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.
I love God and do fear God’s potential wrath! I am but a lowly evolved sinner of the lessor kinds in God’s evolved pleasantries! My hatred upon the social masses abundant displeasures toward God and our godly kinds leaves me high and dry with little waters to quench my undying angers toward those ever unleavened bitter fruits accosting God and our godly righteous! You who do vault your tempest denials for God and our godly ones are as bitter fruits to those whose loved ones lay in wasted deaths forsakenness! Such shamefulness acts and actions are deemed unwarranted and unbecoming rightfulness alimonies!
God so does love all things God did manifestly create and made Godly things to ever evolve into becoming that which time does honor in done measured deeds towards rightful means of and toward highly evolved creation-isms still yet, for God’s pleasures to be so had. We cannot rightly live without life’s pains nor can we know of God and godliness without life’s pleasing measurability’s commonly held holdings of our nurturing godliness ideals ever fomenting onwards toward life’s unknowable futures.
I've been waiting over ten years for a single "loving god" supporter's explanation of the last two Tsunami massacres, by of course, god.
Really, the same god that allowed the inquisition, and mass genocide of flooding the earth. The same loving god that at the request of Elisha had bears come down and maul 42 kids. The god who turned Lots wife into salt just because she looked behind to witness the "loving" god killing hundreds. The same shameful god that actually engaged in a bet with the devil over Job and then processed to destroying his life....over a bet. All this spitefulness, over two people for eating a piece of fruit. Your god is quite spiteful to allow millions of kids to die year after year.
The Christian God is NOT pro-life. He advocates child murder, infanticide, child abuse and abortion:
if you are a christian, ... you WORSHIP an EVIL MASS MURDERER! _ 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 !!!
It is better to acknowledge the TRUTH, ... that God is Imaginary ... http://www.GodIsImaginary.com
The other alternative is believe the LIES ... that he exists, ... AND that he is EVIL and WICKED !!!
If humans look inward for the TRUTH rather than to the heavens, we would ALL be better off.
REPLY TO TONY:
I wrote this for another... and am repeating it for you, that you might finally understand:
God didn't "let" this happen. Man did. God was right there with each child, and yes, even the shooter. So, why didn't He stop it? That is perhaps one of the easiest questions to answer; FREE WILL. The very moment God interferes with ANY man's free will, none of us no longer have free will, or freedom. At that moment we become puppets, and nothing more.
Likewise if God showed himself to mankind; Could you imagine the fear that would ensue? The faithful would no longer have faith, but those without faith would only believe because of great fear. They would never learn to love God for WHO He is, but out of fear of what He could do to them... to all of us. And that's not love at all. It's just fear. Likewise, any god you can understand is no god at all... he's just a man.
God was there, His heart breaking at one man chose to do to others, and knowing He would violate ALL our freedom's if He stopped it.
A freedom a great many have fought and died for.
To the REALIST and BULL: Wow... you guys really are hateful... and quite ignorant. It's so easy to blame God for all the horrors in this world, rather than realize He gives us ALL "free will", and that the moment He interferes with that free will, we are no longer free.
And any god you can understand is no god at all. He's just a man.... like you. Perhaps that's what you're looking for; a human messiah like mr. obama or Saddam. Maybe even Adolph.
@ LionlyLamb: Oh stop already with your uber-dramatic rantings. I appreciate your faith, but your writing ability is well, pathetic, if what you hope to accomplish is something along Christian lines. You're full of yourself, and come off as totally self-engrossed, more concerned about sounding intelligent and above others where God is concerned.
You are not. Get your feet back down to EARTH, humble yourself before both God and your fellow man, and talk like a normal person full of faith.
God has not gone anywhere. We are just exercising our free will to do as we please. That is what history is all about–man trying to govern the world the way he thinks is right. Oh my, what a mess!
@Illuminate – But if something wonderful happens today, I'm sure there will be no qualms in your mind attributing it to God. See the irrationality?
God is a total jerk, not to mention an evil mass murder. We are sooooo fortunate god is imaginary!
@jp Your making an assumption that I would say that, which I didn't. My point is that we are big on free will–I am too–but when something goes wrong the first person we usually blame is God. It is like a teenager who insists that his/her way is right and ignores their parent's advice, falls miserably, and then turns around and says it's your fault mom and dad.
GOD wasn't there because, the atheist and our Government took him out of our Schools!!!
Where is god? God is dead, my friends. God has been dead for years. We killed him and good riddance. If we want to stop tragedies like this we will have to forget fairy tales and go with evidence. And the evidence says access to guns is too easy.
