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 where he has always been – in people's imagination.
Where was God? Hmm, let's see what one of his biggest fans thinks.
"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."
– Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941
"We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."
Adolf Hitler, Speech in Berlin, October 24, 1933
"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith ...we need believing people."
Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933
remember, they took God out of the schools !!!
Who? The 20 elementery school children? Their greiving parents?
Yeah yeah we all know that god is powerless against man's laws and if we hadn't outlawed prayer in school this wouldn't have happened right? That cliche is getting old...anything more original?
Did they take god out of schools in Northern Ireland, where the Catholics and the Protestants have been killing each other for generations to prove who is the better Christian?
In the words of the late, great Christopher Hitchens, who died one year ago today, "Religion Poisons Everything".
It's to be expected that an amoral society that mocks and rejects God will breed people with little restraint and no respect for human life. When one of these filthy souls decides to do something like this, the first question always seems to be, "Where is God?" My answer is that he's in the same place he was when you rejected him. Rev 3:20 "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."
If you don't believe in God, if you believe we're the product of a Big Bang and chance mutations then nothing that happened yesterday should be of concern. If there is no God, life is ultimately meaningless and what happened yesterday is no more a tragedy than a brush fire going over an ant hill. Personally I don't believe that, I believe the little children who were in the age of innocence are with the Father now. To those of us not in the age of innocence, we will be held accountable for our actions and beliefs. I know personal accountability isn't big in our society but it will be on Judgement Day so get with it because you don't know how long you have.
What a hate-filled message you christians bring. Have you considered going to Connecticut and telling the parents of all those dead children that they're to blame for their children's death? Because that's what you're saying. Or braying. It is one of the most evil posts on this board, and it is echoed by lots of self-proclaimed christians who use their religion to hide behind while they belittle others with scorn, hatred and other christian values.
Yes, we know wing nut.
If we reject your imaginary God, he'll kill innocent children.
Shouldn't you be on medication?
i believe santa
I'm with you OldMo. I say we go back to the days when we burned to death the people with mental health issues.
@ oldmo – and what about those fine young gentlemen, who, being very religious and believing in god, hijacked 4 planes a little over 11 years ago and did some – ummm – urban renewal in Manhattan and elsewhere? Apparently, given the success of their mission, god really approved of their actions.
It isn't a lack of religion that is the source of violence in the world – it is religion. Just look around. Hitler was a Catholic. Rwanda was a religion-based genocide. Northern Ireland – killing each other for years to demonstrate who is the better Christian. The Middle East – hello???????? religion, religion, religion – death, death, death.
And go f8&k yourself oldmo. Shove your god up your a$$. You have no soul or heart. Neither does your god. You probably sat their and clapped your hands when this happened like your christian brethren
The question is not "where is god, isn't he protecting the children". The question is "where's god , if he won't intervene to prevent something like this, he probably doesn't exist"
It seems to me that the only folks being hateful and snide here are those who've previously replied to this post. I believe they call they hypocrisy.
God was told to leave schools a while back... anything that may depict Him was infringing on people's rights...
Which God are you talking about?
Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Vishnu?
If you believe in a God that had the power to stop this, yet let it happen anyway, you are every bit as crazy as the shooter.
As I said, I don't believe that God will run the world for us. We all have a responsibility to love one another. When that doesn't happen, then tragedies like this occur.
"We all have a responsibility to love one another. When that doesn't happen, then tragedies like this occur." I Agree. Of course, this is true whether there are any gods or not.
Where was God? Aren't we asking the wrong question here?
Why is it that we blame God for all the bad things we do and then claim credit for all the good that He does? That's inconsistent logic and upside-down. God gave us freedom of choice and He will not run the world for us. He has shown us how to have a life and society that are free of such tragedies and violence, but most of us refuse to listen or actually live the way He taught us to by loving one another and Him aggressively. Therefore, we suffer the consequences of our choices and this is but one of many that occur daily throughout the world as this article states. Moreover, we have no idea of all the disasters or tragedies that God has intervened to spare us from. Much like a parent, He does all He can to keep us from suffering the consequences of our own mistakes, but, like teenagers, we are stubborn and eventually our freedom to choose ends up hurting us.
So, then whose responsibility is it really that this happened? It can't be God's because He has told us the right way to live. And, unless you believe that we are God's robots, which is clearly not the case, the responsibility is on each one of us. This tragedy should be a very loud wake up call to all of us to start living the way Jesus showed us how so that these things can be avoided.
Hate filled message? I'm pointing out that we are not loving one another as God showed us how to and that because we aren't things like this happen here and elsewhere everyday. I'm not sure how you can call that hate filled. I'd be curious to hear what you think the problem and solution would be.
