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. Keef

    If you're a Christian/believer, and you're on here dedending your faith and your God, and you're not calling for legislation to get automatic weapons out fo the hands of crazy people like this loser in Colorado, then you have no moral standing in this debate. Abosolutely none.

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

      If God wants stricter gun laws, then God will accomplish that with his magic. There is nothing we can do about that.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  2. Sam

    God is not spiteful He is just.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  3. Jake Shakesworth

    There is no God. Bad things happen to good people - and the universe is indifferent.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  4. Paul Silivale

    People now running to and fro to find the answers to all these problems,why?Blaming God..and question must we asked ,why we closed doors ,in all Schools and Public Places..for the WORD OF GOD to be preached or pray in Public places and be Shared so that People knows and understand,the Love of God...,the only answer is for People to know God,when you know God you will know what is right and wrong..when we shut the Word of God out from Schools and Public Places,what you expect?good to come out..no way...People must expect this to happen because the power of Darkness is in control,and wrath will come by surprise when people don't wanna SERVE or Believe in God...

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  5. Me

    Well I have gotten my chuckles for the day reading all of the God this God that theories. I am always amazed at the number of brainwashed people in this world who believe in the fictional guy in thr sky. Well on to other posts..

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  6. playboy billionaire

    God is everywhere. This was the devil's work though. There is a constant struggle between God and the devil, and occasionally (unfortunately) the devil sometimes prevails. The most important thing is that we all keep our faith in Jesus. God bless everyone.

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

      Idiot. Unadulterated ignorance and stupidity. I hate you.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  7. Kathryn

    Many asked the same question at Auswitch and Bergen Belsen. One asked "Where was God when Anne Frank died? And the answer one gave was "God was Anne Frank when she died." Not only with her, but in perfect union with her and through the ages, with all who suffer. Despite all the evils wrought by free will, God is present in the heros present at Aurora. He is Supreme Love, guiding us out of the darkness to light. That is the hope of the Resurrection of Christ, and the hope of the world He longs to embrace.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  8. S. Mitchell

    God intervened when therifle jammed.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  9. Geek

    I am a believer in one sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ. My fellow believers in these previous comments have the right of it. God will only help you if you accept His help. Those that do are reborn as new people, and it's not hard to note the personality change. Those that don't WILL NOT receive His gifts or blessings! He wants us to come to Him, but He also gives us a choice. Follow Him, or death. We are all sinners by nature, and therefore condemned to death, but Jesus came to this Earth to save us from that gruesome fate. The people in this theater did not have to accept God as their savior, but who knows how many that did? They are gone now. If they did, they're in a better place than this cruel world, but if they didn't, experiencing a shooting death will not be the last of it.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |

    Silly people wonder why God would let this happen. I like the one where people say it is because we asked God to stay out of our lives, our schools, our currency, and our pledge of allegiance. Well these are all modern things. According to the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim "word" during the time of Noah God decided to flood the whole Earth and start over. What did those people do? They were worshiping, sacrificing animals and everything.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  11. Geezer

    God was where he always is: Nowhere.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  12. John

    God allows bad things to happen because he wants good things to happen. Don't think that makes sense? Consider this:
    Liberty is freedom to choose one's own destiny, for good or ill. God gave humanity the gift of liberty so that we could choose to do the greater things and build a better world. In order to give us liberty to lift each other up he also had to give us liberty to bring each other low; to become base and depraved. This young man choose to use his liberty to destroy, rather than to build. We can blame whoever we'd like, but the reality is that he made a choice and that is what destroyed the lives of those people. Could God have intervened? Absolutely! Why didn't he? Because to his pain, he values our liberty more than he values our obedience.

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

      I agree with you John.. keep the narrow road:)

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  13. Hypatia

    Same place 'He's" always been: in delusional peoples' heads.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  14. Tim

    Twelve crosses? There were no atheists among them? What would be the marker for an atheist? Because I'd want one.

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

      that tim is for u to search.. .

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • aprizant

      I was thinking the same thing. Were all the victims Christian or Catholic? What about the notion that some of the victims may not have wanted to be recognized with a cross, no matter what their religion (or lack thereof)?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  15. Bible Clown©

    God was at a Lady Gaga concert.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  16. truthbtold

    God created this world to be perfect! However,Satan and other demonic angels were thrown out of Heaven and became the Prince of the Air.Then came Adam and Eve as the Lord wanted the earth to be a paradise!The minuter Adam and Eve sinned,is the very minute that the earth was shaken and even after destroying the earth a 1st time,the earth became back ruined after Noah's daughter slept w/him while he was drunk. So till this day every man,woman,boy or girl must seek their own salvation. Nothing surprises God!He doesn't committ evil but He allows evil. The quesition is whenever an evil act,accident,suicides,homicides or death period approaches us,will we ever be ready to die?Evil happened throughout the Bible,God intervened on many occassions but many times He left it for the people to intervene for themselves. Don't think for one minute that you are intimidating Him because you don't believe in Him,bc it does not matter and you are therefore an enemy of God if you don't believe in Him,especially when you blashpheme! Better yet,ask God why he allowed this to happen and He will answere you,altho he owes any of no apology. I would say the survivors of such a heineous crime like this shows that there is a God.This guy could have taken out the entire Theater w/the bombs he made and unbelievable ammunition he had.Trust me,he will get his true day of Judgement.

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

      "He doesn't committ evil but He allows evil." There is not much difference when you get down to it. But with your limited grey cells, I'm not surprised you'd think there is.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • John

      Noah didn't have a daughter. He had three sons. Ham, one of the sons, was cursed after walking in on Noah in his tent, naked after drinking too much wine.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  17. betty

    God gave us free will. It's our choices and actions (as humans) that shape humanity. We praise Him when things go well and we pray to Him for strength and wisdom to handle the events in our lives that don't go well. God doesn't LET evil things happen, they just do because humans are just that – human. We are vulnerable to not only to the challenges of "free will" but also to things like mental illness and other factors that highlight our fragile and fallible human state. Humans make mistakes and bad choices and sometimes they have dire consequences.

    Natural disasters also happen and He doesn't cause them either, they just occur from time to time (Iike earthquakes, etc.) and we call upon Him for strength and courage to deal with those events. God loves us and does not want us to suffer and so when there is suffering in our human world, He is there to help us find strength and to give us comfort. God is good.

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

      So true Betty.. keep loving and teaching:)

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Amy

      I totally agree with you Betty. God gave men free will and unfortunately this is what some do with it. God gives us the strength to get thru when things like this happen.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  18. Mary Mary

    He is watching from a high place. Each day we have a free will choice. That night this very sick possessed man chose. He chose death. Those that died who were believers went straight to God. This includes the children who were not of age to make this decision for Christ. God will eventually judge. Throne room judgement. You will answer for your life and actions. Be not deceived.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "possessed?" Geez, what a loony YOU are. Please don't shoot me.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • jamy

      I agree with u Mary.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  19. disastercamp

    One of the best responses to this question I have heard deals with at what point and when do you want God to intervene? Do you want him to strike down a monster like this or you for having a sinful thought? We have been commanded to love one another, but we will never know how powerful that is because it is so rarely used to the full extent.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  20. Lawrence

    If GOD isn't real, then you have no problems as you live your life, however you please. But if GOD is real..............

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

      Amen, Lawrence.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "If GOD isn't real, then you have no problems as you live your life, however you please. But if GOD is real.............."

      Then He's completely ineffectual and can't even keep His ministers from buggering children, so nothing to worry about.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:52 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.