By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
(CNN) – As he waited with parents who feared that their kids were among the 20 children killed at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, Rabbi Shaul Praver said the main thing he could do for parents was to merely be present.
“It’s a terrible thing, families waiting to find out if their children made it out alive,” said Praver, who leads a synagogue in Newtown, Connecticut, and was among nine clergy gathered with parents at a firehouse near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the shooting occurred.
“They’re going to need a lot of help,” Praver said of those who are close to the dead.
From the first moments after Friday’s massacre, which also left six adults and the shooter dead, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.
Over the weekend, countless more Americans will look to clergy as they struggle to process a tragedy in which so many of the victims were children.
“Every single person who is watching the news today is asking ‘Where is God when this happens?’” says Max Lucado, a prominent Christian pastor and author based in San Antonio.
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Lucado says that pastors everywhere will be scrapping their scheduled Sunday sermons to address the massacre.
“You have to address it - you have to turn everything you had planned upside down on Friday because that’s where people’s hearts are,” Lucado says.
“The challenge here is to avoid the extremes – those who say there are easy answers and those who say there are no answers.”
Indeed, many religious leaders on Friday stressed that the important thing is for clergy to support those who are suffering, not to rush into theological questions. A University of Connecticut professor on Friday hung up the phone when asked to discuss religious responses to suffering, saying, “This is an immense tragedy, and you want an academic speculating on the problem of evil?”
“There is no good answer at that time that anyone can hear and comprehend and take in,” said Ian T. Douglas, the bishop for the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut, referring to counseling family and friends of the dead. “They’re crying out from a place of deep pain.”
Praver, the rabbi, will join a memorial service Friday night at Newtown’s St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.
“We’re going to have a moment of prayer for the victims,” Praver said of the service. “We cannot let it crush our spirit and we march on.”
Some national religious groups are also sending staff to Newtown, with 10 chaplains dispatched from the North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Friday.
Public officials including President Obama, meanwhile, turned to the Bible in responding to the shooting. “In the words of Scripture, 'heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds,' ” Obama said from the White House, citing the book of Psalms.
On Twitter, #PrayForNewton became a trending topic.
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Some religious leaders argue that modern American life insulates much of the nation from the kind of senseless death and suffering that plagues much of the world every day.
“Most of the world, for most of the world’s history, has known tragedy and trauma in abundance,” wrote Rob Brendle, a Colorado pastor, in a commentary for CNN’s Belief Blog after this summer’s deadly shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which left 12 dead.
“You don’t get nearly the same consternation in Burundi or Burma, because suffering is normal to there,” wrote Brendle, who pastored congregants after a deadly shooting at his church five years ago. “For us, though, God has become anesthetist-in-chief. To believe in him is to be excused from bad things.”
My Take: This is where God was in Aurora
Lucado said there was an eerie irony for the Connecticut tragedy coming just before Christmas, noting the Bible says that Jesus Christ’s birth was followed by an order from King Herod to slay boys under 2 in the Roman city of Bethlehem.
“The Christmas story is that Jesus was born into a dark and impoverished world,” Lucado says. “His survival was surrounded by violence. The real Christmas story was pretty rough.”
Many religious leaders framed Friday’s shooting as evidence for evil in the world and for human free will in the face of a sovereign God.
“The Bible tells us the human heart is ‘wicked’ and ‘who can know it?’” the Rev. Franklin Graham said in a statement about the massacre. “My heart aches for the victims, their families and the entire community.”
Many religious leaders also said that such tragedies are a good time for lay people to express doubts about God – or anger.
“This is a time to go deep and pray,” says Lucado. “If you have a problem with God, shake a fist or two at him. If he’s God, he’s going to answer. And if he’s in control, he’ll find a way to let you know.
wrong question ! we don't ask where is God we know where He is . we need to ask OURSELVES where we are ?????????
WE are dead.
Do they have Christmas in heaven? Will mommy and daddy be there? I mad them presents.
Is God mad at me? Do they have pancakes in heaven?
I need to turn in my homework!
You're a dumb atheist, crawl back in your closet. We really don't need you in times like these.
Says 1400, who can figure out the "an/a" conundrum.
If ignorance is bliss, 1400 is having an orgasm every 10 seconds.
