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.
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 who forever lives inside our bodies! God is our beings’ husbandries and in rightfulness wants are we conceptualized into being in and for hopes of becoming better lots of the churnings upon masses of the mobbed generalists un-righteously denying God and the godly!
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.
God is the master of all creations and of many things manifested to be evolved in being and for to be made by God’s husbandries handiworks of God’s pleasured abundances. For without creation being a manifestation, could there be any personages or could there be a world within a solar system arising in a galaxy whose clusters did establish our universe?
The Holy Spirit of Godly Almightiness is the grand seas of Nothingness. In submissions of leavened faiths there are many adorned declarations of Godly physicality’s bemusements for the commoner’s better welfares in ever aging trials to be so tested! We all do yearn to know God and be of godliness principles but our faiths declare to most a dying tribulation of ever unfolded generalities made against God of the One to be as the Only; made out of sheer Nothingness!
Even of mankind's lost and forlorn are their compromises for God to be ever had. God wants no one to burn in a hellish fire made for the first evil doer and all said evil doer’s family! As our souls depart us come death's passing along ways, we are all taken up by God's almightiness seas of absolute Nothingness, then we are washed clean of our bitter memories here and given a new body in places deeply inside our ongoing generations' bodies!
The wills of all people is in their souls' nothingness that wraps up all embodied material matter known and made knowable to mankind. We are as seeds to Godliness virtues and death is but a gateway to the abundances of ever-lasting life in a plain and realm deeply inside all measuring of each and every manifestation of all things created and also evolved
All I got was this.
That's all I ever get from the Bible too, Anon.
bigger the better Lion, let atheists improve their reading skill
Where was God?
God doesn't exist.
Ok, your opinion has been noted. Thank you
God really likes to kill a lot of people. He really seems to enjoy it and the bible is chock full of so many examples of either him killing people or commanding his followers to kill people. We are lucky he is imaginary!
Yeah, in the OT He killed not only His enemies, but their entire bloodlines. In the NT He loves His enemies, but warns that there are consequences to actions...leading to death.
How many parents of these victims will loose faith?
my donkey is turned atheist too, all your fault, goons
Where's God? Good question, ask the liberal judges that have loosened evil on our streets and our society. Ask them WHERE IS THE GOD OF THE AMERICAN SCHOOLS, THEY THREW THE BIBLE AND ANYTHINBG RELATED TO GOS OUT OF THE SCHOOLS, I WON'T SAY THEY ARE DEVIL WORSHIPERS, BUT IF THEY WORSHIP THEY WORSHIP THE WRONG gOD. Ameican moral decay is on a fast decline and is shown on acts as this cowardice act. HANG THE LIBERAL POWER TRIP EVILS
We are not a theocracy, rudy, 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.
There is no God.
There is only me, Santa Clause.
* Claus (not clause - dang that movie!)
The question is posed where was GOD? All you lefties out there booted him out of the schools and public places, so why do you ask the question, where is GOD when you don't want to have anything to do with him. As for accusing Christianity of being a violent culture do the body count of Atheistic Socialism. I find it laughable when Lefties try to quote scripture, it's hilarious to hear Lefties taking scripture ouit of context.
I read this today–Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed A Concerned Student
Dear Concerned Student–
I'm not allowed in schools.
Does everyone really think that was a good idea now. Research the stats-since removing God from schools-violence has increased tenfold. Don't go blaming God when he cannot come through the doors. The CNN anchor I heard questioning God should know better.
Masacres have happened at churches, temples, shopping malls, restaurants too.
Is that because we kicked God out of these places?
What is wrong with you?
Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed A Concerned Student
Dear Concerned Student–
I'm not allowed in schools.
Everyone wants God out of our lives. Why ask where he is? We as a country have been kicking him out for the last 4 years and even before that.
I read this today:
Why do you allow such violence in movie theaters?
A concerned movie goer
Dear concerned movie goer,
I wanted to stop it, but I was in the lobby getting popcorn.
So god had to stay out in the parking lot and watch eh?Was he not allowed in to the theatre in Aurora or outside the mall in Tucson?Some powerful diety you have there.Is there no end to the inane comments by the brain-washed masses.
A fair chunk of those killed by "atheistic socialists" were nazis, the same that we were killing by the millions in WWII. Besides, you're talking about dictatorships, and I don't think that any atheists here are in favor of those over democracy. Quite the opposite, actually. We're usually the ones speaking out against dictatorships, including the religious ones.
