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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. Welch

    "Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money. "

    George Carlin

    September 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • bostontola

      The most recent South Park season opener is must see, hilarious.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Lindsey

      LOL

      September 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • guest

      That may be what some people believe, but that isn't what the Bible teaches.

      September 29, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
      • Linda Reynolds

        Hmm, what do you think it teaches? Have you read the entire thing?

        September 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • You s. Ignorant

          The Lord is a forgiving God. He loves you and allows you to consume His energy and star dust so that you may exist and espouse lies about Him – that is Love.

          September 30, 2013 at 5:45 am |
  2. Maleficent

    She was no doubt living in complete denial about the man she married – ignoring things that should not have been ignored. I do not buy the "life-was-perfect" story that she paints about her marriage and family. Telltale sign of someone who was in denial about reality. But who cares right? A lot of Christians stand to make a lot of money on this, and that is what matters! /sarcasm

    September 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • bostontola

      How do you know the man didn't have some kind of deteriorating brain disorder?

      September 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
      • Maleficent

        He did. It's called religion.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Gort1

          They look creepily alike....

          November 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
      • Welch

        He did. Religion.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • bostontola

          Almost 90% of people have that disorder.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • Linda Reynolds

        His comment did not preclude the man having an organic brain disorder. And in cases like this I wonder if they check for brain tumors in an autopsy.

        THe point is he very likely revealed some kind of pathology but church lady was looking around for signs in the wrong places.

        September 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • aldewacs2

        @ bostontola: "almost 90% of people have that disorder."
        - – – – – –
        Now why don't I suddenly feel relieved?

        September 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Jimmmmmmmm

      Thanks for the expert analysis, armchair quarterback. You no doubt have a lot of in depth knowledge on the private details of this woman's life and struggles. How very wise you must be.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • Linda Reynolds

        Uhh what she wrote in this interview alone is pretty revealing.

        September 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  3. GIUK

    Jesus 13:13 Yo I can't believe they're still quoting me and all I was was a second rate hippy carpenter from a poe-dunk town.

    September 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Maleficent

      Actually most Christians ignore Jesus entirely. Christianity is not about Jesus – it's about that jerk Paul.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
      • yep

        that religion is a good tax cover....you should see all the "churches of the eternal dollar" that pop up around this area.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • Chris

        Says the guy who can mind read...

        September 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
      • Chris

        Wow...who hurt you?

        September 29, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
      • G to the T

        Absolutely right – in my experience it would be more accurate to call most christians "Paulians" instead.

        October 1, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  4. Minkowski

    Never trust a Christian. If someone believes that there's another life waiting for them someday, they may start to think that this particular life is disposeable.

    September 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • bostontola

      Read the second sentence, Muslims qualify. The post wasn't exclusive to Christians, they were just used as an example being the biggest group of afterlife believers.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Realist

      That's a pretty ignorant comment you posted there. Care to make the same comment regarding Islam? Probably not since Liberals think it's un-PC to offend anyone other than a Christian.

      It's obvious by your post, that you're more aligned with a certain party in a certain country back in 1933 who castigated a certain race/religion.

      Keep up the good work, you're only making the point Progressives are the new "brown shirts"...

      September 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
      • bostontola

        Nope. Muslims are kookier than Christians. Are you happy, you're not the nuttiest.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • BldrRepublican

          You are assuming anyone claiming to be Christian really is one. Apparently you are not very good at identifying real ones from forgeries, as your ability to discern the two is 100% erroneous.

          Perhaps you should stick to watching sports on TV – it's more your intellectual level.

          September 29, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • yep

      i agree...

      September 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • EL

      You know nothing of being a Christian. You spout out these hateful comments, and know absolutely nothing of faith. We are to give, and forgive. To help, and bless even those who despise us. Even you. We are to do right by G-d. Not by you. We will help you in your time of need. That is what Yehushua taught us. That is what my actions will speak. Not these just these words.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • G to the T

        The irony of you using "EL" for your handle is not lost on me...

