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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. Jason

    He acted within the law. He felt threatened. He saved his own life. That resulted in the loss of another.

    Period.
    This really shouldn't even be a National topic that lasts 5 months.

    the whole god's will thing– yeah, he shouldn't have said it. But a lot of people say it. He brought said the "gods will" thing after being asked if he would change anything in retrospect and he said "no".... why? BECAUSE HE LIVED. he didn't mean "god wanted trayvon to die", all in all he meant, s**t happens. He was simply going for the christian "vote" and he swung and missed. get off his case about that stupid phrase.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • James Stevens

      You can't claim self-defense if you create the situation. That's not my opinion. That's the law.

      July 20, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  2. Cosmo

    I dont have any special insight on any thing on this case. Im no Z fan either. Im going by the laws on the Floridas Books. The 911 tape..and all the tesomony of witnesses. And the state will have to prove everything. But Z isnt going to get a fair trial on this. They are out to get him. And the jury isnt going to listen to the facts or follow the law on this one. He better stop giving interviews if he has any brains left. Because so far hes showed nothing but ignorance right along with his attorney.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Observer

      "And the jury isnt going to listen to the facts or follow the law on this one."

      ESP or just delusional?

      July 20, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • wow

      Yeah he needs to shut up and speak when he takes the stand. They say he has a very strong case to prove self defense, but if he continues to open his mouth before trial, he's only digging his own grave

      July 20, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • BD

      Let him keep talking. His words reveal the truth. And the truth will invoke justice. And Trayvon's death will not be in vain because it will have resulted in the removal of one more psycho being pulled off our streets. A win-win for everyone – except Z.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Jason

      @BD wow.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  3. Hooligan

    If anything this wackadoo is exposing how silly religion is all together. For him to say "this was god's plan" is to invoke the idea that had god cared enough for Martin to live, Martin would indeed be alive. Meaning god in theory does not care, Christians will argue this fact with a simple "he gave us free will" which can easily be contradicted with a simple question. Why does god then expect us to worship him completely and exist only to serve him (much like a puppet) but give us the choice not to?

    Seems rather vindictive.

    This is obviously not the fault of a god but a man, but for christians to defend their faith when it does indeed put god to blame (as god COULD have stopped this even and KNEW before hand it would occur) is just humorous.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • lou

      Deities love to kill. Remember they believe their god is coming back to kill us all and float them to heaven.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  4. Peace2All

    George Zimmerman is pandering to the christian right. It's all God's plan ? Absolutely f-u-cking ridiculous.

    Next we'll see Jerry Sandusky using the... "It was all part of God's plan" defense. 😯

    Peace...

    July 20, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Yeppers

      But you must admit, if there is a God, then Sandusky and Zimmerman and the Plague and cancer are all parts of His Plan.

      That is one of the fundamental logical fails that make God virtually impossible.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • wow

      Yeppers! I like your name btw.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  5. Cosmo

    If I was Z I would be scared to death. Scared of the ignorant uneducated people out there that are going to be on the Jury for Christ sakes. I cant believe how stupid most of you are. You don't read, you don't listen. And you don't educate yourself about the law. I see where most say Z disobeyed the police. He did not..you are not listening to the facts. And if he started to follow him at the beginning when martin was in the neighborhood. Its not against the law... for Christ sakes people grow a brain.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Robert

      Stop pretending you have special insight into the case. You're just saying that stuff because you want it to be true, not because it actually is.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • austina

      This guy (Zimmerman) instantly made the decision in his OWN head that this person walking the street(s) of his community did not belong, and therefore he would confront him. There's no law anywhere in the states of this country that could justify his belief and actions. Zimmerman was a civilian acting on what he PERCEIVED as authoritive actions. Hell, even the authoritives such as the police of that community would not have the right to confront a civilian simpy because they THINK he (Trayvon) was somewhere he wasn't suppose to be.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Cosmo

      Tell that to a cop when he stops and confronts you just because they feel like it. And by the way it was Martin that came around Zs suv and confronted him. For the record..

