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament.

“One thing that strikes me about many of the narratives in the Old Testament is there are so many places where characters think they know what God is up to, but we know because of the narrator in the story, they’re wrong.”

“So the Bible speaks to the human misperception of what God is doing.”

Zimmerman and his family were longtime members at the All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, Virginia.

"George grew up in Manassas and was active in the church during his youth as an altar server and evening receptionist in the office," Pastor Bob Cilinski of All Saints told CNN in March. "The Zimmerman family were known and respected in the community for their dedication and service."

Despite his Catholic upbringing, some say that that on this point of theology, Zimmerman may be out of step with Catholic teaching.

“God didn’t make us robots, he didn’t make us puppets,” said Father Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

“A key part of God’s plan is giving us freedom to make decisions.  Sometimes those decisions are good and sometimes those decisions are bad," Reese said, explaining the Catholic teaching on the concept of free will.

"Obviously, not everything we do is part of God’s plan.  Because sometimes we sin and that certainly is not part of God’s plan.  It’s contrary to what God wants."

Reese said Zimmerman's sentiment is not an uncommon one among Christians.  But the idea of a God who controls everything down to the last detail strikes Reese as an idea closer to Greek mythology than the God described in the Bible.

"It’s based on this idea of an absolute powerful God who always gets what he wants.  When we read the Scriptures, we find out God doesn’t always get what he wants.  He’s disappointed and upset when things go wrong,” he said.

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“I think there’s an important insight that these people have, that is when things do go bad, when they go contrary to God’s plan, he can still make good things happen as a result," Reese said.

“When these terrible things happen, God can inspire people to respond to them with courage and compassion so that something positive can come out of something very negative," he added.  "But it wasn’t part of God’s plan that this guy got killed.  We can’t excuse what we do by saying that’s God’s plan.”

Both Carr and Reese were careful to say they were not commenting on the legal aspects of the case and noted that Zimmerman's guilt or innocence should be left up to the courts.

One thing Reese said Zimmerman did get right in the interview was apologizing and praying for the Martin family.

"I'm sorry they had to bury their child," Zimmerman told Hannity.  "I pray for them daily."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity

soundoff (1,528 Responses)
  1. Bee

    God does NOT plan for bad things to happen to people. That is all a bunch of malarkey! God has accepted the soul of the boy who was killed, but HE/SHE did not plan for the child's life to end that way. It was the will of man, not of God, that brought about the tragedy.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      You don't go to Heaven for busting a man's nose.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  2. TruthPrevails :-)

    In the end, we can only ever hear one side of the story...it doesn't matter what Zimmerman claims happened, of course he's going to make it look like he was in the right...he's facing prison. What is well known is the Zimmerman called 9-1-1 and was strictly told not be follow this kid...we do know there was a scuffle...we do not know who started that scuffle-we only hear Zimmerman's side of this and of course he's going to blame the kid....we know that Trayvon had been suspended from school for being is possession of a bag with pot remnants-a substance that most would agree should be legalized and in no way makes Trayvon anything more than a typical teen....we also know that Trayvon was not in possession of a weapon but Zimmerman was-seriously how many of you carry your pistol to the store with you?...we also know that Zimmerman pulled the fact that Trayvon was wearing a hoodie as a reason to follow the kid-so do we start as.suming that anyone wearing a hoodie is a thug now–if so then I guess 3/4's of the people out there should be profiled also...we also know that Trayvon was only carrying a bottle of iced tea and a bag of skittles when this incident occurred. We do know that as of recently Zimmerman is pulling the 'god made me do it' card-really??? Such a moronic thing to do when his god can't be used as a defense in any court of law. There are cases where it has been proven that religious psychosis was the cause of murder-ie; Andrea Yates. This whole thing with Zimmerman just sounds like one more ploy for attention on his behalf. A young man with a future ahead of him is dead sadly and the family is left to suffer and had Zimmerman not had a gun, the boy might be alive today. The family deserves justice!

    July 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      Ya, a whole life of crime.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • tucsand

      changed my name there as it should be, the Oxy drugs OxyContin and OxyCodone are far more addicting and far worse for you than cannabis ever was and since I was on both Oxy's also I know what they can do to you and how they can make a person act without them knowing they are doing it. They are nasty drugs.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Truth

      Very accurate summation. Some other facts that should give more light to the situation. Zimmerman became part of the watch after a rash of burglaries in his neighborhood. His own house was robbed recently and after calling for the police, they didn't show up for 45 minutes long after the entire incident occurred. Zimmerman had also caught people looking in his house windows as well and was already antsy. With all these facts, it's understandable that Zimmerman had an itchy trigger finger and there was already a mistrust in the police. This in no way excuses his use of deadly force on a teen who only committed the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What was a tragic deadly misunderstanding became a national outrage about race and now apparently god.