        October 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • ukechick

      You are right. Christians are too busy killing others to kill themselves in the offing.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Recently that has been mainly the truth, but the concern is the thinking that, for example, global warming is no problem because god would never let it harm us or will provide a new home after the apocalypse.

      September 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Snarkygal

      The keywords of your statement are "so far". I would not put it past the ultra religious Christians.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  5. Dan

    He kills them and she makes money off it. They were meant to be together.

    September 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  6. Dan

    Needed some extra cash?

    September 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  7. annier

    Amazing how her decision to break a silence comes at the launching of her book. The only thing admirable here is the ability of the Amish people to forgive. A comment or two was made above about book profits should be given to the families who do not receive any benefits, while her children receive social security; too true! If she has so much "faith" and has a "calling" – maybe she'll "see another vision" of her handing over the book proceeds to them.

    September 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      What about the publishers profits? Don't you think that Zondervan should be donating their profits to the victims families? I never see the publishers ever do something like this, Zondervan is supposedly a Christian company. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that if they were doing this they would be crowing about it. I will be happy to recant, if someone can show me that I am wrong.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  8. cmc

    I know this woman had absolutely nothing to do with her husband's horrible actions and I'm glad she and her kids can move forward, but honestly, I think a large part of the book proceeds should go to help the families of the now severely disabled girls. Their lives certainly can't be easy coping with the aftermath of what this freak did to them. To make a profit off something heinous and not give help to the families seems very wrong.

    September 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Welch

      "To make a profit off something heinous and not give help to the families seems very wrong."

      Welcome to our capitalistic society. Happens every day. Military industrial complex, oil companies that have devastated environments a nd livelihoods(Nigerian Delta comes to mind), ditto for western gold mining companies...I could go on and on.

      Let's face it...money is our real god.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  9. Stephanie Blaine

    This book is nothing more than a bunch of opportunistic "holier-than-thou" Horse Manure. As a Community Supported Agriculture participant the girls who were so coldly and ruthlessly murdered came from the families that I bought dairy and produce from. I am APPALLED by this book. While, it sucks to be you, you WAKE UP EVERY DAY and your children are ALIVE. These families have borne their grief daily with grace and dignity - while you have written a book (about YOUR FAITH) that will make "millions". This is just another symptom of a larger problem within YOUR chosen faith's ethics.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Chris

      How can you be appalled by a book you've never read? Your comments are the horse manure. Judgmental, ignorant, blind, uninformed horse manure. As you like to say.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  10. Welch

    But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

    September 29, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  11. Zachary

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRuKuGBd0Bo&w=640&h=390]

    September 29, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Thomas Muirhead

      Way to make money off a tragedy her husband created. All money from this should go to the families affected by this monster. She was scared to speak, till someone gave her an advance.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        Look who is bankrolling this, and do you really believe that this was not ghost-written based on interviews? I find this very disturbing.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
      • Zachary

        How do you know that to be true. I'm not saying you're wrong but why would you not take her at her word?

        September 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Damocles

      A luminous light..... well there you go. *sigh*

      September 29, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • Zachary

        What do you mean by that?

        September 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Department of Redundancy Department

        lights (when on) are by their design luminous. Saying luminous light is redundant. It makes the one saying look like a fool, but she already had that covered when she claims it is some kind of proof of some afterlife.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Zachary

          You seem to be sweating the small stuff when bring up something such a trivial part of her narrative.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  12. JR

    "Even if there had been more to say, the intensely private Monville was reluctant to speak publicly." Until the book advance check cleared the bank, that is.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  13. Stephanie Moller

    I live in Lancaster and see The Amish daily. I have one question........who is going to get the money that will be raised after the "millions" of books sold? Although a small percentage could be put aside to the "wife" , I believe the most should go to the dead and injured families, and ten to the entire community.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • visitor

      I was in Lancaster recently.

