July 19th, 2012
07:55 AM ET

Zimmerman: Shooting 'God's plan'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) -  It was "God's plan" that brought together George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin in a fatal confrontation in February, Zimmerman told Fox News host Sean Hannity Wednesday in his first television interview.

Zimmerman, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder for shooting Martin in what he says was self-defense. Martin was unarmed when he was killed while walking back to his father's girlfriend's house in a gated residential area of Sanford, Florida.  Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and has been free on $1 million bail since early July.

Zimmerman, who said he routinely carried a gun except when he was at work, told Hannity he didn't regret deciding to follow Martin that night, after deciding the teen was acting suspiciously, and he didn't regret having a gun.

"Do you feel you wouldn't be here for this interview if you didn't have that gun?" Hannity asked.

"No, sir," Zimmerman responded.

"You feel you would not be here?" Hannity pressed.

"I feel it was all God's plan and for me to second guess it or judge it..." Zimmerman said, pursing his lips and shaking his head.

The 17-year-old victim's father didn't agree with Zimmerman's claim.

"We must worship a different God because there is no way that my God would have wanted George Zimmerman to kill my teenage son," Tracy Martin said in a statement after Zimmerman's interview was broadcast.

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There's an old joke about a Christian who falls down a flight of stairs and then says, "Thank God that's over."  For some Christians, there is a belief that God is in control of everything in their lives, good and bad, from finding a parking space close to the grocery store to the death of a loved one.

When things go horribly awry, it's not uncommon for people to look to God as the one who drew up the plan, says David M. Carr, professor of Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary.

“What's particularly striking to me in this instance,” Carr told CNN, was that “George Zimmerman is attributing something he did to God’s plan.”

“It's one thing to attribute a natural disaster to God’s plan to try and make sense of the world,” he said. “It’s another thing to justify something you did as God’s plan. That’s taking it to another level.”

“That lets you off the hook, but I think it can look to other people as a pretty transparent attempt at self-justification,” Carr added.

Carr is an expert on the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament.

“One thing that strikes me about many of the narratives in the Old Testament is there are so many places where characters think they know what God is up to, but we know because of the narrator in the story, they’re wrong.”

“So the Bible speaks to the human misperception of what God is doing.”

Zimmerman and his family were longtime members at the All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, Virginia.

"George grew up in Manassas and was active in the church during his youth as an altar server and evening receptionist in the office," Pastor Bob Cilinski of All Saints told CNN in March. "The Zimmerman family were known and respected in the community for their dedication and service."

Despite his Catholic upbringing, some say that that on this point of theology, Zimmerman may be out of step with Catholic teaching.

“God didn’t make us robots, he didn’t make us puppets,” said Father Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

“A key part of God’s plan is giving us freedom to make decisions.  Sometimes those decisions are good and sometimes those decisions are bad," Reese said, explaining the Catholic teaching on the concept of free will.

"Obviously, not everything we do is part of God’s plan.  Because sometimes we sin and that certainly is not part of God’s plan.  It’s contrary to what God wants."

Reese said Zimmerman's sentiment is not an uncommon one among Christians.  But the idea of a God who controls everything down to the last detail strikes Reese as an idea closer to Greek mythology than the God described in the Bible.

"It’s based on this idea of an absolute powerful God who always gets what he wants.  When we read the Scriptures, we find out God doesn’t always get what he wants.  He’s disappointed and upset when things go wrong,” he said.

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“I think there’s an important insight that these people have, that is when things do go bad, when they go contrary to God’s plan, he can still make good things happen as a result," Reese said.

“When these terrible things happen, God can inspire people to respond to them with courage and compassion so that something positive can come out of something very negative," he added.  "But it wasn’t part of God’s plan that this guy got killed.  We can’t excuse what we do by saying that’s God’s plan.”

Both Carr and Reese were careful to say they were not commenting on the legal aspects of the case and noted that Zimmerman's guilt or innocence should be left up to the courts.

One thing Reese said Zimmerman did get right in the interview was apologizing and praying for the Martin family.

"I'm sorry they had to bury their child," Zimmerman told Hannity.  "I pray for them daily."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity

soundoff (1,528 Responses)
  1. John McBeth

    of this interview, what I find most disturbing is it's upfront purpose...and the so-called repeated apology. The stated purpose of the interview was neither to inform nor defend his actions...it was to just raise money. I believe the man should get a fair trial, and unlike others here, I have not preformed an opinion since I have not seen all the evidence nor heard a moment of testimony. I just don't think that anyone should get to "use" the media to raise money...and it really boggles my moind that a station would knowingly participate in that venture. Finally, his apology rings hollow...whether found guilty or not guilty (innocent is NOT a choice), he IS admittedly responsible for Trayvon's death. While their might be some legal ramifications of accepting responsibility, he shouldn't be sorry "they had to bury their child", he should be sorry he killed him. One last thing...Is he sure that he wants the record to read that he wouldn't change anything about what happened that day?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  2. grumpy

    god wants me to rob a liquor store.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  3. Erik in Houston,TX

    What bs – pandering for sympathy ...what a diversion from reality

    July 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  4. Robert

    "You're gonna die tonight motherf--r?" This was an unarmed 17 year old boy who just bought Skittles for his little brother, not a Samuel L. Jackson movie villian. This guy's full of s–t.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  5. JailTheBoogies

    Trayvon had been caught at school with a bunch of women's diamond jewelry in his backpack. The policed asked him where he got it, and he said a friend. But he wouldn't say which friend. So the police took the jewelry away from him, and he didn't try to get it back.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • malkittens

      Please provide your source. (btw Fox News is not a source). Thank you.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • JailTheBoogies


