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July 25th, 2012
11:25 AM ET

Driven by personal tragedy, man builds crosses for Aurora victims, thousands of others

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - In a vacant lot across from the site of last week’s movie theater shooting, 12 white crosses stand solemnly, their arms covered in messages of hope and the ground around them full of flowers.

For the loved ones of the 12 killed in the Aurora, Colorado, theater, the crosses have become a focal point of remembrance, a place to memorialize victims and pray for their families and friends. But for the man who built the white crosses, each just over 3 feet tall, the crosses are something more: symbols of his own survival since tragedy struck his family 16 years ago.

Greg Zanis, an electrician from Aurora, Illinois, said he has built 13,000 crosses in that time, each a memorial for a victim of an American tragedy.

He traveled to Tucson, Arizona, after the 2011 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, ventured to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts after John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a 1999 plane crash there and went to Colorado after the Columbine school shooting that same year.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Zanis, a former carpenter, usually spends four hours each Sunday building crosses and said he “can do them blindfolded.” Though he varies the cross design based on available lumber, he has a few basic styles, including a flat cross that can be attached to walls or fences and another one that can be staked into the ground at rural sites.

After the Aurora shooting, Zanis got calls from family members of Columbine victims who wanted to see how he was doing and thank him again for the crosses he built for them. It is those kinds of connections, Zanis said, that made him travel to Aurora last weekend.

“It is overwhelming to think about all the crosses I have put up,” Zanis said. “I am doing it for the victims, but this is a public grieving. This allows the public a place to go to and have that big cry.”

Readers weigh in: Where was God in Aurora?

Zanis’ voice cracked as he told CNN in a phone interview the stories of victims’ families he met in Aurora and described praying with the city’s mayor, Steve Hogan.

“I am having a hard time because I heard so many of these stories in person,” Zanis said from Illinois, where he returned after spending a few hours in Colorado over the weekend.

Zanis said he began building crosses in 1996 after discovering his father-in-law dead from a gunshot wound to his head. Zanis described the scene in his father-in-law’s office, where he found the body, as “gruesome” and difficult to discuss. The killer was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Zanis attended support group meetings to deal with the grief but said that none of them helped much. In an effort to cope, the lifelong Christian built a white cross and displayed it at his home as a permanent memorial to his father-in-law.

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Later that same year, a young boy was gunned down in Zanis' town. The victim’s mother asked Zanis to build her a white cross as a way for her to remember her son. He obliged and has been building crosses ever since.

After a local newspaper quoted Zanis saying he’d build a cross for anyone grieving from loss, he began getting weekly calls from around Illinois. Now he receives around three calls a day from people all over the country asking for crosses, many of them families with victims of gun violence.

But Zanis said he believes that shooting deaths are “not about the gun” - he carries one with him at times. “I don’t think I am going to go murder somebody,” he said. “We need to be able to defend ourselves.”

Zanis doesn’t charge for the crosses and said he doesn’t accept donations for them. When he has the opportunity to deliver the crosses, he said he looks for a chance to talk and pray with families.

“When I talk to a family member, I talk to them differently than other people would - I share my loss and that just opens them up to sharing their loss,” Zanis said. “This is a perfect thing for me to do.”

And for those who want to stay in touch, he said he is happy to be someone who will listen.

“I tell them that I am going to answer the phone even at night. I am going to be there for you, and while I won’t always have the best answer for you, I will tell you that you are going to see them again in heaven,” Zanis said. “It isn’t final yet, I will say, and people relate to that.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Colorado • Violence

soundoff (752 Responses)
  1. junior

    Sad to see an article of compassion is dismantled and eclipsed by nihilism and various other ideologies of pessimism.

    Fides et Ratio

    July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Atheist

      articles of compassion will do the dead no good. Sad to see my fellow countrymen being delusionally optimistic.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Revelation 2:16-17

      16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
      17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. 

      Amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Atheist

      more fear and hocus-pokus. You belong in 16th century Spain lol

      July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Nihilism does not equate to atheism. People who don't believe in Santa are not nihilists, same for any deity. Get a dictionary.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Atheist, fear means the beginning of learning wisdom.

      Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 

      John 14:6

      Amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And Spock said "Logic is the beginning of widsom." Why should I take either one seriously?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • junior

      Articles of compassion for you may not do the dead any good. My faith and beliefs differ from you there. But it should help you and I as well. Helps us gauge our heart. Do we value humanity? What are we doing to better this world? Is charity obsolete? Do we think we are superior to others? Where is our humility? What would I do if a situation similar to this arises?

      July 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  2. Atheist

    CNN should discuss how to prevent things like this from happening. What about our society lends itself to this kind of depravity? There are deeper problems here and crosses unfortunately are too simplistic an answer. It's like giving a widow flowers and feeling like you did your part. It's a facade and it's dishonest. There are no simple Answers. If god did exist as a good being it wouldn't let things like this happen. Stop lying to yourselves to feel better. Stop being controlled.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      God's wrath came upon us due to the unrighteousness of unbelievers who believe satan's lies. We have to pay for your sinful nature.

      Romans 1:17-32

      Read it so we don't always have to get over it because of the likes of you.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Atheist

      So answer this for me heaven sent, is your religion about tolerance like some here have said or is it about being punished by the "good" god for having "bad" ideas (by your definition) from the devil (also by your definition). The reality is that your religion is all about control through fear.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Atheist

      heaven sent, I really want to know. Isn't it true that your whole strategy is to frighten people into behaving how you want and thinking and feeling how you want? How can you claim to know that your system of belief is inherently right?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Atheist

      hmm... Total silence whene there isn't a pre-written bible verse to reply with.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Topher

      Atheist

      I'm not sure what tolerance has to do with it other than you are free to believe what you want to believe. But that doesn't make something true or not. You can believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you want to, but if Christianity is true, you will be in big trouble. If you've sinned (and we all have) then we should be afraid of God. He is just and thus MUST punish lawbreakers. But you are missing the point where He will save you ... He has already taken the punishment you deserve so you thus don't have to be punished. He has paid your fine. If you repent and trust in Him you, too, can go to Heaven. So Christianity, as you claim, isn't about control through fear. It is about how wonderfully kind God is to forgive us though we are yet sinners.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      Awww Pascal's Wager once again, how cute. Then again, you forget to account the other 30,000+ denominations of christianity, and then forget about all the other religions out there.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Topher

      hawaiiguest

      NOTHING in my statement has anything to do with Pascal's Wager. You need to go look it up. And what about the other 30,000+ denominations? They'd all agree with what I just said.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Atheist

      topher, if god is just then be must not exist by definition. If god is good and omnipotent then he could no morally have created man the way the religious claim he did. If he created all men he must have known of the evil that would be done by them. Because he chose still to create them he is therefore complicit and actually responsible for the evil they did, just as Oppenheimer knew he was responsible for his creation and it's evil. The idea that god may send some of his creation to hell for their evil is even more of a logical quandry. How evil to create something you know will be destined to an existence of eternal suffering because of your (god's) design flaws. Religion is a bad joke.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      You don't get it do you? You bring up only one particular satire religion, and say that if you're wrong your in big trouble, but do not actually address if you are wrong. What if you are wrong, and the Hindus are right? What if the Greeks were right, or the Norse, Egyptians, or some obscure tribe in Africa or something? Continue on the progression of your "what if you're wrong" thing, and tell me that won't end up at Pascal's Wager.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Topher

      Atheist

      "If he created all men he must have known of the evil that would be done by them."

      Yes, God knew when He created man that man would sin against Him.

      "Because he chose still to create them he is therefore complicit and actually responsible for the evil they did, just as Oppenheimer knew he was responsible for his creation and it's evil."

      Not so. He also gave us free will. We CHOOSE to sin. I can't blame your father if you choose to murder someone. I can only blame you. You chose to commit the crime and only you should be punished for it.

      "The idea that god may send some of his creation to hell for their evil is even more of a logical quandry."

      God is just. If you break a law you must be punished for it. If a judge let's you walk away without punishment, he wouldn't be a good judge.

      "How evil to create something you know will be destined to an existence of eternal suffering because of your (god's) design flaws."

      That same God has made an offer to every person who has ever lived ... repent and trust and you will be saved. He took the punishment every person deserves. How incredibly loving and kind! But He won't force you to receive the gift. And you can't blame Him if you reject it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Topher

      hawaiiguest

      You don't get it do you? You bring up only one particular satire religion, and say that if you're wrong your in big trouble, but do not actually address if you are wrong."

