Where was God in Aurora massacre?
Twelve crosses comprise a makeshift memorial near the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, scene of last week’s mass shooting
July 24th, 2012
02:13 PM ET

Where was God in Aurora massacre?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Where was God in Aurora?

It’s a fresh take on an age-old question: Why does God allow suffering, natural disasters or - if you believe in it - evil?

We put the question to Twitter on Tuesday and got some starkly different responses.

“In short, God was in complete control, exercising His will,” wrote @PastorRileyF, who leads a church in Bethune, Colorado.

That riled @TheTrivia Jockey, who tweeted, “If that was God's will, God is definitely not deserving of my worship.”

Watch: Survivor of massacre says he forgives gunman

@trentpayne also took issue with the Colorado pastor: "I'm going to respectfully disagree with you Pastor. God gives free will to man, but it wasn't his will that they die."

The back-and-forth provoked other believers to chime in on the theological issue of God’s sovereignty vs. human free will, with many Christians seeking to explain how a sovereign God could preside over seemingly senseless bloodshed.

“It is not God's will or want that people died in Aurora,” wrote @GospelBluesman 20m. "God allowed man's inhumanity to man, rather than intervene.”

The conversation and debate continued in the comments section of this post, with some insinuating that the massacre might be a kind of divine punishment, or at lease divine neglect:

We as a country have been telling God to go away. We told him to get off our currency, get out of our schools, get out of our Pledge of Allegiance, take your Ten Commandments out of our courthouses, get those Bibles out of hotels and no graduation ceremonies in our churches. How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand that he leave us alone?

Jesse R
Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child. Can't have any religious connotations in schools, libraries, government offices, etc., etc. Young men (and women) are growing up with no real sense of right and wrong. ... We no longer have the right of religion, but rather the right from religion. Parents no longer have the ability to discipline their children. We are always looking for the excuses ... violent video games and movies, bad teachers and schools ... when we should be looking in the mirror. We as a society are the reasons these massacres happen. We have allowed our children to become social misfits that lead to the kind of carnage we have seen on several occasions since religion and God disappeared from what the Founding Fathers once said was a necessity of a successful democracy ... faith.

Lots of readers used religious takes on the shooting to challenge the whole idea of God:

Who invited me?
How do you know the people that were killed didn't go to hell?, and how exactly does any of this show there is a reason? Reason is obviously something that you have replaced with belief, and you threw out logic with it.

"God doesn't exist, so he wasn't anywhere. Get over it. A man was evil, and he was evil because he was crazy.

Plenty of others said the shooting was the devil's work:

Evil things like this happen because Satan is the god of this world ... for the time being. God will undo all the damage caused by Satan's rebellion and man's disobedience when the time is right. In the meantime we all experience trials and tribulation due to living in an ungodly world. That is why Jesus taught his followers the Lord's Prayer ... 'to pray for God's kingdom to come.'

What’s your take? Where was God in the Aurora massacre? Or do you feel that such tragedies are evidence for a godless universe?

Let us know in comments, and we’ll highlight the best ones.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: God • Violence

soundoff (10,690 Responses)
  1. Dirk

    God bless those who says I don't exist. Wait till you get to the other side. WHAT A SHOCKER THAT WILL BE. I was there, but I don't control that, you do. I gave you free will to use as you chose. Some make good choices, others do not. See you there!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      what a shocker it will be to you when you die and are eaten by worms instead of going to the magic disneyland in the sky. lol.

      grow up.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • jbg757

      I can't wait. Have my gifts ready!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  2. Rachel

    We have de-sensitized our youth. I remember growing up with Aesop's fables stories, cartoons like Tom & Jerry and six million dollar man like TV shows. Now a days there are so many violent and disturbing images all over TV, movies and internet that it is almost inhibitory to the society's sensitive souls. I think that schools should make it mandatory for kids to do volunteering in hospitals, nursing homes and special kids schools, so children can learn empathy and perhaps learn to love their fellow beings. Kids spent too much time in their rooms with gadgets and get this illusion of having hundreds of friends on facebook but in reality they are alone. I also blame Hollywood with their complete lack of making any positive movies without violence. What can God do, when humans have become so dis-obedient!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • jbg757