Semi automatic weapons with 20 round clips- made legal- is total lunacy.
Here's a clue: There is no god. God is an imaginary being made up by people and created in mans own image. Therefore, sincw god is imaginary, he is not responsible for good nor to be blamed for evil. That said, the concept of the Judeo-Christian concept of god is evil.
How evil a monster this mythical "God" is. Thank god God is imaginary, for the story of God is a story of a cruel mass murderer. If god is all powerful and all knowing and perfectly good, he would not bring people into the world knowing that they would go to hell and be tortured forever- a perfectly good being would never do such a thing.
If god is all powerful and all knowing and perfectly EVIL, then god would create people knowing in advance they were going to burn in hell forever.
Oh yeah, other examples of gods evil ways:
1. Murdering innocent children during the flood
2. Murdering Job's family
3. Telling Abraham is kill his son
4. Killing the innocent first born children in Egypt
5. Requiring a human sacrifice for the salvation of mankind
Clearly god is not love, he is pure evil. Fortunately for us he is purely imaginary.
I prayed really hard to Zeus last night and he told me that he let this happen to test all of our faiths.
And then Kratos killed him.
I don't waste my time in believe in an unproved deity, so God is where he's always been, .
In the collective minds of the delusional to be exact.
anon i am waiting for you reply,
, so you don't know why you call it the christian god yet you say you do investigation on Christianity? you don't make sense yourself then? if you do so much investigation on Christianity you should know the answer?
Actually there is one different god in each delusional mind. There is no such thing as natural telepathy.
Who invented god?
"Who invented God?" Early tribesmen and cattle herders who looked up in the sky and couldn't figure it out. Then freaked out when a comet came by.
@elena – Ummm, just about every culture that has existed on this planet. There have been thousands of gods created.
God was invented, long, long ago, because there weren't used car lots looking for salesmen back then.
If you actually investigate comparative religion then you'll eventually figure out who invented god. (hint: us humans did)
Already answered below, waiting one.
Humans invented god. Different cultures invented different ones. Different groups invented different Jesuses. Many forms of Christianity say other forms of Christianity are wrong and won't go to heaven.
And ultimately, every religious person invents their own version of god, even if they think they are the same as others in the group. Look how often we here Chrfistians claim that some religious person "wasn't a true Christian."
God: made by man in his own image. It's what you makes in yor own imagination
Elena!!!! You're a fiesty one...bet you're great in bed!!!
I meant to say, people don't kill people, GUNS kill people.
That's what the NRA gun industry sponsors want you to say.
The real quote is: Available guns kill people, unavailable guns obviously can't.
What about people who have been strangled to death by hand?
So does cars, buses, poisons, knifes, on and on. Problem is not the guns. Look at the people doing the killing. Young men. I blame the voilence on the movies that are being made today BATMAN, the games that kids play today on xbox and computer, like call of duty. This kids might as well be going into a battle simulator that our military uses every day they turn on their Xbox.
Maybe if mental health care was as easy to get as........guns...........we wouldn't have all of these shootings.
Mental health care is very easy to get. Most people don't think they need it.
The Biblical God is NOT pro-life, he advocates child murder, infanticide, child abuse and abortion:
If humans look inward for the TRUTH rather than to the heavens, we would ALL be better off.
Why do you call it the Cristian God?
You are good sir, a bona fide nut.
God give people free will, He is not doing the murdering, perhaps if we had not taken Him out of our schools and people were not so evil these things would not happen. This sort of thing would never have happened when people worshipped God and feared God. So don't blame this on God. The man who did this was not someone who knew God. The man who was the evil mass murderer it was a man. You my man need to search your sould.
The realist, you said "because there have been 2,860 deities (gods and goddesses) acknowledged to have existed in the minds of humans. I have to distinguish "which" god I am referring to"
you said the christian god, yet you cant say why you call him " the Cristian god? obviously Cristian do not worship Jupiter, zeus not Odin?
"How many has God killed?"
Wake up call... God will "Kill" everyone. Everyone dies.
The truth is not in the Bible, its in "Jesus Christ" alone. We "Can" know him and "Know" he is real through his spirit if we truly seek for him. Reality is that most people do not really want to know him.. even most "Christians".
That is what the richman thought that didn't give the scraps of his table to a slave he owned. When he died he went to hell, and the slave went to heaven. He was allowed to look up and see the slave he didn't treat well, and see him in the bossum of Abraham. Asked if they would wet his lips, and they said they couldn't because their was a void between him and them. Then he asked them to tell his family about the place that he was in, and they said that if they did not listen or hear the words of the prophets why would they listen to them. This will be you if you do not believe there is a God, and that his son came and died for our sins, so that we would not be punished like the richman that felt the same as you do in your post.
