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. ataxed99er

    So by your reasoning I can do whatever I want because if it isn't part of god's plan it wont happen?

    Open up the prisons. After all everything they did was just part of god's plan. They couldn't go against it.

    July 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  2. gigi


    July 27, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  3. fryuujin

    zimm must be attending the church of the Fonz. AAAA

    July 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  4. John80

    Boy, this guy is just digging his own hole deeper and deeper. This won't sound good in court.

    July 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  5. malik

    When the massacre happened in Aurora, God was sleeping.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  6. yneeemee

    Everything happens according to His plan... if you are a believer... even bad and terrible things happen as well as good and wonderful things... stop making such a big deal out of everything and sowing discord CNN

    July 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • John80

      God gave us the greatest gift – free will, so that everything doesn't have to enslave us to someone elses' plan.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  7. telrider

    Of course it was God's plan except the wrong one died.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • greg

      No tryvon chose to engage in criminal behavior the moment he chose to attack george zimmerman. If tryvon stayed home doing his homwork he would be alive today.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  8. consumer007

    All you right wing jacka$$ bible idiots who think what Zimmerman said about it was "God's Plan" for him to shoot Trayvon (even though 911 dispatcher told him NOT to), let me ask you this – was it also God's "Plan" for George to LIE to the judge about how much money he was making off being a murderer?

    I cannot believe the shamelessness – anything he does is God's plan, and you idiots for believing it.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • the_dude

      Religion is so bad god needs to create a virus that kills religious people.....errr.....wait he already created a virus that kills gays called AIDS.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Hey the-doody, AIDS kills everyone. Too bad you haven't caught it.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  9. Vader

    "It's God will/plan..."

    Just a dodge to avoid taking responsibility/accountability for one's own choices and actions.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  10. Food for thought

    scottd read this http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_did_the_big_bang_ begin (shift that one space over) if you knew your science, you'd know the theory is that it began with the explosion of a primeval atom

    July 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  11. belinda

    Of course he doesn't regret following Trayvon that night . He's become a Republican folk hero (SIC) and has also become Wealthy in the process . Why should he regret such a horrible thing . Republicans may forgive him . God will not.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  12. Lisa B.

    So, God was in Florida, but not Aurora?

    July 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • telrider

      You know how it goes when you get busy!

      July 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  13. philtration

    A perfect example of why religion is a cancer.

    July 26, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • George Washington


      July 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Tom

      Religion is one the scourge's of mankind, the other is mankind itself.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  14. Peter Grenader

    GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: If you're reading, I hate you. I hate what you did, I hate that you've lied about it, I hate that you've continued to lie about your finances, I hate that you have received anything over a penny in contributions, and over anything else, I hate that you think God planned your murder.

    That being said – shut the h ell up. Every time you open your mouth, you're making the case in your defense more difficult for your attorneys, Unless you're planning on a plea of insanity, this last one was over the edge

    July 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  15. oneworld2

    Well if he says so than it must me true.
    I mean why belief Abraham, Mozes and Jezus and don't belief this guy.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • I'm a Christian

      you b elong in the sme catagory as he with your reasoning... 🙂

      July 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    ..I ask all to remember what BEAUTY is!
    ..You see so much beauty!

    July 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • I'm a Christian

      yes God was afraid you'd find it 🙂 that's why the tower of babel was employed... but now God will have to do something else...maybe like give Islam tthe bomb!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      You know in retrospect to those person's last week at the theather who wer gunnned down by a madman nut idiot and a whole bunch of other names we can call him... the world changed instantly for them....that is of course not funny... but I just bring that up to remnbd you that you really don't know what's gonna happen from one moment till the next unless God shows you..

      July 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  17. Food for thought

    For all you atheist fools, and for all you religiously affiliated fools, answer me this. For the atheists, you believe in science no? The cause and effect law sound familiar? Well then, who or what created the first atom in order for the big bang to begin? Can't answer hmm. For the religious affiliated ones, you all believe in science as well? If not, that your creator created everything, it wasn't by chance? Then who or what created Jehovah/Allah/Yaheweh/God? If neither of you can answer, then both parties have no merit over the other. Atheist can't tell me the bible is a book of fairy tales when they themselves cannot answer a fundemental question of their own, neither can they view themselves as better then religious ones. Religious ones cannot tell me the bible is real when they cannot answer there own fundemental questions, neither can they claim atheists are foolish or ignorant as well. Someone answer this without either going on to bash the other affiliations beliefs without any soid undeniable eviden the other is wrong, insulting myself and others, or making a rebuttal that amounts to "it is because it is".

    July 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • TomPaine

      @Food for Thought – The thing is, atheists don't claim to have all the answers. By definition, they just don't think there's any reason to believe a god was involved.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • unholy one

      I'm not an atheist...I'm a poly atheist...there are many gods I don't believe in. I don't claim they don't exist. I DON"T BELIEVE IN THEM, worship them, or pretend to know what they want for humanity through faith, feelings and belief. I also do not believe in unicorns, fairys, gremlins,ogres...etc. If I see one, if they start being captures or a fossil comes up and they call it such, I'll pay attention.

