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. Mirosal

    Just for statistical purposes, can anyone tell me just how many people SUCCESSFULLY used "it was god's will" as their defense, and actually won their case? I'm guessing the answer is less than one lol

    July 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • grumpy

      Well, you're wrong. More people have been killed in the name of god than any other reason in history.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • grumpy

      The crusades is just one example. There are many others.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      I believe he also stated how people and the media were taking things out of context.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • acutabove

      Wrong. Communists in Russia and China have killed far more than all the crusades put together. But the state IS a god to some. Which god were you talking about again?

      July 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Mirosal

      You people missed the point. I'm asking about a courtroom defense, not a war, invasion, or political power. How many used this defense, and WON their case?

      July 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  2. RobinMO

    Zimmerman and Hannity – 2 sleezebags who deserve each other.
    Zimmerman outweighed Martin by 75 pounds. Z's story holds no water at all.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  3. myuntidydesk

    What an insulting thing to say. I realize Trayvon Martin was not the little angel his family makes him out to be and he very well may have attacked George Zimmerman, but really... his being killed by a trigger happy neighborhood watch guy who DISOBEYED the police was not an act of God.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • T-Max73

      All believers make things up a-la-carte, so who are you to say what Zimmerman's god wanted or didn't want? If Zimmerman says it was HIS god's plan, then it was. Perhaps it wasn't the plan of Martin's father's god, but then Mr. Martin should take that up with Zimmerman in a sort of "cage match of the gods." For me, all of the religious rhetoric is just white noise; nonsense for the gullible and credulous.

      "In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments-there are only consequences." ~Robert Green Ingersoll

      July 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • EABOD

      If it wasn't God's plan then whose plan was it? Is Zim's God more powerful than Martins God? It would appear so.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  4. daveyoung

    The only Thug God I know of is Obama, and Eric holder is his minion angel

    July 19, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • marjee123

      Racism runs rampant in the republican party doesn't it.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • wwoo

      Wow, to you right wing loonies you always manage to bring it back to Obama....what perspective you have! lol

      July 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • acutabove

      Are any and all condemnatons of Obama racism? No. To say so IS prejudice however.

      July 19, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  5. Vanilla


    July 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • daveyoung

      Zimmerman was attacked and he defended himself. Many people would have acted exactly as he did. Nobody is sick except apologists and racists..

      July 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Michael

      You're either a useful idiot or a propagandist for the Obama hate machine.
      Oh wait, thats the same thing...

      July 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Trayvon

      I deserved it. My parents didnt raise me right.
      After I got thrown out of school for robbery and drug charges, I made more bad decisions and paid the price for it.
      Of course, my parents, al sharpton, jesse jackson, the black panthers and the black congressional caucus are going to blame everyone but me.

      Oh yeah; you're all racist for not being black.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • T-Max73

      The "caps lock" is just to the left of the "A."

      July 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      If my life was threatened getting my head banged on the cement then ya, Im gonna pull out my weapon. The thug told zimmerman he was going to kill him.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  6. nunya

    Then I guess you should have taught your son to HAVE ALOT MORE RESPECT IN HIS BODY to not attack a neighborhood watch guard. Pitiful – get over it, Travon started it, George was just defending his life. I know it hurts, but its a fact. nothing more nothing less, we all miss Travon. It was in the cards, accept gods will and he is coping with it just as you all are. Stop making this about a race issue. ITS NOT!!! GO GREIVE, BUT MOVE ON.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Vanilla

      Not a race issue. Let him kill one of your family members and then see how feel Idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  7. Dave

    Fox News is financing this guy's legal bills. That should tell people all they need to know.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • daveyoung

      Get a carry permit and don`t look back. If you aren`t willing to defend yourself, your comments are hollow.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  8. hansonrhodes

    if this is God's plan, he's as incompetent as George W Bush and should be replaced.

    let's find a God with some basic World-admin skills .

    July 19, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • JWT

      3500 and counting – never found one with those yet

      July 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  9. One one

    This is easy. Just ask all the believer's who claim god talks to them to ask god if this Was part of his plan. Then let's see how consistent the responses are.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • marjee123

      I do know this if there is a God who tells all these people to do the things they do, he must be called SATAN.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Allen

      Read the bible, god told many people to kill lots of people. Not satan ... god. Read your bible, the whole complete truth – don't cherry pick what you like.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  10. coreoveride

    To all you claiming you do not have to obey the 911 dispatch here is a little lesson for you. If you ignore a dispatchers advice/warning/command and someone gets hurt as a result it is called Criminal Negligence due to it being fully preventable and it is a crime. You do not understand this because you obviously have no sense of personal or social responsibility.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • ADiff

      Sorry, but you're an idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • EABOD

      What if that someone is the person who called? Does he get charged with criminal negligence for listening to the dispatcher?