Don't be too anal about it Tomtom or will get too exited now.
daniella: i am in macomb county, michigan. where are you?
1400.....a bit harsh, no?
Where was God when we lied our way into Iraq? Why are we still in Afganistan? We our a warrior nation. We love guns, the sound of gunfire, explosions, car chases with cars crashing all over the place. The question is not where was God but where were we. We as a nation are the problem not God.
I agree with you Andrew, That's what happening when you have hypocrites atheists leaders and politicians who pretends to be religious so they can brainwash people into thinking that wars are the only solutions. Atheists are playing this games for centuries, they love creating doubts about religion and want to have it banned. Evil is the best definition for atheism.
Care to translate that drivel into English, 14 double zero?
You aren't even literate. Why would anyone care about your opinion on education, religion, or anything else, when you can't even write a sentence without fvcking up?
Here comes the punch line of the almighty Tomtom the dumbest. You're an hypocrites Tomtom, and you're just mad because i told the truth and you know it.
"You're an hypocrites Tomtom". Goshers, I'm so impressed.
I'm glad you do Tomtom the dumb atheist. Where's you compassion for those poor kids that got killed today by the way? Only an atheist would do such a thing, there's no living human who believe in a God would be even dare doing such a thing knowing the price he would to pay when he will be in front of God. Atheist have no morals and can't make out the differences between whats right or wrong.
Is English your second language, 1400? Or are you just stupid?
Tomtom, english is a second language for me, but that doesn't stop me from telling you what you are. And don't try to turn the subject around, i know your atheist coward ways when you feel cornered.
Didn't HS used to say that english was its second language as well?
God can only do so much. You don't have to be religious to teach your children moral values in the home. Be a good parent first and foremost & pay attention to what goes on w/your kids. If you see your kids are struggling or are unhappy, get them help and don't be afraid to do it. Today, there's no respect for anybody anymore, parents are too busy to give a crap what happens w/their kids nowadays and then they wonder why Jonny shoots up a school.
Moral means limit, and truth absolute is the limit of all, and truth absolute is the lord and GOD of the world.
Atheists may be below the level of apes.
Apes, like all other animals and Created creatures do have and follow routines and rituals. What apes and all other animals and Created creatures DO NOT have is, "religion".
Religion or to have and practice a religion, is an attribute ONLY of Human beings.
So, in other words, ONLY human beings [mankind] can or do have religion. God, our common Creator, has granted to man but NOT to apes, to have or practice religion.
There is nothing inherently wrong with having or practicing "religion". There is something inherently wrong with being at, even below the level of apes, by not having religion and only routines and rituals.
Having and/or practicing "religion" or a simple belief in God. Or at a very minimum, a belief in the Supreme Being or a Creator is that one big thing that differentiates and separates us Humans, from the apes and the rest of the animals' et al. Therefore ONLY Human beings can ask such a question. However, such question is not a good demonstration of "religion", is rather a proof of distress on the part of the believer. If an atheists, cynically ask the question, when confronting the distress of other human beings. Then once again he places himself below the level of apes.
Apes certainly outclass you. In spades.
tom thumb the dumber's son is the classic atheists (fool) who is way below the apes.
Hahahaha Salero21, well said.
Poor kid. Can't get a girl that you don't need to inflate, huh?
Was an inflatable doll one of your passion Tomtom?
"One of your passion"? Do you not get plurals?
You're missing the point. If god is omniscient and omnipotent as the religious believe then it is axiomatic that god either selected those that were slaughtered or chose not prevent it. Basically if your god existed as you say, there would not have been a slaughter.
I am almost speechless by what I heard and read today. My heart break s for the parents who will not be able to hug their child again. At least I still have that available to me. Yes, my faith is quite important to me and it is also at times like this that I cry out, 'Where is God' or WHY' As a child of God I am allowed to ask and wonder and probably will never get the answer that will satisfied my need to know. However, I know that God is still in heaven, still sits on the throne of righteousness and is still in control, even though at times I wonder. But I can bend the knee, call out to Him and know that he listens and from that I get a certain amount of peace and quietness. This does no take away the pain, but I am not without hope. Some may understand and some may not. If you do not understand, remember we are about to celebrate Christmas. Without the promise of this birth having been fortold and fulfilled, our lives would indeed be empty. Be still and know that He is God, and in the quietness of the evening He may just speak to you.
