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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. Olga

    Now as far as the crosses go, I don't think that man just blindly went out of his way and made a bunch of crosses without asking first of the victims families if their loved ones were Christian or Catholic. I think that most of those grieving are not even paying attention the religion the cross adheres to where as those victims families just need to fine peace and comfort somewhere and somehow out there. To the victims family whether its a cross, a crescent moon with a star, or the Star of David does not matter to them like their current state of grief matters to them right now.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:07 am |
  2. SaveTheUSA

    All Sympathy to the victims and the families and all.

    However, if any pandering pol tries to use one act by lunatic as an excuse to "regulate" my 2nd amendment rights, which is just a first baby step to ultimately confiscating all guns in the US, then I will do everything in my power to get him out of office. My buddies will too.

    Pols know this. That's why you see sooo many 'gun control' legislations recently (sarcasm END).

    July 26, 2012 at 5:51 am |
  3. Dani3l

    Were all of the twelve victims Christian? A cross is not a universal symbol,

    July 26, 2012 at 4:28 am |
  4. Sport Memorabilia

    I've read some good stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you set to make the sort of fantastic informative website.

    July 26, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  5. Bootyfunk

    hope the guy takes the time to find out whether people are christians and would want their name on a cross. i'm guessing he doesn't. disrespectful.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  6. GOD PARTICLE UK Dave

    WITH ALL GOD PARTICLES INCLUDED ...
    I ask all to remember what BEAUTY is!
    You see so much beauty!
    SUCH A SIMPLE GOD PARTICLE MIRACLE!

    July 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  7. Jim

    Most common heard words from atheist before being killed, "Oh my God, NO!"

    July 25, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Oops

      Actually, it's usually "son of a Bitc-"

      Just because they say that doesn't mean they all are talking about your mom.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      and the last word a christian says is the lion will not ha ,.ahahahahahh----–

      i miss the god old days

      July 25, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      that was actually a typo on [*good] old days

      no pun intended

      July 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      How do you know that, Jim? How many atheists have you killed?

      July 26, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Timmuh

      Actually, this is the most common heard piece of pious fraud spread by zealots like you. Christians have been telling lies about deathbed conversions long since you started to tell lies about it. You're not even original.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      christian: "God save me!"
      christian dies anyway.
      god is fail.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Bob

      Jim, get your head out of your ass. Trivial research shows your claims to be false. And look here:

      http://www.militaryatheists.org/expaif.html/

      July 26, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      equivalent to "Oh my Zeus!"

      lol.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • sam stone

      Blah, blah, blah, Jim

      July 26, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  8. TOMG

    GOD CALLING THE KARMA CARDS , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Bob

      Like he does for innocent kids dying of malnutrition and disease in Africa?

      July 26, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  9. Greaser

    Save us Tim Tebow!

    July 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  10. Tct

    The grief the nation feels every time thus happens is terrible, however the heartfelt response is always overwhelming and appreciated! I have one question, why do people spend so much time, energy, resources on getting to know the killer and trying to understand why they do these horrible acts? Especially in this case, NOT INSANITY, he took time to plan this, build bombs, and intended to harm as many people as he could, we should focus on the victims, the families, watts to prevent similar tragedies, and STOP GIVING THESE PSYCHOTIC PROPLE THEIR UNDESERVED ATTENTION. He is not the story, the victims sre

    July 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Mtbeau

      And sadly, many of the victims will not be able to pay for their medical bills.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Insane people can often make complex and lengthy plans.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Tct

      Hi -Tct...

      " why do people spend so much time, energy, resources on getting to know the killer and trying to understand why they do these horrible acts? "

      By deepening our understanding of what were the underlying causes... either biologically, socially, etc... it could help authorities, and people in general be more aware of potentially dangerous situations and people.

      And... we certainly should be paying attention and offering our as-sistance to the families of the victims.

      It's not necessarily an 'either/or' proposition.

      Peace...

