home
RSS
December 14th, 2012
06:17 PM ET

Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where’s God?'

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • God • Uncategorized

soundoff (9,195 Responses)
  1. THE REALIST

    .

    If you are a christian, ... you WORSHIP a MASS MURDER! SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!!!

    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 !!!

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html.

    .

    December 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  2. Ingrid

    GOD? people are wondering where is God when 20 children are innocently killed on Friday, Well, where is God when hundreds of children are dying from starvation and sickness everyday all over the world. Where is god, does he exist? does he actually love us? Very good question. I never believe God involves in human affair.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • mama k

      Well you know several of our very Deistic key founders thought that way.

      This is a beautiful bit from John Adams, the 2nd POTUS:

      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.

      (from A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788])

      December 15, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  3. Hillary

    How many more children have to die before we realize that we have too many freedom?

    December 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  4. THE REALIST

    .

    If you are a christian, ... you WORSHIP a MASS MURDER! SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!!!
    .

    The Christian God is Imaginary __ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com

    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 !!!

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html.

    .

    December 15, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • GAW

      Quit spaming dude. You are desperate for attention. We get the point!

      December 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Allen

      No, I don't think people DO get it.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  5. Sad day

    1 john 5:19 we know we originate with God but the whole world lies in thr power of the wicked one.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Brian

      " but the whole world lies in thr power of the wicked one."

      So your God isn't all powerful then or loving.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • THE REALIST

      .

      GOD IS WICKED !!! GOD IS EVIL !!!

      .

      If you are a christian, ... you WORSHIP a MASS MURDER! SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!!!
      .

      The Christian God is Imaginary __ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com

      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 !!!

      http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html.

      .

      December 15, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  6. SCY385

    Some people believe in God and some do not. The one thing that is certain is that man is capable of anything regardless of what he may believe. A common everyday man is capable of great good and great evil. The reasons are subjective, but the truth be told no unseen force will do us more than we will do to ourselves.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  7. Hillary

    Humans don't need guns!

    Or cars, or electricity, or TV, or computers, or airplanes, or soda, or foi gras

    December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Canuck

      Surely no guns, but foie gras mmmmm not to sure about that Hillary

      December 15, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Compton Sike

      I like my fog raw, thanks. Processed fog just isn't as organic.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  8. God needs cash

    The problem is that you people haven't been giving God his share.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Canuck

      Lots lots of cash never ends its eternel like him.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  9. lizette

    'Where’s God?' Well, people, do you forget that HE is NO longer allowed in our schools?? The government that gives you the right to bear arms kicked God out of our country a loooong time ago, now HE's just an illegal in the USA, along with all of us who believe in HIM!!

    December 15, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Lying Poe.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Selmers

      Amen!

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Brian

      "'Where’s God?' Well, people, do you forget that HE is NO longer allowed in our schools??"

      So all the Christian parents that lost their innocent children was because God wasn't allowed in the school? That's just silly and not a loving God but a petty monster.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • JWT

      Another clueless wonder without any comprehension/.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • mama k

      lizette. Uh.....no.

      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.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      In 1927 someone blew up a school and then set off a car bomb outside the school when the survivors filed out. He killed 38 people, mostly kids.
      Tell me again this happened because god is NOW out of schools.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Laura

      Exactly right. AMERICA has REMOVED GOD from school, home etc... but yet when something devasting as this occurs that is when God is brought up. People find it easy to play the BLAME GAME with GOD. Removing God = the entrance of satan and well America that is the result and it will keep getting worse. So Sad

      December 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • SImran

      @ Laura

      So you do want to put god back in the school, why not have a contest first where you guys figure out whose god is the real deal, and then put him back in school. I hope you are okay with the idea of a Muslim prayer being ranted in your child's school, coz there is an equal probability that the god of the quran wins the battle!

      But wait, you guys have been trying to battle this out since when? Please get back to us when you figure out!

      December 15, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Allen

      @Lizette @Laura you are exactly what is wrong with this country. Tragedy strikes and like clockwork you idiots come out screaming about a lack of god instead of finding real soutions to these problems. These people have mental problems, god is not going to help them. To the contrary, crazy people and religion really, really do not mix well. So your solution to every problem is "God" and there are millions of other idiots that believe in your hive mind bullcrap and nothing ever gets done.
      You. Are. Wrong.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  10. THE REALIST

    .
    The Christian God is Imaginary __ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com

    and WORSE ... "IF" you believe he is real ... He is a MURDERER ... as detailed in ... the Christian 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 !!!

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html.

    .... and therefore, ... if you are a christian, ... you WORSHIP a MASS MURDER!

    SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!!!
    .

