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. Grady

    what a load of balderdash...there is no freaking plan.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  2. Anonymous Coward

    So if one of the whack jobs who's out gunning for Zimmerman succeeds in shooting him, would that also be part of God's plan? Or does this "plan" only apply to things he chooses to do to other people, not things other people choose to do to him?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  3. John

    going to prison may be in the plans for you Zimmerman

    July 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  4. Paul

    Zimmerman: God has a plan for you...........To lock you up for life and throw away the key!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  5. George Killerman

    it was in george's plan to murder travon because he appointed himself "god" of the neighborhood.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  6. OPEN400

    II find it disgusting that we have commentators on TV and radio that make millions by stirring up hatred, bigotry, discord and reinforcing uneducated ways of looking at social problems. The police, the organization that is supposed to maintain law and order in the streets, specifically told Zimmerman NOT TO PURSUE Trayvon Martin. Are we becoming a society that people just ignore the police and administer their own justice? We cannot be a civilized society and act this way.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • mark

      The police did not tell him. 911 told him. They are not the police and DO NOT need to be listened to.
      Get your facts straight before spouting your BS.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • thomas

      sooo funny....where did the police/dispatch tell him SPECIFICALLY not to pursue, they said "we do not need you to do that..." there is no SPECIFIC order there at all...American education is sooooooo baaaaad...

      July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Varney

      Thomas, Mark. Then why did he call 911? You think it was to legitimize what he planned and now calls god's plan.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  7. Pedro Gonzales

    It seems to be a bigoted racist witch hunt against George Zimmerman because he is Hispanic.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Veritas

      @Pretend Pedro. Actually it's because he chose to follow Martin while carrying a gun having been told not to.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • sam

      So you missed the whole debate where he's actually a 'white hispanic'?

      July 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Dale

      Well first it started out as a racist white man kills innocent young black man, then according to the New York Times it was a white Hispanic racist who killed a young black man, now we hear it is a Hispanic who killed a young innocent black man. What is really amazing is each time George Zimmerman's' ethnicity changes we hear less and less from people like Al Shapton, Jessie Jackson, Eric Holder, and the justices system. Neither one of these people, George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martian were not angles. Moreover, both individuals had criminal records.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • ScottCA

      The man had a right to walk the streets just as much as Martin did. Martin had no justification for assaulting anyone, even if that peson was following hm. Following is not attacking. And we have the right to walk whee we choose.

      Martin behaved like a savge animal striking out at Zimmerman rather than just talking to him rationally and dispersing of the situation like a rational person would. Or going somewhere to call police regarding his concerns about a man following him.

      No one ever has the right to assault another person. If Martin had been raised to respect other people and to never assault another person, he would still be alive.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Anonymous Coward

      People wanted to hang Zimmerman from the nearest lamppost long before he claimed to be Hispanic.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  8. Joshua Jackowski

    Only a idiot thinks they know what goes on inside God's head. Period. Obama was born in Kenya.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  9. thomas

    “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.”.....i wonder how Carr would respond to the scripture that states "...and it is APPOINTED unto man once to die..." Hebrews 9:27...TM was appointed to die on that night...he didn't have 3 or 4 dates with death...if we worship a being that is not all-powerful and all knowing, then we do not worship a "God," we worship a super hero Mr. Carr....

    July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Robert Poole

      The comment by @thomas may have been taken down by the time this gets posted, but he essentially was challenging Roman Catholic doctrine with a cherry picked (and out-of-context) scriptural quote. Unfortunately, by clicking "Reply," the original comment was taken out-of-view and I can't seem to track it down to get the exact biblical quote, book-chapter-verse. (That'll teach me to copy-paste the source before hitting Reply next time...)

      The quote was ostensibly in favor of the view that God really is the author of all things, that everything is part of His plan. This is the interpretation taken by several religious groups, for example, Calvinist Christians and Muslims.

      Since the Catholic Church strongly endorses Free Will (because without Free Will, man cannot be said to be able to make moral choices), the aforementioned interpretation will be vehemently rejected by any Catholic worth his or her salt. While the Catholic Church does allow its laity to read the Bible for its own inspiration, the Church reserves for itself the right to interpret Scripture for her lay-members, especially in matters critical to the doctrine of the faith.

      Anyone speaking on the matter of Roman Catholic doctrine, as Carr and especially Father Reese were, would have to find fault with what Zimmerman said. Zimmerman is, sorry to say, out of step with Catholic theology. I realize that you, thomas, may not agree with this doctrine, but since Zimmerman professes the Roman Catholic faith, he needs to be judged by Catholic standards, not those of some Protestant sect or your own personal standards. By that standard, Zimmerman failed by trying to blame-shift to God, and before that by taking a human life when his own was almost certainly not in danger (and in an incident that was entirely avoidable if Zimmerman had obeyed police instructions).

