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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. iTryBe

    "I feel it was all God's plan and for me to second guess it or judge it..." REALLY?!%?

    II'm a Christian, and I am disgusted by Zimmerman

    July 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      Why "disgusted?" Was it his duty to allow his brains to be bashed in? Or are you disgusted because he attributes worldly things to the will of god as all Christians often do?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • sam

      Zimmerman only seems to be christian when it's convenient.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      I've never met a reigious person who was religious when it was inconvenient to be religious. It is the nature of religious people that they operate in two realms of thought. That which they claim to value, and that which they really do value.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  2. 007isalive

    If anyone wants to make God laugh, tell Him Zimmerman's plan.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  3. Unit34AHunter

    Zimmerman is in a no-win situation here and should not give interviews. If he does not apologize, the Lynch Mob will pronounce him a sociopath. If he does, he will be pronounced a sociopath with a "guilt complex." The plain fact is that if anyone believes that God exists and sets certain pathways in action, then what he said makes tons of sense. On the other hand, the very notion that God exists and gives a toot about humanity is rather stupid to begin with.

    At the end of the day, it was a confrontation between an aggressive ghetto-rat hoodlum-in-training versus a frustrated neighborhood watchman who was tired of seeing the criminals escape. When Martin assaulted Zimmerman, the tipping point was reached that justified shooting Martin.

    Zimmerman would be perhaps better justified in praying that Martin's family gets a clue and discovers some remorse for raising a hoodlum. But they won't. In the end, the prosecution is motivated by politics, and Martin's family by greed.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • J.W

      I hope Zimmerman's parents are remorseful for raising a murderer.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      It's not "murder" until there is a conviction. Until then, it's "homicide" which is inclusive of the possibility of "not guilty" by reason of legal self-defense. If someone assaulted me, I'd shoot 'em too. No reasonable person has to fear being shot if they don't commit assault.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • sam

      He wasn't smart enough to stay in the car like the cops told him. Zimmerman is a wannabe cop, with anger issues, so I don't give a rat's ass whether the kid was a 'hoodlum in training' or not (which you wouldn't trot out if he'd been white). Dipshit neighborhood watch with a gun? Man. What a great idea.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Veritas

      You're right Zimmerman is a sociopath. As you say either way you cut it he is.

      So someone is "an aggressive ghetto-rat hoodlum-in-training" for going out to buy skittles and a soda or was it wearing a hoodie?
      "When Martin assaulted Zimmerman ..." do you think it is normal behaviour to follow someone carrying a gun having been told not to? Zimmerman was looking for a confrontation and I hope he gets jail time.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  4. ScottCA

    "while walking back to his father's girlfriend's house "
    Nice disfunctional family dynamic they have there. What ever happened to a Mother and Father loving eachother? Has every American forgotten how to love?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  5. :)

    ATHEISTS = DEVIL

    July 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Always_Amused

      Enjoying your pathetic delusions?...

      July 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Trolling for some atheist counter arguements?
      Your fear of Hades is noted, as the same irrational fear that the ancient greeks held.
      A trained psychologist can help you over come your phobia regarding mythological red men with horns.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • sam

      Change that to 'devil's food cake' and maybe I'll listen.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  6. Brutus II

    Why is this black girl attacking this white girl?

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC5_-D7G4sI&w=640&h=360]

    July 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Point well made.
      She should have been banned from the sport after such barbarous behaviour on the feild. European football is a gentlemans sport, there is no such room for behavior such as that on the feild. It should not be tolerated in the stands either.

      I am curious to view data regarding gentic predisposition for violence amongst ethnic groups. There may turn out to be no significant difference, but the study is still an area of study that I would be interested in seeing data for.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      That sort of thing happens all the time in European pro-soccer. She was red-carded which is the correct outcome.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • ScottCA

      What European soccer are you watching? That does not happen all the time like that, not even in men's soccer. And most definitely it does not occur often in Womens soccer.
      This level of violent behavior is shocking in any grown adults behaviour let alone a child or a little girl. She should have been banned from the community sport entirely.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • sam

      Unit seems to be well versed on just about everything.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      Here's a sample of Europe's "best"

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km8FEOISmXg&w=640&h=360]

      July 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      I am particularly impressed by the gratuitous kick to the back of a down player's head at about 1:33. That's assault.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  7. NARussell

    The theological implications of our language and use of God are enormous, as this article implicitly suggests. We tend to "throw" God around to fit our whims and sins, which is borderline blasphemy (strong word use by choice). Fred Phelps does it constantly, and now Zimmerman has done it, and I'm quite sure that I've done it, too. This misuse, in my opinion, is what led Nietzsche to provocatively claim that "God is dead." We should repent, reconsider, and think a second time before glibly ascribing things to God and God's (supposed) will.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  8. Seriously?