      Like slavery?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  3. @lamarcac

    religion is a fabrication, a common denominator that unites and provides answers to fundamental questions about life and death to pacify the masses. Constantine’s purpose to create Christianity was political, without whom we would be worshiping the sun and the moon.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • lolol

      constantine created catholicism. not christianity.
      you fail.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • jg

      Christanity is not a religion!!! IT'S A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOD AND HUMAN!!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • @lamarcac

      youre both idiots

      July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  4. Randy

    Violence is everywhere. Sick people who do horrible things are everywhere. God gave you the power to control your life. So parents if you want to make sure your kids don't end up like this get away from your Facebook and wake up. Take notice of your actions and your children this whole world needs to stop making excuses.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  5. jbg757

    Deacon: You're a religious fanatic. Very dangerous.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  6. @lamarcac

    religion is a fabrication, a common denominator that unites and provides answers to fundamental questions about life and death to pacify the masses. Constantine’s purpose to create Christianity was political, with whom we would be worshiping the sun and the moon.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  7. Rick

    The answer is plain and simple. Yes, there is a God! But God lies waiting for us in the afterlife. Waiting for all that were good on this earth. This earth by the way is HELL! It is up to us to do our best while here to be good and then join hands with God in the afterlife.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • OOO

      So if you had your finger on the nuclear self-destruct button right now, would you push it and blow up the earth?

      Tell the truth!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  8. msbev

    God was there, God is whereever man is. Man is responsible for the carnage and suffering we endure on earth. Man has free will and makes bad choices, do not blame God. If man operated from the godliness in him we would live in a loving, peaceful, joyfilled world. But most people live from an egotistical place that is all their own doing and making, creating a world that is literally a living hell.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • jbg757


      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  9. YakatakXXL

    Insufficient sacrificing of virgins

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  10. dandommer@yahoo.com

    Why do republicans blame the world for the lack of God when republicans want everyone to own guns and want to Nuke foreign countries that don't look like and sound like them. Why do republicans blame democrats but their the ones that want the old, sick, and poor to suffer while the Bible clearly states we must help these people. Why do republican complain but their the ones that want to build fences so immirgents can't enter while the Bibel tells us to welcome these people has brothers and sister. Why do republicans follow all these MEG-Churches when God tells us to pray in our closets and not in public ?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  11. openyoureyes

    A finite mind can not understand an infinite God. Just because we as humans can't wrap our little minds around why things happen the way they do, doesn't mean that God isn't real.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  12. Dennis F. Heffernan

    As an atheist I don't have to deal with these problem of evil issues, but if I were to do so I would point out that any divine intervention in cases like this would void any reasonable notion of free will. If people are to be said to be free to choose their own actions then those actions must proceed with whatever consequences follow from them. The scales will have to be balanced in the afterlife, should there be one.

    Let me add that the petty, spiteful god described by people like Jesse R. is exactly the god I don't believe in. No benevolent all-powerful being would have such a low self-worth as to require constant veneration, or be so vindictive as to deliberately inflict misery on those who withheld such. And no one in this country is being kept from religion by the state, or liberals or atheists or such. Take your children to any church you like. Just don't try to put your church inside a school in a transparent attempt to force your religion on those who don't share it.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  13. DownInIt

    “The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.”
    – Delos Banning McKown

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  14. broncofanssuck


    July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  15. Bible Clown©

    God was having lunch with Zimmerman and having a laugh about how some people don't think it was God's Plan for him to shoot Trayvon Martin.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    "We no longer have the right of religion"

    cry more. you're crying because you don't have the right to shove your religion down other people's throats. boohoo.

    anyone telling you not to worship god in your home or at church? no.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Sam

    The one guy said there is no God, the guy was just evil. If there is no God then there is no way to determine what evil is.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      wrong. you are short-sided and childish if you believe that.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • DownInIt

      because God created evil?!?!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  18. Name*penguin

    God is a laissez fairist (my son says I believe in a French god). He has no control over our actions, but can punish us in the afterlife.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  19. jg

    Good answer truth, good question too!!! people need to spend their time in church Prasing the Lord, not at the movies!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • ftavour

      You must be a preacher in need of money.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  20. James Holmes

    all you people that believe in god are very unintelligent people. ( physicist)

    July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • ftavour


      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      probably more accurate to describe them as ignorant.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • jg


      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 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.