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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

“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. Demo Joseph

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. What a laugh. Some people are so schooled by hate they will come up with anything.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  2. Thecentrist11

    He is obviously pandering to the people giving him money. The majority of people that donated to him were conservative "crazies"- They love the god-talk.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  3. Steve

    I believe God would appreciate no longer being the scapegoat for humanity's ignorance and stupidity. How about a little individual responsibility?

    July 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • JPX

      This is why religion is so scary, because people like nut-job Zimmerman are able to justify anything under the idea that it's all part of "God's plan". Really, Zimmerman, God wanted you to murder Trayvon Martin? Well I guess it's also God's plan that you are going to spend the rest of your life in jail. Gee, what a terrific God.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Lisa

      This is what I do know. Every time I needed help in my life, prayer works. My prayers to God are very simple. Help me, or thank you. God is not Santa Clause, but when you really need help or guidance, He's there. It was hard for me to believe at first. One day, it happens. Things get easier. The load is lifted off.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  4. Lisa

    Trayvon's parents are a class act. David Carr is right on point. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe in God's plan, the recent shootings in Colorado, for example. For a shooter like Zimmerman to say that he shot someone and it was all in God's plan? Zimmerman is in denial for what he has done. I think all he's trying to do is make himself feel better.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Adam

      "Sometimes it's hard for me to believe in God's plan"

      Why, then, do you believe one exists at all?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Lisa

      Adam, I had doubts in faith. The way we grew up as kids, we had no one. No safety, no food, we were treated like luggage. It didn't matter if we were cold or hungry. I truly believe we had a guardian angel looking after us. Things should have been a lot worse.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Adam

      So your answer then, is "psychological reassurance."

      The reason I ask is that want people to be explicit about what they believe and for what reasons.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • jaugustine

      how can you know that its not God's plan?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  5. PauletteB

    Zimmerman's claim that the shooting was "God's plan" proves that even the Devil can quote scripture.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Adam

      No, it proves that anyone can say anything about God and be just as correct as anyone else, because none of it maps onto reality in any way, and all of it is just as specious and self-serving and devoid of reference as any other claim of supernatural agency.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  6. Duh

    If anyone takes an honest look at history, it's obvious God just hates niqqers...

    July 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • rh

      Honestly, with all the crap that Jews go through, and they say that THEY are the Chosen People, I find it more likely that Africans are the Chosen People. Heck, they spend more time killing each other back home than ever they were persecuted here. Biggest slave traders were kings of tribes selling people from other tribes.

      July 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  7. Jon

    Let's actually look at the context of Zimmerman's statement. He wasn't attempting to make a profound theological dissertation here. It was simply an off-handed comment expressing relief that he had a means by which to defend himself. He had just been asked twice if he believed the gun saved his life, and He answered yes. He feels it was providence that he happened to have the gun on hand. He clearly was not claiming that God wanted him to kill someone that day, attempting to justify himself. And even more clearly he was not trying to make a statement on free will or the nature of God.

    Single-sentence comments in interviews are constantly getting taken out of context and blown out of proportion, then hurled into personal attacks on the interviewee's character. This may have been the most ridiculous article I have read this week.

    July 23, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • yola

      God had nothing to do with this... it wasn't the hands of God that killed Travon M\artin... it was the hands of Zimmerman.
      Alternatively, Zimmerman could have easily said "the Devil made me do it!".

      July 23, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Jon

      Zimmerman wasn't trying to say that anyone made him do it. He was only expressing relief that he had a means to defend himself, otherwise he would have been killed.

      July 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • rh

      Sure it saved his life, and the lives of TM's family. Because financial security for the rest of your life is saving your life.

      This poor kid, guilty or not, is a huge meal ticket for the Zimmermans and the Martins and the Fultons. It's like my friend who lost her spouse on 9/11. He was a banker, so she got $6 million dollars. The grieving was just a little bit easier than a firefighter's widow who got $200,000...

      July 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • patrick

      I"m glad you buy his BS. He attempting to influence potential jurors by bringing religion into this. God did not tell him to disobey their orders, follow an unarmed young man in the dark, confront him and kill him, no matter how you try and spin his words.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  8. kiwilogic

    so if this almighty and all powerful god doesnt have control on everything and things happen that he doesnt want to happen then does that mean theres a higher power than god? and if god is real and does control everything and wanted this to happen then is he not just a sadist fuking with us? if god was real and came down and proved it to the whole world i wouldnt bow down before him id spit on him for he isnt all merciful at all i mean hey most of the world are doomed to hell because god made them born in the wrong part of the world into the wrong religion or ideology so hes making sure they're going to spend eternity in agony and eternal hellfire.......... but he loves them...... what a joke god is

    July 22, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • JesusIsComing

      Not to worry, He IS coming soon. And "every knee shall and every tongue shall confess" that He is Lord! Amen!!!

