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. Wayfaring Stranger

    God was and is sitting on his throne in Heaven, Jesus at his side praying for everyone in the theater. And when the christian victims and children passed away God was awaiting them with loving open arms and they are happier there than they ever were here!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hmmm. And what happened to the victims who were not Christians?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |


      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Amos

      Probably up to God to figure out isn't it?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Amos

      How is it a weakness?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Wayfaring Stranger

      I'm not the Judge, and neither are you, only God knows the heart of man! Maybe they were all christians! Not stooping to your childishness! Just respect their memories and let God decide!

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

      Do god and Jesus have conversations with one another? If so, since they're both divine, and the same person, I wonder what they talk about?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |


      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      sorry tom
      they didn't buy a ticket, they don't get to ride

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

      Silly Tom. Of course any non-christian goes straight to hell to burn for all eternity, as that is what any all-loving god would do.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Way, again, you made a statement about what happened to the victims who were Christian as if you knew exactly what happened to them. If you don't like being asked questions about your statements, don't make them.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  2. Ronald Smith

    These events serve to remind us that we're on our own. Deities and divine plans are our creation...the universe doesn't care whether we survive or perish. Bottom line...take responsibility for your (our) actions and strive to make the planet a better place to live.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Wayfaring Stranger

      Yeah, that's really working for us, ask the people in syria!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Joe from Indy

      Yeah ask the RELIGIOUS people of Syria how taking responsibility rather than making decisions based on religion works out. You're making lots of sense.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  3. Scott

    Why are we even talking about god on a news site? Seriously, is this even relevant?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |


    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Please lose the all caps man it's killing me when the secular people do it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  5. Sense

    This article boasts some of the most inane, unintelligent comments ever made. Pastors who make comments like that, and believe what that man believes, are not really Pastors. They aren't Christians for that matter, nor are the people that follow them. And for those who believe that because we don't have the 10 commandements in our courthouse rulings – shame on you. Blaming everything on 'liberals' and making incredulous statements like that is the reason 'conservatives' have a bad image, and Christians have a worse one. Please, stop believing that everything your local Pastor says – chances are you have the mental dexterity to make up your own mind and be reasonable....and if you don't, please keep it to yourself.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  6. jamy

    I agree with Harleyxx and Gospel bluesman.. It's all in the New Testament.. Satan is at work.. God has allowed it..

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

      jamy, it's all in your head. You have allowed yourself to be brainwashed. Wake up.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • RAWoD

      Believe whatever you want. However, believing something just because it was written then printed then reevised (over and over) by man is not a sound position for the twenty-first century.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  7. Jason McCann

    CNN this is possibly the most unorganized, unnavigable comments section in the history of every Internet in every universe.

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

    Question: Why do people have to die at all?
    Answer: They do in this world.
    They don't in the next – Christ Jesus has seen to that.
    Have faith in God. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

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

      The science behind death comes down to entrophy. You would probably be better off if you spent some time exploring reality.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Get Real

      "They don't [die] in the next"

      And your verified evidence for this is...?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  9. Ted Ward

    I certainly hope there is a God that is watching out for us in case another big space rock comes by that could wipe us out like the dinosaurs. Otherwise nobody will be left to have (academic) discussions like this.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  10. Carl Sagerquist

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    — Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)

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

      Maybe God is testing your Faith by seeing what you do after it happens. Doesn't look like you passed. Try reading the Book of Job.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  11. MagicPanties

    Anything good that happens is thanks to god; anything bad that happens is thanks to mankind.
    Well, isn't that convenient?

    Time to stop believing in fairy tales.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • a voice

      Is human evil or crime a fairytale if it is at fault then, that seems to be what your statement implies:-)

      July 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  12. twh

    Do we really need this article? It's just troll bait for people to rustle the jimmies of those that are believers.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  13. Say it ain't so

    You want to know where god was when you gave us the answer just yesterday & you're still wondering? Well when that semi-automatic that shoots out rounds of 100 jammed, that could've had a bigger casualty number & higher number of injured... God was there & he said "ENOUGH". So before you go saying "well why didn't he just stop him from the beginning? Why did anyone have to die?" it's called free-will. There are people being slaughtered in syria right now & no one in the world is doing anything to stop it, but there will come a point when someone intervenes & stops the bloodshed... God did just that by jamming the rifle. Many won't believe it but I know that's what happened.

