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A family shattered, reborn
September 29th, 2013
08:40 AM ET

From grief to grace: Wife of Amish schoolhouse shooter breaks her silence

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog co-editor

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Among the flowers and plants in Marie Monville’s sunny yard sits a rosebush, a gift from her first husband, Charlie.

A few years ago, Monville painstakingly unearthed the roots and transplanted the bush from her old house 10 miles away - a house that Charlie had thrown into tumult and grief.

The bush’s prickles recall the pain she and her family have endured, Monville said, and its peach-colored blossoms offer a yearly reminder that God creates new life from old.

After years of silence, Monville is now telling a story of her own.

It’s the story of how a milkman’s daughter became a murderer’s wife, and how she found a divine calling after a devastating tragedy.

“If this wasn’t my life,” Monville said during a recent interview in her kitchen, family pictures smiling from the fridge, “I never would have expected it to look this beautiful.”

On October 2, 2006, Charlie Roberts - then Monville’s husband - burst into a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, with a handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun, a rifle, cans of black powder, a stun gun, two knives, a toolbox and restraint devices.

Roberts ordered a teacher, a teacher’s aide and the boys to leave, then bound 10 young schoolgirls and lined them up against the blackboard.

He boarded the windows, apparently preparing for a long siege, but as police surrounded the schoolhouse, Roberts shot all 10 girls before killing himself. Five girls died; the others were severely wounded.

The gentle, quiet man who had shared Monville's bed, children and life was now a mass murderer, guilty of unfathomable evil.

In mere hours, Monville lost her husband, and her children lost their father. Her close-knit community was terrorized and her family's name disgraced. Her innocence was despoiled, and her evangelical faith tested.

“I felt deserted, left behind to bear the weight of the world’s judgment and questions alone,” Monville writes in “One Light Still Shines,” her new book about the shooting and its aftermath, “and I felt that weight pressing me down.”

Stepping out of the shadows

After the shooting, Monville tried to keep her family, especially her three young children, out of the public eye.

But with the release of “One Light,” which goes on sale Monday, Monville is stepping out of the shadows, sharing her story in deeply personal detail.

Zondervan, one of the country’s largest Christian publishing houses, won't say how many copies it plans to print. But it has launched a “robust” marketing and publicity campaign, with a billboard in New York’s Times Square and interviews with TV networks, including CNN’s Piers Morgan.

“It will sell millions of copies," said Donald Kraybill, co-author of "The Amish" and a professor at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "Millions."

Not only is Monville’s story powerful and largely untold, it also hits a burgeoning market for book publishers, Kraybill said: the cross-section of evangelical spirituality and interest in all things Amish.

Christian fiction best-seller lists brim with Amish romance novels, largely because of their large evangelical readership, which scholars trace to the 2006 shooting and its stunning postlude of Amish forgiveness.

Monville said she kept silent for so long because that story - the grace and compassion the Amish offered her family - was already making headlines around the world.

“There wasn’t much more for me to say,” she said.

Even if there had been more to say, the intensely private Monville was reluctant to speak publicly. Shy and quiet, she sometimes joked that the label under her high-school yearbook picture should have read, “Most Likely to be Forgotten.”

But as the shooting’s psychological wounds began to heal, Monville said she heard God calling her to a new mission: to share her message of hope and to tell others that, even after Charlie's crushing actions, her family not only survived, they thrived.

“I now saw a grand purpose in telling my story,” Monville writes, “I wasn’t afraid anymore.”

Walking on water

The morning of October 2, 2006, was sunny and warm, Monville recalls, the trees in her rural neighborhood radiant with red and golden leaves.

Monville, then Marie Roberts, was living her deepest childhood dreams.

At 28, she had a vibrant church community and spiritual life, a dutiful husband who doted on their three young children and a home next-door to her grandparents in idyllic Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised.

