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.

CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the big stories

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. reza99

    Wow, I'm surprised there were so few witnesses, because so many people in this forum are acting like they were there.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  2. Ron

    Zimmerman said that he would have not done anything differently if he had not have a gun. I wonder how he would have shot him?

    July 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • bannister

      He did not say that. He said that he would NOT BE ALIVE if he didn't have a gun.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  3. Gino Punsalan

    Maybe it's God plan for him to rot in jail.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  4. martin

    Theology is the study of non-sense. Everyone is an Atheist for 99.9% of the Gods of human history. Total Atheists just go one god more.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • sybaris

      Actually everyone is atheist for 100% of the gods throughout human history or at least they are born that way.

      Another uncomfortable truth for religionists.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Flamespeak

      Another argument saying that humans are naturally atheists?

      I always wonder how people arrive at this stance when every single ancient society had some kind of religious belief. That belief has changed drastically over time and location, but humans are obviously hard-wired to believe in something. Odds are high this comes from humans being able to recognize mortalitiy.

      July 21, 2012 at 3:51 am |
  5. God is the root of evil

    1) God can see into the future. 2) God created Satan. ERGO VIS A VIS... we can reason that God knowingly unleashed evil on man. That is, since God foresaw what Satan would become and still knowingly created Satan, God is the root of all evil. "Did you create the shotgun" "Yes" "Did you know the shotgun would kill?" "Yes" "Did you point the shotgun out the window and pull the trigger?" "Yes" "Oh okay, yeah, you're not responsible cause you like, totally gave the shotgun free will". Religious people make me want to puke.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • sybaris

      "Religious people make me want to puke"

      Yeah, the last one I fed to my lion made him puke too. Guess I gotta fatten 'em up more before I put them in the cage lest they get too anemic and bitter tasting.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Jones

      I will pray for you that God will touch your heart. Be aware that if you continually push God away He will allow you to go. Matt. 12:22-32, Luke 16:19-31

      July 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Shut up Jones. We don't need any more crooked christian crap!

      July 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  6. mr. butters

    No jury will let him get away with that defense. After saying that, if he walks every single person out there gets an excuse to kill because it was "God's plan".

    July 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  7. Tammi

    Ms.Thomas...What is your definition of FREE? I assure you, if George Zimmerman walks FREE, he will acquire a permanent "crick" in his neck from looking over his shoulder. I'd suggest he consider a plea, do his time and move on with his life. Otherwise...I "pray" for him!

    July 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • bannister

      In other words....BLACKS will kill him.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  8. M

    There is no "God's Plan", in MY opinion. Religion aside, I'm more confused with his answer as to whether he would have changed anything that night. For starters, Martin would never have gotten the chance to lay his hands on Zimmerman if Zimmerman had listened to the dispatcher and actually stayed in his vehicle and refrained from following him and provoking an attack. Either way, it's not like he can go back in time and actually change it.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  9. Ron

    If we have choice in God's plan then God does not know everything that will happen.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • grumpy

      If he had, he would have used a condom on Mary.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  10. ArthurP

    He was either acting according to God's plan or Zimmerman, a mere mortal, has the power to screw with it by killing off an entire linage that God had already planned out.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • bannister

      Exactly. If this incident were NOT part of God's plan, then anyone could alter God's entire universe just by killing someone or starting a war – or just changing plans at the last minute.

      You see, we have "choice" and "free will" up UNTIL the event actually happens. Once the event has HAPPENED (and now exists in the past) the event is inseparable from God's plan. Zimmerman knows this – apparently this theological expert David Carr does not.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  11. Doug Lynn

    Why is no one asking if Martin would be alive if Zimmerman had been 6'5" 250 instead of someone Martin was confident he could physically dominate? If Martin attacked Zimmerman, regardless of the words beforehand or who confronted who first, and Zimmerman feared for his life, I would never vote on a jury to convict Zimmerman of anything.

    Why is it that young black men kill thousands of each other every year and no one in power seems to care about justice. Half the murders in D.C. go unsolved. Is it because Blacks don't care if one of their friends murders someone?

    July 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Size doesn't matter in this case. Common sense should have. Zimmerman called the police, They told him to BACK OFF, He didn't. If he wasn't going to listen to the police, why bother calling? If Zimmerman killed my son, He would hope the jury convicts him. I'd be happy to go to jail for putting a bullet in his brain.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Well said Ken. 🙂

      July 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • bannister

      Ken Margo – you are ignorant of the story. Zimmerman claims he DID back off and was walking back to his car when Martin confronted him. That is the official story. And unless the prosecution can PROVE otherwise, then Zimmerman is a free man.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • sam

      Hey, bannister, you know what would have solved the whole problem? If he'd stayed in his car and not played tough guy. Easily avoidable, all of it. No need to confront anyone, just wait for the cops and point out the person. Super easy.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Bannister you smell like the bigot Lynn. The cops did tell him to back off. If Zimmerman did what he was told. NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED! HE SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN THE CAR.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who followed whom, Doogie? What cause did Zimmerman have to follow anyone who had done not a single thing wrong?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • LA

      Look at all major massacres they were not conducted by "blacks"but by whites or another race. Most recent the Dark Night movie massacre, 911, and numerous others. Just a little food for thought for you. I believe that no matter a person's race no crime is justified. I have not seen any real hard evidence stating that Martin actually attempted to attack Zimmerman. However there is evidence that Zimmerman decided to follow the lad after police said no. He was prejudice do to his statement recorded when he called the police referring to African Americans as "them". We all must put opinions aside and race and look at the facts. Zimmerman's words are as useless as a dead rabbit. It is flawed through and through and no hard evidence backs what he has said.