It must be boring being you.
Sorry that post was for Tomtom the dumb atheist.
Not as boring as it is being your co-workers, 14double zero.
i cant type i'm still crying :(
And here is Tomtom the dumb atheist 18 pages later. Annoying people, don't worry that's all he can do.
I can, at the very least, manage to use the 'reply' function. That puts me in a category you can't touch, honey.
You're making progress Tomtom.
“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they've got to be free.
Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (...) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.” C.S. Lewis
HE created us in HIS image, with gift of choice.
I'm sorry, "Chad", but this has little meaning unless it is read to Anne Murray's "Snow Bird".
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?"
No need to be a hindu, denier of truth absolute, It is human choice, no need to lay any thing on HIM, hindu atheist, ignorant self centered.
I found today, that after many years of questioning my faith, I can no longer stomach the idea of believing that a tragedy of this magnitude is the will of a benevolent god. I've already heard the rumblings that our country is being punished for several states legalizing gay marriage and for reelecting president Obama. I am disgusted beyond belief that anyone is insinuating that this is a part of a divine plan. I'm afraid that any remnants of my faith has died with these innocent victims.
Most of us recoil in horror when we learn of such terrible things, and we question, "How could this happen?" "Why would God allow this?" This is a natural, human response simply because it is so overwhelming. Ecclesiastes 9:11 teaches us that unforeseen occurrences can befall any of us. All of us experience death because through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world and death [came] through sin (Romans 5:17). Thus, Julie, we can know that the Creator of this miracle we call life, never meant for us to experience death.
Because Christ was willing to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), we can look forward to a time when all who are dead will come out of their graves (John 5:28), and many happy reunions can occur.
We can trust that all who have died can then have life forever (John 5:29). We can know that there will someday be a new heaven and a new earth and that God himself will reside with mankind, and he will wipe every tear from our eyes; and there will be no more death, sadness, crying or pain, because all the old ways will be gone (Revelation 21:4).
My heart cries for all who are in pain tonight. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.
John Adams (from A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788])
Life is why I stand upon 4 verses of scripture and disregard the rest due most scripture is based upon unknowable historical terms.
1.) Mathew 6:33 " But seek ye first the kingdom of God"
I have made it my life's journey to seek out God's kingdom domains and bring my findings to be made public for all to ponder!
2.) John 18:36 "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world "
This verse of scripture may well have brought about the LDS movement.
3.) Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within/inside you.
There is only one verse of scripture that declares the whereabouts of the kingdom of God domains and Luke 17:21 is it!
4.) 1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
Our being labourers together with God tells me that both we and God are equally doing that which is needed to maintain in equal measuring; both our physical bodies and God's domains being inside our bodies and that God and his kind have made our bodies in their husbandry ways.
Many asking? Where's GOD! These people reminds me of very people WHO? WAS "CRUCIFY" him?,,,,,Telling him where's your GOD Now? remember ....
Why would you blame God if he doesn't exist ? To ask where and why God for this tragedy shows your hypocritical nature. When something bad happens that makes you feel helpless, blame God for it which according to you guys doesn't exist.
When an atheist asks why God would allow a horrible event like this to happen, he's not pointing out a problem with the god who's existence he doesn't believe in. He's pointing out the flaw in the idea of an omnipotent, merciful god who would sit around twiddling his thumbs while something like this happens. It's not the non-existent god that's the problem; it's the concept.
I don't understand the problem many people have with religion in those situations. Always the same question when tragedies happen: "Where was god" ? Maybe the answer should dawn to you after dozens of tragedies of this sort: He was never there.
He never was in the first place. There is no benevolent god sitting on cloud seven and listening to millions of prayers murmured into his ears every night. Get it in your head. Why would you want to pray to a god that allows this to happen? There is nothing the priests can say to justify this.
Just Say No To Religion!
Spammer, knock off the idiotic posts re: 'We kicked God out of schools, therefore...blah, blah, blah, children deserve to be slaughtered in cold blood."
If prohibiting state-sanctioned prayer in a public setting deterred your almighty, omnipotent, omniscient god from intervening here, then he's a ba stard and you're an idiot for worshipping him.
Tom tom, two hours later and you still screaming !!! Get a life.....
how do you get an atheist to believe in God? Throw him out of an airplane.