Charlie Roberts, her husband of nearly a decade, drove a truck that delivered milk to nearby dairies, just as Marie’s family had done for generations. He sometimes brooded over the death of their first daughter, who was born three months premature and died after just 20 minutes, but he usually pulled out from these bouts of depression.

On the morning of the shooting, Marie led a prayer group at a local church, where they asked God to keep schoolchildren safe.

As usual, she and Charlie later walked their two oldest children, then 7 and 5, to the bus stop, kissing them goodbye before Charlie left for work.

At 11 a.m., as Marie was pouring herself a cup of coffee, Charlie called.

“I had never heard Charlie’s voice sound like that before,” Monville writes, “not in almost 10 years of marriage. Something was horribly wrong.”

Charlie told Marie he was not coming home. He left a note explaining everything, he said. Marie pleaded with him to come home, but he hung up.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, Charlie also told Marie he had molested young family members two decades before and had daydreamed of doing so again. Monville said she left that out of her new book because police found the claims to be false.

“Charlie said a lot of things on the phone or the letter that didn’t make a lot of sense,” Monville said in an interview. “His mind was filled with all of the things he was planning to do, so he wasn’t in a place of being OK.”

The three-page letter Charlie left for Marie said she was the perfect wife, but the death of their firstborn child made him enraged at God.

“I am sorry to put you and the kids in this position but I feel that this is the best and only way,” Charlie wrote. “I love all of you and this is why am I doing this.”

Marie called 911. Sirens wailed in the distance. Hanging up the phone, she stood in the living room, staring at her ceiling fan, and prayed.

Monville calls this her “walk on water” moment, recalling when Jesus challenged the disciples to show their faith by following his footsteps across the Sea of Galilee.

“I was faced with two choices, and only two,” she said.

“I could choose to believe that everything written about God in the pages of the Word were true, and that he was going to rescue me and my family. Or I could choose to believe that we were going down like the fastest sinking ship.”

The falling flower 

Raised a churchgoer in deeply religious Lancaster County, where churches far outnumber bars, Monville said she always enjoyed a close relationship with God, hearing his voice call to her, feeling his embrace during prayer and worship.

Even after the death of her firstborn, whom they named Elise, and a later failed pregnancy, Monville said she kept hoping that God held better days in store.

But Charlie’s faith faltered, and he shrugged off her pleas to talk to a pastor, counselor or friend about his deepening depression.

“He was angry at God, which I didn’t realize in those days,” Monville said. “I just thought he wasn’t connected to the Lord in the ways I was. The harder I pushed, the more he withdrew.”

Counselors later said that Charlie Roberts likely suffered for years with untreated clinical depression over the death of Elise, which led to a psychotic break with reality, Monville said.

“I did not know the man who went into the schoolhouse and did the things he did there,” she said. “I did not know that Charlie.”

Counselors told Monville that depression can be difficult to diagnose, especially when a sufferer is trying hard to hide it. “There were a lot of things I asked myself,” Monville said. “How did I not see this? What are the signs I missed?”

Those questions didn’t yield easy answers, just more difficult questions, she said: How could God allow this to happen? What should she tell her children? Would people hold her responsible for Charlie’s actions? Could she rebuild her life in Lancaster?

The community - including the Amish - showered her family with gifts, meals and love after the shooting, Monville recalls. They waved hello on the way to the bus stop, dropped by to see if she needed groceries, encouraged her to stay in Lancaster.

Still, Monville had always been a people-pleasing middle child, shyly hoping she could somehow escape the world’s gaze. Now she was the center of attention, with news vans parked in her neighborhood and reporters prowling around her yard.

With her newfound notoriety came questions from strangers that made her skin crawl. Did Charlie have life insurance? How do you sleep at night knowing what your husband did? 

In fact, Monville didn’t sleep at night. She tossed and turned, grieving over her husband and the deaths he caused, and worrying about her children’s future.

But with Scripture and prayer, in reaching out to God and hearing his reply in shouts and whispers, feeling his fatherly care in signs and wonders that people of lesser faith might take for coincidences, Monville said she found healing.

