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.
When there is not one left who believe in God on earth then God will show no mercy on evil, that will be the end of menkind and sin, and judgement will come for those who choose sin reather then peace and love...for the love of one God has mercy on the the rest and allows evil to stil exist emong us for God loves those who stil claim his name and his promise of eternal life in the heavens...and for their sake he waits to save the sould of those who have choosen God's love and mercy...when the last of God's children depart this earth there'll be no mercy up on evil all who remain will not claim God as their savior, there'll be not need for God's mercy up on evil, that will be judgement's day ...God allows evil cause evil is part of our nature our sinful nature, on God can redemned us from the nagative paradox our sin has created...our departion from God to gain control has separated us from God that is the negative paradox...only through God's forgiveness and our repentance can our sins be cleaned from our living souls...
bla bla bla. Thnks for the nighty night child's story. You have no clue, and proof of nothing. Anyone can make up anything. Obviously you are in need of a psychiatrist.
My sincere condolences to those touched by this abomination. At a time like this I'm reassured through my logical faith that an intelligent creator , one who sees the entire picture and has the best interests of all people will intervene at the right time to correct the trainwreck man has produced here On earth. Nobody has to tell me that my hope while logical is faith based, I get that. What makes me chuckle is all the 'free thinkers' that swallowed the Darwinian koolaid from their laboratory pastor without stopping to try to reflect on the limitations and fallibility of any field of study INCLUDING SCIENCE. Dont believe me, try using a science book from just 100 years ago. Yah go ahead make your choice , your telling me you and your type believe you are just high functioning organic soup, well speak for yourself , go ahead worshipyour holy father in a white coat, see where that gets you. If you were I'll and your doctor prescribed treatment that you ignored, who is to blame. So it is with our creator .
I'll take a 100 year old science book over a thousands year old fable any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
A hundred-year-old science book is far more accurate than a 2000-year-old bible. And it's updated with new discoveries. Your bible just stays the same with the same tired myths.
You call 911 if you have chest pain. You go to doctors if you get sick, not just pray. You would have heart surgery if you needed it. You take antibiotics, and go to the dentist. You sir, are a hypocrite. You would use DNA, (science) to get out of prison. You are a first class liar.
The massacre of a bunch of children reaffirms your belief in god? Wow.
My sincere condolences and thoughts to the families of those who were killed in this senseless acts of murder. I am wondering why some people are blaming religion and blaming God himself for what happened. In the first place, God was banned in schools when the Supreme Court prohibited praying in school. A person cannot talk about God in schools anymore and if you talk about spiritual matters, people will think you are nuts. So why blame God now? Blame those who banned God or the concept of God in schools. Wake up America! Go back to your roots, where the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the one exalted. What America needs now is Jesus Christ. Not the Jesus Christ that you use in cursing but the loving and living Son of God who died for the sins of all mankind.
If Jeebus died for everyone's sins, then why is there still a problem. Didn't do much good, now, did it ?
This kinda of KILLING'S is !! "Enough !! to SHAKE the HEAVENS ....GOD have MERCY on us!!
One problem. No heaven to shake. You're on your own.
Wow, I'm so shocked to see how everyone is blaming God for what happened...guys let's be real here, God gave us free Will first of all, then remember in the Garden of Eden , where Eve decided to allow Evil into the world, that was the start of evil, so now as soon as something bad happens,we quick to blames God, you have common sense use it, the evil in this world started way back in eves time! People always have a choice, and each choice you take has a consequence, so be wise! God exist whether you,your kids,your family even your dog believes it or not!Saying negative things about God won't change the fact that his God! Stop blaming God, rather turn and Blame the devil, after all his responsible(^_^)
dozzydoz, want to try that again in readable English?
Are you kidding me? 20 children are DEAD today. DEAD. You sit here and debate religion on some trashy article on CNN? The question of God or no God will never be answered. Neither side will ever "win" this argument. But yet here you all, self-righteously attacking the other side's belief system. TAKE SOME TIME TO FEEL FOR THESE FAMILIES. THEIR KIDS ARE DEAD. Not one single one of you know what they are going through. Why don't you all let this go? Let people believe what they wish, and for heaven's sake, stop, and take a moment to be thankful this isn't your family in the news today. Your pointless bickering is utterly disrespectful to a community that has gone through a horrible tragedy. Both sides of this message board should be ashamed of themselves.
