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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. Mr Chihuahua

    Baby Jesus planned for me to bust a cap in that little punk lol!

    July 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  2. PAUL

    SO JESUS TOLD YOU TO KILL AN INNOCENT BLACK MAN???

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lThuhz45pDI&w=640&h=360]

    July 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  3. TOMG

    GOD PLAN ZIMMERMAN GO TO HELL AND WILL SAW HELL ALSO , AMEN .

    July 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • PAUL

      EXACTLY! HE WILL BURN IN HELL ON HIS OWN ACCORD!!!!!!!!!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dliYX-DHntg&w=640&h=360]

      July 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  4. Effed

    "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.

    Then why didn't your God do something about it?

    How do you know this Tracy? Your God wants children to die in batches in Africa. In Chicago, kids are being gunned down daily... no exaggeration. And what about those poor kids dying of cancer and other fatal diseases...is that God's plan?

    What God wants, God get's... God help us all, and God wanted Trayvon... That is, if you really subscribe to God actively affecting our world.

    Those of you who thank the Lord for winning a football game or a NASCAR race make me puke. You shouldn't ask the Lord for an unfair advantage! And if you believe the Lord cured your neighbor's kid's cancer, you certainly can believe the Lord sent Zimm to take your son!

    Sorry... just logic.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  5. SC

    Even my dog is way smarter than this guy. First of all, God brought you to kill someone? Pfft.... That's nothing but your habit of poking your nose everywhere and whatever that is happening to you is the dire consequences of that habit. Second of all, even if you are given one month of protection, your hater can still harm you after a month. Third, the least said, the better for you dummy. You are not a filthy rich billionaire to get away with whatever you say to the media in this country. Whatever you say will come back and haunt you. If I were you, I'll stay out of sight and plaster my mouth at all times.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  6. sss

    Zimmerman won't win this case, he is soooo dumb.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      Dumb r not, he will win.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You should take those crystal balls back and get a refund, dumbbell.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Vanilla

      You are so right. George Zimmerman is too dumb to win. He keeps changing his story each time he speaks and doing dumb interviews just to bring attention to himself.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  7. ArthurP

    Anyone who can read the Bible knows it was God's will:

    So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. (II Chronicles 14:12)

    July 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  8. FriedaLeigh

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Zimmerman shoot Trayvon because Trayvon was bashing Zimmerman's head into the sidewalk?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Didn't Martin confront Zimmerman because he was being followed?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • FriedaLeigh

      Are you saying that speaking to a black person is all it takes to set him off and make him attack you? I'll keep that in mind.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  9. Mario

    What. A. Joke. Everyone who wants to be exculpated or freed from personal responsibility invoke a deity. Shameless.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  10. tucsand

    I am not saying that George Zimmerman is innocent but as mentioned the medications could have played a big role in this?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  11. crossword

    Don't blame God for killing someone. He should have stayed in his car and let professional police officers handle the situation. I feel threaten by the folks that ask me for money everyday in Downtown but I don't pull out my plastic fork and stab them.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      Only if they punch you in the nose and bang your head on the cement ok.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      They can't do that if you're not following them and confronting them, now can they?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  12. john

    It wasn't "God's plan", George Zimmerman had a handgun illegally and shot and killed trayvon Martin.George Zimmerman is a murderer and deserves to be punished for his actions. It is bull crap that this case is still being discussed and George should have been sent to prison, or punished in some way from the start.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  13. Ting

    Just because you SAY IT doesn't make it so.

    That could have been useful during the writing of the Bible.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  14. JailTheBoogies

    I tell you, somebody needs to invent a boogie spray to keep these boogies off us white folks. We don't have time for these tribal shenanigans.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • crossword

      Mr/Ms. JailtheBoogies, you can go to any cosmetic manufacturer and tell them your idea. I am sure one of them will make up a formula, bottle it for you and you can sell it. You need to act on your ideas so you can make some real money and stop getting up every morning going to work for "the man" or if you don't work, if this idea works, you can give up your welfare checks/govt. assistance. If you think you have something then get it done before someone else patents it. But watch out because you might be the "boogie" to someone else and then they will use your "boogie-b-gone" spray on you.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  15. yougogeorge

    He was a neighborhood watch guy. Isnt that a job?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Short answer? No. Neighborhood watch /=equal vigilant justice in advance of a potential crime, idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  16. jamesr1976

    This is something that people always say when something bad or something they can't understand happens, it must have been God's will or God's plan. I'm sure Zimmerman wishes that none of this had happened, that Travon had never been in the neighborhood that night, or that he had not been on community watch that night, or he had not noticed Travon, or that Travon would have just moved on instead of confronting him (if that's what actually happened) , etc. So many things could have happened or not happened that would have resulted in a different outcome. Maybe Zimmerman hunted Travon down, but I just don't believe that. I think that Zimmerman got himself into a bad situation where the tables turned on him and he was unable to get out of it. We will never know what Travon thought or felt. I feel very sorry for Travon's parents. I imagine that it was especially insulting to hear Zimmerman suggest that the whole incident was possibly God's plan. Not helpful for somebody to say that your child's early death was God's plan, Who knows why bad things happen or are allowed to happen? People comfort themselves by saying it must be God's will, otherwise they would not be able to keep their faith.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      James, everybody makes a plan of their life before they are born. Tray made his plan to get shot at 17 yearsold by Zimmerman. This was planned in his chart. The reason for this may be hard for people to understand but its to help us learn.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  17. andrew

    NO WAY! It figures, Zimmerman would proclaim GOD told him to do what he did. Really? What a stupid, idiotic, dishonest farce! I swear, some people are moronic, dumb, unaware, ignorant, ridiculous fools. What a bunch of crap! YOU CHASED DOWN A GUY AND KILLED HIM! NOT GOD'S PLAN, DUDE! Just because you SAY IT doesn't make it so.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • john

      I agree 110% that it wasn't "gods plan" George Zimmerman is a murderer and deserves to be punished, I'm getting sick and tired of George Zimmerman's pointless comments and the comments aren't going to help him in the long run, there making his situation worse than it already is.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  18. hansonrhodes

    things like this simply prove over and over again that there is no god.

    how can people be so blind to the obvious ?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      Feel sorry for you hans. Im glad there is one for me.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  19. Davy Jones

    Let's remember what Zimmerman actually said in the interview.

    He said that the outcome of the fight was God's plan.

    He also said he had a god given right to defend his life.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • ArthurP

      And by extension stalk the chap.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      He wouldn't have needed to "defend his life" if he hadn't provoked an attack on it.

      You're stupid as a bag of dead kittens, and twice as ugly, Wavy Gravy.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  20. Imagine No Religion

    OMS! (Oh My Stars!)

    It's this kind of psychotic religious rationalization that makes me so proud to be an atheist.

    "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky,
    now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

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

      Do atheiss have a right of self-defense?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do morons like you?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      @Davy Jones: Yep, sure do. But it has nothing to do with your (or anybody else's) god. And, as a note of fact, it has yet to be determined whether Mr Zimmerman acted in self-defense. That's why he will be tried by a court of law. Hope I didn't confuse you with critical thinking.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:03 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.