Ask yourself: Where is the democracy in living according to the bible? Can the bible be amended to match modern times, like the Const itution? Can you vote on which parts of the bible to make into law? Is the bible about "Liberty and Justice for All" when you use it against granting gays their right to marry? If you ask me the bible is the last thing close to democratic, and any wishing for a "king" to come down to rule over us all is just plain unAmerican.
I would start asking yourself – where are the parent skills for the fundie parents who want so bring children into this world at record pace with no restraints. Stop blaming the secular nature of today's public schools.
We are not a theocracy, and never have been. 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.
It started with Madam O'Hair, known atheist, being the main activist of getting praryer out of our schools, and she was murdered along with her granddaughter, son and burning in hell right now.
I keep on asking to atheist a simple question and they still cant answer it, why they call it the Cristian god? and all they do is to bring about the roman and Greek gods. soon they will talk about Tammuz ans Ishtar!!
Okay Elena, let's go your way. Now what would you like to call your God?
Elena!!!! Damn, Girl! You a fiesty one....bet you're hell fire and brimstone in bed!!!!
What's to answer if you can't comprehend basic logic.
We're presenting you the basics of the evolution of your specific god, yet you ignore it.
Apparently circular logic is all you have.
What are you trying to say?
Most discussion on this blog, though not all, is around the Christian God, or the god that the Christians claim to worship, because most Americans are Christian and most people on this blog are American.
What's your point?
Wow troll. How uneducated are you? Are you blind? Several people have told you why they call it the Christian God.
It's been answered repeatedly, you psychotic dingbat.
This blog is in an America-based publication. The Judeo-Christian god (Bible god) is the one most folks here are talking about.
As I said in another responsive post, Elena, English is obviously not your first language...thus, you're question isn't well defined..."Why do atheistis call it a Christian God?"
You need some context to better understand the question...but, since this is CNN, an American news agency, and we are on a belief blog, and the majority of Americans claim to be Christian, the focus tends to be on their god...the "Chrisitan god."
If that doesn't answer your question then you need to work on providing a coherent question in the language that is spoken on this blog....with the appropriate context....
Either elena doesn't comprehend basic English or is just another troll (religious/agnostic/newager woo woo).
to ME II, ok! so you call it christian god because Christians worship it and most Americans are Christians? that can be an answer, but see anon and the other atheist could not answer it, so that is my point, yet they claim science proves good doest exist, so if those atheist could not even answer a simple question, let alone to understand that all we are is a lump of energy embedded in an electromagnetic field and that all that exist is consciousness, that would be like trying to explain to a dog what the solar system is
Hey Elena why do you presume that Atheists are all scientists?
Read my lips..The god that people,who also believe in Jesus CHRIST,believe in the existence of.
Trying to explain anything to Elena is actually like trying to explain to a dog about solar system. Actually, a dog has better chances of understanding!
Looks like we got another David Icke tin foil hat situation.
I would suggest that you be more clear. For example, when you ask "...why they call it the Christian God" what "it" are you talking about?
Hear This, now you are saying something, the judo-christian god, so yes the God of the Jews and adopted by the catholic church and then the rest of the protestants denominations? I think we have a topic to talk about!
Hi, Elena...if you'd stop posting and actually read all of the responses prior to this, you might have gotten the answer you're looking for....
It would appear you're not interested in answers...just proving your "superior" knowledge...and your obsession with atheists....
I applaud you for trying to communicate on a board in a language which is not native to you. I would be hard-pressed to do much on a foreign blog. You simply do not write nor understand English well enough to be commenting on these concepts.
(Keep it up though - you are making believers sound extra goofy)
ME II, i call God It because we don't know what it is right? it isn't a person clearly so we can call it he or she as those are personal pronouns for humans only, even when referring to animal we must say it, and also recently born babies are it, at least in English
"i call God It because we don't know what it is right?"
Perhaps I wasn't clear. I wasn't asking why you use the word "it", as opposed to another word. I was asking you to identify/describe what exactly you are referring to as "it"/ God/ whatever.
What thing/being/force/phenomena are you talking about?
This life is but a blink of an eye in God's plan. And no, I'm not a Christian. Don't have to be. What I believe is simple and it will free anyone who does believe in God but thinks he "turns his back" on us during difficult times. As any parent knows..there comes a time in your child's life when it's time to kiss him/her on the forehead and set him free in a chaotic world to learn his/her lessons on her own. When we decide to take a stab at this 'life on earth' thing...we are aware of the pain and conflict..trials and tribulations, yet we tell our Father we still want this learning experience...so our Father, with pain and worry, kisses us on the forehead and sends us on our way to our lives in a world where free will reigns...He knows it'll be a short time before we're back with wisdom under our belts and knowledge that couldn't be gained otherwise. He knows that if he interferes with our journey we will have gained nothing. He knows there's evil here on Earth. WE know it before we ever decide to make the trip. Stop being so narrowminded people. If God could intervene there would be no point.