      July 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Olga

      @Tct Although I do agree with you that the victims in this tragedy do deserve the most attention and the stories of the survivors are being shared all over the news world from this tragedy and the many great acts of kindness that were expressed from the cross builder guy to Christian Bale himself and the movies team of directors and all that. These things are in the media. But also the killers mentality and his motives should also be shared, not in any way to bring more fame or attention to him or anything like that but to study him, his motives for this heinous act, and so forth. I know that you may think that I'm crazy and out of my own mind for saying this but murderer's of all kinds are important to those of us here who are in the field of Psychology or who are studying to get that degree. Especially in the field of behavioral psychology. You may think it all useless but if you think about it the field is highly interactive with law enforcement agencies out there, so if we have no information to study the various behavior types out there and what motivates people to become violent , the world will become deprived of psychologists which are important to helping law enforcement and hospitals identify people with such psychotic behaviors as this killer. This sad excuse for a human being wouldn't have been out on the streets if someone noticed a change in behavior in him. I'm kind of sure that his family kept some things under covers there.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:02 am |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    This twerp assumes too much. He should not be putting up crosses before checking that those who died were indeed christians. What a moron. Typical of those following their favorite sky daddy. Asinine. 2 brain cells.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Guest

      Just another deluded christian looking for his imaginary god's help for survivors instead of condemning him for being all-powerful and not stopping this nightmare!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • TrueBlueCatholic

      Look! the war on christianity again.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @TrueBlueCatholic

      YEA, people not wanting christians to throw their own religious symbols around with no regard to the beliefs of the deceased when they were alive. HOW DARE THEY WANT TO HONOR THE DEAD BY REFLECTING WHAT THEY BELIEVED WHILE ALIVE.
      wait . . .

      July 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I had the exact same thought today, about someone being so bold as to place a cross in someone else's name. I'm sure the guy means well but he isn't using very good judgment. It brings to mind the mormon's baptizing individual's after they have died.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  12. Brother Marcus Athanasius

    As an Athiest I find it difficult to believe in Christianity.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • J.Moe

      Uhhhhh, yeah thats usually how it works. duh......

      July 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Brother Marcus Athanasius

      LOL, you are an idiot.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  13. PAUL

    HOLMES NEEDED ONE OF THESE ANNOUNCEMENTS!!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZaNZ-jlZ-w&w=640&h=390]

    July 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Don't bother. It's just junk. Quit spamming. You've been reported. Everyone hit report about on this sh1t please.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  14. Brother Marcus Athanasius

    From The Heretic Bible
    (trans. Brother Marcus Athanasius)

    Not a mountain sanctified, but a prison cursed.
    With Eve still captive.
    A holy secret-a Sacrament.
    Until the time foretold when her
    Suffering would end
    The one true cross will appear on earth
    All will see it in a single moment-all will wonder
    The cross will fall
    The cross will rise
    To unlock the Sacrament
    And bring forth a new age
    Through it’s merciful death

    July 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • PAUL

      continue to say a prayer for all the lost souls!
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNkV7QpdnZc&w=640&h=390]

      July 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Indeed. And every word plagiarized from "Sanctus", by Simon Toyne, Shame on you. 😦

      July 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Fake Athanasius.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Quit spamming Paul. You are a crappy author.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  15. *frank*

    The craftsmanship and artistry of those crosses is truly a wonder to behold!

    July 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Brother Marcus Athanasius

      I agree. I have never been able to figure out how to nail two 4 x 4's together and paint them white.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Guest

      Excellent point Brother Marcus Athanasius!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Ummmm – they look like 2 X 4s...

      July 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Tony

      Ummmm – they're clearly the same size in both dimensions. Brother Marcus was right, they're 4×4's.

      July 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Tony

      I apologize. Upon closer inspection, you are BOTH right. Some of the crosses are made out of 4×4's and some are made out of doubled 2×4's. The 4×4 ones have beveled ends while the 2×4 ones do not. I initially only saw the 4×4 type.

      July 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  16. Sam Yaza

    i heard WBC is headed down their i love those guys. the make my Job easy,.. way to prove to the world your god is evil

    July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • junior

      The Holy Bible does mention false prophets.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • QS

      And the great thing about religion, junior, is that those you consider "false prophets" in turn consider YOU false prophets.

      Ah religion – the world's ultimate dividing force!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • junior

      QS, I can live with that, can you?

