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. andrew

    It is really disgusting to hear people say it is God's Plan to do something that goes against what God really goes for! These people must be worshiping some other god. The GOD I know of is a God of Love, All his ways are just, a God not taking delight in wickedness, anyone loving violence his soul certainly hates, he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance,(but not all respond to his patience, Clearly, its not the will of god when some fail to repent.) Rev 22:1 says let anyone hearing say : come! and let anyone thirsting say come; let anyone that wishes take life's water free.(The choice is not foreordained, it is left to the individual!) Zeph 2:3 says Seek God all you meek ones of the earth seek righteousness seek meekness. Probably you make be concealed in the day of god's anger.( would a Just and loving god encourage people to do whats right, in hope of a reward, if he know that they were foreordained not to succeed?)

    July 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • T-Max73

      "The GOD I know of is a God of Love.."

      This is why religion is so very dangerous-despite the fact that all religions are utter nonsense, each believer has his very own god to believe in. This is why so many Christians refer to their deity as a "personal God" or having a "personal relationship" with him/her. For all we know, Zimmerman is absolutely right in his statement-who is to say? Once you start making this crap up, which "true" believer has more credibility than the next? It's all made up to suit each believer's desires and alleviate fears.

      "One man's religion is another man's belly laugh." ~H.L. Mencken

      July 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Data1000

      The "God of love" will cast much of humanity into a pit to be tortured forever, most for simply not having faith of his existence?

      July 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Andrew

      Data1000-The "God of love" will cast much of humanity into a pit to be tortured forever, most for simply not having faith of his existence?
      Sorry but this is not what the bible teaches! No wonder people hate religions because people like you and your false ideas do not conform with the bible! You make me disgusted!

      July 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Andrew

      T-Max73 there are ways to identify what is the true religion and this is based on the bible!
      1. On what are its teachings based on?
      2. Consider whether it is making know the name of God. Yes God's name is not God!
      3. Is true faith in Jesus Christ being demonstrated?
      4. Is it largely ritualistic, a formality, or is it a way of life? There is a difference.
      5. Do members truly love one another
      6. Is it truly separate from this world?
      7. Are its members active witnesses concerning God's Kingdom?

      July 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  2. LouAZ

    "A clear conscience is the sign of a bad memory. “

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

      Yeah. Exactly.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  3. Cyprustree

    God's plan? HARDLY! God gave men free will and Zimmeman executed that free will by CHOOSING to follow Martin. He did this of his own free will and a teenager has died because of his actions. God had nothing to do with this. This guy needs to be put away big time. His arrogance goes beyond belief.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • ME II

      Yeah, God is way to busy killing people with bacteria, viruses, and cancer.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Interesting that if you use that free will and intelligence you got to HELL.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • F.F

      So when the kid was on top of him smashing his head into the ground after allready breaking his nose and telling him he was going to die you think he should have just laid there and let him beat him to death? The kid got away (Z lost him and was heading back to his car) then the kid confronted Z.(At least thats what the meida reported) Even if everything that the media and Martin family accuse Z of is true it dosent matter even racists have the right to defend themselves when some one breaks their nose and is on top of them beating them and telling them they are gonna die.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  4. Data1000

    One thing wonderful about Christianity, along with other religions, is that you can pick and choose which parts are relevent and translate them to whatever fit your personal prejudices and desires. I can't count how many times Christians have muttered to me "it's all part of God's plan".

    July 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  5. Pax

    Good ol' God. He's anything to anyone!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  6. ArthurP

    Why could God not have wanted it? He, God, has after all wanted other people to kill for him so there is a precedent.

    "And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, 'Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.'" (Numbers 25:3-4)
    July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |

    "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (I Samuel 15:2-3)

    July 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Data1000

      and yet more than a few call him the God love and mercy...

      July 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  7. Northern

    I wonder what is his reward for carryout God's plan! Everlasting life in jail or in hiding outside jail!!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  8. mslisac363

    I am truly sick of this story... Please can we move on and wait for the trial... Mama and dad trying to make a dollar, and Zim trying to stay out of jail. Ths story has nothing to do with race... Why don't you post all of the killings going on in Chicago or is black on black crime good to go. Where are the headlines of all of the other races killed at the hand of a black person? This story is more impoatant than what happens everyday. Reproters get a life and report the true world... Think you can't make to much more money off of this story line.

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

    Anti-white/pro-black racism is racism.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  10. tom

    When you live life from with-out rather from with-in you are not responsible for your actions just "I am sorry" - how sad! What a wounded person.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  11. Atheist Republiturd

    Hey now! Not all of us Republiturds are religious. Plenty of us are not. We just happen to be rich, greedy and know we can count on the votes of the mentlally deficient.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  12. raffa

    This nation has turned stupid, and a decade ago it was the beacon of liberty and civil rights. Now the word GOD goes on over and over,

    July 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  13. critic

    Really CNN? Still villainizing George Zimmerman? It's all about the $$$. If only american would wake up and hold our journalist accountable. I hope that pretty soon instead of making lawyer jokes people would be making journalist jokes, but as long as people feel happy with their narrow casting news providers this time will never come. Journalist have a responsibility, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC are the catalyst of hyper-partisanship. If america can't restore some sort of common sense in our government I fear we have a very bleak future indeed.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  14. HZD

    Oh boy. A CNN article attempting to solve the paradox of predestination and free will. Yeah, good luck.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Only if the name of your god starts with a D and sounds like evel.

    God is an incredible handy device ...for the survivor.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  16. euphoniusmunk

    Hannity's idea of journalism is not seeking truth but seeking the answers to fit Hannity's agenda.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  17. Gerry

    It's also part of God's plan for the State of Florida to lock Zimmerman up for the next decade. He suffers from feeling anointed and everyone else are just character actors helping Zimmerman's play out the "specialnessl" of his existence.
    What do you think, Dr. Drew? Narcissistic maybe?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Liberty Spinner

      Gerry you are so right. God gave us free will to do good or be a problem in society. Zimmerman is a definite problem to society and will continue to be. Lock him up and throw the key away.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  18. michelle - san francisco

    so God's plan was to kill an innocent man? he is insane

    July 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Louisiana Man

      GZ is a coward who hides behind the protective clothe of fire arms..a ridiculous Fla law..a neighbor hood watch captain wanna be..

      and now has the gall to justify his crime by proclaiming that an elusive deity laid out this plan....

      July 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  19. dangsthurt

    There is no God.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • T-Max73

      But Zeus and Bal are still around, right?

      July 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  20. Danno

    Wonder what god's plan for miscarried pregnancies is.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:49 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.