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. Zeus

    Shhh! Quiet girl! These mortals must not know of our designs!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  2. George Lopes

    Its amazing how everything, every word someone says you journalist find a gray area, or a misleading caption just to draw attention, and division in America.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  3. Brutus II

    So Tracy Martin is questioning the wisdom of God's plan. Wow. What arrogance.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  4. levi

    If the Cartwrights didn't have guns there would not have been the show "Bonanza"!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  5. Pope Benedict

    This story doesn't belong on the Belief page. Zimmerman's already a confirmed liar. He won't be "let off the hook" in court because of his manufactured belief. He's a gun-loving lunatic.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Mike

      No, he will be "let off the hook" because he acted within his legal rights and in accordance with what a reasonable person would have done.

      Say, you sound awfully hateful. OH! Wait! I see why! Never mind . . . to be expected.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  6. Toddmw

    Guilty or innocent? Thats still yet to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt either way but his bringing God into this and making the claim the God is somehow responsible for this happening to the kid is rediculous! Like many other people I have yet to form some real opinion as to what happened as who was the guilty party, what actually went down, etc and there are advocates for both sides of this argument but saying that this has anything what-so-ever to do with God is the totally wrong thing for him to say. This actually smells like this was specifically said for a covert reason so that it can somehow be used by him in his defense later. Don't know whether he is ultimately guilt or not at this point but this god line smells fishy!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  7. Zeus

    Plan? I have no plan. What is this plan of which you speak?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Aphrodite

      Don't you remember father? You wanted Trayvon removed so you could appear to his girlfriend as a Donkey and have your way with her?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • YAHWEH



      July 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Cthulhu the Unspeakable Horror of the Depths

      Phah! There is no plan save that of burning the Earth and dragging it screaming back into the abyssal plane from which it escaped! You humans and your petty little melodramas. Do you really think that we listen or care about you and your affairs? Worship the Blind Idiot God at the center of all Chaos!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Justice999

      LOL! Good one, almighty Zeus.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Zeus

      Yahweh, I see your back off your meds. Why don't you take a chill pill and go back to those 3rd rate, backward, chosen people of yours?

      Sheesh. Athena sponsors the intellectuals of Athens and you choose to sponsor a bunch of sheep molesting nomads? Who let this guy up here anyways?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Steve

      @Zeus, "Yahweh, I see your [sic] back off your meds. Why don't you take a chill pill and go back to those 3rd rate, backward, chosen people of yours"

      And I see you still have not learned elementary grammer. No wonder you have not been called back home yet...

      July 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Zeus

      Ohh look! A member of Yahweh's grammar police pointing out that I didn't type "you're" on an internet chat board, and then like a typical Yahweh follower, he invents new reasons why I do not admit Yahweh is superior to me! This time it is GRAMMAR! Muhahaha. If it wasn't for this draught, I'd probably toss a lightning bolt at you, puny mortal. Yahweh is the god of the deranged. We wouldn't let him sponsor the superior civilizations of Greece or Rome. He got the israelites BECAUSE NOONE ELSE WANTED THAT BUNCH OF ILLITERATES!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  8. cedar rapids

    "told Hannity he didn't regret deciding to follow Martin that night"

    how could you not regret deciding on an action, that did need to happen, that ended with you killing someone?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  9. Follix

    He could have found something better: It was my brain plan and I didn't chose that brain. Now it would have been a lot better cause neurogically he would be right.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  10. lazytrollhunter

    I say stupid things too when I'm scared.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  11. zimmerman is going to get pop

    GZ when you go to jail I hope they put you in a cell with a BIG BLACK Man on Steroids....let see what god have to say about that one.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • norm

      Suck a big white one!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  12. Big_D

    What does this remind me of, oh yeah:
    Over the rainbow, I am crazy,
    Bars in the window.
    There must have been a door there in the wall
    When I came in.
    Crazy, over the rainbow, he is crazy.

    The evidence before the court is
    Incontrovertible, there's no need for
    The jury to retire.
    In all my years of judging
    I have never heard before
    Of someone more deserving
    Of the full penalty of law.
    The way you made them suffer,
    Your exquisite wife and mother,
    Fills me with the urge to defecate!

    Since, my friend, you have revealed your
    Deepest fear,
    I sentence you to be exposed before
    Your peers.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  13. NorCalMojo

    Zimmerman is the uber-troll. I'm not even going to try. No one can top that.


    July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  14. Demsrules

    Here we go...the precursor to the insanity plea! He's running out of options and inconsistent recollections of his story. He was a hotheaded individual, out of control the night he shot Martin. His cousin has now come forth with reports of his molestation of her and of course he has been in trouble with the law before.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  15. mirted

    At first, I though the attribution to God's Plan was idiotic, but then, it is also along the lines of the rationalization of if you do believe in God, why does he do bad things to good people? Or, it's the Will of Allah! From a PR standpoint, it's a loser and Zimmerman was an idiot for saying it. It does make him seem insincere, doesn't it?

    If you are losing the fight, on your back, and your weapon might become his weapon, that's enough to draw and fire. But we have no one to verify what was said.

    Treyvon Martin at 17 bore no real resemblance to President Obama. He looks to be a kid who was experimenting with drugs and gangs and thug culture and ready to go further off the rails. It gives some credibility to Zimmerman's story.

    All in all, a sad, sad story. My condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Martin. No matter what the truth is, nor who the real perpetrator is, their suffering is real.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Demsrules

      Let's not forget Zimmerman is no model citizen either! He has been in trouble with the police in the past and his cousin has now come forth making known his molesting her. So, if Martin would have shot Zimmerman- would that be considered God's will?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  16. 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. All Hail Thor!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  17. Jambobadoodybaps

    Hoodie-wearing thug + moped = FUN FUN FUN!!!


    July 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Big_D

      Zimmerman was the one with the gun menacing. You should try and read the story.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  18. JP0

    Except that there is no plan. You are responsible for your own actions.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  19. Steve

    1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

    Luke 13:1-5

    July 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  20. Nietodarwin

    There is NO god. The guy killed a kid, because he stupid. He may be racist, or not. He may have been nervous or not. He carried a gun, was told to not go after the kid, and then killed him. He is also really stupid to be doing interviews, (his defense attorneys want more money) before his trial. I hope the prosecution finds parts of this to interview. Where is the interview taking place, good ole' FOX news. Maybe Romney could give Zimmerman some money, if Trayvon would have turned 18 before Nov. then Zimmerman saved Romney from losing a vote in Florida.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • norm

      Based upon your post, I would guess that Zimmerman is a lot brighter than you.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:24 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.