      July 21, 2012 at 3:58 am |
  12. cmcgmont

    Sean Hannity has successful provided the testimony that will conflict Geo Zimmerman of murder. The man really should have never gone on TV.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Conflict? You mean convict.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  13. Daniel

    Theologians don't know any more than anybody else about God.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  14. Renay

    I don't understand why Foxnews even gave this child killer and, child molester the time of day! I'm very disturbed and disgusted that he would say anything he did that night was God's plan. Don't involve God into your shameful actions. Why doesn't he just admit that he profiled Trayvon and now he knows that this child was doing nothing but walking home that night.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Doug Lynn

      Grow up Renay. Martin was not a child. He was a man capable of serving his country in fighting a war. Martin was bigger and stronger than Zimmerman. Your prejudice does not solve anything. None of us knows the truth. Hopefully, the court will find the truth.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Broadcasting

      Why do you think Zimmerman racially profiled Martin? The women Zimmerman beat up were not black which shows he will attack with out regard to race.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      For you Doug Lynn, I hope someone you love runs into a person like Zimmerman. With the same results. I bet you'll change your views then. I smell your racism through the screen. You are the worst kind of bigot. You talk around your bigotry, afraid to say the N word. Martin's size doesn't matter. BIG and SMALL people have rights too.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  15. John Gault

    Or you can simply say "we hace a choice" and drop the whole God's plan thing and base your life in reality....

    July 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  16. David R

    "God's Plan" doesn't exist, nor does god. Only nature.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • frappe

      "God's Plan" doesn't exist, nor does god. Only nature.

      FINALLY, a person that deals with REALITY and not some fictional fairy tale character found in a book.
      Thank you David R.
      After seeing your comment, it gives me hope that humanity actually has a chance.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • bannister

      Okay then, it was Nature's plan. Nature's plan is SURVIVAL. And Nature favors the smart and strong over the dumb and weak. In this particular case, Zimmerman prevailed and Martin lost. Nature's plan was carried out.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • LA

      God does exist my friend. He is the only one giving you breath right now and just as surely as He gives it He can also take it away. Jesus is His name just in case you are wondering and He loves you more than you will ever fathom. Please get to know Him before your death it would be shameful to loose an intelligent person as yourself to hell. Please don't respond negatively because when you made your comment public you opened yourself up to such a response as mine. May the Lord fully reveal Himself to you and your family.

      July 21, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  17. wj

    God's will is justice, mercy and compassion. Zimmerman was unjust in killing an unarmed youth who was defending himself from a perceived and then fully realized threat to his own safety. Zimmerman did not have mercy or compassion on him when he pleaded for his life. He just went on and killed him. God's command is:THOU SHALT NOT KILL. So Zimmerman, you are deluded thinking that God this was God's plan.. You will answer for Trayvon's innocent blood on judgement day, because it is on your hands.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • grumpy

      "God's will is justice, mercy and compassion. "
      We, the people of Earth, extend greetings to the representative from the planet Bizzaro!

      July 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • zometimer

      :"THOU SHALT NOT KILL" Does that include the death penalty, wars, self defense?

      July 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Doug Lynn

      Since when are the facts you spew the truth. False testimony is sin too. You have absolutely zero knowledge of what went on unless you were there. Acting like you know exactly what happened is false testimony and will get you to hell just as much as murder will.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Shut up Lynn. You've been LYING and making stuff up.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  18. jony

    Trayvon had choices: Bringing pot to his school and getting busted and suspended, wearing the official garment of every gang banger and street punk...the hoodie, and going Rambo on Zimmerman

    July 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • David in Cincinnati

      And these choices justify murder?

      July 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      Tray is one less criminal we have to pay for to be locked up after his crimes.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Doug Lynn

      David in Cincinnati. Of course, it does not justify murder, but going Rambo on someone does justify self-defense.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Broadcasting

      Zimmerman was kicked out of school, used drugs, has tattoos, beat up his ex-fiance, had a restraining order on him, was arrested for battery of a police officer, lost his job as a security guard for being "too aggressive". Zimmerman is a grown man! I can cut a kid a little slack for making stupid decisions.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Broadcasting

      Wearing a gun could be far more lethal than wearing a hoodie.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Bill Belichek the coach of the New England Patriots wears a hooded sweatshirt. I guess he should be shot too.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  19. Big Ron

    Well Mr.Martin did your God want your son to wrest the gun from Zimmerman and shoot him?The whole tragedy was Travon Martin coming back to beat up Zimmerman after he got away from him.And this idiot DRaven Foncell writes that Zimmerman confronted Martin and killed him.No.Martin came back and pursued him and punch the guy repeatedly in the face,tried to take his gun and shoot him.He obviously was unsuccessful.And his if he had no gun Martin would have not had the chance to wrest one away from him when he saw it in his holder.His "yes sir" response was he felt eventually he would have been able to get Martin off him.The whole mess started when Martin saw his gun and tried to take it and use it on him.Stop trying to sugar coat Martin's actions.Maybe Zimmerman should have just carried pepper spray or mace that night.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • sam

      You just keep on believing that, Ron.

      No way could Zimmerman have avoided the whole thing by staying in the car with his gun. That would have been CRAZY.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  20. Eugenia

    Zimmerman wants to present himself as crazy so it can be used as a defense to get off, which is why his attorney, Mark O'Mara, allowed this asinine interview.

    He is a cunning, slick, slithering, demonic child murderer, plain and simple! All liars have their place in the lake of fire...and their accessories to their crimes imps will follow!

    July 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      George didnt do anything wrong but protect himself from a thug.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Broadcasting

      I think you are on to something. This man has some mental health issues....beat up his ex-fiance, beat up a police officer, can't keep a job, uses drugs, etc.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:06 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.