      July 20, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • eville11

      @austina; people confront people on the street or in alleys everyday, especially at night. You ever go out after 8 PM or does your mom have a curfew for you. And the police do have the right to ask a person why they are loitering in a certain area.. you think they only chase, ask, report, people after crimes have been committed?

      July 20, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • James Stevens

      There's a difference between what cops do and what they have the right to do. And Trayvon was not loitering, so you can shove that argument back up the same place you pulled it out of.

      July 20, 2012 at 3:15 am |
  6. Kgeorge K. Kzimmerman

    It's God's will that I carry guns and provoke black people. Like the scriptures say, "do unto others first, with your concealed handgun."

    July 20, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • austina

      Really??

      July 20, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  7. John Jacobs

    There one problem when anyone claims that his or her action is "God's" will, God knows... The bible says, "God is not a man that he should lie; neither is He the son of man, that he should repent of a lie..." When someone use God as their justification of doing anything they take their own soul into their own hands... The example that comes to mind is Mary – the mother of Jesus... She claimed that her pregnancy was of God and God sent an angel to verify her claims to Joseph – her husband... Hummm...

    July 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  8. SmarterOpinion

    Einstein would have said and more or less backed up Z's pov regardless of priestly discourse - god doesn't play dice. So if Einstein was right then there's no such thing as free-will or choice. 🙂

    July 20, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Ignoring for a moment that Einstein did not believe in a god, you are taking Einstein's quote completely out of context. Einstein made that quote relative to quantum mechanics which he spent much of the latter part of his career arguing against. Einstein was wrong.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Peter, Peter...

      One more before I stare at the inside of my eyelids: I do have a Bible verse for your consideration...Proverbs 16:33 "The lot (or dice) is cast in the lap. But its EVERY DECISION is from the LORD." Yet another one to "believe" or not to "believe". Good night all! Big fun in the midst of a serious issue and collision of many faith-based worldviews. Who has the "authority"? My faith-based answer is THE BIBLE (I think Jesus would agree)...

      July 20, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • PoseidonPoseidon

      My faith-based answer is The Iliad, and I think Zeus would agree.

      Your statement sounds pretty stupid even to you when I plug in any of the 4199 other religions that are every bit as possible as yours.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Peter, Peter...

      Ok...You got me Poseiden...Did I say "religion"? No, I said "Jesus Christ" (A Person not a "religion"). Just want to make sure that if you're offended or think I'm stupid that you know it certainly isn't because I'm defending "religion". Yes, I'm a fool for the sake of Jesus and His good news of salvation – I hope one day you'll join all of us who love Him for who He is...LORD (Who walked on water and calmed the stormy sea, O great Poseidon). Cya

      July 20, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • PoseidonPoseidon

      Peter, Peter is clueless, clueless

      July 20, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  9. Really???

    God's plan does allow us choice, so Zimmerman is correct in saying it was part of God's plan. There were so many points where that choice was available.
    Zimmerman chose to turn back to his vehicle, Martin Chose to follow. Zimmerman chose to ask a question, Martin Chose to attack. Zimmerman chose to call for help, Martin Chose to continue beating Zimmerman. Finally, Zimmerman chose to preserve his life.
    Had Martin Chosen to turn the other cheek as a good Christian, he would be alive.
    Had Martin Chosen to treat his neighbor as he himself wanted to be treated like a good Christian, he would be alive.
    Had Martin Chosen mercy at the cries of his victim & turned away from violence like a good Christian, he would be alive.
    Had Martin Chosen a different path, he would be alive.
    I am sorry Mrs Martin, your son was not CHOOSING to follow your God. If he had Chosen to do so, he would be alive.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You have no idea if any of those things took place at all, unless you were there observing. Were you? If not, then all you have is Zimmerman's word.

      Not good enough.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Come on, Really. Were you there?

      July 20, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • kooolguy

      exactly. yeah see we need to see another side of this story, the media continuously bashes zimmerman but who really knows what happened

      July 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Peter, Peter...