Wow, good comments!!!
I'm sorry I had a part in upsetting you, Jon. That was not my intent, but it's clear you're bothered by the discussion. I understand that regardless of whether anyone is convinced by each others arguments here, nothing takes back what has happened. I think I'll stop there since nothing I say here will make it any better.
I share your sentiments, although I think everyone here is also coming to terms with what happened. There is no shame in that, we all have to. Even with innumerable stresses in my own life, this made me weep. I'm thankful we have a way to communicate, rather than bottle it all in.
Oh and Jon is, of course, better than every one. Self righteous crap.
Once again, events throw the Problem Of Evil into view. And once again, the Abrahamic religions fail miserably. All do, really.
Read up on the Problem Of Evil. It's a philosophical acid bath for the credibility of a religion, and virtually all fail.
why does it take a catastrophe to all of the sudden have bible thumpers ask "where is god?". You didn't ask where is god when other people die violently in other parts of the world, neither did you care. So why start now? If there was a god, at least he remains constant in not appearing when he is most needed. But then again, none of you will ever be able to break the mold and see the simple truth! if you live in fear of going to hell, of upsetting your god, or not going to heaven. You will NEVER be able to see the truth. There is no god and that's OK.
But i was brainwashed as a child! it isn't my fault
I'm not so sure it's all "Bible Thumpers" asking where God is... I've seen some pretty antagonistic questions by those that aren't theists on this forum along those lines. As someone who wasn't raised as a Christian but chose based on what I saw, read and experienced to follow Jesus, I disagree with you, and I certainly don't live in fear of going to hell (or not going to heaven). That's not what the Bible teaches. – Bible Thumper
Both believers and non believers can't prove there is or isn't a God because neither has been to the other side of the curtain and back. The difference is that at least believers admit their beliefs are based on faith.
Well said and aptly put . . . Religion is a crutch for weak-minded people who find safety in numbers, but if that's anybody's particular way of coping, that's fine. It's okay to find solace in deeply-rooted thoughts and beliefs in times of trouble I suppose. They serve a psychological purpose and a balm for the so-called "soul". But to demand anything of a physical nature from this or any type of "god" is wishful thinking. Sadly, it's never going to happen.
interesting that so much effort gets spent in America telling God to leave the classroom, then people what to call him to account when someone walks in with a gun and starts shooting. Demanding that God stop someone else from evil but demanding that he butt out from your evil doesn't work that way. Where do you draw the line? God don't let this guy hurt me, but don't stop me from hurting him? Don't let that guy lie to me, but stop telling me not to lie to this guy? This breaks God's heart infinitely more than it breaks yours and you'd better be sure that he's a whole lot more angry over it. Yet he is not impotent to stop it (see my former argument).
So you want to live in a theocracy. Would Allah be ok for your school ?
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I never said anything about a theocracy. There is a significant difference between allowing the free practice of religion or no religion in schools by the students and theocracy. There is nothing in the Bible about forcing people to believe anything so I would never pretend to argue that's what should be done.
Well then send your kids to private school. But in public school, where there is a ~23% non-Christian population, there is no place or time for religious practice or study. If you can't find time to educate your children in your beliefs outside of their public education – well that's on you. If you think this is unfair, quit whining and try to overturn two SCOTUS decisions 1962 & 63 (that had quite a history leading up to them – they just didn't pop out of thin air).
You said, "I never said anything about a theocracy."
Forcing your particular flavor of delusion on anyone who may, or may not believe it is a theocracy.
You said, "There is a significant difference between allowing the free practice of religion or no religion in schools by the students and theocracy."
Your freedom to practice your religion, and to worship as you see fit, is not infringed upon. You just can't force that bullshit on others.
If you don't want your children forced to pray to Allah, or Thor, or any of the thousands of gods, you should also advocate for removal of all religion out of the public sphere.
I agree with u. God isn't allowed in the
classroom and slowly being removed from the culture in the usa, when God isn t present, evil is.
pntkl, so you plagiarize Paul, and not even credit the founder of your cult ? How dishonest is that.