      I say 100%. Think of it this way, and I could be wrong, but I believe the children of the deceased get Social Security benefits. The parents of the deceased get nothing. The parents should get 100% of proceeds from this book.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • texwaiian

      I suppose that up to the woman who wrote the book. She has to put food on her table too.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • annier

        She remarried. She is still breeding. I doubt she's worried about "putting food on the table".

        September 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Celeste

      Not only should proceeds go to the affected families, but to the school, and perhaps a donation to the study of these cases, to counter the now common occurrence of mass killing.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  14. bostontola

    Falling flower. A good imagination is a very valuable thing. Inability to distinguish the real world from the imaginary world probably came from extreme stress. If it persists, please see a doctor.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  15. Mark

    “The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We have all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the power we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – Harry Potter

    J.johnson any volume book can be used in to guide you through life, its the heart and soul of the person reading and interpreting. If you can not see that profiting from the murder of these young innocent girls is wrong it does not matter if you know the bible like the back of your hand. Further I think instead of highlighting how many baskets of food and visits she received from the amish people of her community, she should speak of how many times she has visited the parents of those young girls that were killed execution style by her husband. Whom she pushed harder and harder to look for help from an inatimate object with whom a conversation would be extremely difficult.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Harry Cline

      Yes & No.

      If the public really knew what walks among us. And some can hide it for years and even take it to their graves. What am I talking about, people who are born genetically predisposed to having no concept of what right and wrong is.

      Studies have shown some are missing certain chromosomes, and are indeed sycophantic. With absolutely no understanding or concept to their actions.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:31 am |
      • Fladabosco

        It's very true there are a lot of walking time-bombs out there but i have a lot of faith in humanity. We are constantly bombarded with stories and images of death and violence. Even people who live in the middle of nowhere hear about people being killed every day, but as any cop will tell you, most people are very nice and good-hearted. We get a skewed view of humanity from the free and incredibly fast traveling flow of information these days.

        Many years ago I told my family I didn't want to hear about any murders for a whole week so I wasn't going to watch TV or read any newspapers. It lasted exactly one hour, ending when I was in an elevator that was playing a radio station and the news came on.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        I believe you mean sociopathic. The interesting thing is that, in many aspects of our society, these individuals flourish. When they studied the prevalence of this predisposition, they found higher levels of incidence in positions of power.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • Harry Cline

          The question is do you understand who is more dangerous, a Jared Loughner or a James Holmes.
          Hint: One suffers from a mental illness, while the other could care less cause they operate from somewhere deep inside, called ...

          September 29, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Missing chromosomes? That would be quite a serious anomaly, such that I don't think you would have to worry about that person's lack of sens of right and wrong. At any rate, there are areas in the prefrontal cortex that are tied to empathy and other features of human cognition that are probably valuable to society. And, of course, they can develop in different people in different ways, undergo damage etc. so that people have these features in varying degrees. If only the One True God did not overlook such things – but I'm sure it's always busy doing other things. We have to live with it.

        Interestingly, lacking empathy, or a conventional sense of right and wrong, is not always bad. An empathy-deficient airline pilot might make a better choice when faced with risking crashing into a large medical central to improve her chances of saving a hundred or so passengers. An assassin with no actual sense that killing is ever wrong in-and-of-itself might save thousands of people by taking out the right human rights advocate.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          An assassin only views it as their job.
          And they are every bit as normally functional as you are. What you fail to understand is that some are born just plain rotten and mean. And no amount of explaining the concept of good & bad does a da-n thing !

