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. Thor

    George Zimmerman will spend his eternity in Valhalla! He is a glorious warrior who prays for me to protect him from the Ice Giants with whom Trayvon Martin was in cahoots.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  2. Sandusky

    Put me in a room with Zimmerman... hypnotize and regress him to childhood! oh please!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  3. Mithead

    If god has a plan, then it's god's plan that I am an atheist and my brother is gay. You can not have free will and god's plan simultaneously. Again, another flaw with this stupidity. It's god's plan when it suits you, it's free will when it does not....

    July 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  4. bigsnow81

    Absolutely appalling, I don't thirst for his blood. Violence begets more violence.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  5. Carol

    Yeah, it was "God's plan" .... the Holocaust, the crusades,the Spanish Inquisition, the burning of witches at the stake in Salem. According to that GREAT Christian Rush Limbaugh God's plan or revenge included just like Katrina, and 9/11, the tornadoes in Joplin, the fires in Colorado, and the drought in the mid-west. Quit hiding behind "religion" You are no more Christian than Bin Laden was Muslim. You are just hate-mongers who murder for the thrill of blood. Frankly I think we should open season on the Mexicans like you – but there's a law against that .
    YOU are just one of many EXCELLENT reason why I consider the word "Christian" a put down. I do worship Christ and Heavenly Father, but the word "Christian" has been hijacked by you murderers, thieves, liars ... most politicians in general and of course the entire Republican party. I am spiritual – not one of those damn "Christians" like Zimmerman who hunts down and shoots unarmed teens. George, it's "God's plan" that you are going to be tried, found guilty and spend the rest of your life in jail with a roommate named Bubba who thinks you're a cute Christian – and is willing to demonstrate it to you.. With luck you'll be cellmates with Jerry Sandusky – another "Christian".

    July 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  6. Mark P

    There is no god, this was just a murder plain and simple.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  7. halfbakedlunatic

    'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to control and pacify the weak minded. It's embarrasing that we have idiots that could even utter the words "it was gods plan" without laughing.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  8. NutGrinder

    Religious idiots.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  9. Amazing Graze

    Apparently God is not all knowing. Had God known that Zimmerman was going to pin the shooting on him, then he never would have allowed it to happen. Unless of course if God knows that the public won't buy into the whole "God's plan" defense then it's a brilliant plan. God sure is one sneaky sob.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  10. 007isalive

    There is a story: A lion was locked in a cage and a man was passing near his cage he implored the man to release him from the cage,on getting assurance from the beast that he would not be eaten alive after he is released ,the man took pity on him and released the beast.The lion had not eaten for days and now the feast was there. the man was in trouble and decided to take the case to the fox . Now the fox plays his role.confusing the case.
    "were you in the cage,mr.?" asks the cunning fox.
    "oh no, it was the lion who was in the cage", replied the man with sadness.
    "oh , i'm too old to remember what did you say,Ok the lion was in the bush,is it correct "
    "no,no, i was passing near his cage and he was in the cage locked."
    "ok the cage was opened and the lion was in the cage,right"
    "now you tell me the case ",the fox asks the lion.
    "i was in the cage ,you understand ,"
    "ok you and the man were in the cage"
    The story goes on and the case is never solved,because the case is in the hand of a fox
    God bless all Blacks in the land of "for life, liberty,and the persuit of hapiness".

    July 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  11. jeremiah applewhite

    Also a part of God's plan for Zimmerman: a long, long time behind bars.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  12. lee

    "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."

    Why can't everyone see that the gods of modern religions are exactly as real as the gods of Greek mythology? This is so blatantly obvious it hurts.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Rynomite

      Actually, believing in the greek gods is actually more logical (if care toe compare levels of illogical thought) than belief in an abrahamic god. Why? The theology of greek gods never implied that they were all knowing, all powerful, or all good. Nor any sort of silly trinity. Therefore, the greek gods are more logical due to the simple fact that they posed less logical contradictions.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  13. Scott

    I think the wheels have come off the far right cart.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  14. Atheist

    Mmmmm....... "God's plan"...... So what if one doesn't believe in God ???

    July 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • jeremiah applewhite

      BLASPHEMER! Everyone knows God has plans. Nevermind the free will he also granted us (remember the "original sin," committed by choice?), that is only an inconvenient technicality for people who do not accept blame for their missteps, like Mr. Zimmerman. The so-called "right" completely reject the claims of atheists You are free to follow your own religion in the USA, so long as the majority approve of it, or so it seems. Small religion or one that runs afoul of general standards, or no religion? You must be misguided (in need of a "real" religion), or just plain evil (and probably a cultist). Either way, you are marginalized and largely ignored.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  15. LOL Religion

    Zimm is just laying the ground work for an insanity defense. Sane adults don't have imaginary friends.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  16. sunshine

    I am going to continue following this tragic story. It is more than sad that a young man's life was lost in this incident. George Zimmerman should have some scars on him from his night of patrolling and killing another human being. If I sat in my window with a gun, spotted an "unwanted" person in my neighborhood, pursued and killed the individual, then I am a murderer. To add insult to injury, I deceive and lie to the court about my finances, and do an interview where I state that "I have no regrets.....this must be part of God's plan." I'm really full of myself, am I not? I should have the good sense to know I stepped out of line, am responsible for a young man's demise, and try not to secure financial gain from my deviant act. But instead, I will do interviews, and collect money from donations, hire a lawyer, and tell anyone who listens how proud of myself I am..........for shooting an innocent, unarmed man

    July 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • sandpen4

      Go ahead sunshine and throw all the stones at Zimmerman that you can find, since you are not a SINNER.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  17. GodsLogicIs?

    Please forgive your cellmates when it's God's plan to make you play the part of your wife in the cell.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  18. George Killerman

    I guess it's "god's" plan that zimmerman goes to prison for all the past crimes that he had gotten away with including incest. the devil was caught, then loosened, and ultimately get caught again.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  19. PCL

    Was it also "God's plan" for his cousin to be molested? If I see a new Porsche parked across the street unattended, can it be "God's plan" that the car be stolen? Such a generous god!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  20. Ronald Hussein Reagan

    If Adolf Eichmannn had come up with that he might be alive today; either that or ZImmmerman should cllaim,"I was under orders.":

    July 19, 2012 at 4:39 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.