      I'm not afraid of being wrong. More on this in a moment ...

      "What if you are wrong, and the Hindus are right? What if the Greeks were right, or the Norse, Egyptians, or some obscure tribe in Africa or something?"

      If I'm wrong nothing bad is going to happen to me. Hindus believe in reincarnation, so I'd just be born as something else. If atheists are wrong, then nothing will happen to me at all. But if I'm right and you die in your sins, you'll have Hell to pay. I don't want that for you, so that's why I'm talking with you. Consider my motives. I don't want your money and I'm not asking you to attend my church.

      "Continue on the progression of your "what if you're wrong" thing, and tell me that won't end up at Pascal's Wager."

      Pascal's Wager says to believe just in case it's true. The problem is "belief" won't save you. The Bible says even the demons believe ... and they tremble. You must humble yourself, repent of your sins and trust in Christ to save you.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Atheist

      Topher, you are failing to recognize one key point. When god "chose" to give men free choice he knew the outcome of that choice, because of his omnipotence (your religion's classification). He knew that his decision of free choice for men would cause evil, sending those that don't choose the magic get out of jail free card (so-called salvation) to hell. He therefore, by making that choice, knowingly condemned some of those he created to eternal suffering in hell. It is obviously not righteous or just to create something you know beforehand will inevitably end up in hell. Therefore, god is either not just or does not extst.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      You think your religion is the only one with a bad afterlife for not living a certain way?
      Okay, how about this. What if Islam is right? What if the Greeks were right and you're sent to Tartarus for blaspheming against the Olympians and worshipping a false god? Do you even know the afterlives for other religions other than yours and Hindus?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Topher

      Atheist

      By your definition God would only be righteous if He created robots. Of course then you'd complain that we don't have a choice. Again, we all have a free will and you don't have to lie. But I bet you have because we all have. Again, to be just, you must be given what you deserve. Otherwise it wouldn't be just. Sinners have the same options as the rest of us ... choose Heaven or Hell. It comes down to that. Which do you choose?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Topher

      hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      "You think your religion is the only one with a bad afterlife for not living a certain way?"

      I think I see why you object. You think we're saying you have to live a certain way. What we are saying is you CAN'T live a certain way. No amount of good works or things you do will save you. You can't earn your way into Heaven. Only by the grace of God are we saved.

      "Okay, how about this. What if Islam is right?"

      I'm still not scared. Even a Muslim doesn't have assurance he will be allowed into Heaven. It basically comes down to god's whims on that day. He might cast away the Muslim but still let me in. Only Christianity provides an assurance so you can know where you are going when you die.

      "What if the Greeks were right and you're sent to Tartarus for blaspheming against the Olympians and worshipping a false god?"

      Even the Greeks don't believe in that any more, so why should I?

      "Do you even know the afterlives for other religions other than yours and Hindus?"

      You brought up the Hindus. I'm just commenting on what you say so don't get snarky with me when you don't like the answers.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      So it's only valid if people believe in it? Bad logic there.
      Yes I brought up Hindus, but I also brought up Greeks, Norse, and Egyptians, yet you only responded to the Hindu one. Don't misrepresent what I've said so you can gloss over selective responses on your part.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Atheist

      Topher, I agree with you about the robots. Where we disagree is that conclusion leads me to realize the non-existence of god since the existence of a good omnipotent god that created us in his image is an obvious logical fallacy; you, on the other-hand prefer to take that information and suspend your rational abilities to allow yourself to continue to believe such a paradox. You are unable to accept a universe not created and regulated by god because those ideas have informed your imagination for most of your life... The trouble is you are living in that universe, so wrap your mind around it and deal with it.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • QS

      "You can believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you want to, but if Christianity is true, you will be in big trouble."

      Yep, that would be Pascal's Wager – the carrot and the stick.

      i.e. – you should believe what I tell you to just in case I'm right, because if I am and you don't believe what I tell you to, you'll suffer for it (the stick). But if you do believe what I tell you to and I'm right, you'll be fine (the carrot).

      July 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Topher

      Atheist

      You are right in that we don't see eye to eye. I don't see it as a logical fallicy at all. It makes perfect sense to me. He might have made people He knew would sin, but He also set up a way to be forgiven. He is glorified either way ... because He is just to give people what they deserve and also when He saves others.