On the day of the shooting, after Charlie’s frightening call, she saw a vision of God’s hand catching a falling flower petal just before it hit the ground, Monville said.

And that’s just what God did for her, she said, every time her spirits fell.

She saw God's hand when the Amish attended Charlie's funeral, when neighbors sent baskets of food, and strangers filled her mailbox with supportive notes.

Most importantly, Monville said, she felt God's strength when she had to tell her children that their father had made some very bad choices, and some people had died, and he had died, too.

“Over and over again," Monville writes, "(God) broke though my pain, revealed his presence, and restored my hope.”

New love

Along with restored hope came another miracle, Monville said: She no longer cared what other people thought.

Marie needed that fearlessness when, just four months after the shooting, she told her family she was engaged to a family friend, Dan Monville.

She and Dan, a divorcé, had bonded after the shooting as they supervised play dates with their young children. She felt a connection with Dan as their families bonded, she said, which ripened into love.

Maybe Dan was the right man, her family said, but it was definitely the wrong time.

Marie had doubts, too. It was so soon after the shooting. But she felt God whispering to her, telling her that Dan was the man she should marry.

Marie said she wrestled with that revelation, fasting and praying for days. Again, one of those signs and wonders - the kind that others might take for happenstance - broke into her life.

Early one morning in December 2006, Marie awoke to hear her Christmas tree tumble with a crackling crash.

Each year, she and Charlie had exchanged Christmas ornaments, their own family tradition. Only two broke when the tree fell, Monville said, the first and last Charlie had given her.

“At the precise moment I noticed this,” she writes, “I heard the words 'It is finished' echo through my heart and mind.”

Dan and Marie were married in May 2007, seven months after the schoolhouse shooting. They now live in the house with Charlie's rosebush, their five children are healthy and happy.

Joyful messenger

Sipping a cup of coffee in her tidy kitchen last week, Monville said she relishes her return to routine, dropping the kids off at school, grocery shopping. "Normal mom" stuff.

She keeps the letter Charlie left and reads it from time to time, even though some parts leave her feeling shaky. Monville also keeps cartons full of letters sent from strangers around the world. She tries not to dread the arrival of October 2, but still finds her eyes fixed to the clock each year, remembering when Charlie left her work, when he called, the day's devastation.

Monville said she has spent years trying to remove the “the shooter’s wife” label - but in a way, she embraces it now, as long as she gets to tell the rest of the story.

It’s the story of how the milkman’s timid daughter, the murderer’s grieving wife, became of all things a joyful messenger, telling everyone who’d listen about the grace of God’s love.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Death • Faith

soundoff (1,271 Responses)
  1. Kate

    It's nice that she has been able to find peace out of an unpeaceful situation.. that her husband 'depression' is making light of the fact he was a murderer. I wish peace to her and her family.. I especially wish peace, love and caring thoughts to those who's children and family members were murdered by a rampage killer.. I've lost my mother, I've lost my father and people I loved and I have had clinical depression but I did not kill anyone.. maybe he was schizophrenic.. maybe just evil.. as I said.. peace to all affected.. maybe we could make it a bit harder to get guns. ? probably not.

    September 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • doobzz

      "I've lost my mother, I've lost my father and people I loved and I have had clinical depression but I did not kill anyone."

      Wonderful for you that your clinical depression was so easily managed. Not everyone is the same. Some have more severe cases, and many religious people don't seek medical help for themselves, their families don't support getting proper medical treatment, instead relying on prayer and miracles.

      October 2, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • kondordisqus

      You haven't killed anyone. Yet. Or has that changed since your post?

      October 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  2. Larry

    Wow, Dan looks like he had no problems sweeping in and "saving" the girl that looks to be young enough to be his daughter. These people make me sick. And now she can make money off of a horrible tragedy. wow..... sick sick sick

    September 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Ken Uck

      I think it is your comment that is sick.

