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.
Atheist can spew their philosophy from the roof top but God will never go away. Christians will never go away. As Jesus once said the "gates of hell" will not "prevail" against the church. Now, if the the devil himself will never have a chance to destroy the church, what makes you think lowly men with earthly confined intelligence can do it. Ever wonder why Christianity, if it is such a hoax, continues to transcend each generation. There is something to it that the fleshly, earthly man cannot identify with nor see. Unfortunately, many will not see until they pass from this earth to death. Tragic.
_ God Is Imaginary ___ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ___ (visit this website)
It is called brain washing, before a child can think and reason on its own. Get it.
"Ever wonder why Christianity, if it is such a hoax, continues to transcend each generation."
Have YOU ever wondered the same thing Judaism, Buddism, HInduism & Islam?
Christianity has reformed itself time and time again in order to survive. It has not stood the test of time. This notion is simply more lies in order to mask other lies.
Actually reading from this forum, I get the impression that it is the Christians who are moving towards atheism the most. So by the look of it, Christianity may not be able to transcend many more generations after all. But if I see my country, there isn't a big atheist movement here, and no one really cares what others think about religion. And Hinduism has survived for the past 5000 years or so...
But then of course, there are no stats..
Get some sleep, you've been up all night annoying people. Go to bed now.
What's the matter, Blaster? You sound jealous. Did mommy make you go to bed at 9?
I guess others were right about you Tom The Piper when they said that you have no life.
Blaster, do you have anything original or are you just another Brophy?
You ask the question "Where was God?" The simple but unfortunately hurtful truth is this. You rejected Him and refused Him in schools. I'm sorry that during this time, this simple answer seems callous, but the anger at God for His "absence" is illogical. If you removed the governing body from a country and the country fell to chaos, would you cry out in your anguish and question the governing body that you requested to leave why they were not there? YOU TOLD GOD THAT YOU DIDN'T WANT HIM. WHY WOULD HE INTERVENE ONLY AFTER A TRAGEDY WHEN YOU FINALLY DECIDED YOU NEEDED SOMETHING FROM HIM? Please do not misconstrue my statement as blaming the families that lost their children. The blame is on society as a whole. As a father, I deeply feel for each family, but I also understand that the blatant rejection of the God whose name and principles this country were founded on, has caused Him to slowly and continuously remove our blessings. I do not hate any of you. I love each of you as I do my own children. I do not wish to see any of you perish.
Please seek help
Sir, the nation started out with a triune structure, balanced, to protect rights. That wasn't gud enuff for the progressives. So here we are. Have you noticed the tail waggin' the dog?
"You rejected Him and refused Him in schools."
Doesn't say much for religious parents when they have to blame public school education for their inability to educate their children via church and other means to instill moral values.
We are not a theocracy, therefore mandated prayer and Bible readings are not allowed in public schools where there is currently a ~23% non-Christian population. That is the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment in action (ruled in 1962 & 1963). Go live in another country if you can't live by the Constitution and its Amendments.
James Madison, 4th POTUS, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and several Amendments including the 1st:
Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.
Our most recent constitutional Amendment, number 27, adopted in 1992, was first introduced by James Madison in 1789.
That makes complete sense that God would be responsible for this considering the many times that God kills innocent children in the Bible. Once a serial killer gets started they just can't stop. It's a sickness.
Correction: scratch, "So here we are." Replace with, "So here IT is."
Your explanation makes no sense. Then why do some of the most innocent, God fearing people die in horrific ways, even in churches where God is definitely allowed. This is the hypocrisy of organized religion, use time like these to take advantage of people, then spread hatred when it benefits your cause.
And I should add the 1962 & 1963 SCOTUS rulings didn't just pop out of nowhere. There were previous rulings and and gradual build towards those rulings which have now stood for ~50 years. If one looks closely at past rulings big and small, they will see that the 1st Amendment is always under attack by those pushing for a theocracy. Thankfully, our very Deistic framers new how to keep fundamentalists under control.
God only helps football players score touchdowns, he's not much help with children or saving Jews from the Nazis or innocents from a Tsunami.
... because he is Imaginary ...
You've been hangin' with The Realist, I see.
ha ha ha good one.
When will it be people realize that the majority kicked God out of school....Ya know, Satan is alive and doing his best to lead people away from God. We are a decieved nation with many perpetuating this deception!
Don't be mixing' with the "WE" deity.
And Satan have a lot of help by atheists doing just that.
Satan? You have a firm grasp on reality.
Protested any military funerals lately?