      You are also right that I can't accept a universe not created by God. The simple fact we are hear requires too much faith that it was all an accident. But it hasn't been most of my life. I've only fairly recently become born again. I didn't grow up in the church and spent many years fighting against Christianity.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Topher

      QS

      No. Of course I'd like you to believe what I am saying because it's the truth. But you should take anything I say with a grain of salt and look into the Bible and see if what I'm saying is correct. Read the Bible. Read other books. Pray on it. Do whatever you need to. But you won't be sent to Hell for not believing me, so it's NOT Pascal's Wager. You'll be sent to Hell if you die in your sins without a Savior. Christianity is true whether you believe in it or not, so it's your choice. But if you don't have a Savior to pay for your transgressions you WILL be in big trouble.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Atheist

      Enjoy your delusion topher 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      What a way to wash your hands of the logic of "believe what I do or burn forever". Perhaps you could demonstrate what you believe is true?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • QS

      "Christianity is true whether you believe in it or not, so it's your choice."

      LMAO! And people wonder why I'm anti-religion!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Topher,
      Please explain how you know truth when you see it .

      July 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @BUCKY

      Hey dude... just wanted to let you know that i sent you an email at the address you provided.

      Check it out and get back to me, so I know you received it.

      Carry on !

      Peace...

      July 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Atheist, you asked quit a few questions yesterday, I only read them this morning.

      As for tolerance, there isn't a Christian alive that has read Jesus' truth that tolerates nonbelievers bad behaviors. Jesus teaches us to be patient with new students of His truth, but, never tells us to tolerate evil.

      Make no mistake, not believing and knowing His truth puts you in the evil category.

      You're wrong if you believe I'm on this site to frighten you. I post to ensure Jesus truth is read. If you don't want to believe, that's your free will. A wasted decision, but, it's the decision you chose.

      As, for being smug that I had total silence to your posts. As I stated, I didn't read your questions until this morning.

      To answer your question to Topher. You chose not read or comprehend Jesus' truth. He didn't already designate it to specific people. He already knew that arrogant people will refuse to follow His truth. Since you chose not to follow Him, He abides in your wishes.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  3. doctore0

    It is sad to see people advertize their religion every time tragedy happens.
    Obviously a god who allows such horrors to happen is not worth worshiping.. does not exist

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Unknown

      Who did the horror?

      Oh wait..atheists ignore that part which is important.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Unknown: A christian did this! However, that has nothing to do with it in the end...the man who did this didn't care who it was he killed or what they believed in, he is a deranged individual.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      listen up zero, God's wrath will always come upon us because of you and your kinds unbeliefs and unrighteousness.

      Romans 1:17-32

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Unknown

      A human did it..so much for atheism making you "logical".

      Just another pathetic lie.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • jefe

      HeavenSent, you need to read Romans 2:1,

      Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.

      Romans 1:17-32 describes all our condition, the condition of the unrighteous, which includes every single man or woman who ever lived, save Christ.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      jefe, Judging Is Believing. Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? (Luke 12:57)

      What is right? The statutes of the Lord are right (Psalm 19:8).

      False Christians (and others) often tell us it is not right to judge.

      Some fools hypocritically condemn us for judging (Luke 6:37), and they all hypocritically judge that we judge.

      Jesus said,

      Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

      Jesus also said,

      Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. (Luke 6:37)

      God said,

      With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. (Psalm 119:13)

      Everyone judges and makes judgments concerning their surroundings and those around them.

      Those with the mind of Christ judge according to Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).

      Those with a mind of their own (Isaiah 65:2) judge according to their own and are among those described in Isaiah 5:20-21.

      Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

      Amen.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      jefe, read Jesus truth how He had it scribed, not how you want Him to have scribed it. Romans 1:17-32 describes the unrighteous and why they refuse to overcome. His sheep hear His voice. Who's voice you are hearing is anyone's quess.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Get Real

      HeavenSent,

      What is your proof that Jesus (or any other alleged supernatural being) "had it scribed"?