      Zimmerman's attempt to steer blame away from him makes perfect sense for anyone who's ever done something wrong but doesn't want to face the music.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Chuckles: I didn't know those other details. Did his agreement with joining the watch not state he wasn't to carry a weapon? I understand he was not on watch the night he killed Trayvon but he took it upon himself to take on that role.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Truth

      I'm not entirely sure what his agreement was with regards to having the weapon. Then again, here in America it is entirely legal to have a weapon and it's clear according to Zimmerman he doesn't go anywhere without his gun, except for work.

      In my opinion, instead of making this entire case having been framed as a racial issue, it could have brought to light the issue with guns and how we really need to wise up and not arm our citizens, especially people like Zimmerman who can clearly make a mistake and commit murder.

      July 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  3. tucsnad

    I still think George ZImmerman is guilty, however, OxyContin and OxyCodone can cause you to do things you are unaware of such as sleep driving where you could wake up and find yourself driving your car. George Zimmerman was taking both medications. OxyContin alone can cause you rumble on saying things that don't make sense, so it is entirely possible that the medication is to blame.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  4. JoJo

    In my opinion, all these people, whether it's Zimmerman or GW Bush or Cheney who say or imply God told them to kill or send others to kill and torture in unnecessary war, are advocating something directly repugnant to the actual teachings of Jesus, and should be more properly referred to as part of the 21st century, American Militant Neo-Christianist Cult; they're not Christians.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  5. Frank

    It's just a shame that Jesse, Al and CNN all made this a racial incident instead of simply a trigger happy police academy reject who shot a kid.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      Yes, if it wasnt for Al and Jesse, this wouldnt be such a big deal!! Those racist cotton picking pigs!!

      July 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  6. Greg Morgan

    Does this mean that Zimmerman thinks God should be charged with second degree murder?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      No. It's God's job to punish thugs.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What exactly did Martin do to prompt Zimmerman to follow him, Doogie? How would Zimmerman have known or surmised that Martin was a "thug" when he'd never seen him before and hadn't witnessed him committing any wrongdoing?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Chuckles

      f god is all knowing and all that, wouldn't it be first degree murder then?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Chuckles, you crack me up.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  7. saulmartinezphotography

    Stop using quotes to get people to read. I understand the intent on Zimmerman's words and how he would construe the event as him having no control over per "god's plan". That in no way shape or form would absolve him from responsibility as "god's plan' continues to unfold, and he should[will] get held accountable. Nevertheless, I feel very sad for the Martin Family and feel pity toward George Zimmerman.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  8. yuhmad

    I wonder if someone had killed his wife and loved ones, if it would be god's plan??Zimmerman must answer this question if this had happened to his loved ones. God does not like ugliness......

    July 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      Yes, if Treyvon Martin kills wives and children in an armed robbery, and then gets killed by some other gangsta, that's God's will.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Did he do that?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      No, Tom Tom, he'll never get the chance to do any more thuggery.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not what I asked, you fvckwitted moron. Did he do anything wrong that prompted Zimmerman to follow him? Here, I can answer that for you, since you're obviously a brain-dead a ss hole troll: NO. He didn't.

      Get a clue, witless. You don't get to charge someone with any crime just because you imagine he is going to commit one. This ain't a Tom Cruise flick, dumb sh!t.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  9. cj90210

    Wow, I am just amazed at the arrogance of Mr. Zimmerman. Carrying out God's plan? Who made him a God? I guess he made him self one the night he decided to follow Mr. Martin even though he was asked not to. I guess we will never know what really happend that night since Mr. Martin can't speak for him self but I hope Mr. Zimmerman is punished. Otherwise, if you live in Florida, better get a gun and be prepared to shoot first...

    July 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      He said that the outcome... Martin's death... was God's plan.

      The big guy in the sky made the final judgment as to who lived and who died.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  10. Davy Jones

    I think there is an assumption that Martin had a right to kill Zimmerman for following him.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  11. rws

    God's plan? And your god directed you to follow and confront people you don't know in the night? Seriously? How about taking some personal responsibility for your poor judgement and deadly decisions/actions? I hope that means that you will also accept whatever fate you suffer as a result of murdering an innocent unarmed teenager as God's plan.

    Some of you are more than thrilled to be dancing in the blood of a dead black kid. I will bet most of you also call yourselves christians! Your hate comes from God's enemy, not God!

    July 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      I agree with some of your post about dancing in the blood of one less thug but not gods plan.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  12. Lobster

    isnt there that thing about not invoking his holy name in vain? of the incongruence and inconsistencies of christians...