      I hope you dont think I am defending Zimmerman. But his "choice" has not had a fair trial – and neither you nor I are his Judge...Nor do any of us bloggernauts have all the information. BTW, I enjoyed reading yet another (your) statement of faith; another voice to be believed or not believed. Do you see how this works? Faith is such a common commodity. Have an excellent night everyone. I hope I was humbly provocative. Peter, Peter...

      July 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • HotAirAce

      If it really was some god's plan for Zimmerman to murder Trayvon Martin then it will be some god's plan if/when Zimmerman is convicted. Seems like an inefficient and round about way for an omnipotent god to put one puny human into jail. Believers will excuse this by saying that "god works in mysterious ways" when the more obvious answer is there are no gods.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Observer

      Really???

      – Luke 6:27-31 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”

      Had Zimmerman chosen a different path and followed the Bible, Martin would be alive today.

      Zimmerman was "not CHOOSING to follow your God".

      Guess you missed that part when you picked whatever verses you liked.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • wow

      Do you really know if that happened? So if someone killed you tomorrow and the person who killed you said it was a part of God's plan because he made the choice to take your life, is that justifiable? In my opinion absolutely not.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  10. Peter, Peter...

    I love this. God forbid any of us are found "guilty" without a trial before our peers sifting through all the objective evidence. If that's what you all want then feel free to move to Afghanistan or better yet, Cuba (It's closer). By the way, when I say "God forbid" I do mean the Sovereign God of the Bible. You all know that #1 selling Book that is used to swear in our Elected Officials, like Judges. The same Book that defendants (like, "God forbid", one of you may be some day) and witnesses in our American Courts have to "swear on" before they testify. A bit ironic when I hear people make "statements of faith" regarding this Book that most have not read. Many I know are, by BLIND FAITH, simply passing on words and opinions they've heard from others. Someone herein mentioned "blind faith": When was the last time you took a prescription filled by some guy (or gal) in a white coat behind a counter that you knew nothing about. Think how often in a day you make decisons based solely on "faith"...you may be surprised and you may become a believer in Jesus and His purchased forgiveness yet. And as far as "free will" goes, no one chooses out of thin air without a prior influence, whether or not that influence can be objectively identified. But we are free to choose according to whatever our heart desires – the problem is our "heart" is fallen and needs to be "born again" (as that "good moral teacher", Jesus, taught). Lastly, I am not a Roman Catholic but I do know enough church history to get me in trouble: St Augustine was arguably one of the greatest theologian this world has seen ("Catholic" when "Catholic" did not mean "Roman" Catholic, but Catholic nonetheless). He was the loudest proponent for the Biblical teaching of God's Sovereignty and man's "will" being in such bondage that only this Sovereign God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob could set man free, which He did at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Believe it or "Believe" it not – but remember, to believe or not to believe requires "faith" – IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE VOICE YOU ARE BELIEVING-?

    July 20, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  11. Nietodarwin

    It doesn't matter what silly people who believe in an imaginary friend who lives in the sky, ( and take money from other people silly enough to be them) say. This is for a judge and a jury.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • austina

      Exactly...let us all hope, not pray, that regardless of what side we reside, receives the better judgement in court. I'm almost tempted to take a 2 week vacation so that I can catch the most important aspects of the court proceedings on this case.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  12. Get over it

    People die. Quit mourning over one person who chose his death by doing drugs. You can call it fate that he was already doing something bad. A case like this has probably happened before but is unknown. Quit crying over a single man instead of singling out the rest. Just because you have your feelings. Get over it.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How do you figure he "chose his death by doing drugs"?

      Why are you even on here if it's just to tell everyone else to get off here?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm a dumb troll.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What's the matter, little boy? Balls in a vice?

      July 20, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What's the matter, little boy? Balls in a vise?

