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. gargle

    it was God's doing, not his. Yay for never having to be personally responsible!

    July 22, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  2. Solomon

    The book Hitler's Secret Conversations, contains definitive proof of Hitler's real views. Hitler lied to gain the support of the German people, 90% of whom where professing Christians..National Socialism and religion cannot exist together....The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. Sounds do much like every atheists and socialists rant, why don't you ever wise up and realize that you are either being duped or are part of the problem.

    July 22, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • MCGH1

      God only knows how He is involved in this tragedy.
      For light to be shed on it from every angle...not a tragedy.
      George Zimmerman was merely trying to explain that the tragedy that unfolded in his life, the life of his own family and friends, and those of Trayvon Martin's has a farther reaching impact than Sean Hannity's questions could address.
      Not ruling out the possibility that it was flawed, or erroneous to dignify said question with an answer that could not be used against him in the 'court of the Media', he has his story too.
      The crux of this matter, is the tragedy of a young man being taken from his family, friends, and community too soon.
      In addition, a controversial law in the State of Florida, needs to be seriously examined by our Country.
      As Americans, if WE want to avoid additional tragedies of this kind, this law must be addressed.

      July 22, 2012 at 9:10 am |

    Dear Lord!

    July 22, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  4. ezo

    This MF is crazy...

    July 22, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  5. Nietodarwin

    It was HIS plan, he got out of the truck after he was told not to do so. Hope there are some atheists on the jury. More of the plague of religion on our nation. Today is the anniversary of the Scopes trial, where a good teacher was convicted of a crime for teaching evolution. The losing defense attorney was Clarence Darrow. We have learned very little since then. Clarence Darrow said, "I do not believe in God because I do not believe in Mother Goose.

    July 22, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  6. Anon

    Christians are screwed up in the head.

    July 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • northern light

      Trouble is they do not know it....it is akin to a mental disorder... the religious think that believing in the supernatural is just the way life should be ....even though concrete facts advise otherwise.

      Ask any religious person where the gods were on Friday night in Colorado....gods take credit for only the good and pleasant events in life....it is the people who do the bad things.....ya right.

      July 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |

    ..Predict your many REJECTIONS WITHOUT God particles! 🙁
    ..Predict your many ATTRACTIONS WITH God particles! 🙂

    July 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  8. LH

    George, you would be believed more if you said it was the devils plan. One more life lost because of religion, how sad.

    July 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  9. PraiseTheLard

    God's Plan? Which particular "God" is he talking about? He appears to be even more stupid than I previously thought...

    July 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  10. Solomon

    Jeffery dahmer was a gay and a atheist?? Hitler was also a atheist and gay and Stalin was a atheist also. Most of the real bad people were atheists.

    July 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Janet

      Except that Hitler wasn't an atheist. He was an avowed Christian.

      July 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Janet

      Except that Hitler wasn't an atheist. He was an avowed Xtian.

      July 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I thought Solomon was supposed to be a wise man.

      July 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Alex

      Wow... what history book did you read? Just terribly inaccurate on that one.

      July 22, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Solomon

      Hitler was atheist if you would care to read and become aware of the truth

      July 22, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • northern light

      And your thoughts on Osama bin Laden are.....??.....I believe he was a bit religious.....maybe the wrong flavour of religion for you.

      July 22, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Solomon drools: "Most of the real bad people were atheists."

      First of all, define "real bad." Next, cite more examples from history. If all you can manage is Dahmer and Hitler, you aren't making a case. Next, you'll need to show that atheists made up a larger percentage of "real bad people" than believers.

      Now, grow up.

      July 22, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  11. Izzy3r

    Hey, George, ever heard of FREE WILL? THAT is part of God's plan, also!!

    July 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  12. non-nazi

    "It was all God's plan."
    – George Zimmerman

    "I am doing the Lord's work."
    – Adolph Hitler

    July 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • non-nazi

      Sorry for misspelling Adolf's first name.