    December 15, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Bostontola

      Redundant, redundant, redundant

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • GAW

      Just some kid with no original thought copying and pasting for attention.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Selmers

      Ya baddy.. you are trying awfully hard.. Who are you trying to convince? Us or yourself?

      December 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  11. Compton Sike

    Yeah, just ban everything in sight – that's such an intelligent response to anything caused by mental illness. Yeah. Go with that.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • hal 9001

      "Compton Sike", I am detecting that your post shows a degree of mental illness. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      December 15, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Al

      Did he use a car to get there?

      December 15, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  12. lionlylamb

    God is the maker and taker of all things created and many things evolved. God creates and mankind takes their leads for or against God inside our bodies!

    December 15, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Bostontola

      Man has free will, but does god know what choice you will make before you make it?

      December 15, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Canuck

      God is a concept by witch we measure our pain the dream is over.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  13. Pat

    My heart goes out to the families of the victims. May God bring you comfort and peace.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • THE REALIST

      Prayer only makes you feel better ... and does not work because NO ONE is listening.

      http://www.GodIsImaginary.com

      December 15, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Blaster

      Why are you so concerned of you don't believe in prayers The Realist?

      December 15, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  14. THE REALIST

    .

    The Christian God is Imaginary __ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com

    and WORSE ... "IF" you believe he is real ... 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 !!!

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html.

    .... ande therefore, if you are a christian, ... you WORSHIP a MASS MURDER!

    SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!!!

    .

    December 15, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  15. Hillary

    Maybe Lanza was just a typical Tea Partier reacting to the reelection of Obama?

    December 15, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Compton Sike

      That's actually quite likely. Those rabid idiots have already shown they don't give a crap about children or anyone else.
      I would not be surprised if you were right.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Hillary

      I'm with you 110%

      December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Selmers

      No.. our reaction is to do nothing. Your king will do plenty on his own.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Allen

      Don't politicize this, troublemaker.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  16. AverageJoe76

    Everything in me wishes I could go back in time and stop this from happening. I close my eyes and can only imagine what kind of scene that must have been unfolding. I have a daughter, age 4, and I immediately wanted her next to me when I heard the news. I 'm an agnostic, so telling the parents, "I'll keep them in my prayers" is a disservice. I think the only way to honor these kids will be to design better security for ALL schools where our children are housed. I know its a great feat. I know we'll b!tch about money. And I know, in time, this will pass from our thoughts, like all the other tragedies we hear about.

    I have two proposals;
    1) an alarm system that sounds when gunshots are fired within range (therefore giving the entire facility notice of a gun going off)..... this is simple enough, my home security goes off when there's a significant loud noise. And I know the children will exploit this and cause pranks....so it has to be tweaked to particular sounds. Idk.
    2) Heavy, security doors on the classrooms with dead bolts, so that people can barricade themselves in. (At any Home Depot/ Lowes)

    I think these things are doable on a school budget (eventhough I have NO idea what a school budget is like). But it's the best two QUICK ideas I got. The 'gun-alarm' helps get everyone on the same page. The heavy doors give the ability to retard to progress of the gunmen.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  17. david

    its a gun control issue not religion. Human shoudl not need gun period. Humanity over religion any single day.religion is its own enemy.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Brian

      Doing away with guns won't solve the problem, then they will use other means to do this. We need to look at ourselves as a whole in society and figure out ways to protect ourselves with solutions.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Hillary

      I agree David – humans don't need guns, For millennia we found perfectly natural ways to slaughter each other. Let's get back to that simpler time *sigh*

      December 15, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Selmers

      Ill stop carrying a gun the day that those who do carry them can be trusted.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Compton Sike

      This is NOT a gun control issue. This is a mental health issue.

      Maybe you didn't see the attack in China where 22 kids were stabbed by some idiot?

      Anything can be a weapon. That is something you gun control idiots don't understand.
      What will you do when the next attack is vehicular homicide? Ban cars?
      No. You are too simple-minded for words.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  18. THE REALIST

    .

    The Christian God is Imaginary __ http://www.GodIsImaginary.com

    and WORSE ... "IF" you believe he is real ... 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 !!!

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html.

    .... you (if you are a christian) therefore WORSHIP a MASS MURDER!

    SHAME SHAME SHAME

    .

    December 15, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Selmers

      Keep telling yourself that. But I ask you one simple question. As me as a people more further and further away from God, would you say the world is, fundamentally, a better place?

      December 15, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  19. Hillary

    Maybe Lanza was just imposing a little Shari'a Law on those infidel kids. After all, we do live in a multi-cultural world

    December 15, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      Please stop. This is one of those events that has no sliver of sattire. There's no comedic spin. No political spin. Twenty kids. Babies to most of us.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  20. Gord

    Here I am! Right over here! With the glasses? That's me.

    . . . . . oh, where is God?

    Sorry about that.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:02 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.