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.
We have to explain ourselves to God, not the other way around.
I'd love to, but he never shows the fvck up. God is so invisible as to be imaginary.
Still talking to IMAGINARY FRIENDS?
God Is Imaginary ___ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com
He'd have to exist first.
I thought he could read our minds?Isn't that what prayer is all about?I am truly puzzled now.
How do you explain yourself to something that doesnot exist?
He never answers so im not calling anymore.
Those that believe in a god probably shouldn't be allowed to own a gun either. I personally believe that any who believes in one of these antiquated belief systems is likely either a little slow in the head or mentally ill (delusional and/or out of touch with reality). Whenever you have someone who says 1 + 1 = 3 because they have faith, that is a sign that something isnt quiet working correctly in their minds.
I could hardly believe my eyes seeing all of the posts trying to justify why a god would let these innocent children die like this. They thought they were being really clever saying that their god has been removed from the schools, so hence he didnt protect these children. To that I would say, are you confusing vampires and your god? A god does not need to be invited into anywhere to exert his power, at least if you believe they are omnipotent and omnipresent etc.
All that being said, I am not sure why I am trying to seriously trying to convince anyone of anything on an internet message board, especially the religious. When you have faith (i.e. you believe things that rational thought does not support/ aka delusional), there really isnt going to be a lot of rational thought and critical thinking.
The more interesting thing moving forward will be how the NRA and the Republican party defend the rights of mentally ill to attain guns as they have in the past. /facepalm
Actually in all technicality they ARE mentally ill. The field of psychology defines religious belief as a form of mild schizophrenia. Go look it up.
The last thing I want to do is stick up for Christians. I once believed and no longer believe. It's not because I suddenly became smarter. It's because I was raised to believe. And for the better part of my life, it simply wasn't that important of a topic to me. I didn't care to put in the time to do my own research. Later in life, thanks to the internet, not only did it become easier to do my own research, I became more interested in getting to the bottom of questions I had. I find that many people fall in the same category. They're not dumb. OK, well, some are. They're just misinformed. There are dumb atheists too.
Those who believe in a god...
May your faiths be reserved and calloused in there faithfully being One God who rules over all the godly be they God's family trees or even other issuances of godliness made trees.
I am SOOOOOO tired of hearing people WHINE about "WE NEED GOD IN OUR SCHOOLS" Well let me tell you what. You want your christian god in public schools? Then you better bring in every other religions god(s) into the schools as well. And I mean ALL of them, whether it be God, Jesus, Allah, Shiva, Lucifer, Adonis, Brahma, Dionysus, Eros, etc. not everyone believes in a christian god get over it!!!!
Christians are whiners and experts at playing the victim. What did you expect?
"I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me."
I am a spiritual being having a human experience.
Ahemmmm (clears throat)
your Christian God is Imaginary _ http://www.godIsImaginary.com
Your Christian God is Imaginary __ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com
and WORSE ... He is a MURDERER ... as DETAILED IN HIS OWN BOOK (the bible):
The Christian God does NOT care about human life, adult or child.
How many has God killed? How many people did God kill in the Bible?
More than 25,000,000 people! ........................ adults and CHILDREN !!!
We are always taught to forgive. For they know not what they do. Our awareness of good and evil should not be without more guidance. We were manipulated and left as a sort of underdeveloped hominid. We must have hope for each other and love. If nothing else. We have learned as a species that we will adapt, we will evolve but only together. Must have patience. Humility, to be Humble. Harmony. So convenient to be evil however. So I have hope for guidance. I have hope for my children, I have hope for the good hearts in the world to be conscious of each other to help lessen the suffering. Divinity is not without much effort.
Hey, I want to check the Canadian version of CNN to see if they're just as stupid as the fools on this site
Oh wait – there is no Canadian version of CNN
Hillary Watch the fiscal cliff your almost bankrupt we will help you get back on track because we as Canadins are a loving and caring people and we love our neigbours you the american people god bless America and your great president.
Ha ha ha Canuck.
There is no Canadian version of the NRA,Ann Coulter,WBC and Fox either..and your point is..?
Record for coming to the rescue first at mass shootings: God: 0 First Responders: Over a million.
You are very arrogant and very foolish in your comment. Without Christ, who will rescue you one split second after your death? Thank God for the children, that GOD did save.
OH noes, is the big bad man gonna get me when I die? That's what you religous loons don't get. Threatening someone with your imaginary friend is akin to threatening someone with the tooth fairy. You're delusional fears mean nothing to me.