      July 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Alex

      Wow, so now a person accused of 2nd degree murder is the equivalent to Hitler's beliefs? You don't think that's just a tad hyperbole?

      July 22, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  13. jskennedy1

    I addressed this in my latest blog. I think the view that "God was behind this" is far too pervasive in Western Christianity. Likely due to the determinism that pervades certain theological systems.


    July 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  14. 007isalive

    @ Flamespeak
    Is there any bad martyr?You dont know the meaning of a killer how would you know the meaning of a martyr?Martyrdom has some degrees, in which category martin falls i dont know, but he is a Martyr.

    July 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  15. 007isalive

    @ Kelly
    I'm not a racist, for your information in my religion racism, doesn't exist at all.We have no room for any discrimination in our society and we dont recognize people by colors, and race. it only thrives in your cruel society and you are good at it and you have proved it.Our first prayer caller was a Black man from Africa ,BILAL E HABASHI, (pbuh)
    One of the wives of our prophet was a Black, MARIA ( RTU)
    And yes i am torn up over this incident, any problem? and i can bear only one at a time,right?
    I know blacks have killed their own people not in hatred,whereas you killed and tortured them making them slaves uncountable.
    You are a HypoRacist.

    July 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  16. Zimmerman's large salty sweaty balls

    must be quite tasty lobbing over Hannity's face.

    July 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm |

    People need to get out of their emotions.....This has nothing to do with weed, religion, personal beliefs, or any prejudice or racial views......All of that is irrelevant because it just shows how ugly and hateful people really are.

    Fact and Point All Law Enforcement is taught #1 Use Minimum Amount of Force NECESSARY. This teenager did not have a gun so At most, it was necessary for him to use his hands ONLY. This teenager did not deserve to lose his life.

    July 21, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    July 21, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!|

      July 21, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Hello

      Troll or religion nut? (Who posts the same thing on multiple pages either to maximize annoyance caused or out of some misplaced conviction)

      Anyways...Prayer absolutely can change things. So does focusing all your energy on the third eye. So does performing a ritualistic dance for a purple flying elephant before every urination.

      But then again, as the poster above me points out, prayer will not change things in the ways many religious folk seem to think it will...

      Check these out: (very obviously legitimate wiki pages, if you feel they could be viruses just google "placebo effect" and "confirmation bias" on your own)


      July 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  19. Amy Easter

    Is he crazy? Setting up a diminished capacity defense perhaps? Why go to FauxNews...the least reliable source I know!!!!!

    July 21, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hmm... you could go to ABC news....they are still apologizing for declaring that the gunman was linked to the Tea Party.

      You want credible news?... bookmark : FoxNews, CNN, Your local news, BBC and Al Jazerra. Between all of them you will hear not only news that will validate your political position but news from all sides. Some where in that you will un-hitch yourself from opinions that lean your way and open your mind to other points of view.

      Never limit yourself to a single news source.

      July 21, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  20. 007isalive

    Me, my family and my community are praying for the young martyr.we are with this boy's parents in grief. I can feel the pain his parents are going through. at the same time how heart lacerating is to read that most of the racist are acting as laundryman washing the bloody and criminal act of zimmerman.
    I request the whites to atleast show some ethics and stop mocking when discussing the dead.

    July 20, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Flamespeak

      A martyr is someone who dies for a cause.

      What was Trayvon's cause? Smoking weed? Getting expelled from school for misbehaving? Pick a good martyr, not one who evidence strongly suggests assaulted someone and was shot as result for doing so.