      Regarding the first atom...it is true there is one theory claiming a big bang based on the observation of the universe expanding outward from what can be inferred as, at one time, a singularity. That is all which is claimed. From there many hypothesis are made from an osscilating universe collapsing and expanding infinitely, to raw energy which in the right condition became solid matter and due to forces acting upon it though time some improbable things happened. Again, one hypothesis....another states we're not the only universe and perhaps there is even MORE space outside what we know, that time/space energy/matter are merely a perception of events, and only one...it goes on and on. Only a stupid scientist would say with certainy they know the origin of the universe. But....we know of force we call dark matter, its effect is measured....atoms we can manipulate and change in predictable ways. I am made of them, I can use microscope and see cells, electron microscopes...all there. The mass is measurable, quantifiable, repeatable.

      IF all religion vanished and humans started over, in 1,000 years there would surely be more gods, different, but they would be there........but math...well, that would be the same.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Anthony

      God IS the creator. Nothing and noone creates the creator.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • You'reWrong

      Nice try, Food for Thought. Nice try to apply a set of standards or belief structures to atheists. "Atheism" It's Greek. From "A" meaning anti-, oppo-, against; a negation. "Theism" meaning of or pertaining to religion or god worship.
      Atheists merely do not believe in God. They do not replace this disbelief of religion with an equivalent belief in anything else. It merely does not exist.
      It is YOU who is wrestling with who, what, how. Not Atheists. Perhaps some science-minded Atheists do contemplate the beginning of it all. Not all do, but none do by definition.
      You're in search of proof. The religious aren't. They have faith in their religion. The Atheists aren't necessarily searching for anything either, they are settled in their thoughts on other matters and their faith in themselves and the world they know.

      Your question is the same sort of thing you mock in your own post. Your question "is because it is" to you. You're puzzled by the chicken or the egg. It has weight to you. It's irrelevant regarding spirituality. Either side that searches to "prove" something in order to be "right" is really, really barking up the wrong tree.
      120 years ago we didn't know of atoms. Perhaps in 120 years we'll know from where they come. What will that solve? The religious will always point to existence as proof. The Atheists will always point to the power of the imagination and curative nature of fables as the explanation of religion, and will continue to endeavor to explore the boundaries of space without preconceptions.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • scottd

      @Foodforthought – "Well then, who or what created the first atom in order for the big bang to begin? Can't answer hmm."

      There were no atoms present in the earliest stages of the universe. Learn some science before you start whipping out the "stumpers".

      July 26, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • I'm a Christian

      I'm a Christian, but when you speak to all the athiest fools out there...well.. that's offensive to God...He doesne't speak of them thast way........

      He sent his Son Jesus to die for their sins so that they can have eternal life...Some how yu seem to think that an athiest can never change theri minds...What this really says to me is that Athiest have presented a very good argument agsinst your kind of faith ...which is not faith at all since ou have given up on them.... 🙂
      So like goliath of Gath you proceed to insults ... showing that youy have no faith at all...

      you better check your insides Is God really there? or just you ... and an impatient devil ...well lets hope not... sad 🙁

      July 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Leo

      It was indeed God's plan if he thinks so. It is also God's plan to prosecute him and put him behind bars.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • I'm a Christian

      @ Leo ...not if he can persuade the jury that it was God's plan for him to get away with it.. 🙂 🙂

      July 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • lip

      Hey man,
      Don't be talking good sound logic around here. It's all about vitriol and hyperbole on these boards. You're making most of these posters look as stupid as they probably are. It's all Obama's fault!!! What were we talking about again?

      July 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  18. Scott

    People believe in God the same way black people are typically criminal in behavior. Look at the rules of conformity in psychology. I mean look at Nazi Germany...why do you think people are "racist?" because everyone else is? Why do you think back people are criminal in behavior? Because everyone else around them is? Well what do you know...it's society that is the problem...

    July 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  19. n8r0n

    It's convenient how you mindless religious drones always find a way to credit your imaginary god when good things happen, and blame the bad things on the mere mortals.

    Zimmerman's statements are not why I personally dislike Christians. It's more about the oppression of gays, the misogyny, the warmongering, the anti-science and anti-intellectualism.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Food for thought

      You ssuming they are all mindless can be quite offensive. Some actually practice what they preach, like Jehovah's Witnesses for example, who don't go raping children with pastors like some do. While I don't exactly lean either way in the foolish atheism vs religion debate, I won't stand for comments defacing the standpoint of either affiliation.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Kaylina

      Interesting! I actually am one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I must add that Jehovah's Witnesses are by no means anti-science or anti-intellect. In fact, two brochures were released at one of our recent conventions that goes very in depth on the subject of evolution. I, being scientifically inclined, find it to be most fascinating. We regularly feature scientific articles in our monthly magazines, especially the Awake! magazine which centers more on world events. Blindly assuming that all who believe in God are ignorant brainwashed fools is just as laughable as the antics you claim to observe in such people.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • I'm a Christian

      not true..... God will tell you that I always initially blame him when things I don't like happen...
      I alwasy say , why did you let this happen to me... ??? 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  20. a12yearold

    god's not real

    July 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Kaylina

      Prove it.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • I'm a Christian

      maybe to a 12 year old.. well, you got a lot of growning up to do sonny or little chick..

      July 26, 2012 at 1:35 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.