      September 30, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
      • JMM

        You do not walk in their shoes, so do not judge them.

        September 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
      • Larry

        lol so please explain how my comments of her making money off of a tragedy is sick? Maybe I missed the part where she is donating the money and proceeds to the Amish community? If so I apologize.

        October 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      If you have the information required to judge those people the way you do, then you shouldn't be publishing your comments here.

      September 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • ??????

      So What? My wife says: "Age is just a number." She's just two years older than my daughter in law.

      October 1, 2013 at 8:31 am |
      • Larry

        You are correct, I was more inflamed that seven months later she jumps in and remarries. I have no issue with age, it just seemed more like either he was taking advantage of a women in mourning, but hey if they are truly happy then who cares.

        I still think she should be donating the money made to the Amish community, or to a mental health program...

        October 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
        • Krysta

          So Larry, can we assume then that Monville reserves the right to tell you what you should do with your pay check? Seriously, she has the right to do what she wants with HER money. There is nothing wrong with writing a book about a profound experience in her life. Being an Author is a legit career. people write about their life everyday and sell books everyday.

          October 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  3. David B

    Why is when someone murders somone it was always their choice, but someone dealing with the murder was given a new path by God? You think God would have just stopped the murderer.

    September 30, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Ken Uck

      Except it doesn't work like that.

      September 30, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
      • Goan

        because god doesn't work at all. god doesn't exist.

        October 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
      • doobzz

        You're right, it doesn't. Look at Sandy Hook, 9/11, the Aurora CO theatre shooting, Columbine, the 2011 Norway shootings, the Nairobi mall shootings.

        God wasn't helping anyone there either. It's as if he doesn't exist.

        October 2, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  4. SamB19

    When she heard God speaking to her, did he happen to also mention why he decided to have these young children killed?

    September 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • TooMuchBaloney

      I didn't read anywhere that she is giving away ALL profits to Amish charities...So basically will make money on the deaths of those 5 little Amish girls. It's just self-serving, narcissistic babble.

      September 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
      • DeLand

        I heard a rumor she was donating the money to the Freedom From Atheism Foundation.

        September 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • SamB19

        Maybe it's god's will that she makes profits from the children's deaths.

        September 30, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
        • doobzz

          It was god's will that these little girls were molested and murdered so she could have a religious experience about it and write a book.

          October 2, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Krysta

        It's not like she is the one who killed them. Her and her kids are his victims, too.

        October 22, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  5. The Ape That Took Over the World

    Published on Jan 14, 2013

    In 2001, scientists announced an amazing discovery: the oldest skull of a human ancestor ever found. The 3½ million year old fossil was remarkably complete, and unlike any previous fossil find. Its discovery – by a team led by Meave Leakey of the famous Leakey fossil-hunting family – has revolutionised our understanding of how humans evolved.

    The great mystery of our evolution is how an ape could have evolved into the extraordinary creature that is a human being. There has never been another animal like us on the planet. And yet ten million years ago there was no sign that humans would take over the world. Instead the Earth was dominated by the apes. More than 50 different species of ape roamed the world – ten million years ago Earth really was the planet of the apes. Three million years later, most had vanished. In their place came something clearly related to the apes, but also completely different: human beings!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnF3iSrrIWY&w=640&h=390]

    September 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • knowmoststuff

      This is good!

      September 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • pmmarion

      Great show!

      September 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      always a few fools and loons in every crowd:)

      September 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
      • Buzz

        Do you have an credentials in paleoanthropology?

        September 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • Buzz

          *any*

          September 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  6. Mo

    Thank you Marie for sharing your story. Perhaps it will help many going through difficult situations to find peace, forgiveness, and hope, which we all need in our lives, no matter what religion or belief system we profess.

    September 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  7. A Person

    all of you haters make me sick.

    September 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • B Person

      You ol' nasty hater hater, you.

      September 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • C Person

      That is the intent.