20 urban kids get gunned down in a drive-by, well, that's normal. But white kids are too valuable to lose that way.
"In a drive-by"?
You don't actually read the news before your knee jerks, do you?
In response to the Idiot of a christian who felt like it was a moral imperative to take his 20 seconds of national media coverage to exploit the murdered children and explain his agenda about how GOD wasnt there because he is not allowed to be in our schools anymore.. Compelling as your agenda seemed.... Where was GOD a few short years ago when dozens of Amish children were murdered in their Amish School? I know for a fact that GOD is welcome there ALL day long EVERYDAY So Im curious ? Was GOD simply out to lunch to lunch on that one too? Iam also curious as to WHEN civilized man will finally overcome the attack of the puny brains and realize that ALL religion was created in a time when we thought the earth was flat, when we put leeches on peoples forheads and bloodletted to heal..We overcame those blunders and thousands more BUT for some reason we just cant seem to shake the idea that there is NO man in the sky? You got over Santa Clause folks Now its time to Finally get that THERE IS NO GOD!! And while your at it Also get that Religion IS the primary cause of all WARS! People dont fly planes into buildings Religion DOES! Every Intelligent, Loving, and God fearing human ALIVE owes it to themselves to watch ZEITGEIST the movie on Youtube and decide for themselves. Every man alive is far too intelligent to just believe in something simply because he was taught to do it and it seems like the right thing to do. GET THE FACTS ! And begin to understand all the reasons why you were taught what you were taught and I promise that if nothing else you will instantly begin to realize that Its far too coincidental that EVERY Religion known to man All share the same principals, dates, etc etc . FACT: ALL Religion was created by Man in an effort to control the masses. And to this day the very idea of everyone believing means that they will NOT revolt But instead quietly lay down and take whatever our government decides is best for us in the name of GOD! Think about it? Your only duty is to place all matters in the hands of this imaginary being while simply and quietly praying that it all miraculously somehow gets better? (Case and point) "Your continued faith in a higher Power" is exactly what allows the Real Powers that be to KEEP You Down So much so that You NEVER question their agendas. Its All BS Folks & Its BAD For You! (George Carlin)
Well, I feel bad for you. Not everyone was just told and believe, like you may think. We've actually felt God in our presence in one way or another. You don't see him because you don't open your eyes to look. Simply put, you'll see in the end.
@ Jerry-Thanks for not disappointing.You are the first one today to threatening someone,who does not believe as you do ,with eternal damnation.YOU WIN !!
Here's the origins of your god.
Yes, God is not on the schools, not at the home of the shooter that's why this things happen.
Sooo,just where is he?Any ideas?..Not another day off.
There is a simple answer to this. There is no such a thing as an all powerful god that can protect us from everything. It is a terrible thing to see these children dead. But evil lies within all of us. It is up to us to decide what is good and bad for us. Certainly the church is an option to guide individuals for the good path, but it doesn't mean you are going to be protected by a supposed all powerful being. Church is just there to try to teach individuals what is good or bad for them. And it is up to us to decide what of those teachings are useful or we should dismiss. For example people and religions take what is good from the bible, but don't follow every thing or live their lives as it says because that would be impossible.
Maybe instead of focusing on God, and where is he/she, we should focus on being good, moral people with good, strong moral laws. Like getting rid of assault weapons once and for all. A total ban, period. We are the ONLY modern, industrialized country where an average citizen can walk into a sporting good store and purchase a gun that can fire 100 runs of ammunition in a couple minutes. That is INSANE.
I honestly believe that Sarah Palin is the only one that can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, speaking only to "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can recover from this tragedy and become a great nation once again but we must all follow the "Palin Path".
The all powerful and caring god, he let those children die.
The truth is right in front of us, there is no god, there is us, the good, the bad, the rest.
It is not as comforting or as neat of an answer, but let's stop with the religion and face the real pain.
These children died because a screwed up human killed them. And really is that not a better answer than saying an all powerful being decided he did not want to save them?
This kind of gun violece isn't supposed to happen in normal white neighborhoods. Stop the insanity!!!
"Stop the insanity" is a catch phrase for a diet guru.
Hint hint hint!
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.