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.

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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. Lauryn

    Keep in mind that the bible does state that God has planned out your life from birth to death. So for you people who believe in God, apparently you have no control over what you do any more than Goerge Zimmerman.What ever happnes is all part of God's plan for your life. Unless you pick and chose what you believe in the bible.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • TomPaine

      Which begs the question about the effectiveness of prayer. If you believe that everything happens according to God's plan, then praying for an event to take place (or not to take place) is useless–if you pray for something to happen the outcome will turn out according to God's plan regardless of your prayer. But if prayers somehow alters God's plan, it isn't much of a "plan" to begin with.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  2. LorenB

    Mr. Zimmerman may do community service well. I believe that he does theology not so well.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  3. thetruth

    Funny mr zimmerman, i taught Gods will was to love your neighbor as you love yourself????? You didn't listen to God when He told you not to get out of that car did you? , or was it just a dispatcher. a man would do or say anything when his freedom is at stake.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  4. chris f

    Trying to blame God for your stupidiity is not a defense. Your not a cop, therefore you had no right to approach this innacent young man. If some one approached me in a threating manner I would defend myself too. Hjs death was your fault and your fault alone Don't try pinning it on God. My prays to his family.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  5. wherewasCIA

    the thieving, murderous 1% uses stooges like GZ to divide, manipulate, exploit and rule 99%.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  6. wherewasCIA

    a perfect stooge for the thieving thuggish 1%.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  7. jose

    who do you blame for all the killing that goes on at war , who is at fault for that ? there is a minister on each side of the killing on which side is God,, ?? which is their god, that is not listening , why blame God ,, when you made the war , ? same is with killing every where else , God has nothing to do with ,, it is your own doing,, and results ,

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  8. jose

    where all this has any thing to do with God will,??? 1 timothy say this This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, 4 whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth
    it would be nice if all those "pastors" knew what God really wants,, they would teach the truth, but abiously they don`t , know about him ,, one tent of what they clame to know

    July 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  9. andilayne

    Correct me if I'm wrong here...but wasn't there an article right before this where GZ stated that he did NOT follow TM? Liar, Liar...shame on you George Zimmerman. I sincerely hope that you are punished for the murder you committed. This isn't about race or religion, this about common sense-you are clearly lacking in that particular department.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  10. Ana

    Zimmerman is fighting for his freedom. He lies and depends on racists to set him free. He will get what he deserves, one way or another. There are universal laws of justice.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  11. john

    "While I do believe in divinity, the kind of statements that George Zimmerman is making is why people dislike Christians"

    That's not why people dislike Christians. We dislike Christians because they don't establish life practices for themselves, but rather for the purpose of imposition upon everyone around them who doesn't care in the least about being Christian. We have a right to a life of our own choosing, so stay out of Congress and the White House.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  12. bear79

    guess what Mr Zimmerman- sodomy inside of a prison is also "gods plan". Get ready!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  13. The

    Religious freak....you god loving nuts are the problem with this world. This mo fo should be put away for life.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  14. Knoles

    Who cares!!!!!! People die everyday!!! Get over it!!

    July 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • n8r0n

      I'm guessing the victim's family cares, you absolute flaming ay whole.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  15. deannhorn

    Shooting an innocent young man who had no weapons is not a part of God's plan. It is statements like this that give Christianity a bad rap. Mr. Zimmerman....when your time comes you will have to stand in front of God and explain why you followed this young man when the 911 people told you not to.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Evan

      Since the "911 people" are God's messengers?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

    Put some tape over Zimmerman's mouth and please, take the cameras off him. He is not the victim.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  17. Gary Duits

    Natural disasters are not caused by God.God is not natural, that's why the natural men has difficulties to accept Him.
    God is Super Natural ,there for outsite of nature.. However some two thousand years ago He invaded this planet with the oppertunity for us to know Him .In the person off Jesus Christ.Jesus said if you believe in Me ,even though you die ,you shall Live.For those folks who claim there is no God,,,,, we have a holiday named after that n.l April Fools Day!

    July 25, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • n8r0n

      Every day is April Fools Day when you're a grown adult that believes in an invisible man in the sky, who listens to you mumble to yourself, and apparently commands you to use capital letters incorrectly.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  18. Peter Grenader

    This idiot, time after time, just does not know when to shut the f up. That statement is gong to come back to burn him in his court hearing and by dang, it should.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:01 am |

    ..What are you reclaiming?
    ..See how easily I settle out of court!

    July 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  20. spayne201

    While I do believe in divinity, the kind of statements that George Zimmerman is making is why people dislike Christians. We can say it all came down to fate but at the end of the day your fate was to cross paths with that person, what you decide to do once you get there is on you. He needs to take responsibility for what happened, accident or not.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • What

      F all christians and all religions, they are all bad, monster people, and fake

      July 25, 2012 at 9:00 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.