      October 1, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  8. stephen48739

    I know this to be true: in my darkest moment, I cried out to God "Help Me!" and He did! Grace is a free gift from God. I have accepted His grace. I choose to believe in what others may call "fairy tails". All I know is that my faith works for me. Of course, your mileage (or willingness to believe and accept the concept of a Higher Power) may vary.

    September 30, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • doobzz

      Do you think those ten little Amish girls cried out "Help me!"? What makes you so special that Jeebys answers your prayers and not theirs? Is it one of god's mysterious ways? Part of "Teh Plan"? Is it that our thinking is not like gawwwd's thinking? Why didn't Jeebys answer her prayers to help her husband's depression? Or at least the pastor's prayers?

      Or should he have seen a proper medical doctor, and had his illness diagnosed and treated with medicine?

      Seems like the only prayer that got answered was the one for a book deal.

      September 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        S H A M E!

        September 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
        • doobzz

          Nope. Truth.

          October 2, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • ???????

        If God intervened with all the bad choices that humans make would you still be an atheist?

        October 1, 2013 at 8:47 am |
        • sam stone

          if we acknowledge "god", we would not be atheists

          October 1, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
        • doobzz

          If your god ever actually showed itself in a verifiable way to all humanity (not just white people), I'd check it out.

          October 2, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • kondordisqus

        It always amazes me that atheists feel the need to interject their non-beliefs in the middle of a discussion on Christianity.

        I would think that if someone does not believe in religion the last thing they would want to do is read and comment about a story on religion.

        I suppose possible explanations include an insecurity about whether or no that their non-belief is valid, a narcissistic need to interject counter-opinion when unwarranted or maybe just an overwhelming sense of adding drama to otherwise empty lives.

        October 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • doobzz

          Says the Walmart shopping, gun toting, drunk, toothless, uneducated hillbilly christian. See how easy it is to dismiss people by assigning unfounded motives?

          November 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  9. GreyBeard

    I would cut that rose bush down. Why would she want to keep that to remind her of the evil she used to be married to?

    September 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Atheist

      She is so selfish, she should sell the bush and give the proceeds to the victims.

      September 30, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Emily

      Because she really loves the first husband and never wants to forget him. It's pathetic.

      September 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  10. JudgeNot

    I am from Lancaster County and I grew up with Charlie's brothers. His father was a police chief and his mother is the most wonderful and giving woman. The fact that he did this was beyond shocking. The fact that he would choose to kill peaceful people like the Amish was even harder to understand. His wife had no idea. NO one did. Try to imagine getting a call that your husband had just shot 10 children. You can't imagine it, right? Well, either could she. What I think must be taken from this story is not the fact that she got married shortly after or that she might make a profit from her book, but that the Amish community embraced her and forgave her husband. They treated her like a victim too and i think it is horrible that so many of you are making her out to be a villain. I hope she makes some money from the story and can give her sweet children a better life. I know the Amish families wouldn't accept her money and they definitely wouldn't pass judgement the way so many on this forum are.

    September 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • agathokles

      Well said. There are way too many callous trolls on these comment pages.

      September 30, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Here Come da Judge

      JudgeNot,

      Your post is a nice take on the matter. To be honest, though, you have also judged... it's just that your verdict is for exoneration.

      September 30, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      JudgeNot
      In fact sometimes I wonder if some are Atheists just because they can't understand what they read.
      The article is about the love and forgiveness shown this woman. I wonder how people miss that!

      September 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
      • doobzz

        What, exactly, did she need to be forgiven for?

        September 30, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • Atheist, me?

          Sometimes we feel guilty even if it wasn't our fault. We may also be feeling collective guilt like being a murderer's wife or child your progress may seem like a reward for his brutality. Forgiving the dead sinner sometimes means forgiving his living relatives!

          September 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
        • doobzz

          She did nothing wrong. Conflating her husband's actions with her in any way is wrong. Of course, religion has that whole inherited sin and guilt by proxy crap, so I suppose it's natural that people who think that way somehow figure she had something to do with it.