    July 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • TC

      @lobster – don't be an historical moron. He was baptized Catholic but became an insane quasi agnostic/atheist. he didn;t believe in any love or God.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  13. TC

    ITs called rationalization of ones actions – most people do it all the time.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  14. south4evr

    Tracy Martin is in denial because he hates white people and he is a RACIST!! If his son hadn't been shot by Zimmerman, he probably would have been shot by someone else in the future. That was the direction his chosen life style was taking him!! He was a THUG!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • south4evr

      And what I mean by all that is that I need to take my tourette's medicine.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      Good point. There is an element of racism in the anger directed toward Zimmerman.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And the evidence for that is what, exactly, Davy Gravy?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      Even though he's white.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Even though you're an idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • rws

      So you know Tracy Martin, his dead son was a thug, and the mother is a welfare queen, right? Projecting your own hate and racism to them will never make them what you are! At the end of the day, the truth shall prevail and hate will explode the haters!

      July 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  15. Davy Jones

    Trayvon Martin's attack on Zimmerman sounds like Methamphetamine induced paranoia.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Julie

      Zimmermans paranoia, at it's best.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Now you're clearly trolling.

      Isn't there a bridge somewhere you need to hide under?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  16. Davy Jones

    If you have a paranoid notion that someone is following you, does that give you the right to kill him... by, say, bashing his head on concrete?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • sam

      Is it stream of consciousness day at your house?

      Hmm...you could be Zimmerman's lawyer...

      July 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • James PDX

      It doesn't appear that Trayvon's notion was at all paranoia.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Tom

      Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're being followed. In this case, he was.

      Random guy following you in the middle of the night? Yeah, I'll be ready to fight to the death, too.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      OK, so you think some man is following you. Then, you pull out a gun and shoot him dead. Is that legal? Or does there have to be a reasonable belief that you were in danger of death and bodily harm?

      July 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  17. jo an

    Hitler thought what he was doing was 'God's Plan'....what a crock....this guy is nuts...

    July 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • TC

      You obviously never studied history and hitler. He was an agnostic/atheist and dabbled in the occult to see if any powers culd be harnessed to keep his evil plan going. Read then learn then speak.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Lobster

      @TC Hitler was Catholic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  18. Davy Jones

    Basically, the physical evidence is consistent with the interpretation that Zimmerman was the victim of an assault.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • sam

      I'm so glad you've seen all the evidence and can regale us with your expertise. Please, do go on.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • whitmanguy

      It's God's plan that people like you should rationalise so ridiculously.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  19. James PDX

    Is it possible that both of these bozos were in th wrong? It seems obvious to me. Trayvon already got his punishment for his part. Now it's Zimmerman's turn.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • sam

      Of course it's possible they both acted improperly. But it's ridiculous to say Zimmerman was fighting for his life when he was the one who started the confrontation.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Davy Jones

      If Martin was in the wrong, then Zimmerman was in the right.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What did Martin do "wrong"? Was there any reason for Zimmerman to follow him? Had he committed any crime?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • sam

      Davy, you are just a veritiable fount of wit and wisdom. I wish I could crawl right into your head...and take a crap.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Davy,

      The Florida courts can impanel 12 people to make this decision. It's not yours to make. I think they will have a difficult time with this verdict when the time comes.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      Zimmerman was doing his job patrolling the area until Tray started it. Whats wrong with keeping the neighborhood safe? He was wearing a hoody, most criminals do when they are up to something.
      Thats why he had a gun for self defense.
      I cant believe so many people are on the boogies side. People are getting dumber and dumber everyday!!

      July 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Doing his job"? WHAT JOB? It wasn't his "job" to do anything of the sort.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "People get dumber and dumber every day." Yes, and you're a perfect example. No one hired Zimmerman to keep the peace. He wasn't a cop. He wasn't qualified to determine that Martin was a possible threat. He was told not to follow him.

      You're an idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • James PDX

      Actually, Zimmerman wasn't even on watch duty that night. He was making an armed run to the store when he spotted Martin and decided to play vigilante. He made a lot of terrible and negligent choices that led to Martin's death. However, as the story has unfolded, it appears that Martin successfully eluded Zimmerman but decided to come back after him. One can only assume his ego didn't allow him to let some guy get away with following him and he decided to teach his stalker a lesson. Two idiots equals one lost life and one ruined life.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  20. Davy Jones

    Perhaps Tracy Martin expresses hatred because he is in denial that his son became just another gangster.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • sam

      Get back in your locker.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Julie

      Your ignorance is astonishing.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.