      July 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      so their false prophets if you don't agree but if you do their not,... lets face it if it was 1400 you would be jumping in line with them saying burn the witch, what made God change

      oh i guess Malachi was a false prophet

      3:6
      For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

      because some were along the line he got all warm and fluffy

      Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
      Hebrews 13:8

      i guess Paul was a false prophet too

      or it could be Yahweh is a lying sack of narcissistic sh!t
      or maybe you just follow Mans laws and not Gods

      oh snap Jeremiah too is a false prophet
      Jeremiah 10:2
      This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.

      don't f4ck with the Devil Jr. if you don't know the bible
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSiHco8iEX0&w=640&h=390]

      July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Uri El

      Ah, still so prideful in your ways. Man is fallible, but El sees their true intent. O quam cito transit gloria mundi.

      אוּרִיאֵל

      July 26, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  17. Mohammad A Dar

    Christians deserved what they got.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Honos

      Indeed they did. They were forgiven their sins and now have everylasting life in the company of God. -me- gets in line wherever it is starting.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      i totally agree after 2000 years of genocide, bigotry and slavery they totally derisive it,.. Karma is a b!tch

      Fact: Christianity is responsible for militant Islam

      July 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Christian

      JERK!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Actually, militant Christianity is responsible for militant Christianity, and militant Islam is responsible for militant Islam. Quit blaming one another, it's your (each) own faults.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Guest

      No Honos, Their brain activity ceased and who and what they were no longer exists. They will live on in the memories of those who knew them and/or whose lives they touched, for better or worse. That's all.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • TrueBlueCatholic

      Typical muslim sentiment

      July 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • SaveTheUSA

      All Sympathy to the victims and the families and all.

      However, if any pandering pol tries to use this as an excuse to "regulate" my 2nd amendment rights, which is just a first baby step to ultimately confiscating all guns in the US, then I will do everything in my power to get him out of office. My buddies will too.

      Pols know this. That's why you see sooo many 'gun control' legislations recently (sarcasm END).

      July 26, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually, militant AGuest9, the shooter is just as blind to Jesus' truth as you and militant Mohammad A Dar.

      We had to endure God's wrath last Friday because of all the nonbelievers in this country.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  18. Tony

    I find it interesting that only Christians were killed in Aurora. Nobody from other faiths, no atheists, ALL CHRISTIAN! I would consider it a disgrace and disrespectful if a loved one I knew who was not Christian was memorialized with a Christian cross (especially if that person was an atheist). Therefore, I can only assume that all 12 were Christian. And I am also assuming there WERE non-Christians in the audience that night, all of whom survived. God REALLY loves his followers and hates the non-believers, doesn't he? He allows the "heathens" to survive and calls nothing but his followers home. WTG, big man!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Lauren

      As a Christian, if a loved one died and someone came and put a Jewish faith symbol, a Muslim faith symbol, or whatever at their memorial, I would not be upset or offended. I would be grateful that they cared enough to make the gesture. The cross is a symbol of hope and new life to Christians, which is what we all wish upon the victims' families, friends, and those who were present that night. An understanding and reasonable individual would not feel disgraced or offended by such a display of kindness.

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

      Tony. Please get over yourself. This man did what he does because he cares. If you don't believe in his God or what he does then feel free to do something constructive towards that end. As a simple quote – Mean people suck. Stop being so mean. Bitterness just makes you ugly.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Lisa

      I agree with Lauren. This man's gesture of the cross is in the spirit of loving kindness and his is way of showing respect. I doubt he is intending to try to make any statements about the faith that he thinks that these people should be. God in any symbol is still God. I think He understands,, and I think the families, do so, also. I learned in Sunday school, and it is throughout the New Testament: "God is Love."

      July 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Tony

      A purpose of a memorial is to REMEMBER the individual. The best way to do this is through the use of items that accurately depict who the person was. Do not play jazz music at a memorial for them if they HATED jazz, for example. If that person was alive, do you think they would want to hear jazz played at their memorial? "Honoring" a person by totally ignoring what THEY liked and believed in in favor of what YOU like and believe in is NOT honoring THEM.