          October 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Frank Mondana

        You miss the point. She didn't do anything that needs forgiving. The Amish themselves did nothing but help her through her nightmare which is something 99% of "Christians" would not have done. They would have held her responsible for her husbands actions.
        The way the Amish victims acted in this tragedy should make most Christians feel ashamed. Read up on the details and tell me that Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, and every other offshoot would have acted in the same way.
        I'm an Atheist but this event showed how the Amish don't just preach but actually walk the walk.

        October 1, 2013 at 1:33 am |
        • phreedm

          Frank...if I may, and with all due respect...the real question you should ask is could YOU show this type of forgiveness? Can you show me an atheist community that would show the same forgiveness? If I may suggest, that those who say there is no God, should step back and ask "What do these people possess to let them show so much mercy and grace to a man who murdered their little girl?" You answered this question. They are Christians. They have His power controlling their lives. Can you honestly say, you wouldn't want to possess this type of Peace? For those who have ears to hear, let them hear....God is real....Jesus Christ is real...God's forgiveness is available to everyone. It is so sad so few seek Him.

          October 2, 2013 at 6:53 am |
        • doobzz

          You should see what they do with an unwanted litter of puppies.

          Hint: It involves a sack, a rope, and some rocks, but definitely no electricity, because that would be sinful.

          October 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • doobzz

          @ Peedumb

          "Frank...if I may, and with all due respect...the real question you should ask is could YOU show this type of forgiveness? Can you show me an atheist community that would show the same forgiveness?"

          An atheist recognizes that she is an unwilling victim and doesn't need forgiveness for her "involvement" any more than the dead school girls need forgiveness for their "involvement".

          October 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Kate

      you are injecting personal knowledge into this situation. she should not profit from her husbands actions.

      September 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Jeni B

      Well said, JudgeNot! It's so easy for people to offer their opinions, but probably they've never gone through something like this, and hopefully never will. And, just to clarify for the rest of the people here, everyone has a choice to make. God is not going to make you choose Him. It wouldn't be a choice if He made you choose Him. That being said, we live in a fallen world where bad things happen ALL THE TIME. It's a tragedy. There's really no escape unless you give your life to Jesus. Even then, it's not perfect, we're still affected by the world around us (positive or negative). But, Christ gives life even when it seems hopeless. When all the lights seem to have gone out. I would suggest reading Marie's book. It's not focused on the tragedy (like most people may want it to be), but focused on the goodness of Jesus Christ and how He met Marie, her family and the Amish community during this time. Before you berate and accuse, try to get the facts straight. I'm pretty sure you don't like that when someone does it to you.

      September 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
      • sam stone

        how can free will co-exist with an omniscient god?

        October 1, 2013 at 4:06 am |
        • Ezy

          Sam, your question on free will and God's omniscients is the key question. If it can not be answered well than your angst is the only right response. Christians have answered the question in basically, as I see it, two ways. First that God has planned out everything that will happen including the evil shooting at the schoolhouse. And it was evil, period. That would make God culpable, and the author of evil. This thinking is a blueprint view of life, it is as if God set up a line of dominos, the shooting being one of them, and then pushes the first one and everything else is fated. If this is true that the talk of God's love is meaningless. The other view is what Greg Boyd in his book "Is God To Blame" calls a warfare view of life. In this view, the free will of individuals is necessary for God to receive our love and obedience freely. That means that we can also choose to hate and do evil. God has limited himself for the most part in forcing his will on ours. The shooter did not have to do what he did, he could have chosen an other path. God weeps at what we some times we choose to do with our freedom.

          October 7, 2013 at 7:30 am |
      • sam stone

        "It's so easy for people to offer their opinions"

        then you go on to offer your opinion

        "...we live in a fallen world..."

        "There's really no escape unless you give your life to Jesus"

        "But, Christ gives life even when it seems hopeless"

        "focus on the goodness of Jesus Christ and how He met Marie, her family and the Amish community during this time. "

        so, Christ met these people?