@ myvu – NO ONE rescues you a split second after death. well, maybe Santa, but only if you've been good
Death is not a threat, it is a fact of life for all human beings. And after this the Judgement.
And of course, you can prove this, myVu? Do tell.
To the parents out there that lost their child in this tragedy. My heart goes out to you. But let this be a lesson to all other parents who haven't had their kid baptized yet. If any of these parents waited for their child to be baptized, then they allowed their child to die with original sin, meaning they are in hell right now, burning for eternity. By not baptizing your child as soon as it exits the mother, you are running the risk of damning your child to hell.
You're either trolling, in which case you're a mor0n, or you're serious, in which case you're a mor0n.
I am trolling, hence the B Troll name. I don't think I'm a m0r0n though. I was literally taught this in Sunday school.
Now you are just being silly, many religions do not have a baptism ritual; mind you, it is a nice cash generator for the christian crowd, ka-ching!
If they're not baptized, then they're not real Christians. Yes, I'm still trolling.
that s all changed the pope just changed it, the kids go to hell please take your pills!
Canada . . . America's largest national park!
Okay, now you're sounding like "This is That"
Canada is one of the top country in the world Watch out not to fall over the fiscal cliff Hillary
God is Canadian Hillary
Canadians! Who cares about them?
God cares about Canadians Hillary
I wonder if Lanza is getting 72 virgins?
Eco liberator, palestinian freedom fighter!!!
Believer or not, I feel that we need to put more emphasis on raising our children with better coping skills. Prayer may work for some, but it doesn't work for everyone. Nowadays, thanks to advances in medicine and psychology, we can better identify and treat these unstable people before they snap and go on a killing spree. If they want to go and pray, they're still free to do so. But at least they'll have better coping skills.
You have to wonder about the parenting because this guy went after his mother, makes you wonder.
if there is one he,she,it is in hell, if there is one.
Turning to the supernatural for explanation on your bad fortunes in life: about as primitive as it gets.
remember your words youoffer here to others when tragedy visits you......then you will discover why you have knees....
"remember your words youoffer here to others when tragedy visits you"
Typical Christian response....the boogie man is going to get you then you'll be sorry! That's not a loving God, that's a monster.
the message is for you too, Brian.....it is not "Christian"... it means you will have an opportunity to see in your life how you respond to tragedy......so prepare yourself to exercise your "love".....lol....
" it means you will have an opportunity to see in your life how you respond to tragedy......so prepare yourself to exercise your "love"..."
I have had horrific things happen in my life but I didn't need the crutch of a non-existent God to get through it. I probably have more love than you since you want horrific things to happen to people to justify your answer of "love." You're a monster like the God you worship in your cult. Wake up, your version of love is sick.
Brian you have monsters in your mind........ you're like a scared little boy........lol...... that is the real tragedy
"Brian you have monsters in your mind........ you're like a scared little boy........lol...... that is the real tragedy"
No, that's what you have to tell yourself so you can feel OK with your sick definition of love.
it's ok to be scared, Brian..... you'll be okay......... you're a survivor.....lol......
"it's ok to be scared, Brian..... you'll be okay......... you're a survivor.....lol......"
I am not scared, I have no need to be but it's entertaining to read your desperation on justifying your sick definition of love. You might want to seek professional help.
Brian you're more loving than me.....go lover monster today....lol................
"Brian you're more loving than me.....go lover monster today....lol..............."
That's better than wishing someone tragedy to happen in their lives because to me that is the classic definition of a monster, which is why your post was sick.
"when tragedy visits you......then you will discover why you have knees...." = definition of a monster. LMAO!
Brian I am pleased you find my sick words entertaining...........lol.......... you are much more afraid than you realize..... try to have a good day Brian......... I will be checking up on you periodically......lol....
""when tragedy visits you......then you will discover why you have knees...."
So by your poor definition of love all those innocent children had to die so their parents could end up on their knee's loving your God, that' sick! That's why your definition of love is twisted!
Brian you have renewed my faith in humanity....... there is hope for you after all.....lol..... go love a monster today Brian......
