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. Mike

    my response to this is here:

    July 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  2. Joe

    God wants unarmed teenagers to be killed and does it through his followers? That's sick, I am not being bigoted when I say that is sick if God uses people as puppets to murder unarmed teenagers.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Mike

      my response to this

      July 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  3. DS Stephens

    I feel sorry for you idiots that are buying the G-d thing. Zimmerman is a punk piece of shi* that had the upper hand because he had a gun...PERIOD. He decided to take the law into his own hands. G-d had nothing to do with it. Wake up people.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Mike

      my response to this is

      July 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  4. HKIS

    When something positive happens – say a life is saved – many Christians say (and believe) it was God who saved them. So why is it so strange that Zimmerman says it was God's plan that the shooting occurred and he came out alive and the kid died? Clearly if God has the power to save someone, he certainly has the power to take a life. God has the ability to make things happen and in this case chose Zimmerman over Martin.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Mike

      good point but read this small posting from my blog:

      July 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  5. Pitiful

    He just got away with murder... I guess James Holmes will get away with killing a dozen people as well... right?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  6. Hbs

    Guru Granth Sahib says the followings:

    July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  7. Hbs

    ਚਿੰਤਾ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਜੋ ਅਨਹੋਨੀ ਹੋਇ ॥
    Chinthaa Thaa Kee Keejeeai Jo Anehonee Hoe ||
    चिंता ता की कीजीऐ जो अनहोनी होइ ॥
    People become anxious, when something unexpected happens.
    60542 ਸਲੋਕ ਵਾਰਾਂ ਤੇ ਵਧੀਕ (ਮ: ੯) ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ : ਅੰਗ ੧੪੨੯ ਪੰ. ੪
    Salok Guru Teg Bahadur
    Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email More Sharing ServicesShare

    July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • 007isalive

      Sardar jee! you wrote this at 12 O'Clock.?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  8. Hbs

    ਇਹੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਕੋ ਨਾਨਕ ਥਿਰੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਇ ॥੫੧॥
    Eihu Maarag Sansaar Ko Naanak Thhir Nehee Koe ||51||
    इहु मारगु संसार को नानक थिरु नही कोइ ॥५१॥
    This is the way of the world, O Nanak; nothing is stable or permanent. ||51||
    60543 ਸਲੋਕ ਵਾਰਾਂ ਤੇ ਵਧੀਕ (ਮ: ੯) ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ : ਅੰਗ ੧੪੨੯ ਪੰ. ੪
    Salok Guru Teg Bahadur
    Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email More Sharing ServicesShare

    July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • 007isalive

      Sardar jee! 12 o'clock!

      July 24, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  9. nacus

    If the big bang theory comes out to be true, there is no god the universe was made by one atom and by itself. Even Steven Hawkins who believed in god once now doesn't, everthing around us are just atoms.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  10. Dello

    Last time I checked killing a life was not God's plan. Clear example abortions. How can you justify your actions as God's plan. Did he at least question the boy before he took action, did he see if maybe something happened to him and needed help and yelled "Hey are you okay?" The boy was also afraid that someone was following him. It would have lightened the situation if Zimmerman reacted helpful. However he was black with a hoodie on, the ultimate indication of a murdering, stealing, horrible human being and his conscience said omg do something now lol. Damn the hoodie. Hum or maybe that was the Devil telling you to do it.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  11. June

    GOD does not tell anyone to kill their neighbor, in my Bible God tells us to love one another, not to judge our neighbor, and to turn the other cheek. I am so tired of people using GODs name when they spew hate for their fellow man.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  12. Tyler

    “I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street.” – Stephen Hawking

    July 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • June

      Very well said!!!

      July 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  13. chris

    what a F@#$%$# liar. How did Trayvon know u had a concealed gun? You piece of S@#$! I thought that u was innocent until i heard u talk. How is Trayvon going to go for your weapon when he doesn't know you have one.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  14. Rae Ann Pointer

    Test for finding a hypocrite:

    Pretend George Zimmerman were the black mand and Trayvon Martin was the white/Hispanic.
    Run through the available facts, from witnesses, police reports, video, audio, etc.
    So, does a black man have a right to defend himself against a white man that breaks his nose, beats his head in the concrete, covers his mouth when he screams for help and then tells him he is going to die?
    Come on, be honest now, you're a racist afterall aren't you?


    July 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  15. A hot mess

    Now that is a hot mess!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  16. James Anderson

    Zimmerman is Hispanic, and there are many more Hispanics than Blacks in America. If Zimmerman is wrongly prosecuted for simply defending himself, the Blacks will have to answer to the larger Hispanic community.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • James Anderson

      In fact, it can now be said that America is an Hispanic country, an extension of Mexico. Virtually all the population growth is from Hispanics, and demographers clearly show that America will be almost all Hispanic, percentage wise. Therefore, it would be in the financial and career interests of people to be fair and drop all charges against Zimmerman.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  17. OrthoPA

    George Zimmerman chose to disregard the dispatchers order to NOT follow Martin, in so doing, he was no longer in a defensive posture, rather quite the opposite. He failed to exercise his "duty to retreat" as is taught in almost all CCW classes. Whether or not, in the end, Zimmerman felt he had to use his gun to save his own life (how will we ever really know?), he violated the doctrines of self-defense by taking actions to literally create the right conditions for the confrontation and on that alone, he should be held accountable.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • June

      I agree with you 100% from the very beginning, I felt that Treyvon was not breaking the law when George started following him, George was just a stalker once he refused to obey law enforcement. If anyone had the Stand Your Ground law on his side, it would be Treyvon.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  18. Nate

    George Zimmerman is a punk.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  19. Demo Joseph

    I believe in Free Speech, but FOX Fools are going to far with this mess.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  20. Demo Joseph

    Guess his Daddy the judge is telling him to use god. Or the so call christians giving him money instead of fixing their teeth.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Rae Ann Pointer

      You're gay, aren't you Joe? Nothing to be ashamed of. Just profiling based on the anti-Christian bigotry.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • John Lederhouse

      Not very godly of you, is it?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:28 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.