Your god did not help because it doesn't exist or is totally impotent
I guess logically speaking, that's a possibility. However, to what extent are you prepared to believe that you might be wrong? There can be no gray area on this question. If you are right, then I'm living in blissful ignorance. If I'm right, you're in trouble.
Courts say NO to ID/creationism also, OK. public schools.
Lets move on.
A few questions should help one undestand the correlation between Christianity and intelligence.
Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the religion of:
(a) The ancient Celts;
(b) Bronze Age Egyptians;
(c) Pre-Colombian Aztecs; or
(d) Modern Christians
Q. 2 You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are:
(a) a reptile handler who has severe mental issues;
(b) a five year old boy who just read a fairytale;
(c) a scientific fraud; or
(d) a Christian
Q. 3 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" like protect myself from disease with a condom. I am
(a) A victim of child molestation
(b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
(c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or
(d) A Christian
Q.4 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am
(a) A gifted psychologist
(b) A well respected geneticist
(c) A highly educated sociologist; or
(d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
Q5. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
(a) a delusional schizophrenic;
(b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
(c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
(d) your average Christian
Q6. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
(a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
(b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
(c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
(d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
Q.7 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
(c) Archeology; or
Q.8 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from Christianity:
(a) Christianity tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
(b) Christianity can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
(c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas Christianity is regional and a person’s Christianity, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than geographical upbringing; or
(d) All of the above.
Q.9 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
(a) a deep psychiatric issue;
(b) an irrational fear or phobia;
(c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
(d) my religious belief.
Q.10 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
(a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
(b) the mafia
(c) A drug pusher; or
(d) any given Christian church
Q.11 What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:
(a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;
(b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;
(c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or
Q.12 The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:
(a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;
(b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;
(c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions as “boots on the ground” to distribute condoms; or
(d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.
Q.13 The statement “I believe in God because the Bible tells me to and the reason I follow the Bible is because it is the word of God” is:
(a) Circular reasoning at its most obvious;
(b) The reason 99% of Catholics believe what they do;
(c) Specific to the Judeo-Christian parts of the World and totally rejected by all other parts of the World; or
Q.14 Probably the most fundamental tenet of Christian faith is that God sent his son Jesus to Earth to die and save us from the original sin of Adam and Eve. We now know that Adam and Eve was a myth. As such, any thinking Christian should:
(a) Honestly and courageously question this and any other aspects of their faith that don’t make sense.
(b) Make up some euphemistic nonsense like “well, we didn’t mean that literally” after having done exactly that for the last 1900 years until science comprehensively disproved it.
(c) Just ignore the blatant contradiction and sweep it under the mat; or
(d) Hold on to the myth because it makes them feel good.
Q.15 Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.
(a) Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.
(b) When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.
(c) You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint.
(d) A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.
There is no God you simpletons. Lets work on fixing the problem, not arguing about fairytales.
GOD never left us...HE LOVES US with all HIS MIGHT....we however have LEFT HIM....we voted for ....a president and his team of destruction of GOD's children.....now we cry for these children in CT...what about the 5 million that were massacred this year alone in the US...the 5 MILLION UNBORN.....wake up people before it will be TOO LATE......Our SOULS are DYING!
You of course know that there is not God. You people are just as insane as the shooter.
I knew it was the presidents fault. Thanks for clearing that up for us.
Always entertaining to hear from the religious fruitcakes.
The Bible tells us the world is a messed up place. Pretty much says that on every page.
The Bible says lots of stuff: bats are birds; insects go around on all fours; hares chew their cud; you must stone your disobedient children to death; slavery is okie dokie; if you commit genocide you're allowed to take all of the virgin girls left behind and ra-pe them.
Yeah – the Bible – it's a nutty whacky book, all right.
Wake up have a cup of "common sense" people. This God thing is getting in the way of asking important questions like how can we improve our mental health care system and how do we secure our schools a little better. Not "where is God?". Seriously? Where was Santa for that matter? Or the Easter Bunny? F'n ridiculous! Real children were killed by a real person...and NOW you want to insert your mythology? Square peg, round hole.
Leprechauns. I want to know where all the leprechauns are hiding.
"Why the man in videoclip raised his right eye brouse while he was telling story ???"
But somebody still alive,and good people,the policemen & the SWAT,did come to helped you,am I right???
My "God" always does his works in very very misterious ways & super difficult to understand, ^^;
I mean "mysterious" ^^;
SWAT came because they're trained to respond to domestic acts of terror like this. They didn't wait for orders from your skydaddy to go.