Im sorry to read that you feel this way, it is obvious you don't know what God's word is. God is love and always has been. God is a spirit that we should serve through our temples which are our body and souls. It has been the wicked hearts of men that cause such incidents as this, carnal souls that don't comprehend what our Lord commands us to be which is spiritual in nature. Kind, loving, selfless, merciful and just towards each and everyone. We are are spirits in carnal flesh, eternal and everlasting. He is our judge, and to Him and by Him belong all things. We are one, to care and love one another is His desire for us, but our carnal selves have lost our true ways and have grasped on to things of this world that pollute our souls. Please pick up the Book of Love and study it, don't just read it, you will be amazed at what is revealed. Pay attention to your life and you will discover how wicked we all have become and then repent and ask for forgiveness, trust me when I say, each and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Continual blessings and may love and overstanding bring you to what God really is and always will be. Christ's Love
I don't know elena, is it because we atheists actually investigate more about Christianity and it's origins?
The christian god is Yahweh/Jesus/Jehovah unless you pulled another name from your hindquarters.
Ignore her. She doesn't even realize that Christianity wasn't even created at the beginning of time. She doesn't realize that the Greek Gods and the Roman Gods are far older then Christianity.
I am god, you not even know how lays the eggs, is the hen or the rooster or is it a chicken?
Elena why don't you just admit that you really have no clue about religion.
6,243 teabaggers shot their big toe off last year.
Remember people: Guns kill people, not people kill people!
You got it right this time. How often do the posting checks come from the NRA PR dept.?
420 Aussies killed by skin cancer last year.
Outlaw the sun!
Wow. This might be the dumbest post I've ever seen. Amywhere, Ever.
I consider myself a Christian, but I admit things like this really test my faith. I just can't understand why God would let something like this happen...or if he can't prevent something like this from happening, then how can he be omnipotent? I guess I'm still struggling with my faith.
It's not just a tragedy like this. Many more children die of hunger and disease every day. Where is god for them?
"God is not spiteful"???? Really, the same god that allowed the inquisition, and mass genocide of flooding the earth. The same loving god that at the request of Elisha had bears come down and maul 42 kids. The god who turned Lots wife into salt just because she looked behind to witness the "loving" god killing hundreds. The same shameful god that actually engaged in a bet with the devil over Job and then processed to destroying his life....over a bet. All this spitefulness, over two people for eating a piece of fruit. Your god is quite spiteful to allow millions of kids to die year after year.
God was there for them testing to see if they were staying faithful in adversity. That is the test do we turn on god when push comes to shove or do we still pray and stay faithful to him.
@Bill – I am not trying to be callous but the obvious answer is there is no God. Hundreds of thousands of people die tragic or violent deaths every year and many of them have been born into areas that are traditionally not Christian. According to Christian dogma not only would those people die a tragic death but then go on to live in eternal torment in hell only because they were unlucky enough to not have been born in an area where Christianity is traditionally located. If there truly was a benevolent Christian God, things like this probably would not happen.
There is one absolute fact on the planet. If there is a God it has no interest in the life or death of any living thing that exist here.
God,I'm sure, has better things to do.He has to keep several billion stars in line and it is,after all,football season.
Relax Bill. God didn't "let" this happen. Man did. God was right there with each child, and yes, even the shooter. So, why didn't He stop it? That is perhaps one of the easiest questions to answer; FREE WILL. The very moment God interferes with ANY man's free will, none of us no longer have free will, or freedom. At that moment we become puppets, and nothing more.
And no God never made a bet with the devil whether Jobe would turn or not. That is metaphorical talk. Old testament is a great book when interpreted in the right way one of my favorite stories. Lots wife turned into a pillar of salt because she wanted to go back to Sodom and Gomorrah god said look thee not behind.
What you call "struggling with faith" is actually logic. The questions you ask have no logical answer, and that is why people become atheists. See, omnipotence is, in the first place, logically impossible. Can God create a stone so heavy that he can't lift it? If the answer is yes, that means that God is not omnipotent because there is something he cannot do (lift the stone). If the answer is no, God is not omnipotent because there is something he cannot do (make said stone). This is not trivial. REAL theologians (as opposed to the smug, ignorant armchair theologians who troll the halls of the internet) have tried for centuries to figure out the answer to this problem. Some have come up with answers, but none are particularly satisfying and just tend to create more logical problems. Now, you could just cop out and say that we can't understand the ways of God. Or you can admit to yourself that this is a load of BS.