      July 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • June

      GOD had nothing to do with what happened, All the talk about it being GODs plan is just an excuse made up by man. If you have ever read a Bible, GOD loves mankind, and he wants us to love each other, he does not want us to tell our fellow man how to live or who to hate, That is all man made rules that use GODs name to make people do what they want them to do. Please read the Bible before you judge God. May GOD bless you.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  9. Ex-Muslim Atheist

    There is no god. Get over it. Grow up and take responsibility for your actions.

    July 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • rh

      Religion is the major roadblock to a moral and civil society where people act with integrity and caring because it is the RIGHT thing to do, not because they think there is some kind of reward for doing good or punishment for doing evil, at some later point.

      The Golden Rule is mocked by religions. It does not matter what you do, if it is in the name of God, or Jesus, or Allah, etc.

      July 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  10. dicky

    ..why dont we think about strikt regulations regarding guns? couldn't it safe some beloved lifes?! I m astonished that nobody talks about that!?!

    July 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  11. jorge washinsen

    It is strange these killings happen every night but the media chose to run with just this one.

    July 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Varney

      Do you have evidence of other self-appointed vigilantes stalking and killing unarmed people who were not causing the killer any problem?

      July 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Benson14

      How often does a killer go free for 44 days before an outcry for justice gets him arrested?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  12. jorge washinsen

    A fellow had better protect his homestead ,stay on his homestead,and keep out of unnecessary trouble. When you are on the street ,conditions change, make no difference which law you think you are operating under.

    July 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  13. jorge washinsen


    July 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  14. mydogbill

    Zimmerman is very clearly stating if he did not have a gun he would be dead, it was Gods plan he was able to defend himself. That's what he is saying.

    July 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • tallulah13

      If Zimmerman had not had a gun, he probably would not have felt safe to haras.s Martin, therefore they would both be alive. Zimmerman is a punk with a gun who went looking for trouble, then panicked when he found it. There is nothing supernatural about this situation.

      July 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm |

    If you beieve there is a god, you have a problem. I believe there is no god, so I do not have a problem. Triggers get pulled by people who have been brainwashed by their scoiety and the NRA, and others, that they have (a god given?) right to solve conflicts with guns.

    July 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  16. fofo

    I D I O T interviewing another I D I O T.

    July 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  17. achepotle

    typical religious fake...using god as an excuse for personal responsibility.

    July 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • fofo


      July 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  18. nottolate

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

    Well that explains a lot. I was wonder just who is this god he's talking about. He's a Catholic and therefore a heretic and his so-called god is not the God of the bible. For these people honor me with their lips, but there hearts are far from me.

    July 22, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • wrong side of the bed

      and now the christians splinter into mini-sects of hate and eternal damnation...

      July 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • mydogbill

      your an i di ot

      July 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • nottolate

      @wrong side of the bed,

      "and now the christians splinter into mini-sects of hate and eternal damnation..."

      You wish. Anybody who's done extensive reserch on the subject knows Catholics have never been Christian. They are born of heretics and remain so tio this very day.

      July 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • kiwilogic

      if you look at every denomination of christianity you figure out pretty quickly that none of them are truely christian. but its easy to get confused when the bible is full of contradictions. the bible itself is one of the most audited books in history, changed time and time again to suit the needs of whoever at the time. hell even jesus was a jew. and all the stolen pagan rituals and ideas. hell ghandi was more christian than most christians and he was hindu. stop being so bloody ignorant.

      July 22, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Dan


      Don't you mean 'you're' in this case? Or are you being ironic?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  19. Phil in Oregon

    He did not say it was God's plan to kill Martin. He said it was God's plan that he was still alive. People are twisting the words and meanings so far they have nothing to do with the real events.

    July 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      So if it was not some god's plan that TM was to be murdered, whose was it? GZ's? Does some god get credit for keeping GZ alive but not the blame for killing TZ?

      July 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  20. evinar

    "there is no way that my God would have wanted George Zimmerman to kill my teenage son"

    *rolls eyes*

    What a load of crap, really. So if there's a God, he specifically prevents Trayvon from being shot by anyone? Again, if there's a God, the logical thinking would be that what he wanted to happen HAPPENED. He's GOD. lol

    July 22, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • evinar

      "but evinar?!! FREE WILL! God doesn't WANT it to happen, he just allows it."

      If he can disallow it, then he's allowing the shooting for a reason. If he wants what's at the end of that ultimate reason, then he wants everything leading up to it to happen.

      Screw this; I'm not going into a logical argument for God – but then people should stop getting into a religious debate about what is scientifically proven.

      July 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
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.