      July 26, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Tony

      Because he read it in a book that MAN wrote. I have yet to come across a Christian that can provide ANY evidence of their claims outside of the bible. The writings of many people from that time period survive to this day yet NONE of them mention either Jesus Christ nor any of the "miracles" he is alleged to have committed, despite the fact that most, if not all, of them would have been "front page news".

      July 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  4. ArthurP

    Wayfaring Stranger

    Atheist won't be happy until all traces of christianity are hidden or destroyed. UNAMERICAN!!!
    ====================
    So I guess these Founding Fathers were UNAMERICAN then:

    1. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas Jefferson

    2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in
    the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Thomas Jefferson

    3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism's that three are
    one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

    4. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin
    will be cla.ssed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson

    5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and
    the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson

    6. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."- Ben Franklin .

    7. "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin

    8. "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."- Ben Franklin

    9. "In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it."- Ben Franklin

    10. "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it"- John Adams

    11. "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its
    foundation.'- Thomas Paine

    12. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."- Thomas Paine

    13. "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine

    14. "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of
    God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."- Thomas Paine

    15. "All national inst.itutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine

    16. "It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.”- Thomas Paine

    17. "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring
    from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- George Washington

    18. "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."- Abraham Lincoln

    19. "It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespa.sses on its legal rights by others."- James Madison

    20. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."- James Madison

    21. History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the
    lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. – Thomas Jefferson

    July 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      hey...stop using reality to show up the believers...thats not fair....you are only allowed to use 2000 year old do c uments and interpret them in a manner that bolsters your argument.
      Using reality just makes the playing feild too uneven.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  5. Shayna

    Gabrielle Gifford is Jewish – I'm guessing he didn't build her a Star of David.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Of course not. What he is doing is saving her soul by using the symbol of the cross to baptize her posthumously as a Christian.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • A

      ArthurP- Gabby Giffords is still alive, please fact check yourself before you post

      July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Wayfaring Stranger

    Atheist won't be happy until all traces of christianity are hidden or destroyed. UNAMERICAN!!! You all need to go the the deep dark jungles where there is nothing but leaves and then you won't be offended by our free speach!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      seems you are being offended by our free speech, you are free to go yourself you know.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      wayfaring Strangler
      You are souunding more and more like your alter-ego unknown/trolldoll/brony/ etc, etc, etc.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Anon

      Have you ever pondering for once in your life that if a large enough meteor strikes the earth driving us to extinction would mean the end of all religion?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Atheist

      I am not offended by your views and I don't think they should be outlawed. I simply think your views are stupid, small minded and intellectually damaging to out community, and I am using my rights of free speech to communicate that to you:)

      July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Wayfaring

      Your preacher is not a reliable source for what other people want or believe.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • just sayin

      Atheist

      I am not offended by your views and I don't think they should be outlawed. I simply think your views are stupid, small minded and intellectually damaging to out community, and I am using my rights of free speech to communicate that to you:)

      .
      In simple terms Christians are free to be ignorant and retards at times.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      You can believe as you wish but you do not have the right to expect everyone else to follow. You do not have the right to use your buybull to deny others their basic rights and freedoms. When your belief impedes on a persons freedom then it deserves to be scrutinized.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Here TruthP, read His truth instead of satan's lies.

      Romans 1:17-32

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @HeavenSent

      Is that your useless bible verse for the day?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  7. ArthurP

    The Roman general Crassus also erected crosses as a public display of remembrance. Six thousand in fact all the way along the road to Rome each one with their own slave attached. So people would remember what happens when you step out of line.

    Not all in all a good symbol. The cross that is.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • just sayin

      The cross represents oppressiona nd evil. It is digusting.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Topher

      just sayin

      What exactly about the cross is oppressing and evil?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  8. Kate

    cedar rapids

    The act of the post itself is the statement. You pass comment and judgement on others, that is not a post of 'love'

    So much for your 'truth'
    ------
    I am not judging I am telling you the truth. If I am lying, please show me where any atheist was tolerant on this blog and where any of them were empathic?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • sybaris

      THAT's funny, a christian talking about tolerance.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      You are judging, your opening line for example said....'It’s not like atheists offer people anything'
      You gave no explanation as to what you meant by that, and you made a sweeping statement about all atheists.