    I mean, do "theologians" really need to weigh in on this? Does anyone? By Zimmerman's logic, the Holocaust, Chattel Slavery, South African Apartheid, Pol Pot's genocide, and nuclear bombs are all just swell because they're part of "god's plan." What absolute nonsense. Not a single religious person or religious leader should even bother discussing this nutjob's religious "beliefs." Hey, I have an idea, Zimmerman! Let's give you the chair and if you die, that's just god's will, right?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  9. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Few 100% true Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things:

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you angry, stupid, brainwashed, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here on CNN blogs are posted by closet atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists are misguided and causes problem in our religious & public society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler (denied his faith later), Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate & Communist countries = Atheism!
    **Only 2-3% of the U.S. are atheists/agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**

    † † Our Prayers goes to atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator † †

    PS! the USA is a † nation and will always be. You know it's true and stop being ignorant and arrogant!!
    (Take a look at our federal/state holidays, 99% of our presidents, blue laws in parts of the nation, the majority of people, some laws, calendar, culture, etc.)
    http://rightremedy.org/tracts/7

    July 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Seriously?

      Is this a joke??

      July 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Seriously?

      P.S. – If the US were a "christian" nation, it probably wouldn't have been founded by genocide and built by slaves. Nor would it kill a single infant for wealth. But hey, that's just Christ's opinion – what does he matter?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • solex

      Atheists are Satanic – um Satan is a diety so we do not believe he exists.

      Athiesm is not a religion. We do not pray. We also do not require an explanation for the universe. It is a closed system that is driven by nature and nothing else.

      Religion is just man being afraid of death and wanting to live forever.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Wow.

      This was, without question, the single dumbest most innaccurate thing I've ever read on the internet.

      That's putting this post in an elite status.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • ?????

      Not sure if trolling
      or really a crazy Westway Baptist.........

      July 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • J

      Hey, if droning on and on nonsensically makes you feel better about worshiping some made up sky fairy, more power to you.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • sam

      Wow, look. An attention whore. That never happens around here...

      July 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Elena

      That's hilarious dude! Very funny!!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Mr. !!!!!!!!etc or Mr. Reason, or whoever you are today. Let me respond to your gratuitous cut and paste with my own.

      You say: "PS! the USA is a † nation ... (Take a look at our federal/state holidays, 99% of our presidents, blue laws in parts of the nation, the majority of people, some laws, calendar, culture, etc.)

      The USA is a + (size) nation. Yes, obesity is a big problem.

      Federal holidays, OK, which of these are Xtian?
      New Year's Day .................. nope
      Martin Luther King Jr. Day ... nope
      Presidents' Day .................... nope
      Memorial Day ....................... nope
      Columbus Day ..................... nope
      Veterans' Day ..................... nope
      Independence Day .............. nope
      Labor Day ............................ nope
      Thanksgiving ........................ no, not even this one*
      Christmas Day ...................... bing! bing! One out of 10! That proves it for sure!

      * Do you go to church on Thanksgiving, or do you eat turkey and watch football?

      The calendar, OK, which months are Xtian?
      January ..... nope (Januarius, Roman)
      February .... nope (Februus, Roman)
      March ......... nope (Mars, Roman)
      April ............ nope (aperire, Latin to open)
      May ............ nope (Maiesta, Roman)
      June ............ nope (Juno, Roman)
      July ............. nope (Julius Caesar, Roman)
      August ........ nope (Caesar Augustus, Roman)
      September ... nope (seven)
      October ....... nope (eight)
      November .... nope (nine)
      December .... nope (ten)

      OK, which days of the week are Xtian:
      Sunday ........ nope (Roman Sun day, get it?)
      Monday ........ nope (Norse, Moon day)
      Tuesday ....... nope (Norse, Tiu's day – son of Odin)
      Wednesday .. nope (Norse, Odin's day)
      Thursday ...... nope (Norse, Thor's day – yes the hammer guy from the Avengers)
      Friday ........... nope (Norse, Friya/Frigg's day – godess of love)
      Saturday ...... nope (Roman, Saturn's day)

      Gosh the calendar has 19 out of 19 named for PAGANS whooooo.

      Laws. How many laws are Xtian? Rather let me turn the question around. The Ten Commandments are quite famous. Besides kill, steal and lie, how many of these are currently law in the US?