        He must have come down here, because the pious are sure in no hurry to go meet him

        "try to get the facts straight"

        try to learn the difference between opinion and fact

        October 1, 2013 at 4:24 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        Omniscient means all-knowing how does that relate to freewill which means ability to do what one wills to do! God is omniscient not all-doing! Check dictionary Sam!

        October 2, 2013 at 2:48 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Any God you think you know is imaginary.

          October 2, 2013 at 2:51 am |
        • Atheist, me?

          Tom and that is news?

          October 2, 2013 at 2:58 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Clearly it's news to someone who thinks God has well-defined and fixed properties.

          October 2, 2013 at 3:04 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Then by all means, hold forth on things you can never know.

          October 2, 2013 at 3:14 am |
        • Atheist, me?

          Tom
          Scientists have told Atheists that the theory that there is a God cannit be established either way by rational methods, has that shut you up?

          October 2, 2013 at 3:27 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          God is in a vast slush of unprovable things. Imagine away.

          October 2, 2013 at 3:35 am |
        • Atheist, me?

          Now I said it cannot be proven by rational means not it cannot be proven! Every word in my post was important not just the ones you like!

          October 2, 2013 at 6:18 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Now that's intriguing – a means of proof that is not rational.

          October 2, 2013 at 8:38 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        Seems you do not understand! I can imagine what God is like but I can never truly know Him. That is Christian teaching!

        October 2, 2013 at 3:11 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        I love you all as myself!

        October 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • LoveyourneighborasGodlovesyou

      Thank you for your post. The most elegant and informed statement I have seen. I remember watching this story unfold on my birthday in 2006 and thinking how could they be so forgiving but thankful for the love they were showing this womens kids and family! As for the Athiests on this post. We love you! No matter your thoughts. Im glad you are reading about Gods love somewhere. Please however remember that this mans decision that day left this woman with three children to care for and now with only one income. she is no different then the people who go and make tons of money writing about starving children in third world countries for magazines. they come home to comfort and luxury and move on the next big story... like they were not just face to face with dying children. And the statement was made earlier that she hasn't said whether she would be donating profits.... EXACTLY ... nothing was stated. Meaning we have no further room to judge this point of it. We don't know her intentions. And obviously it wasn't deemed necessary enough to make it in this article. For the Christians reading this article take heart that there are people out there who will try to steal your belief and that you have control to stop that from happening. Continue to love and show this to everyone. God Bless you all!

      October 20, 2013 at 1:18 am |
      • LoveyourneighborasGodlovesyou

        my previous statement was meant for Judgenot

        October 20, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  11. steve

    Looks like Charlie figured out there was no God and he couldn't handle it. This is what happens when you grow up believing in these fairy tails and, the world comes crashing down and innocent people get hurt of killed. Now his wife is cashing in on more made up fairy tails.

    September 30, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • ok

      So, he figured out there was no God and became an atheist. And once he became an atheist, he killed people?

      September 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Are you suggesting that we never tell kids that Santa isn't real because some of them might not behave as properly as they did when they believed he was real?

        September 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • ok

          No. I'm suggesting atheists are capable of murdering innocent Amish children.

          September 30, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "I'm suggesting atheists are capable of murdering innocent Amish children" It's true. And so are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, etc., pretty much any faith or none, you are capable of murdering innocent children. The only real requirement to being a child killing murderer is that you have somehow lost your humanity either through a chemical imbalance, irrational thoughts arrising from fictional scenarios such as believing you are the second coming of Christ like David Koresh or that you are the new moron militia like Tim McVeigh.

          September 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
        • ok

          thank you, Cpt. Obvious is a dork.

          September 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • doobzz

      Or it could have been the clinical depression he suffered from.

      September 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  12. Lawrence of Arabia

    There can only be so much comfort in words, but Jesus did address issues like this.