      July 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • mistamista

      That makes George Zimmerman no less of a murderer as there was no crime being committed prior to the murder itself...unless you count stalking, an illegal pursuit, unlawful discharge of a deadly weapon (soon to be clarified as fact) and the super stupid racist commentary that makes George Zimmerman's actions a legally obvious hate crime. The next time this man talks about God, I hope it's face-to-face....just before God flushes the toilet and lets Zimmerman sink straight to hell.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  6. ME

    Reason #1 why I'm embarrassed to be an American.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  7. revolruf

    God's plan? Really, if this was god's plan and you believe it then ALL OF YOU SHOULD BE HUNG. I can't wait until this country squashes fairy tales, ur, religion into the ground. Enough with the leprechauns, unicorns and jesus thing already.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • gheezy

      not owning up to his responsibility and passing the blame on to god's plan, typical religious nut passing the blame onto an imaginary deity. GZ you made the decisions, unless your delusion, you also pulled the trigger. "Don't start nothing, won't be nothing"

      July 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  8. grumpy

    blah, blah, blah, god's plan, blah, blah, mysterious ways, blah, blah...

    July 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • mistamista

      I LOVE this! This should have been posted instead of the fleshed out CNN version above. BRILLIANT!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  9. Johnpaul

    Deuteronomy 30:19
    New International Version
    "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live "
    Zimmerman chose death and he want to blame God for his choice, after he was adice to choose life.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Archangel Michael

    Man's wisdom is foolishness to God. And God's wisdom is foolishness to man. Time and again we see man pretending he knows best and failing and falling. But that is his choice.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  11. Alex

    So if a jury of Zimmerman's peers find him guilty of murder does that mean he won't appeal the conviction because the verdict is God's will. Some how I don't think so.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Kyra

      Exactly... He should accept the judgement however it falls.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  12. steama

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOD! It is all make-believe.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Kyra

      It's arrogant to believe this world was simply put here for man to simply exist.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • ScottCA

      You are completely correct, there is no need to invoke mythological deities to explain the existance of the universe or its creation. Science has already done this. And science is now explaining what was here before the universe was created and what lies beyond it. Sadly the stories in these ancient mythologies about Yahweh and Allah are not creative enough. The reality of what existance is, is far more fantastic and wonderful than any religion could have imagined.

      I feel sorry for those who believe in these regilons because they see existance as such a small limited thing.

      Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Ra, Thor, Zues, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are not real.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  13. Olivia

    Where there is is sin, God is not around. God and sin cannot dwell in the same place. Thou shall not kill! How in the world, even in his warped mind, can Zimmerman justfy this horrible act as God's plan.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  14. G

    HAHA you religious people make me laugh, what a farce.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  15. sbreezy

    oh well – it was god's plan that the bus full of nuns got murdered as well. see ya'll at church after i go on Fox news and ask for money – ! oh yeah – "gods plan" as well.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  16. if HIS god didn't want his son dead

    Then why is his son dead?

    Must be a pretty pathetically powerless god, huh?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Jonathannycm

      Clearly Zimmermans god is better then Trayvon's...his lawyer is too

      July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  17. There_I_said_it

    Interesting how images of the two have evolved over time in the media. Zimmerman's pictures have evolved to him smiling in a suit and Martin's images have *mostly* been of him not smiling *or* in something less humanizing. What happened to the image of him in his football jersey that made him look like the kid-next-door? Subtle..not so much.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • He still looks like a thug in his football jersey

      A THUG is a thug – no matter how pretty he dresses.

      And if you want to portray him as he REALLY was – then portraying him as the illegally trespassing, fence-hopping, bush lurking, house casing thief that he was when he entered the Gated Community that he was NOT a resident of and had no legal reason to be there is just fine.

      Prettying him up won't change the fact that he was trespassing, was a violent attacker, and is now DEAD.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • ME

      Gated Community
      Gated Community
      Gated Community

      You said the magic word, ding ding ding!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • sam

      'looked like a thug' – you dumb shit. He was visiting his dad and his dad's girlfriend, where they lived, in that gated community. How do you get along being that stupid?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • anobody

      He was a guest at the gated community seems you missed some of the facts there Mr. Thugmaster.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Boston Guy

      To "he still looks like a thug" You are just a racist pig filled with so much hate that you cannot even get the facts straight. Apparently, you didn't like being big bubba's wife in prison.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  18. nostrildamus

    I think zimmerman just trolled the entire internet.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  19. nic

    zimmerman is an idiot. if he doesn't shut his mouth, he's going to fry. this kind of thing makes people lose sympathy for you. it sounds arrogant and bizarre. just say you're sorry and stfu.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • You Republiturds didn't have a problem when Bush said Jesus

      You Republiturds didn't have a problem when Bush said Jesus told him to attack Iraq.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  20. Jonathannycm

    God had nothing to do with this. A guy had a gun with no training and was running around the streets pretending to be a cop. This is what happens.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

      But gee – I thought that your pathetic Christian god was ALL POWERFUL.

      Now we hear he had NOTHING to do with something.

      We've already heard that evolution couldn't be real because God causes EVERYTHING to happen. Everything – except Trayvon's shooting, that is...

      Funny, huh? I wonder how many other things god doesn't have anything to do with?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • luvtucson

      I believe Zimmerman was a "wanna be"... wanna be anything but what he is. Thus he loved being a pretend cop, a gun carrying stalker of one that he felt "did not belong" in his neighborhood. Which by the wayTravon did belong, his father lived just two blocks away in the "gated community." His stupidity, not God's will made him follow, frighten and kill an unarmed 17 year old.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:22 am |
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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.