          It's really no different then those men and woman who are born with a gene of slant towards masculinity and femininity.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I also want to point out that not being able to discern between good and evil in the conventional way as a Christian might hope to do doesn't of necessity lead to rottenness and meanness. A person could, for example, only make choices he knows empirically, or has been told, are good choices. Choices that fit in with how he wants to fit into society. He may do fine.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          Discernment is generally under a 'mental illness'. What we have to understand in society is that some just don't care, and they understand it.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  16. max_headroom

    I feel for this woman, but something had to be terribly wrong with Charile. I'ts hard to believe there were no signs at all. Millions of parents lose a child, but it does not turn them into murderers. He was obviously deranged long before that. And their so-called faith was nothing other that brainwashing in his case.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Fladabosco

      She mentioned the depression he felt from the loss of the child.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • sandy

      The fact that you believe this means that you have never dealt in a personal way with anyone who is mentally ill. It's not like a rash covering the face of the afflicted; it is more like a small tattoo in a very private place that no one can see. In my community a severely depressed woman tried to murder her two young sons while suffering a psychotic break. She did this shortly after returning from a field trip she was chaperoning where, according to a fellow chaperone , she appeared totally normal. She had an emergency appointment scheduled with her shrink for the next day, because she had called telling him her depression was worse,.He judged she could wait one day. He's an excellent doctor, she was a pediatrician, her husband was a surgeon, they lived in one of the nicest neighborhoods in town, and everyone involved was highly educated about mental illness. And still ... if it can happen there, why not believe that it can happen to this grieving man whose wife was looking for signs he was all right, rather than for signs of depression? (For those who seek closure, one son died and one was severely injured. She was judged insane, and her husband went on to marry again after divorcing her.)

      September 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  17. Dirtyolder Man

    interesting the dirty old man twice her age moves in when she most vulnerable...what a dirtball..

    September 29, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  18. Liz

    I really feel for her and her innocent children...but what really touched my heart was the forgiveness and compassion of the Amish community.I dont know any Amish and all i can say is i wish all humans were like them.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  19. guest

    Faith works for those who believe, those who do not believe or have faith are only left with questions that seem to have no answer, some, because they do not understand, support their unbelief with mockery, but that also begs the question: Why?

    September 29, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Welch

      Really? God was really there for those girls that got shot in the head wasn't he? Religion is so wacko.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Why? Evolution.

      Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • bostontola

      Faith is not understanding. It is what some use to fill the void of not understanding. Why don't they try to understand? Science has advanced well beyond what man understood 2000 years ago.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • guest

        Beg your pardon, but can you explain why this tragedy happened?

        September 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • Welch

          You can certainly go a lot further explaining it through science (psychology, neuroscience, physiology, etc) than you can with that little book of yours, yes.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
        • bostontola

          I can't explain it because I don't have any of the evidence or background. The man could have had a brain tumor for all I know.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Fladabosco

      Because we don't need to answer questions that are unanswerable. Religion is wonderful and I know how charitable, comforting, life-affirming and inspiring it can be. So is the world without religion.

      Being agnostic I reject the idea that some humans know who god is, what god wants and what magic words they have to say in order to get into heaven. I reject the idea that god put us on earth to see if we can find out what religion is right and will punish us with damnation if we don't believe the right one. I reject the idea that all the truths of the universe can be answered with ancient scripture, written in dead languages, edited, added to, translated, thousands of years old and thousands of pages long, full of stories, sayings a parables that have to be interpreted.

      I also reject the idea that you can know more about god by going to college and getting a degree, or by sitting around with other humans and talking about god.

      Why would a loving god not make it so obvious that everyone could easily tell which religion is true? Why would there punishment for people who are born into places where there are other religions, treat their fellow humans with love and charity? For picking the wrong book?