      No other gods ........ nope (money perhaps is a required god)
      No graven idols ...... nope
      Name in vain ........... nope
      Holy Sabbath .......... nope (a holy day of spending money)
      Honor Mom & Dad ... nope (Thou shalt send thy mother a Hallmark card and flowers on Mom's day? Err, no!)
      Adultery .................. nope
      Coveting .................. nope (Isn't coveting, aka keeping up with the Joneses, good for the economy?)

      So ... 3 out of 10? I think people could have come up with don't kill, steal or lie without stone tablets and a burning bush. (Actually, I think they did!)

      As for blue laws, well ya' got me there. They are the result of religious nutters interfering with my life. Please keep your religion to yourselves.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Loki

      I am p!ssed off no one named a day after me, this is BS

      July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • ScottCA

      That post had to be satire because every so called fact was so blattantly wrong and quite the opposite.

      I will simply start by pointing out that A-theism means Non-Theism, that means to not believe in any theology, meaning that one is not following a religious belief in any deity. By the word atheism very definition it is not a religion.

      This should suffice to disprove all the points that were built upon that first mistake in logic.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      **Only 2-3% of the U.S. are atheists/agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**

      Your numbers are slightly off, but not by much:

      The Pew Forum pressents the following data:
      Christian .................................. 78.4%
      – Evangelical Protestant ........... 26.3%
      – Catholic .................................. 23.8%
      – Mainstream Protestant ........... 18.1%
      – Historically Black Protestant ... 6.9%
      Other Religions ........................... 4.7%
      Unaffiliated ............................... 16.1%
      – Nothing in particular ............... 12.1%
      – Atheist .................................... 1.6%
      – Agnostic ................................. 2.4%

      Athesism is growing in Millenials.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • 7211

      Hysterical! Thanks, I really needed to laugh this afternoon. You were posting a joke, right?

      July 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  10. yogolait

    To Martin's parents...

    So have you turned your other cheek like YOUR God has told you to? or is that another part of divinity YOU tend to not believe?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • sam

      And your point is...?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Benji

    This guy has some nerve bringing up God when he is a murdering racist liar.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • ME II

      Religion and racism have been collaborators since religion started.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      According to the FBI, he is not racist. And it is yet to be determined if he is a murderer.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Lycidas

      No..racism and religion have not been anything together. Maybe one could make an argument for the last few centuries here in America but even that is a thin argument.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  12. Dontbow

    I don't know about God's plan but it is good to get rid of thugs who because you are just following them to make sure they are not up to something bad, turn on you to beat the living crap out of you and then you shoot them in self defense. Well done Zimmer because you do have the right to do both!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Mik

      I would like to follow you to see if you're "up to no good"...let see how you idiotic logic works then!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • sam

      Hilarious, idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Dontbow

      If you are really too stupid to understand the law then you should follow yourself and shoot yourself. do us all a big favor.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • gordon

      The only thug was Zimmerman

      July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  13. tony

    There are the same choices in no plan. But even if there was A plan, condoms and murders due to choices of others, rapidly and significantly alter the population of the survivors in the following generations.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  14. Tekpilot

    It floors me to think anyone could know Gods will beyond the law and the gospel.
    How could you know? do not even the angles of darkness dress in those of the light?
    It is often said, if you want to make God Smile, tell him your plans.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  15. Reason

    FVCK ALL ATHEISTS!!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Scott

      I doubt you can get it up.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • rufus

      What a kind, Christian sentiment.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • zod

      syphilitic m0ron

      July 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • sam

      Not sure how, exactly, you would 'fvck' anyone. However, fucking is a whole different matter. I doubt you have adequate equipment for it.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • J

      Ironic that your username is "Reason", because there's nothing reasonable about worshiping some Bronze Age fictional deity. But hey, I expect that kind of nonsense from moronic theists like yourself.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  16. mike

    Prayer – the last refuge of a scoundrel

    July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  17. Will

    Thou Shalt NOT Kill... That's God's Plan.....

    July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Scott

      Well said sir.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • ME II

      ... or, at least it was, until Noah's time.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • yogolait

      its thy shall not murder...

      July 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  18. Greenspam

    It was God's plan that Obama was elected as the President.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • mike

      Many mainstream religions believe our leaders are appointed by God, so this isn't too far from the truth.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Dontbow

      If it was then it is also God's plan to destroy the economy. lol

      July 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  19. Scott

    I would say someone is feeling a tad bit guilty.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  20. AnneSD

    If I were a defense attorney, I would want to run far and fast from Zimmerman. The first thing his attorney should have (and probably did) tell him is to keep his mouth shut. He is beyond clueless.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
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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.