I dont get how committing murder is supposed to change the believe systems of the victim to the one of the murderer?
You just said SO much about yourself. Compassionate, forgiving, caring Christian. Gotta love it.
God created evil and good. He is always in control. Accept it, don't question it.
That is a very naive approach. Why would you want to worship a god who allows horrible tragedies like this to happen? Even if you were right and you had any form of proof for the existence of your god, I would chose not to follow him if he is either powerless to stop this, or, worse, willingly allows this to happen, perhaps to follow his own agenda. Again:
Just Say No To Religion. You live a better live.
God did not create evil. Where did you get that idea? Bible says that God created free will because He wanted us to be with him out of our free choice. God is in control, but allows us to make that choice. God in his character cannot create sin, so please don't write untrue statements.
God is present and available at any time that every single person on this earth is willing to humble themselves, turn from sin and wrongful ways, bow their knee to God and follow the teachings given in his word "To Love God with All of your Heart, Mind, and Soul", and "To Love Each Other". Every time we sin or live a wrongful lifestyle or judge without mercy or judge without truth and righteousness; when we forsake the poor and needy, the widows, orphans, and fatherless, we are rejecting God. We live in a society that refused to follow God in the first place, so Satan rules the Kingdoms of the Earth. 2nd when we do not follow God in Spirit and in Truth and make that important connection with him, we are governed by what is evil. No one is without sin. Anyone has the potential to commit acts of evil, hate, or violence. God's word states that even a "lie" leads to murder. In our society the children are trained in violence, from what is on television, the movies, video games, books, the news, and even by what happens in one's own household. Adults too are susceptible. If you put "violence" and hate, rebellion, arrogance, and what is false into the brain, the heart, and the soul, then what comes out is not good. You don't obtain good fruit from a bad fruit tree.
God never desires harm to anyone, or death to anyone. Humans have been given choices and responsibility. Every thing we do and every thing we say affects something else, someone else on this planet. God however, has made salvation from our own evil and from the sin of the world possible through his son Jesus Christ, who gave his life for ours so that we could be saved to eternal life instead of eternal damnation. Most precious are the children to God. Jesus told us "suffer not the children to come unto me". Allow your children to learn and to know Jesus Christ, the one living son of God and his teachings. For the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of of those such as these...the precious and innocent children. To those whose loved ones have been taken from the earth today in this terrible tragedy, understand God is a loving and merciful God, and you too can see your loved ones alive and well and full of joy in his Kingdom when the time comes if you accept his son. He is crying for you today too. But humans are given free will, the right to make choices about their own lives, about how their society is governed, about who their government is. We are given choices about what is in our homes, what we read, watch, speak or listen to, and about what examples we set for others in our families and in society. God Loves. As humans we have imperfections. The very reason God sent his son to live and suffer as one of us. To die on the cross, and then to resurrect back to life, he conquered death for all of us, for everyone that will call upon him. There will be a time for those who believe in him where there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, disease, sickness, or death. We will live in the peace that transcends all understanding, and in great joy. Keep your hope...your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and he will restore what has been stolen from us. For Satan is a thief. He comes to steal, kill and destroy.
So basically you're saying, god is good and events like this are our own fault because Eva chose to eat the apple? I think this is a very childish worldview. No offense.
Nonsense. If God is the source of all things, he is necessarily responsible for the existence of all things, including evil. If God is God then God knew exactly what evil and suffering he would have given creation to. He knew of Adam and Eve and Satan and all the suffering after and who would get into Heaven and who would go to Hell. All ahead of even before it happened. So he knew and he is responsible. Think over what I have said.
If God exists:
God created evil.
God created it ALL.
Therefore, God can stop it.
He gives us free will?
He has that same free will to stop atrocities like today, but he chose to excercise he free will and let it happen.
What is the point of worshiping something like that? What is there to worship?
God is not my definition of a "loving" God.
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
God could stop it all, if he so chose to.
Where is God? Not in our schools – we kicked God out – remember?
and rightly so! no place for delusion!
Thanks for making this tragedy political. FAIL.
I'm sorry, "Songbird4", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore "it" cannot be inside or outside of schools. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
If something/someone could be kicked out of school it would not be god. We still fight to keep religion out of schools because mixing religion and government is a bad idea.
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.