      July 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  10. Richard Sciarappa

    God planned the greatest sin in the history of the world, the killing of His innocent son Jesus Christ.
    There is what God commands to happen, and there is what God permits to happen.
    God is God and can command whatever He wishes.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Postal

      Sounds like someone needs to read up on what actually happened and why...

      July 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Scott

      A whole religion based on suicide. Kinda adds something to it. Anyone can die the hard part is living.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  11. nc1965

    God's plan?

    This was Satan's plan to get Zimmerman in to h e l l.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  12. melvin mayes

    CNN, can you please stop trying to persuade the masses that Zimmerman is some innocent,misguided soul? He murdered an innocent kid. In your quest to convince your subscribers that this guy is somehow a victim, not a racist, may have had Black relatives, etc. you neglect to provide your readership with any insight into Trayvon Martin' s life. He's the victim, not Zimmerman. You guys are shameless in your attempts to acquit Zimmerman in the public eye before he even goes to trial. Disgusting.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • ME II

      " He murdered an innocent kid. "
      The trial hasn't even started yet.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • thomas

      "an innocent kid," is comical, INNOCENT kids do not get susspended from school 3 times in 2 years, innocent kids don't slam people's heads in to sidewalks....

      July 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Postal

      "You guys are shameless in your attempts to acquit Zimmerman in the public eye before he even goes to trial. Disgusting."

      Let me paraphrase your own statement:

      "You guys are shameless in your attempts to convict Zimmerman in the public eye before he even toes to trial. Disgusting."

      July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • mark


      July 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Varney

      @thomas. And Zimmerman knew that. Is that why he targeted Martin?

      July 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  13. George Lopes

    People are funny they jump on bandwagons so they could look good, but facts are facts and Zimmerman will and should be found innocent.

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

      Would love to hear your reason why – do you have inside information that we all are not privy to? So far, all of us have is the word of the one left alive, and so far his actions with the court have indicated he is a less than honest human.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Varney

      Which is your bandwagon Jorge?

      July 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  14. Boston Guy

    It might have been God's plan that Trayvon died that night but Zimmerman was used by the Devil to do it. Zimmerman is a cold blooded killer. He thought he was pretty tough to target a black teenager that night, he's not acting so tough now. Only place good for him now is prison along with his lying, stealing wife. Where there is one thug there is another one.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Postal

      Gee...sounds like you have more information at your disposal than the police, the witnesses, and pretty much everyone else to reach such a clear, concise, and obviously infallible conclusion as this.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  15. Kris Craig

    Ok, Mr. Zimmerman. You're off the hook! You may have murdered this unarmed child in cold blood, but you couldn't help it because it was all part of God's plan. I trust, then, that you will join me in demanding that all felons be released from prison immediately? After all, Ted Bundy can't be held accountable for what he did because God wanted him to slaughter all those people. Hitler was actually a great guy; it's not his fault that God forced him to murder millions of innocent people.

    So good for you! When you're standing before the judge as the court clerk reads, "We the jury, find George Zimmerman, not guilty by reason of 'God made me do it,'" be sure to get down on your knees and praise almighty Jesus for empowering you to serve as God's executioner.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  16. Amill

    I was once in a car with a few people, and as we pulled into a parking spot in a crowded lot, someone actuallly said, "Look, God gave us a parking spot". Unreal. How do mere heathens ever find a place to park their car?

    July 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  17. euphoniusmunk

    It is exactly this kind of talk that disqualifies religious people from reality: "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."

    Tell me, friend, how to know what's in God's plan?

    Give me the Native American's 'Great Mystery'. There's something out there alright. But ain't no man gonna tell you what It is,

    July 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  18. Useurnoodle

    Did anyone else notice in the interview with Hannity where he tried to walk back what he said about how he would not change anything about that night? He was talking then suddenly looked ito the camera to try to look sincere and tug at the heartstrings of his supporters.... It looked obviously staged, like he was coached or something. Now they are gonna send him more money to lie about..... Rediculous!!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • euphoniusmunk

      I watched 8 minutes of this crap interview. All Hannity did was toss Zimmerman candy.
      Hannity is a journalist like Taco Bell is food.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Kris Craig

      Hannity is a joke, just like the rest of Fox "News." No surprise here.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • LouAZ

      That is an insult to Taco Bell ! Stop it !!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  19. blam0h1@gmail.com

    Please. Have some personal accountability

    July 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Remember the Devil was one of God's Angels. Zimmerman is very mentally confused about God's plan and the Devil that made him kill Trayvon Martin.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Kris Craig

      Ok, seriously guys. Enough. God didn't make him do it. The dude in the red pajamas with the pitchfork didn't make him do it. The magic carpenter who invented water skiing didn't make him do it. The talking snake didn't make him do it. Zimmerman is responsible for his own decisions. The only thing that made him do this was his own ego.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:37 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.