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

      Most do not believe it. Frankly, I suspect you really don't either.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  14. tigrr

    All people were given Free Will to act as they wish for experiences in this life, and to learn from these experiences. All LAWS were created by Men, to rule and dominate other men. The Ten Commandments were given as Guidlenes to live by, for those morally bankrupt, until they learn better. No God manipulates others. Some of the 'gods' named in 'bible' were actually ETs mis-construed as gods. Think about it – angles and devils? More likely good and bad ETs. Time to get out of the stone-age.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  15. former catholic

    Where was god? If anyone wants to know where god is, just go to a child abuse seminar and see what evil things are done to innocent children / babies on a regular basis. That will cure anyone of believing there can be a god.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  16. joshua

    please see dr owour a prophet among us. read deuteronomy 18 & st marks 16 & acts 3 to confirm he is. this are crucial times for humans and those that follow His commandments will abstain from killing. those that dont experience His Love will practice evil. but there is hope, even for the atheist. religion has caused all this separation and disbilief. but there is one day coming where those practising holiness staying away from sin will experience the Holy Ghost of God and they will see once the church is restored. even after Jesus come and takes the church there will be still hope for those left behind. that shows the love of God. Satan has confuse all humans because we have forgotten or not practice Holiness therefore the Holy Ghost cannot come inside us to show us the truth. Jesus teaches that to all of us and this is the time to go back so satan wont use us to keep this suffering and causing it to others. prepare the way Jesus is coming sooner than we think. may God give hope for those affected and pray is the only way to find confort.

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

      I suppost with the name Joshua you had a pre-condition towards faith. Pity,

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  17. Nate

    I think its interesting that one gentlemen thinks that we need to start brainwashing children at an early age so they can't think for themselves in the future. And morals can be taught without religion. We teach dogs tricks without god.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  18. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    I am seek of these self-righteous Christians claiming that God only protects those who follow him. Well guess what? A real loving God would protect anyone regardless of their beliefs. This is not Obama's fault, it is not liberal's fault for "not letting God in the theater." If your god is truly omnipotent and omnipresent a group of humans wouldn't be able to stop him, unless he chose to not be there with the twelve people who lost their lives. It is the fault of one man who felt like killing people. It is ver sad, but it disgusts me that you would try and use the death of twelve people in a desperate attempt to make your God seem "loving" and "merciful." Either he doesn't exist or he is needlessly evil. Religion is the main reason why the US is falling behind.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • kriskritter60

      All that I can say is "seeing is believing" It is hard to believe in something that we cannot see or touch. Will anyone ever know why? Will we know where we really go, until we go? I hope that our spirit lives on, in a beautiful place, where there is no evil, and we love, and have peace, in our lives.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jill Moore

      I agree that too many people get caught up in thoughtless religion and rituals.... what we need is faith and a relationship with God not following rituals because some religious leader says this is how we worship. Faith can not be proven....that is why it is faith and we try to find proof, evidence or a reason for everything, just as people are looking for the reason this incident occurred. It happened because someone made a choice. We as a society have pushed God out of our schools, our homes and public gatherings and then when something like this happens we cry out where is God or why did He let this happen? God gave us free will to follow Him and wants us to choose to love Him just as you want someone to chose to love you. I am sorry that you don't believe that God is loving and merciful but the same people that ask "where is your merciful, loving and omnipotent God that is in control of all things?" when something like this happens are the same people that do not want to be a part of a God that controls them...... so He gave us free will He is waiting for us to choose to love Him. Peace my friend..... I hope that this creates no animosity but just as you felt a need to express yourself I felt a need to respond. I hope we can agree to disagree.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  19. gigi


    July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  20. Sriram

    We feel that God is not merciful because what we wanted has not happened. Going by NDE accounts of many people.....dead people may be better off than 'living' people. They may even be wondering why we all are crying. And everyone is going to die anyway.

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

      Exactly. Finally a sane voice. Kudos Sriram.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • RAWoD

      Listening to LSD experiences (not the mormons) people conclude that NDE are probably chemically induced.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 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.