If people are not teaching their children about their morals values (God or not) outside of public schools, then that's their fault.
OK mama k, there was a J college killlin' and now this. Son's of educratists. The joker went even further by being on the gubmint payroll.
Well then don't misinterpret the situation, lol??
well Jesus had to address such a question when asked about some people that had died in a tragic event in those days .Jesus asked them wether they died because they were worse sinners than they .well I will ask you the same question were those kids worse sinners than you ? I bet you are worse . and what Jesus was saying is don't worry about them.worry about yourself .are you right with God ? if you were to die tonight based on the way you are living your life would you make heaven your home? if not sure , does that concern you ? It does concern God .The bible says that we all have to die .how it happens , I don't know. but what is sure is that oneday you are going to die and one-day you will stand before God and give an account of your life .Jesus died on a cross for our sins because He loves us and does not want us to die unprepared in our sins and spend eternity in hell . God does care about your soul and even those kids that died . God loves us so much that He is not willing anyone to die in their sins and go to hell. but it is a choice .so its not for us to wonder why God let it happen like that.but rather worry about wether you are right with God . when that day comes and you breath your last breath ,will you be ready ? well you are still alive because God is giving you another chance to repent and turn away from your sins .
There is NO god, NO devil, and NO jesus ...
Who exactly are you praying to? The god who stood by and allowed it! With his arms folded in apathy! Pray to a god that will comfort their sorrow but couldn't lift a finger to stop the murderer of 20+ kids?
Don't pray over what happened yesterday in CT, or in Colorado, in Oregon. Instead do something useful like discuss with your kids, friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers about the cause of this tragic action and how best we as a society can move forward and prevent further tragedies.
There you go trying to do something effective. We would rather murmur to ourselves until this goes away.
That "WE" deity pops up everywhere. Socialists!
If you actually believe in god, which I know not everybody does, there's something in the bible that says you can't ever know the mind of god and that everything happens for a reason. Even awful things like this happen in order to facilitate future events. So life hurts, that's the ropes. You get over it or you don't. That, too, is how god shapes the world.
All over the internet, I see people saying this happened because God was not allowed in schools. This tells me that they think he is vengeful and will sacrifice the young and the innocent. I wonder if the Senator from Indiana also thinks this was in God's plans. God will never heal and he will never strike down anyone as an act of vengeance. He is there to help people through times of need, but he cannot control the human mind-or this and countless other acts of tragedy through history would never have happened.
The god of the bible is a warm loving forgiving god, so the story goes; in reality He is a mean vengeful hateful aszhole of a god. Worship Him if you find it comforting but please do not give your money to the scam artists that make a living off of selling the BS.
God hasn't poured out His wrath...no, not even. We are warned in Revelation of what horrors THAT will be. God isn't "avenging" no prayer in school, etc...By making God less "available" in public school then who is going to fill that gap...and YES it WILL be filled. Far too many Christians even tend to view this physical life as "all there is"...Shake their fist at God for every bad thing that happens. We have free will to do either good/bad or any combination of the two. This incident was bad, very bad...We cannot see the big picture as God does. Who knows how many miracles He may have caused to happen to save many more lives than might have been taken. Remember the gun of Mall shooter jammed. Maybe coincidence...maybe intervention. Who is to say. The FACT is if you keep forcing God out of the lives of Americans then we all stand a higher risk of increased evil deeds happening. In the wonderful words of Joshua in scripture (paraphrased of course) "Choose today for yourselves whom you will follow, but as for me and my household, we shall serve the LORD!"
So would this person have done it if he did not immediately know that he would be famous on TV???...it's a sad way of getting attention...all those people killed are in heaven and the shooter is in hell....i feel sorry for him...god is real...
He did what he did because he had some delusion about life or maybe. I doubt he killed 20 kids just to get on tv.
Maybe all the kids were not christians – why do you assume that they are ?
Heaven is a "reward" to convince people to believe.
Hell is a "punishment" to convince people to believe.
TRUTH = _ God Is Imaginary ___ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ___ (visit this website)
_ God Is Imaginary ___ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ___ (visit this website
The domain godhateskids.com has just been taken. Now I have to come up with something else.
We will never know.
Blaster, why are you concerned with what Atheists think?
Anyone should be, all one needs to do is watching you. Just reading your post and seeing atheists attacking religious all night long is pretty obvious that most of you have no life. I see those same atheists names many times going on for hours running their big mouth. It's clear that those people have no job and no life.
Again, Blaster, you seem to be unduly concerned with how others spend their time. Why? Are they forcing you to read their comments? Are you chained to your chair?