      I also strongly reject that idea that morality comes from religion. It comes from human nature. If there was no sense of right and wrong we never would have made it out of caves.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • guest

        I am not agnostic, but I also “reject the idea that some humans know who god is, what god wants and what magic words they have to say in order to get into heaven. I reject the idea that god put us on earth to see if we can find out what religion is right and will punish us with damnation if we don't believe the right one. I reject the idea that all the truths of the universe can be answered with ancient scripture, written in dead languages, edited, added to, translated, thousands of years old and thousands of pages long, full of stories, sayings a parables that have to be interpreted.
        I also reject the idea that you can know more about god by going to college and getting a degree, or by sitting around with other humans and talking about god.”
        The questions: “Why would a loving god not make it so obvious that everyone could easily tell which religion is true? Why would there punishment for people who are born into places where there are other religions, treat their fellow humans with love and charity? For picking the wrong book?”, leads me to think that you have been listening to the wrong people. The truth of the Bible is obvious, but it has been twisted and rejected by false teachers. The Bible teaches that persons without the benefit of access to the truth of God will not be “punished” if they live a good and honorable life. (There are millions who do not have the access to the truth of God)
        I also “…strongly reject that idea that morality comes from religion.” But it does come from the Holy Spirit which can be an influence to all who wish to do good even those who have never heard of God.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • guest

      Where was God when His Son was murdered? As I said: “they [unbelievers] do not understand…they… support their unbelief with mockery…”
      ” One thing that is not understood is: This planet, led by Satan, is in rebellion. Satan and his followers are the culprits, not God. Sin must be played out to the end so the whole universe will understand the results of sin; it is then that God will vindicate His name.
      It is natural that we all value this life more than the one God has promised us, but the life that those victims will have is far better than this life.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Dan

      Faith, by definition, means that you do not look for answers. Go put your head back in the sand.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
      • guest

        Perhaps I wasn't clear, I meant that that those without faith or belief had questions.

        September 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  20. Reality # 2

    As with all NT passages, Mark 6:45-52 = Matt 14:22-27 (Jesus walking on the sea story) has been thoroughly analyzed for historic authenticity by many contemporary NT scholars. And many of these scholars have after thorough analyses concluded that the story is historically nil. See for example, Professor Gerd Ludemann's analysis in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 45-46. See also http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb128.html.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Fladabosco

      If you believe that Jesus is holy and The Book is the enlightened word of god then the thoughts of some historians are moot.

      Religion is only true if you believe it and if you believe it then you mold your world view around those beliefs and anyone who challenges them is satanic.

      I am an agnostic but that's the way it is.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • Reality # 2

        Satanic? Give us a break !!

        Now for some reality:

        “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

        The Situation Today
        Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

        It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • togirl188

      i am fairly fluent in hebrew, and i can tell you the word that means 'on' also means beside. hebrew is not an overly rich language, and many words when translated into english have several meanings. Such as sholom, which means peace, but also hello and goodbye. JC walked beside the water, not on it.

      One other point, a lot of Holocaust survivors lost everything, family, homes, businesses, friends. jobs, commujnity, when Hitler tried to wipe us out. They lost a lot more than one child; while obviously one does not wish on someone, they were able to come back to some semblance of a life after a horror like the concentration camps.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • Fladabosco

        Hi, interesting note about Hebrew, I've never heard it before and other than shalom and a few food words I don't know much Hebrew. I can say 'You are an elephant' but that's only because i heard it when I was young and thought it was funny.

        Any way your point about the Holocaust is a little off base. The problem wasn't what happened to this guy, the problem was how his brain responded. It could have been over the loss of a pencil.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • DBarkerMD

        Regarding your contention that Jesus was walking "beside" the water, not "on" it, you apparently have not read the story. The ship with the disciples was in the "midst of the sea." After seeing Jesus walking on the water, Peter asked Him to call him to walk "on" the water also. Peter stepped out on to the sea, but soon became frightened by the fierce wind and the waves, and began to sink, not into the ground as you contend, but into the water. Jesus reached out His hand to Peter, they walked to the ship, and then it relates that they continued their journey to the shore.

        Yes, I know you don't believe this really happened and that is your right, of course. Books have been written by people who said the Holocaust didn't happen either. Doesn't change the fact that both events are historical realities.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • I wonder

          And the verified evidence for this "walking on water" caper is....?

          September 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Dan

      Santa 12:25
      It's always amusing when people quote fiction.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:13 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.