He's busy helping Teebow make touchdowns.....
It's sad that you, as are many others, are so ignorant about God, and about the FREE WILL He has given to EVERY MANY... you know, that "inalienable" right we have. The moment God interferes with our freewill, we are no longer free or have any choice.
Yes, people die AT THE HANDS OF OTHER FREE MEN, and yes PEOPLE STARVE when we live in a world of great abundance, yet MEN stop that FREE FLOW of food to them. And YES, children get cancer... and that is part of the world we have. It's not about "us", (think "me, me, me"), and it's not about "here". When will you learn that simple lesson?
Read the book of Job, and don't ever doubt. You are eternal, don't ever lose your faith, understand what he teaches us and follow his lead. Give your life over to him and you shall never thirst again.
Yes horrible things happen to good people. Yes when we struggle we tend to ask god where are you right now. I personally believe we all have struggles that we have to deal with these struggles humble us, strengthen us and bring us closer to god. We should never ask "why me?" We should ask "how can I learn from this?" and "Help me get through this."
I believe the children baptized or not baptized are with jesus happy are they.
Way to totally avoid answering the question.
Don't forget now,the mormons can baptize after death.
God created us as independent beings. We are not puppets. Some of us are bad; some of us are very bad. These type of things have happened throughout history be it by a gun, a sword, burning a city to the ground, whatever. If God made us incapable of independent thought, it WOULD be His fault. As He did make us capable of independent thought, the blame lies solely on mankind. If you don't believe He exists, then the blame of course lies on us alone anyway.
He made us capable of independent thought KNOWING that it would cause evil (much like a manufacturer who knowingly makes a dangerous product). In our courts, that is punishable. Why does God get a pass?
In christian doctrine Eve was given free thought,and an apple,well with-in reach.So now we are all paying for his little stunt.What a guy!
I actually question if by your very answer, it proves that we ARE indeed "robots", by the fact that you said the exact same thing that MANY MANY a "Christian" has said. In all seriousness. Your/our "choice", "freewill", and other such notions, at the end and beginning of the day, consist of either believing, not believing, or indifference... doesn't seem like much freedom if you think about it. Truth bless.
YOU are no realist. YOU are simply another narcissistic hedonist intent on moving others towards your infantile, demented beliefs that negate ALL the rights of free men... leaving all our rights alienable and deniable by other men.
Maybe, just maybe, there is no God. And while that idea may make believers uncomfortable, they've gotta admit it does make the cognitive dissonance simply vanish.
Most inane article of 2012. Was a hand supposed to come out of the sky and pluck this shooter from the scene? And if no, are we all supposed to stop believing in truths beyond those available to our five senses? How moronic.
Truths beyond our five senses? C'mon. Grow up. I know there are things in the universe we can't see or touch, etc. but we see their effects on objects around them. We see no such thing with God or whatever you think is out there. He just plain isn't there. Rely on yourself and you will know real freedom.
What truths?Define a truth.
Well, Well, Well, Well, Well ...
Perhaps Adam Lanza learned to MURDER innocent children from reading of god's acts in the Bible?
YES, – if you are a christian, ... you WORSHIP an EVIL MASS MURDERER! _ SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!!!
I am going to show how ignorant this atheist is, watch!!!! I will ask a simple question first!!!
Teh realist, tell me: Why do you call it the "christian God"?
They'll probably do that "he wasn't a true christian" routine like always.
Anon, so you don't know why you call it the christian god yet you say you do investigation on Christianity? you don't make sense yourself then? if you do so much investigation on Christianity you should know the answer?
Elena, ... because there have been 2,860 deities (gods and goddesses) acknowledged to have existed in the minds of humans. I have to distinguish "which" god I am referring to.
Well anon, while the Christian god is theoretically of the same origins as that of Islam and Judaism, each religion excludes the other two and say you will go to hell for believing any verrsion than theirs. Thus, the Christian god is not a god for any other religion, despite being of common ancestry.
You must accept Jesus for the Christian God not to hate you and punish you. No others accepted. Your invisibuddy runs a Christians-only club.
Because the christian god was made up like the others, but you're obviously too dim witted to understand that.
TYPO: There have been over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 are considered to be deities (gods/goddesses)
Zeus, Shiva, Ra, Allah, Amateras and thousands of other gods are or have been worshipped throughout history. The Judeo-Christian god is just one of these thousands. So we refer to the "christian god" to differential the Judeo-Christian god from the god of Islam, the Hindu gods, the Greek gods, the Roman gods, the Buddhist gods etc.
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.