Brian, did I say that, or is that what you perceive in my words? You could gain much by questioning your fears and arrogant resistance to higher intelligence......if you care to do so, visit the web page I posted, and send me an email. But if you do, be ready yo question your mind and its conclusions.... Life has arranged for us to meet, Brian. Do not deny yourself this opportunity to know yourself.....this is your wake up call, Brian.....take my words to heart.....i am here for you
Brian, I will copy our dialog and post it to my website, ok? You will not mind your words be viewed by others?
"Life has arranged for us to meet, Brian. Do not deny yourself this opportunity to know yourself.....this is your wake up call, Brian.....take my words to heart.....i am here for you"
No, this is your wake up call. I am posting to show you that what you post is crap and your the arrogant one thinking this is all about you. Wow you need to get your ego in check and get some professional help.
"Brian, I will copy our dialog and post it to my website, ok? You will not mind your words be viewed by others?"
I don't have an issue with it at all but again the reason you're doing that is so you can continue to stroke your ego. Your arrogance is appalling and disgusting.
So David Joy do you not see your own arrogance in this conversation or what?
“You could gain much by questioning your fears and arrogant resistance to higher intelligence.”
You’re assuming I am arrogant by a few sentences, that speaks volumes of your own arrogance. You have no idea who I am yet you immediately went to a very negative thought process. The fact you couldn’t see your own condescending comment that started all of this also points to your own arrogance. You think you have conquered your own ego but the fact you had to post your website and copy what I wrote further proves you are a slave to your ego unconsciously.
God where is he ,not in the U.S.A.,not in Palestine,surely not in Israel and not even in my country Canad.So where is your gods because there is many of them depending on your religion.Does god love people in countries that wage war all the time and have the right to bare arms that kill their own children? Is that your Gods or maybe the DEVIL in you!
The Christian God is Imaginary __ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com
Did Lanza ever listen to Rush?
Hillary are you in a coma?
Seems you hit a nerve with Blaster. Maybe he thinks Rush is God.
Skytag, how many other profiles you go under other than Hillary over here?
@Blaster: If your Rush Limbaugh tinfoil beanie is telling you I have more than one account you need to see about getting it serviced.
People were waiting for angels to come with fire at the rescue ?
How insane, this nation has rejected God, he is out of schools, out of homes, CNN is against Christianity, there are instances where it is illegal to speak about God, and people are waiting for God to rescue them ???
I agree, CNN is well known to be against God. Most of the people working there are atheists if not all of them by now.
How do you know for sure Christianity is the real deal?
Gosh, you're stupid, Blaster.
So what you're saying is that your god is petty and will only save people if he feels like it or if they kiss his a** enough?
You're not in bed yet Tom The Piper Q u e e r?
So basically you are saying God allowed a class of Kindergarteners to be shot in order to get our nation to wake up and invite Him back into schools and the public square. Maybe you can promote a God who allows kindergarteners to be shot to prove a point, but that is why I believe there is no God.
"Blaster", I'm afraid "Tom Tom, the Piper's Son"'s assertion is correct. You are, in fact, stupid.
Blaster, why would you imagine that I'm gay? I'm a straight female, dumbs!t. Why would I be in bed at this hour of the day when I slept for 8 hours last night?
Your imaginary friend has never rescued anyone. You're just doing what believers always do, trying to come up with an excuse for that reality.
@ blaster – well, your response to Tom really sums up your intellectual and emotional level of maturity. Inferring that someone is gay as an insult – what are you, in grade 4?
Oh so you're a female Tom the Piper, then you must have a kick on me for following me all over the place like this lol. I only hope you're pretty.
You seem surprised. Blaster/Brophy/Clown/Bro is about 16.
Blah blah blah. God has his hands tied? Parents have their hands tied?
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.
Why would God fail to rescue one person because someone else doesn't believe in him?
I'm just responding to you because you're so easy, Blaster/Brophy. You take the bait every time.
Pretty petty of your God to get angry and abandon you just because a lot of us don't believe in him. Maybe you should find a better one.
@ The 50 Foot Underwear
Judging from the nick name you took, you must be around 12 yourself.
I think we both could be a perfect match together Tom The Piper, that's exactly what i thought about you too. lol
Sorry for you, Brophy. I'm taken.
You may think about God anywhere you choose...You may speak about God in front of those who choose to listen .....You may not lock me in a classroom or government building and speak about your God because I may not want to listen.
Maybe the shooter was a Hamas freedom fighter and he thought the kids were Jewish???
Hillary the shooter is AMERICAN from your beautiful country the great U.S.A.
LOL Canuck, so true.
What's so great about the USA?
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.