      You made a judgemental post.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The lies about tolerance is taught by the phony preachers sybaris. We read Jesus' truth who wrote about you in Romans 1:17-32

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • JWT

      Just try reading Kate.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Kate

    That's interesting. George Bush used his military machine to invade Iraq resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians because............................... he said his god told him it was the right thing to do.

    Seriously, we don't need people in powerful positions making decisions on the fate of millions based on fairy tales
    ----
    Because Atheists who have held power positions are so compassionate like chairman Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • sybaris

      Oh man, THAT didn't take long.

      Godwins Law should be amended to include Stalin, Pol Pot, Communism and Khmer Rouge

      Anyway, false association. You clearly do not understand atheism and what motivated Stalin and Pol Pot

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Atheist

      Kate, pol pot, Stalin and Mao all lead state religions that outlawed other religious practices in their countries. American atheism is a form of rationalism that is against all forms of religious control; including the control of the American state religion (christianity) over how we publicly deal with death. Although this display wasn government sanctioned, the us has a long history of religious abuse by Christians–take the current bigoted view of Muslims by our society.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      Kate your ignorance is showing....sit down

      July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Kate, don't think you're fooling anyone but yourself. Bush Jr. belongs in your camp. Keep him.

      Romans 1:17-32

      July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  10. Lawrence

    Since when do atheists decide what is appropriate? This man is showing his respect in a traditional manner, one which he uses all the time. Others show their respect in different manners. If a star of david or some other relic is left, nobody will be offended. But the non-believers who only believe in their single-minded obtuse rhetoric want this show of respect banned from public eyes and public property.

    Freedom means the right to do something. Tolerance means respecting someone's beliefs even if you do not agree with them. Trashing a heart-felt tribute in memorial of a tragic event is just plain mean, stupid and intolerant. While you are free to express such feeble views, do not think that anyone respects you for your hate and intolerance.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Unknown

      They are just control freaks kinda like how they claim the religious are.

      Just ignore the hypocrites.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "If a star of david or some other relic is left, nobody will be offended"

      really? let me ask you this then......if an islamic man erected 12 crescent and star memorials there, do you honestly think people like yourself would say 'its a sign of respect'? or do you think they would be torn down and trampled upon by 'tolerant' christians within hours?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Unknown

      If that's their symbol of their religion,nobody has the right to get offended.

      I wouldn't.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Unknown. If that's their symbol of their religion,nobody has the right to get offended. I wouldn't"

      ha, well that would makes you the minority and we all know it.
      But that brings us back to the original question.....did all the families ask for it or just a few?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Unknown

      If they requested it or he asked permission its you atheists who are full of hatred,basically sad hypocrites.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "If they requested it or he asked permission its you atheists who are full of hatred,basically sad hypocrites."

      flawed logic, our statements right now are based on the idea that he didnt. It doesnt make anyone a hypocrit if it turns out he did, anymore than it would make you a hypocrit if it turned out he didnt.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I'm sick of the atheists religion of banning everything from our Country. That's why the wrath of God falls upon us because of those that don't believe Jesus Christ's truth but follow the lies of satan.

      Romans 1:17-32

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  11. Wow

    @Anon, if its the same course you took I'll pass. My goal in life isn't to be a dimwit like you. Have a great day!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Anon

      If the comparative religious course shows Jesus in good light, then it's valid in your eyes. Right?
      You brainless jack@$$.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Anon: That's a great course. It should be taught in every high school everywhere. My 18 year old daughter took it this past year because we wanted her to discover for herself what she believed in and she walked away as an Atheist...a choice she made for herself and one that her practicing pagan father is fine with.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Aren't you and your daughter going to be surprised when you meet Jesus.

      Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

      13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.

      14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.

      Amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And there you have it everyone. Our entire purpose in life is to fear and obey the vain, evil, mysoginistic, genocidal god of the bible. Who knew our entire prupose was to be in the ultimate adusive relationship.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  12. Kate

    It’s not like atheists offer people anything. You can infer by the comments here they seem less than empathetic and intolerable.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      and your posting is so full of love right?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Unknown

      Speaking the truth is "hateful"?

      I guess atheists can't take the truth.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • sybaris

      That's interesting. George Bush used his military machine to invade Iraq resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians because............................... he said his god told him it was the right thing to do.

