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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. Jesus was a space alien

    God may work in mysterious ways, however, he does not tell people to go out and kill people. That is your delusions tallking.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • ArthurP

      "And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, 'Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.'" (Numbers 25:3-4)

      July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • ArthurP

      "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (I Samuel 15:2-3)

      July 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  2. Jambobadoodybaps

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

    July 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Paul

      Hey, look, a fight between black people. That must mean ALL black people are fighting right now. Look out for black people!!!! No videos of white people fighting on the interwebs..... no siree..... only black people. Black people are all bad, white people are all good. Do I have you right?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  3. WDinDallas

    Well, this one got the Liberals, racist and atheist all in one article.

    Good interview....he should be free soon. They cannot prove 2nd degree or even manslaughter.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Tammi

      WD...again I ask...what is your definition of FREE? George Zimmerman will never be FREE...in or out of prison. We can continue to fight about God or no God, sin, evil, God's plan etc. or we can face reality...Zimmer WILL receive justice...in or out of prison...He will never be FREE!

      July 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  4. Mithead

    I really wish there was a fairytale figure that would take you people away soon.....

    July 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  5. CNNuthin

    "...there is no way that my God would have wanted George Zimmerman to kill my teenage son," Tracy Martin
    Wait, so since something bad happened to your son, you doubt that your God is the only God? Nice work there lady. Sorry, bad things happen and if you choose to worship God, you have to accept your own beliefs. Sorry, but if you believe in God, you have to believe that God wanted your son dead.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • RG9

      Tracy would be his father. Good try, though.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • luvtucson

      The way you can spin facts just might land you a job at FIx News....oops sorry Fruedian slip. 😉

      July 20, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • luvtucson

      My reply was directed at CNNuthin. No, God did not choose to have TM die....Zimmerman did that all by himself.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  6. Truth

    Well, if there was a God, he most certainly would not want human beings to fall prey to worthless naggers like StayGone. Zimmerman is a hero.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Paul

      Hey, Truth, go off yourself. America doesn't need people like you lowering the collective IQ.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  7. D

    "God's plan" is the biggest, cheapest cop-out under the sun. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?? What a d'bag.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  8. db

    so if someone whacks Zimmerman, is that also "God,s plan"???

    July 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  9. think

    Is Mr. Zimmerman trying a religious insanity defense?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  10. sandpen4

    Those who do not believe that God decrees EVERYTHING are BELIEVERS in vain. Why then is the statement "God's will be done," used by believers ALL THE TIME? BELIEVERS love to claim God only when it is convenient to them. But the FACT remains that GOD decrees EVERYTHING. What occured between Zimmerman and Martin was indeed DECREED BY GOD.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Mythical Sky Fairy

      Boom Shaka Laka! I decree you be gone!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • armando

      you gotta be kidding me !!? GOD if he exists gives us what is called "free will" IDIOT

      July 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  11. phoodphite2

    I smell a bigot hiding in a sheep's clothing.. oh wait, that's almost the definition of a republican – which is a greedy bigot hiding in a sheep's clothing

    July 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  12. Harald

    Zimmerman is just one more example that intelligence is indirectly proportional to faith.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • JonnyJive5

      You mean *inversely. And I agree.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • norm

      I think you mean inversely proportional.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Name*radio102

      while God did give each of us free will, we are also blessed with a God~given concience. the difference between good and bad is whether we exercise it or not

      July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  13. ArthurP

    No one can really know for sure if this was in fact God's because and I quote "God works in mysterious ways".

    Besides there is plenty of precedent for this as God has already had man kill millions in his name not to mention all the killing God did himself.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • tom

      ArthurP use of brain permitted.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  14. Disanitnodicos

    What is wrong with George Zimmerman? Doesn't he know that getting out of your vehicle is just asking for a black person to attack you? He should have know better.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  15. james

    If he escapes these charges..he has only one choice...move to Europe or something. You will never be safe here in the USA.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • honeypot

      he is a paid assassin used by our own to stir up the racial pot.

      In God We Trust, let's not forget this, whatever God you got works

      July 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Truth

      These naggers won't mess with him when he is cleared of all charges. Just look at what happened to the last worthless nagger that tried! 🙂

      July 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • MakeThemEatCake

      I wonder how long Mr. Zimmerman had the military style haircut? Did he go with that style to make him more frightening to strangers? Notice now that he has dialed back the scare image and is going with a clean cut image to impress (con) the court and possible jury members. Sort of like what Tex Watson did during his trial for the Tate-La Bianca murders. Manson family member, hip deep in the '60s counter culture (long, scraggly hair, unkept beard, raggy clothes, etc.). But in court, clean clothes, close shave, etc. in an attempt to sway the jury into thinking he was a nice guy. So which is the real Zimmerman? the self proclaimed protector of his neighborhood. Armed and unwilling to back down from anything. Or the murder suspect. Soft spoken, prim and proper, apologizing for the end result but claiming he was helping god work out the details of "his" plan. How far will one of them god fearing, simple folk go in just accepting god's plan? Maybe, just maybe, he was really fulfilling satan's plan. After all, if you buy into christian beliefs, satan's temptations are all around us. And the temptation to shoot somebody was just too strong to resist. god's plan was to see if that night he could say not to satan. And he failed.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  16. ChildofLight

    Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. Doom to those who call evil good and good evil, who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who make bitterness sweet and sweetness bitter. A good person produces good from the good treasury of the inner self, while an evil person produces evil from the evil treasury of the inner self. The inner self overflows with words that are spoken. It is better to suffer for doing good (if this could possibly be God’s will) than for doing evil.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Gandalf

      I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. Go back to the shadow. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun! You shall not pass!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Andrew

      You have clearly lost your mind.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Scott

      “Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant”

      Seems to me televangelists and mega church pastors are a grotesque mockery of Jesus’s teachings. Yet they harvest a bumper crop of money

      July 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Marc

      Thanks, Gandalf. For a second there I thought the Child-of-light was going to pass.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • norm

      @ChildofLight I think the light has gone out!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  17. Sandusky

    Zimmerman sounds like a moron. Obviously the answer to would you have done anything different is to not get out of the car and stalk the child.

    But he can't say that or he'll give prosecutors evidence.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  18. Roselynn

    Can't his attorney tell him to shut his mouth!!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Nash

      May be that was God's Plan too..!!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  19. bigsnow81

    "Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one" -The Rum Diaries

    July 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  20. Satan

    Mr. Zimmerman, you don't speak for God. You haven't the least idea of what God's plan is. If you go to prison and get boar-hogged by a bunch of the inmates, guess that's "God's plan," too, right? It wasn't God's plan that got that kid killed, it was yours. Be a man and be responsible for your own actions, you sorry excuse for a human being.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • ed houston

      well said, Satan

      July 19, 2012 at 5:11 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.