Dg, Thank you for the correction. I do find it interesting that you imply I'm Christian. However, I am not a Christian. If you were to ask me what I am, I would say, "I AM a servant of G-d, and so the hand of G-d am I."
it's funny ever time something bad happens people want to know where is god but most people have no trouble banning him out of school out of the work place and also trying to take him out of christmas but now that something bad as happen now people want to know where he is..... am so sick of this no one wants him in are schools or in are work place and trying to take him out of christmas but as soon as something goes wrong now people want to know where he is. my thoughts and prayers are with all of the familys and friends who lost love ones today may god bless you and your family
What does "god bless" mean ? Sprinkling of fairy dust ? Bla bla bla. Religious nonsense.
Hey stupid! Different people. Not the same. Atheists are not the ones asking "where's God?"
its the believers who want to know where he is--the non believers already know
Your omniscient god is a vampire then.
Our, not are
Families, not familys
Additional errors too numerous to list.
Written like a typical religious nut, tom. Get out of that church and spend more time educating yourself.
And stop try to screw with the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.
@tom, If god is so powerful, how can he be "banned" from anywhere? Sounds pretty weak to me.
So many people who believe in "god" are hypocrites . . . they only want him/her/it around when it's CONVENIENT for them. At other times less convenient, "god" takes a back seat.
Ask you priest of pastor why god let these children die. If he answers that we cannot know the mind of god, then throw the bible in his face. If we cannot know the mind of god, then we do not know what god wants from us. If we can't know what god wants from us then the bible is meaningless. You can't have it both ways. If you want to preach that god wants us to do this and that then you can't throw your hands in the air and claim it is all a big mystery whenever it doesn't make sense.
If we cannot know the mind of god, then we go out for pizza. If we go out for pizza we clog up our arteries. If we clog up our arteries, we go to the cardiologist and he gets rich. If he gets rich, he buys a new house. If he buys a new house, he hires an electrician. If he hires an electrician, he buys cable.
I will pray tonight for these children and their families.
And biblo, it will do no good. o you actually think you will change the mind of your god ?
Here's the thing, if you believe there is no God and we are all here by some random accident then No one has the right to call any action good or bad. What is good or bad is just a personal opinion. If we are all here due to some random event, then perhaps the gunmen thinks killing children is ok because why should some humans decide what is acceptable and what is not. Without God, good or evil is just a viewpoint. A human can reasonably ask another who are you to tell me what is right or wrong, there is no eternal punishment so I'll do what I want.
Now to answer Where's God. Everyone will die, this is a fact. Killings like this seem more painful because we have a visual in our mind of ppl getting shot. In reality, no one knows what exactly happens at the time of death, perhaps these children felt no pain at all due to God. Perhaps an evil person will feel immense pain at the time of death even if he dies in his bed. So what seems like a tragedy for us, may in fact be a blessing for the children. Perhaps the children felt no pain at all and will go to Heaven and this incident was God's way of warning US.
Nonsense. Good and bad are easily developed by seculars. Things that cause pain, misery, and suffering are bad. Nothing tough about that.
It's just crazy to think you need an invisible superbuddy in the sky to have a system of ethics. There are a great many excellent reasons for people to behave decently to each other.
Please do us all a favor and never shed your infantile beliefs. You are apparently incapable of rational thought and have problems discerning right from wrong. If you need your religion to keep from becoming a mass-murderer, please keep believing.
Right/ wrong, good/ bad becomes meaningless if there isn't a higher power judging this. To use an analogy, suppose you work at a company with no boss or owner. You decide to show up to work onetime and do your best; someone else decides to slack off and not show up for work on time. Without a higher authorirty, who is to say who is a good worker and who is not? There is no boss so there'll be no reward for doing a good job, both employees are doing what they feel is right.
Some of us don't need an authority figure breathing down our neck 24/7 to do what is right. We don't need the constant threat of eternal punishment to see the benefits of kindness, compassion and treating others as we wish to be treated.
Jesus H. Fucking Christ are you really such a big moron, or do you just play one on the internet?
You said, "Right/ wrong, good/ bad becomes meaningless if there isn't a higher power judging this."
All that matters is how we live together in this society. If your actions cause undue harm, it's wrong. Whether there is a higher power is completely irrelevant.