      July 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  11. Amazing Graze

    Some day in heaven Zimmerman and Jesus will have a big laugh about this.

    Jesus: "Remember that time you shot Trayvon and tried to blame it on dad, I mean me, or whatever? Oh Zimmerman you crack me up sometimes."

    July 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  12. George Marshall

    I do not know the right or wrong of this case, do no know what happened and therefore cannot reach a conclusion. Certainly the defense is going to point out that Zimmerman had two black eyes, a broken nose, face (at least as reported) covered with blood, cuts on the back of his head resulting in a recommendation to go to a hospital to determine if there was more serious head trauma. The question the defense is going to ask the jury is why would a man who is armed physically attack an unarmed one?

    July 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  13. bro please

    Stories like this attract the dumb atheists..

    July 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • billsf

      I've never met a dumb atheist, but i've met thousands of dumb christians.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • George Marshall

      The cow dumb bro please.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • T-Max73

      You can be dumb and be a non-supernaturalist, or be dumb and be a Christian. But to be dumb, credulous, gullible, and not in command of your critical faculties you must be exclusively Christian. Peace.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  14. ELH

    Hmmmm–A "God's Plan" defense. Probably better than a "Twinkies" defense or "My Daddy/Mommy (choose one) Hated Me" defense or the "I Accidently Thought He Was A Danger" defense.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  15. T808


    July 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  16. T808

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvmv8ju7D2M&w=560&h=315%5D

    July 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Michelle

      I think Zimmerman is Crazy to think that the Courts aren't going to see through him and in Fact he is going against what the Judge has told him not to do and that is have access to Money in the fact that they have restated the now the real George zimmerman webite He is going to end up back in Jail watch and see He is guilty as Charge and I do believe that my God is bigger then Zimmerman and he will see that Judgement is done whether it be in Jail for Life or in hell for Killing Trayvon Shalom

      July 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  17. Davy Jones

    Treyvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman. If he had a reasonable belief that Zimmerman was threatening him with death or bodily harm, he could have invoked the right of self-defense. But did he have such a reasonable belief?

    What if a man is following you to tell you that you dropped your wallet? But you kill him out of paranoia?

    Also, was Zimmerman ever close enough to Martin to actually do him any harm? How close was he? 40 feet? 30 feet?

    July 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Vanilla

      You were not there so you don't know who attached who. He did the wrong thing and should have minded his own business. He head already called the police so he should have gone about his business and left that boy alone. He obviously has some issues as he is trying to manipulate the system. What a moran that Zimmerman is.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Basilisk

      Davy, let's pool our resources and buy Vanilla a dictionary and a proper education. His spelling is atrocious and he possesses the logic of a schizophrenic needing his medication. I fear he's one of the "marchers" we saw on the news; people with no job, no opportunities, no purpose in life other than to bite the hand that feeds. Blacks need to be more grateful for what they been given – yes, literally given, for generations. Cutoff all the "assistance" programs and see how long they march with no food, no shelter, no nothing.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  18. BillW49

    Zimm is doing it right. The blacks always blame someone else for their muckups. Zimm's just fighting fire with fire.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • yougogeorge

      I cant wait until Zimmerman is proven innocent to show all these dumb people how stupid they were. After this will be riots. We never played cowboys against ninjas before lol.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yo, you're a bonehead.

      July 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  19. 007isalive

    @ zeus, jr
    You both are at your wits' end.. You are acting like a prosecutor of zimmerman.people mourn a dead,sympathize a grieved family,that's natural, but i am astonished to read racist or calous people advocating and defending a murderer. how cruel.
    .dont put me in the category of prejudice,that's your domain. Its your soil and you grow well in it.Mocking a dead and speculating about the conversation that ensued between the two, is a escape from reality and only fortune teller like you are good at it.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • daveyoung

      So you were there ? No, I didn`t think so.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  20. tucsand

    With taking the Oxy medications it could be down to temporary insanity.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:03 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.