Please stop scapegoating terrible acts committed by man onto ludicrous church-made concepts like sin or satan. Neither exists.
Likewise, stop giving credit for the courageous acts committed by man onto equally ludicrous church-made concepts like God.
Give credit where it's due and place blame on the people who did those things. Only when our pathetic race learns to take responsibility for the things we do, good and bad, will anything get any better. This religion of scapegoating is detrimental to our existence.
"Where is God?" Dean asks. "God has left the building," Zachariah replies.
Even Richard Dawkins has no clue what he is talking about. Religious fanatic and atheists are both closed minded people from different spectrums.
This clip is edited and out of context. Watch the whole interview. It puts a different picture on it.
Physicist Charles Townes' perspective on intelligent design...and this man won the nobel prize in physics.
Creationists are lying pieces of $#it and it saddens me that they propagate this crap as valid science to children.
So what? There are many of his peers who completely disagree with him and the Intelligent design argument is fundamentally flawed.
I almost forgot about....
Please llow me to express my sympathy & compassion to all victims & their families,sir.
With deeply deeply sympathy & compassion to all victims & their families,sir.
If they did good deeds enough,by now..probably they alreadys rejoined in Peace with my "God" by now,sir. ^^
And to their families,if you do good deeds enough,very very soon,you will be rejoin in Peace with them,with my "God",please don't worry,sir. ^^
Or try O.B.E. Out of body experiences, or Astral body projection...If you dont want to wait..
It's also "true" too.
In cognitive science,it called "Lucid dreaming".
Or try "clinical psychology 106",from some university.May be U.C. Berkley. I-TUNE,I-University.Something sort of.
May be from youtube,google. ^^
I wonder what would convince the average christian that their god or gods are imaginary?
a) Education using critical thinking skills.
b) Witnessing mass genocide (apparently that doesn't work because in their minds that person is in some imaginary paradise).
c) Nothing will and sadly they won't realize it before propagating their screwed up faith to others before finally croaking.
Having "god" put a bullet in your child's brain is an awfully convincing argument that there is no god.
That would be choice b), but with all the Christians spouting nonsense they have not gotten the hint.
God is concerned with the heart not the intellect. You cannot educate Him into or out of your life. Science has never disproven anything the Bible tells us. Archeologist's find more evidence every year that points to validation of events and individuals mentioned in the Bible. We are given free choice to yield our lives to Him or live in our own wisdom and strength.
Your need to criticize believers reflects an insecurity.
F-ck your piece of $#it god you mindless lemming.
@ Hope – science has never disproved anything in the Bible? Clearly you have not read the Bible. Try Leviticus on for size some time: bats are birds; insects have 4 legs; hares chew their cud.
Anon, go look up Howard Storm. God loves you anyway, whether you acknowledge Him or not.
Here's one way your piece of $#it god would definite hate me.
I deny the holy spirit.
The unpardonable sin right?
Says so in your big book of myths.
It all made up bull$#it to control you! Wake the f-ck up!
I think that we should't blame god for this, He never makes a mistake, so he knows why he let this happen (I'm not saying that god wanted this to happen) because he could have said,"This will NOT happen", and it wouldn't have happened. All we should do is pray to god to help those families who lost someone in the shooting to feel stronger. Note that this event was Satan's work and not God's or Jesus' work. Like 'susan' said, " it's Satan and his evil plan on taking control of your thoughts,minds, and souls. Unfortunately he's got most of you under his evil spell."
Then god is either worthless or cruel. There is no alternative other than to admit that god doesn't exist in the first place.
God created evil, and God could stop it.
Maybe HE doesn't want to exhibit his own free will.
I your God had the power to stop this and didn't, he isn't a God at all.
Time to put aside fairy tales about an imaginary sky daddy and grow up.
God, the 'almighty' sent Satan to earth and basically created evil on earth in doing so. That's why more often than not, terrible accidents and disasters are referred to as 'acts of God'. (I'm atheist.)
It's ironic that we atheists know more about their belief system than the believers themselves.
hahahaa! yes, atheists know more about our "belief system" than we do.....hahaha! you guys are tooo smart!! tooo too smart!
A STUDENT ASKED, God, why is there so much violence in our schools, God answered, because Im not allowed in schools,
GOD IS NOT ALLOWED IN SCHOOLS THIS IS WHY THERE IS SO MUCH VIOLENCE
From their own book:
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
He created it, he could stop it.
Why is there so much child abuse in churches?
I've often thought that atheists have more faith than anyone else because there is soo much evidence to the contrary.
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.