    Luke 13:1-5
    From this passage, Jesus teaches us that horrible things happen to otherwise “good” people that are perpetrated by others who are very wicked, and in just the same way, natural disasters also come and kill many “innocent” people.

    What we can gleam from this is twofold:
    1) That there was not a single person who was killed who was not going to die anyway. Since God is sovereignly in control and works all things according to the council of His own will, and He works all things for good to those who love God – as tragic as those deaths were, if they loved God, then they were immediately put into the presence of God.

    2) Furthermore, Jesus tells us that unless we repent, we will all likewise perish – in other words, no one knows the day nor the hour that they will die, so they must always be prepared to do so – therefore repent and trust in Christ.

    Therefore, whenever tragedies happen anywhere on this earth, Jesus tells us that it is a call to repent!

    September 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      Ugh... That was supposed to be a response... Oh, well.

      September 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Couldn't Jesus simply call out in a clear voice "Repent!" Why do people like little Amish girls have to take it in the neck when your God wants people's attention?

      September 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  13. Hephastus

    Sometimes even I am surprised by the obtuse acts of god humpers.
    Anyway....
    BOW!!!
    YIELD!!!!
    KNEEL!!!!!
    AND GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, ERR UMM, I MEAN DONATIONS!!!!!!
    GOD WANTS A PORSCHE AND HE WANTS ME TO DRIVE IT!!!!!

    September 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • lol??

      Steal one like the usual owners. Are you lazy??

      September 30, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  14. clara

    There is so much that is disturbing about this story I don't know where to begin. First of all, having been around people that are clinically depressed and having suffered from depression myself, his acts are very untypical of a depressed person. His acts are more in line with a psychotic and surely, living with the guy and in a such a close-knit community, someone would have cottoned on that this guy was in serious trouble along with everyone around him. I also really dislike the fact that she uses 'God' as an excuse for everything including profiting on a brutal crime. She has no trouble seeing 'falling leaves' and 'breaking christmas ornaments' but can't see the obvious; where was the loving God for those poor children, especially the ones who survived and have to relive this nightmare every single day of their lives; does she think God graces them and the families of the dead? that those dead girls have a chance at raising a family or having loving husbands? I think she is appalling.

    September 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • TPA

      There is a clinical diagnosis called psychotic depression. As the name suggests, it is depression with psychotic features. Not saying that is what he suffered from, but don't be too quick to state that he couldn't have been depressed.

      September 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  15. Steve

    God spoke to me. What a load of crap.

    September 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • doobzz

      Yeah, he came to her in the form of a flaming Zondervan book deal.

      September 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  16. Jeebusss

    Yeah, a combined marriage that was started while one party was in severe emotional distress and because they thought God talked to them in their head is gonna work out well.........

    I guarantee the long term outcome of this family will be train wreck.

    September 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • lol??

      I thought combining had to do with farming. Are you referencing joining?? Cain probably would have liked one.

      September 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  17. t'lynn

    you negative people should be ashamed. who in the hell are you to sit in judgement of anyone. judge thee least ye be judged. I'm not religious either. I guess you live in a glass house.

    September 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Transparency

      is important.

      September 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • lol??

      Are you referencing dirtbag dustballs that can't stand the thought of the lake of fire??

      September 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • HeavenScent

      it's "judge NOT"... next time you need to rant and go all "Church Lady" on us, check your Babble quotes.

      September 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
      • lol??

        Good judgment is a sign of maturity. Christians are not under the judgment of men. They do get bullied, however.

        September 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Sea Otter (Leader Allied Atheist Alliance)

      The Internet says that we can pass judgement... the Internet is mighty and maleficent... I'm super serial

      September 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  18. palintwit

    "Steve Schmidt, the political adviser who suggested that John McCain choose a fresh new face from Alaska as his running mate, now says he has “deep regret” for his role in helping to bring on the “freak show that’s been running wild for four years” in American politics."

    September 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
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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.