      July 20, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  13. Edwards

    I do not know what God this man serves but something is wrong with him. I do not care what he says or do, when the police tells you leave something alone – leave it alone. He deserves anything he gets because he caused all this trouble on his own. Everyday he makes life harder on himself by his reactions. If he would have did what he was told Trayvon would still be alive and his parents would not be suffering. This man is guilty by having no respect for the law or life.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Cosmo

      He didnt disobey the 911 operator. And its not against the law to follow someone anyway.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are you kidding, Cosmo? Next time some creep follows your wife, see how you feel about that.

      Can you tell me anything Martin was doing when Zimmerman decided to follow him? Was he breaking and entering? Peeping? Carjacking?

      What reason did Zimmerman have to approach him at all?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I am a dumb troll.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • austina

      Exactly...he needs to prepare himself for possibly spending quite a few years away from his family. I have no sympathy for him. My compassion is with Zimmerman's family and Trayvon's. They were both robbed of a life.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  14. Sleepy

    The voice from mortal combat is not a real God.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  15. GAW

    Zimmerman is no theologian. He just brought the 'God' factor into play on a whim and made this up as he went along. Many Americans do this everyday as they try to justify their good and evil deeds by pinning it on God often as a means of leaving their actions and motives to be unquestioned.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  16. Cosmo

    Hes sure screwing himself by doing these interviews. Its to easy to say something way off track. Then it brings up another bunch of questions. To demand security for a month was stupid. Just give them a price and that's it. His attorney is a moron. I cant believe hes even letting him do it. Hes already said some stupid things that's going to cost him in court.Doing the web site begging for money thing is also stupid. Florida is laughing at him now. hes sending himself right to prison. What a moron..

    July 19, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  17. Mirosal

    will this post? testing 123

    July 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  18. nokat

    George Zimmerman was instantly noosed by by prosecutor Angela Corey AND Obama, claiming if he had a son he would look like Trayvon Martin. That tells me these two don't care to let the world know they're not only prejudice but totally disregard state laws.

    Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, prohibits prosecutors from charging people with murder or manslaughter if they kill someone else in certain self-defense situations.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  19. laurene

    If Zimmerman lost a loved one in the same manner, I wonder if he would sum it up to gods will. This is a very sick individuel. If I had to seriously harm a person in selfdefence, I would never forgive myself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In his case, he runs after a young man and shoots him and then blames it on the dead victim and God. He has no soul. Doesn't take responsablity for any of his own actions. He says he's sorry that Trayvon made him do it. How sick is that??!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Cosmo

      he didnt run after anyone dig bat.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What did Martin do to give Zimmerman any reason to follow him? What crime was he committing, Cosmo?

      July 20, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  20. Don

    Wow, his lawyer is not very good. First, he hides money, and now he says that it was god's plan, and he shows no remorse. That will be used against him in court for sure. What a dumb thing to say. In fact, he should not be saying anything, and his lawyer does not seem to have a grip on this dummy. This will be an open and shut case. First, he was told to stop following the kid by the police, and ignored that. If someone was following me and confronted me, I would fight for my life too. Either way, Zimmerman will be a marked man in jail or on the streets.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • laurene

      I 100% agree with you. He does think he is above the law and mankind. Surprise to him because he is a marked man, one way or another.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • bro please

      Its strange..usually atheists think they are above mankind because of logic and reason.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Mirosal

      we are not above mankind. But, there is NO "god" above us calling the shots.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • bro please

      Right.But boasting about how "logical" you are isn't?

      Grow up.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Dullard. Nobody is "boasting" except for you.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Cosmo

      You need to listen again he didnt disobey 911 and its not against the law to follow someone.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Neither is walking through a neighborhood, Cosmo. Zimmerman was told not to continue to follow Martin. Can you tell me anything Martin did that was against the law that would have given Zimmerman a reason to follow him? Anything at all? Yeah, I didn't think so.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Come on, Cosmo. You've posted the same crap twice. When are you going to provide facts?

      July 20, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Cosmo

      You morons need to educate yourselfs...about the law.. And Z did not continue to follow him after he was told we dont need you to do that. He said OK.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:35 am |
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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.