      I realize memorials are not meant for the dead, they are meant to comfort the living, nothing more. However, any memorial for a deceased person should be done in a manner that remembers who that person was. Any religious symbols used should represent THEIR faith, not YOURS. And placing a clearly Christian symbol, like a cross, to remember a Jew, a Muslim and especially an atheist, is HIGHLY inappropriate. It's all about what the DECEASED would want, not what makes YOU comfortable.I apologize if my thoughts are for the dead, not the living.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Zane

      @Tony

      Look out we've got a bad ass who think he's being politically correct. Get over yourself. When people need support, no matter what positive supportive help is given. I'm not a Christian anymore, however I understand his actions are a symbol of helping those other than himself.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Lauren

      Tony,

      I think that the victims themselves would also appreciate such a kind gesture, in any form. You are not thinking about the victims or their families in making your comment – you are thinking only of your own hang ups about religion. Please just accept that sometimes people just want to show love and compassion for their fellow human beings, with no strings attached.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Would a christian be comforted if a symbol of muslim or jewish faith was used to memorialize their loved one? I somehow doubt it. I get that all you christians think that a cross is good and thoughtful, but you should actually consider what those families are going through. If all the victims were christians, fine. Otherwise, this gesture could indeed be construed as offensive.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Tony

      @Lauren:
      Did you know the individuals involved? How can you make such an assumption that the victims would not be offended by such a display unless you knew them? You're doing exactly what you are accusing me of doing: imposing my personal beliefs on others. Because YOU allegedly would not be offended, you're assuming the victims would not, either. But most people WOULD be offended being associated with any activity or organization with which they did not agree. I'm thinking of the deceased and their families, therefore I would not presume to ascribe any religious affiliation to a person I did not know, unless their affiliation was obvious or well known.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Bob

      Wonderful posts, Tony.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Lauren

      And how do you know that they WOULD be offended??! Jesus, all people do now it seems is find ways to be offended by things. Get over it, Tony. As a Christian, if someone put up a Jewish faith symbol or Muslim faith symbol, or even a non-denominational symbol at my memorial or at one for a loved one, I would absolutely NOT be offended by that. Neither would any other reasonable, rational, understanding person. Frankly, if you do get offended by it, I would want nothing to do with you, have little respect for you, and I would seriously question what kind of person you were to be so "offended" by an act of kindness and compassion. What kind of person gets offended when a fellow human being takes the time to selflessly give people some hope and compassion? That is his way of expressing those sentiments to the victims and their families. If his way was to just put a post-it note on the grass, then that would have been fine too. Or what if he had lit a candle in memoriam? Oops, I think that is a Christian thing too. Time to get offended...

      July 26, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Lauren

      Tallulah, as a Christian I can say with some certainty that most (not all) Christians would not be offended by another faith symbol being placed at a memorial. It is not about the religion, it is about the act of kindness itself. Christians see a cross as a source of hope and redemption – that is what he imparting to the victims families. I guess he could have just written each of them a letter saying that same thing, but this is how he chose to express those feelings. Seriously, it is a sad day when people start getting offended by random acts of kindness. Maybe next we should ban all candles since they are often used in religious rites.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Tony

      @ Lauren:
      So, according to you, you would not be offended by someone placing sybols of their own religion? How about swastikas? The swastika was, and still is, a symbol of hope in Hinduism and Buddhism. It serves the same function as the Christian cross. Do you seriously expect me to believe that if a Buddhist placed swastikas as a memorial to you or someone you know that you wouldn't be offended? Even "left facing" swastikas which are different from the "right facing" version the Nazis used? And even if YOU, persoanlly, weren't offended, do you honestly think there wouldn't be an uproar in the public and media that would drown out anything Holmes did?

      As I have already said, I have no idea what these victims' beliefs were, meaning I have no idea whether or not they would be offended by crosses. But, unlike you and Mr. Zanis, I would never presume to impose MY personal beliefs on others. A purely secular style of memorial (such as the wall at the Viet Nam veterans memorial or the benches at the Murrah building memorial) implies nothing other than rememberance. It makes no presumption as to the individual's religious beliefs. Christian crosses do, and therein lies the problem.

      BTW, if you want an excellent example of a symbol that, most likely, would not offend any of the 12 victims because it is something they all had in common, how about the Batman logo (or something similar if you're worried about copyright infringement)? They were ALL at a special screening of a Batman film, therefore they ALL had some interest in Batman.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  19. naturechaplain

    You know, I get it, I really do. I used to be a pastor. This man means well. I'm not going to knock his faith or intention here. Only to say, with some sadness, What's the purpose? Memorials are fine (though we seem a memorial-obsessed culture sometimes). But do folks consider that putting up a Christian symbol in remembrance primarily honors the one with the hammer. Maybe all the people who died or were shot in Aurora were Christians. I don't know. And does that matter? Shouldn't. But would a Christian appreciate a Wiccan or Muslim or Taoist putting their religious symbols all over to honor the death of their loved one? Highly doubt it. So, could we simply honor the dead and their families by quietly giving a thought, saying a prayer, tossing a flower, rather than turning every single tragedy into an opportunity to make Our Faith front and center?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • QS