      Seriously, we don't need people in powerful positions making decisions on the fate of millions based on fairy tales

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Kate

      There isn't any hate in my comment, I am just pointing out the truth they offer nothing and there is not one comment on here coming from an atheist that shows tolerance or empathy. It's the truth.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Thackerie

      YOU can infer any damn thing you want to and obviously do. I have not seen one single comment by anyone here, even by the ones that you infer to be atheists, as lacking in sympathy for the victims and their families.

      Good thing you indicated that your comment is only what you inferred. Otherwise, you'd be an outright liar.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      The act of the post itself is the statement. You pass comment and judgement on others, that is not a post of 'love'

      So much for your 'truth'

      July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Kate

      You certainly aren't tolerant of me with your comment, and not one of you has been tolerant of a Christian belief. You all have mocked Christians and some have swore at people on here with Christian beliefs so what am I to think that atheists are compassionate, logic isn't on your side on this one.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      sorry kate but you were being judgemental, if any logic is failing here, its yours.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      oh and especially if you are the same kate that earlier said there was no difference between atheists and the shooter, and all atheists do is 'destroy good'

      July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      sorry, my mistake, that was pat, i got confused by the single names, i apologise.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I have tremendous sympathy for the victims, but that isn't the subject of this story. The subject is why this happened. Believers have answered in various ways, and nearly all of them behave as if they "know" why the event occurred. They state their beliefs as if they were facts. I disagree with them. It has nothing to do with the victims and your as sumption that atheists have no empathy is absurd.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • just sayin

      Kate, doe syour husband know you are on the computer again?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Glen

      Well said Kate also cedar rapids said "really? let me ask you this then......if an islamic man erected 12 crescent and star memorials there, do you honestly think people like yourself would say 'its a sign of respect'? or do you think they would be torn down and trampled upon by 'tolerant' christians within hours?"

      You mean like the muslim do to crosses and churches in their countries lol Probably has more of a chance staying in this country than it does in Muslim countries. Do you know what will happen to you if you carry a cross or a Bible in Saudia Arabia? Seen what they do to churchs in muslim majority countries?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Reason

      sorry Kate – you are kind of stupid

      July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Kate: Ignorance is bliss!! What exactly do you have to offer? Where do you get off judging others? I'm guessing you're not perfect and at this point in the eyes of your imaginary friend you are a sinner...it is your hell, you enjoy it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Kate, that's because Jesus had His truth scribed regarding the non-believers in Romans 1:17-32.

      Amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  13. LOL

    @Atheist I guess you haven't read a real book either. Your education failed you. NEXT!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Atheist

      Why?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • sybaris

      You know if you click on that word "Reply" your posting won't make you look like you're talking to yourself.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  14. Funny

    @Anon take your anger and stick where the sun doesn't shine and have a great day.

    And someone give him a hug, anyone.!?!.....:::cricket sounds:::.......ANYONE!?!?!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  15. cedar rapids

    So did he actually get all 12 families asking for the crosses or was it a few and he did the lot? Do we actually know?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • QS

      Great question.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • ME II

      ... was it even family, or just other Christians?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Glen

      Cedar Radips what is your major malfunction Most people there are probably Christians, he would hardly offer a cross to a Jewish \or a Muslim person... Wake up and small the coffee

      July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  16. Drae

    God Bless Greg Zanis!! God sees the heart of a man. The Lord Jesus would say 'Well done, my good and faithful servant".

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  17. Atheist

    After reading this blog and realizing how many dim-witted religious nutcases there are out there I wish someone would do me a favor and shoot me too! This guy can make me a cross if it will make you delusional religious people feel better:)

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Kate

      No one wants you to die?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Hug

      You need a hug too? ANYONE!?!?!?!!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      God had his truth scribed about His wrath towards the unrighteousness of man.

      Romans 1:17-32

      Amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  18. William Demuth

    Do he have consent of the families?

    I am reminded of 9-11. Lots of Non Christian victims, but I doubt many Muslim symbole were tolerated at the time

    Plus I suspect that considering that I seem to recall the shooter was fan of Jesus, and I suspect he was raised by bible thumpers, perhaps the Holy Mumbo Jumbo is inappropriate

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      The shooter described himself as agnostic.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Nobama

      "I seem to recall the shooter was fan of Jesus,"

      Well done, William. Please contact ABC News - they're holding a job for you. ABC loves it when people make stuff up and then report it as fact.