You said, "To use an analogy, suppose you work at a company with no boss or owner. You decide to show up to work onetime and do your best; someone else decides to slack off and not show up for work on time. Without a higher authorirty, who is to say who is a good worker and who is not? There is no boss so there'll be no reward for doing a good job, both employees are doing what they feel is right."
the big difference is that bosses and companies are real. There are real agreements and contracts that spell out the work and compensation for it.
Again, you and I may think that living in peace and harmony is the right way to live. However, someone else may think that violence is the way to live. This person may believe that we are here only by random chance and since there is no life after death that they should just do whatever they want. Without someone judging us, people will have a different view as to how one should live. One person may want to live a life of kindness, another one just wants to cause havoc. If there is no God, who is right or wrong will be judged by other humans and each persons opinion is equally valid in that case since we have been given no blueprint on how to live our lives. The majority may decide what is right or wrong for a particular situation, but if there is no God and no one will be held accountable, what is the point? A person may think, hey you guys decided what is right or wrong but Idisagree with your view and since we all just die anyways without being judged afterwards why should I follow your rules?
How dreary. No, humans create a system of ethics and codify it into law. Everyones' opinions are equally valid, but none are above the law. People who are dangerous are given a chance to rehabilitate, or they are removed from circulation.
It's really very simple and very obvious. Humans create their system of ethics.
Now consider this: God's morality in the Old Testament was absolutely monstrous and evil. The codes of ethics we enjoy now are not the product of any scripture, but of pragmatism and Enlightenment ideals. And they are much fairer and more humane than anything in the Bible.
IF you need god for morality, then non-Christian societies could not possibly have systems of morality, but they do, and they look similar to Christian ones. And Morality could not have pre-existed the Bible, but it did, by millenia.
" where is God?" Where is evolution? We teach our kids about it, now we need to explain.
The way religious people respond to horrors like this, the nutty things they say, they crazy delusions they throw around, wel, I just want to thank all of them. They are by far the best recruiters for secularism.
Why ask that,G-d had nothing to do with this.He created us but has given us free will(there is no plan, he is not directing anyone). This was the action of a deranged person,it's very sad but no supernatural being had anything to do with it.
Why didn't the children get any free will? Why does God only give free will to the murderers?
Nope. "he" created nothing. Science has debunked "free will" Try harder.
That's a good question considering that a Christian god allowed this tragedy to occur. People come up w/ the most ridiculous nonsense to justify how their "god" allowed this tragedy to occur. Simply pathetic. Not much more to say.
How can you ask where is something that does not actually exist?
Cogito ergo sum.
The kool aid levels are high in the religious minds.
The problem with Descarte's cognito ergo sum discussion is that it relies on numerous non sequiturs to get to God exists.
It doesn't hold water. Sorry
Rene, that wasn't meant to hold water, or in other words to prove a negative. Even if I could, if I'm not forthcoming with anyone, then it is just as well to others that no proof is to be found. The quote was alluding, although poorly, more to how we as people are bound to tradition and point(s) of reference. Basically put, when it comes to reality: it depends on what the definition of 'is' is.
DON't ask? where's GOD?? ask your SATAN GOD why he let that DEMON KILL ALL the Children's and their Teacher's
I was busy with the laundry.
I was pooping. Now leave me alone.
Popa forgot to tweet God that something krazy is happening this Xmax
IN the past God tried to eliminate all evil, but soon he realized that would mean eliminating all living things in this earth including the animals amond menkind, so instead he send his beloved son, to show us the way to repent and find ourself and the way to salvation by the grace and mercy of God amen...God is in control evil is allowed cause God love us enough to forgive us if we choose to be by his side...God is real and in control...but control is not what he is after but only to show us the way to salvation of our souls...
And God decide that it is no use trying to fight evil ...so just let it ride thru history
Interesting how religious people write like they are on their fourteenth shot of Jack.
So let me get this straight, god made people with the capacity for evil and a choice to be evil but then decided to destroy them because they chose evil... THEN he realized that he couldn't do that without destroying all of his creation which was now evil. So he made a plan where he'd wait a couple thousand years to kill his own son so he could save some of his creation, BUT only if they believed in the story and accepted him? It's so simple... why didn't I think of it?
Where is God in Newtown today ? Is he taking a Xmas break ?
Maybe I'm wrong, but I get the strong impression you live for days like this.
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.