      Well said, and agreed.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Lauren

      I think his purpose was to bring some sort of hope to the victims' families and friends. As a pastor, you should know what the cross symbol means to the Christian faith. I don't think he was trying to push his religious beliefs on anyone. Hope and caring about our fellow man are universal concepts.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • junior

      It is precisely that mentality of being politically correct, not wanting to hurt anyones FEELINGS, that has lessened religion and has lessened the dignity of human life.

      Religion is man's search for God........Christianity is God's search for man.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Lauren, what sort of hope does a cross give to someone who is not a christian? Unless all of the victims were christian, it simply says that the non-christian victims weren't considered important enough to be memorialized with their own faith. Your religion is not universal and a jew might well take offense at the sight of a cross dedicated to their loved one. Why not try looking at the situation as a human instead of a christian?

      July 26, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • tallulah13

      Forgot to mention:

      Thank you, naturechaplain, that was beautifully and kindly said.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Ann

      Naturechaplain – I couldn't agree more. "Memorial-obsessed" is a good way to express it. That's what I find so distasteful about all these displays.

      I mentioned a few pages earlier that my husband was killed in an accident, and I said no to the offer of one of these memorials. I don't want to advertise the spot where he died! I don't want to have to look at decaying plastic junk every time I drive past it! Yes, of course, I'll cringe every time I pass there anyway, but I certainly don't want it DECORATED. That's not helpful to me. Not at all. It's just creepy.

      And, quite honestly, I think I'd feel the exact same way about those memorials whether I was religious or not. (I used to be.) I still would hate the thought of focusing on THAT spot (I don't like the idea of graveyards, either). I'd rather think about places we enjoyed ourselves together – hikes we went on, places we went on his bike – GOOD memories.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Lauren

      Fine, Tallulah – as a HUMAN, I would have no problem with it at all. Maybe you should start looking at it as a human as well and take religion out of it entirely (which has been my point all along).

      July 26, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • naturechaplain

      After watching the video I still respect the man's intentions and hear that this is "an act of kindness" for him. FIne. Yet, he also says the crosses are his prayer and symbolize the prayers of the country. The problem is, their are millions who are not Christians and millions more who don't pray or think one religious symbol speaks their grief. So I ask, What if a diverse group of people who really represented a good cross-section (excuse the pun) of America: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, Atheist, Common Person who doesn't care about another person's faith just that they are a Human Being. . .brought wreaths of flowers or something? Wouldn't that be much more appropriate and honor the people without making yet another sectarian statement of faith out of a tragic event?

      July 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • naturechaplain

      By the way, I heard him say he drove over the speed limit to deliver the crosses in a hurry. Sure glad he didn't kill someone along the way! Oh, and one more quick comment: anyone see the irony in the fact that an ancient tool of execution, upon which thousands of innocent people were tortured to death, is now used to decorate, and show devotion?

      July 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  20. 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 bullcookies and face the truth

    July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      He said himself he's agnostic. Also, just because he went to church it doesn't mean he committed the massacre because of religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Lauren

      What does it matter that he went to church? If he didn't go to church and people started crying about how terrible atheists are, I'm sure you would have had a comment for that too. Maybe he liked football? Does that make all football fans violent lunatics? No – and it is as irrelevant as the comment you just made.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Wally West

      Curious William....did you ever go to a religious place? If so, could someone ever remember you as a good religious kid in there memory?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Same stuff as always

      Families of a "religious" nature seem to breed lunatics.

      Bible thumper parents seeem to be a factor in driving unstable people off the deep end.

      As far as Agnostic, you mean from his booty findeer web site, where he also claimed to be "Middle of the Road?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Wally West

      No most people would remember me as the guy who said most of the preachers were gay rapists, and the whole thing was a con game.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • just sayin

      No doubt his Christian upbringing had something to do with it.

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

      Going to church doesn't mean anything.And if he is agnostic what then? Will atheists finally admit its humans not religion?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:46 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.