If you are so a-nal that you go back through posts to see what time atheists posted so you can satisfy yourself that they "have no life and no job," what's that say about how you spend YOUR time?
@Tom The Piper
I noticed you haven't slept all night, is this the only thing you're good at? Running your big mouth at others. You're a sad atheist indeed.
No, dear, I slept just fine. Apparently, you are not terribly adept at reading.
By the way, Blaster, do you move your lips when you read and type? I don't need to do that.
Blaster: Pot meet kettle! You're accusing us of doing exactly what you are doing. Morals were around long before your imaginary friend was thought of and they'll be around long after it is forgotten.
@ Tom The Piper
You're a sad individual indeed. I feel sorry for you.
Blaster/ClownQuestion/Brophy: you can use whatever moniker you wish, but your style is unmistakable. If all you do is follow my posts, I do believe you're the one with no life.
God is not spiteful. Evil breeds where there is no God. For the past 2 decades we have been kicking God of everything in the name of tolerance. I hope everyone enjoys our newly named Holiday tree.
Joe, it is nice to know that God kills children when his feelings are hurt.
I see. So if those young, blameless children hadn't been wearing short skirts...
Your argument is repulsive, and is one of the best arguments against the existence of god that can be constructed.
JOe - God Is Imaginary ___ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ___ (visit this website)
I'm a Christian. Tell the gubmint god to get that blasphemous tree out of our faces.
"God is not spiteful"???? the same god that allowed the inquisition, and mass genocide of flooding the earth. Kicking out two people for eating a piece of fruit. Turned Lots wife into salt for looking behind her. USING Job, destroying his life as a bet he made with the devil. Your god is quite spiteful to allow millions of kids to die year after year.
Why everyone should be an ATHEIST
Simran we were given dominion over animals, we were made in his likeness......eve was given a choice. As are you, God has given you free will to believe in Him. He is still waiting for you and His spirit is alive in you. You were born with His spirit, and his love. Certain godly values were put in you, certain commandments....you knew it was wrong to kill your parents you did not have to be taught that, God is all around you, his blueprints are everywhere.whether you choose to ignore him, someday hopefully you will open your heart to him. I have and I am much richer for it. Satan tries to ruin our lives, weak people reject God and let Satan prevail. Again, I am no theologian but I welcome you to go to church tomorrow and talk to a pastor
It's too late for pastors. They incorporated their churches. Go straight to the word.
There is no god.
Most normal people see religious zealotry as a form of mental illness.
My questions still remain –
1. If god created everything, and he knew everything, why did he create satan?
2. How did eve know it was sin to eat the apple before she ate the apple? ("God said so" sounds more like my mom shouting at me "Do this coz I say so...")
3. If eve subjected womankind to painful childbirth by eating an apple, what did the other mammals eat?
JBurd "I welcome you to go to church tomorrow and talk to a pastor"
No thanks, I value my as.s very much!
Leaving aside the pu.n here, why do you believe that only your god is the true god and only the bible/ bible preacher can help me? Why can't the Quran help me? Or the Vedas? Or the million other scriptures in the world?
All over the press and media, its being reported that Americans are searching for answers to this tragedy. Hey, the CIA has all the answers. In other words, the CIA has the names and addresses of all the defiant and stubborn gun advocates in congress and in the NRA, their place of residence, where their kids go to school and where their wives go shopping. Perhaps they should release Bradley Manning and see how fast the right wing MF's come to their senses and get serious about gun control in this country.
HOOOOWAY for the gubmint god!
The question always seems to be is there a god, yet never is there a devil. I think what people fail to realize is that religion is about good vrs. evil, If there is both a god and a devil and they disagreed weather humans would be more good then evil then interfering would create and unfair advantage rather then a unbias assessment. Its up to us humans to decide weather to choose good over evil, not god or the devil, they are simply testing human behavior. Perhaps the devil was right, people are more evil then good. Perhaps god was right, there are more good people then evil ones, and the assessment continues.
“There are plenty of good reasons for fighting,but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side. It's that part of every man that finds all kinds of ugliness so attractive.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Mother Night
Without humans there could be no evil. Without humans there would be no horror. Without humans there would be no devil. Without humans there would be no god.
It's funny how a tsunami can kill a quarter million people, and then people expect "god" to intervene and spare just 27 lives.
What happened is terrible, but people need to wake up and acknowledge that there's no evidence for a god.
YES - God Is Imaginary ___ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ___ (visit this website)
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.