      July 21, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • BlazinFiya

      Flamesspeak, stfu, smoking weed is something every one goes thru in life. NON-VIOLENT. getting SUSPENDED not expelled. For what? Something NON-VIOLENT. MISBEHAVING??? Do you have children at all?? MISBEHAVING?? Those are the real tell tale signs of a Violent murderer.....SMH. You Sir/Madam are and IDIOT!! And you got deranged, twisted, evil white people (not all of them, except for...) the ones who collect AR-15's and tear gas and go shooting up Movie premieres for sheer amusement.!!!!) Go troll somewhere else......"Evidence strongly suggests"????? Really? Let's see, i guess that's why he charged with 2nd DEGREE MURDER!!! Yeah, of course, because the evidence strongly suggests that he FOLLOWED. You know that word follow? Remember, GZ first called at the mail boxes. If he can prove that Trayvon somehow LURED HIM PHYSICALLY TO WHERE THE SCENE OF THE CRIME IS, THEN GOOD FOR HIM. But the "EVIDENCE STRONGLY SUGGESTS THAT OLD GEORGIE WENT FROM ALL THE WAY FROM THE MAILBOXES TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME. UNDER NO INSTRUCTION TO DO SO. THEREFORE, WILLINGLY, PUTTING HIMSELF IN THE ENSUING CONFRONTATION. IF TRAYVON WAS PURSUING GEORGE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN AT EITHER OF TWO PLACES. THE MAILBOXES OR AT HIS VEHICLE. AND UNLESS YOU KNOW SOMETHING I DON'T, NEITHER OF THOSE LOCATIONS IS THE CRIME SCENE. THAT GIVES OL GEORGIE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ANYTHING AFTER THAT. REMEMBER HE'S CARRYING "Not my gun, or his gun, but it was THE gun".....ROTFLMAO!!!! Your continued faith in that "FABRICATION" what Zimmy is calling his story is pathetic. Go donate some more money to his 5star hotel accomodations, and rented BMW X5's. LOLOLOL!!!

      July 21, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Just Saying

      Flamespeak.....Ok so based on your comment its safe to say that you or anyone you love has Never smoke weed otherwise you'd be a hypocrite for judging.

      POINT is before you go patroling an area With a loaded gun like your law enforcement you should know that its law enforcement responsibility to use Minimum Amount of Force Necessary....Zimmerman did not use the Minimum Amount of Force Necessary. At most this teen used his hands. This teen didnt deserve to lose his hands, so at most Zimmerman would've only needed to use his hands. In the end If he wouldnt have approached him with a loaded gun maybe this would've all been prevented. If someone approached you with a loaded gun who cannot show you a police badge ...you wouldn't feel threatened?

      July 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Kelly

      007isalive: You seem to be very ignorant and/or a racist. You are so torn up over this tragic incident, but say nothing of the thousands of young Black men who died at the hands of other young Black men before this ever happened and the hundreds who have have died since. You are worked up because CNN flamed racial flames by mistakenly identifying Zimmerman as "White",, but care nothing about Black on Black violence. Hypocrite/ racist, those two words seem to fit you well..

      July 21, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Hello

      I'm with Flame on this one. Don't see reason for use of the word "martyr."

      @ Blazin, not everyone smokes weed, andmany people raise kids that don't do the kinds of looked down upon things Trayvon did, so it's kind of a poor line for argument. Also trying to depict the "white race" as more likely to commit mass murders seems questionable. And as far as your opinion on the case goes, it seems unlikely that you would know better than anyone else on these forums (unless you are somehow involved directly in the case?), so it seems kind of idiotic to act like it.

      @ Just Saying, even if one of Flame's friends did smoke weed, it would in no way make him a hypocrite. You may want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with how hypocrisy works. If someone approached me with a gun, I probably wouldn't attack them (why would anyone try to with bare fists?).

      Agreed with Kelly.

      @007, try googling confirmation bias.... it seems as if you only take evidence that supports your own beliefs into account, and as if you more or less ignore evidence that would support other beliefs...

      July 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • 007isalive

      @ HELLO
      Yes i take evidence that support my belief, and it encouraged me to call him a MARTYR or should i borrow your belief?
      You didn't conquer mount Everest, agreeing with Kelly, as some says "brother of a thief is a pickpocket".
      Your comments is nothing just a shameful harangue.
      Why are you afraid of the word Martyr.I could have used it for you too.

      July 22, 2012 at 12:11 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.