      Pathetic.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • bla bla bla

      He makes crosses if he is asked to: READ THE ARTICLE!

      After a local newspaper quoted Zanis saying he’d build a cross for anyone grieving from loss, he began getting weekly calls from around Illinois. Now he receives around three calls a day from people all over the country asking for crosses, many of them families with victims of gun violence.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Well done, William. Please contact ABC News – they're holding a job for you. ABC loves it when people make stuff up and then report it as fact."

      Too be fair so do the conservative blogs, no end claiming he was a black bloc member.
      Though what we do apparently know of the guy was in San Diego he was a church goer and he did work for a jewish day camp.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • QS

      The article only states that he gets calls every day, not that he actually got any calls from these families.

      In fact, it only says that he WENT to Aurora to visit the families of the victims, not that he was invited or asked to go there.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Bo

      William, where did you read or hear that the shooter was a fan of Jesus? I went to several websites yesterday and never found a thing that even hinted that he came from a religious family, or that he was religious.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      To all the Jeebus freaks who deny the Aurora shooter was religious I suggest you read the LA Times

      "A San Diego neighbor of alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes remembers him as a very shy, well-mannered young man who was heavily involved in their local Presbyterian church."

      So spare me the sweet Jeebus bull and face the truth, he was another right wing madman killing in the name of his cult.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Still no answer.

      Do Jewish victims want his cross? NO
      Muslim? NO

      Just another Jeebus freak, worshiping a symbol of torture and death. He was NOT invited.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Wally West

      Lol....I didn't know the LA Times were infalliable. No name eh? We just have to trust the Times. Glad you have great faith and hope in them William.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  19. Rational Libertarian

    Why not 12 guillotines? Or 12 electric chairs? Or 12 needles? Or 12 massive stones? Or 12 gallows? Or 12 executioner's axes?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Lauren

      Because for Christians, a cross is a symbol of redemption, resurrection and hope. By putting the crosses there, he was imparting a message of hope to the victims' families and friends. Nothing more and nothing less.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

      Matthew 10:38

      Amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  20. Unknown

    Its sad when an atheist is to blinded by hatred to see the type of respect and compassion this man is doing.All they see is what they want to see.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Reason

      except he made a lot of Christians angry during the whole Columbine ordeal – how do you explain that one?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I see 12 instruments of torture and execution. I realise his intent, but anybody with more than half a brain should be disgusted.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Lauren

      Rational Libertarian – you clearly don't realize his intent or you wouldn't be so unnecessarily offended.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I'm not offended by his intent, I'm offended at the use of an instrument of execution as a commemoration.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Atheist

      Dear dumba$$, "to blinded" should be "too blinded.". Try reading a real book (not the bible)

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • QS

      So putting up crosses shows respect and compassion? So all of us around the country who are NOT putting up crosses but are just as devastated by this tragedy, we're just haters, right?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Unknown

      I see no other religious people complain even those who don't follow God or Jesus.Its only atheists who are so self-centered complain,whine and rage about it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • sybaris

      "All they see is what they want to see."

      Sorry, cognitive dissonance is the hallmark of the faithful. Wrong group

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Thackerie

      "I see no other religious people complain." I guess you missed the comments above from Jewish people. Or maybe you only see what you want to see.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reason, that's simple to answer. This young Christian was blinded by satan's lies, just like you.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      What Christians are taught about the atheists.

      Romans 1:17-32

      And the atheists wonder why the wrath of God came upon us? Christians have to pay for the sins of the unrighteous and we will continue paying the price until Jesus comes back at the end of this generation.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @HeavenSent
      “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
      —1 John 2:18

      The "generation" in which Jesus was supposed to return came and went 2000 years ago.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Doc, that scripture is describing you atheists being in society today as in the plural form of so many nonbelievers following the lies of satan. You are end time generation, ushering in satan, that gets his 15 minutes of fame, until Jesus returns and casts all of you into the lake of fire.

      His truth is written. Deal with it or repent to Jesus Christ, ask Him if you can get closer to Him, then, sin no more.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • QS

      "And the atheists wonder why the wrath of God came upon us?"

      LMAO! Seriously, read what you wrote here and see if you can find the irony in this comment!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:30 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.