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. Mary

    He was in the hearts of all the good people in that theater... specially in the ones trying to help their neighbors

    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • alateos

      so all the people that died were.... bad?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Craboo

      Mary do really believe a 6 year old child was evil? Listen to what you are saying. Even if god was real he would not condone your comment.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • jamy

      its ok Mary.. you are doing good.. People are making this a laughing matter.. That child was innocent, however all through history innocent are killed.. even now.. look at what MAN murders everyday with our unborn children... A Man filled with Satan did this... God has carried them home.. My choice is to be with God who is carrying them home and not with the murderer Satan..

      July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Mary

      no of course not!! i did not mean that, God is in the heart of good people

      July 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  2. Angel

    God created good and evil, we are free will agents and can choose right from wrong. If America rejects God and bans God from schools, government evil has been granted access by decisions of people who we claim are our leaders. Don't blame God when death or evil occurs...He judgements are righteous and His will sovereign.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Craboo

      Angel, Which god are you referring too? Any one religion in specific or should our schools preach all religions?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • jamy

      There is only one God ... One Creator.. You know who she was referring too.. Why does everyone have to be so mean?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Craboo

      Jamy, Which god is it? Who are you saying is wrong? Jewish people? Muslims? Christians? What should they preach? Should they stop teaching science so it does not contradict religion?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |


    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  4. alateos

    was probably in the theater watching Batman and thought the shooter was part of special effects.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  5. mhill1234

    CNN debating religion is like Al Sharpton stumping for Romney.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  6. Riley Hopkins

    I am very sorry that fellow Christians caught up in the error of hyper-Calvinism put out the notion that the tradedy in Aurora was somehow God's will. There is a lot Biblical Christians could say that is far from such a sadly extremist non-biblical view, but let me say only this for now: The Bible, from beginning to end, shows that in the world there is an ongoing battle between light and darkness, between good and evil. What happened in Aurora had nothing to do with light in any way whatsoever.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  7. jose

    study your bibles ,, and you will be smart, then you can talk wise it is ease to talk garbage,, not knowing any thing from God, instruct your self first, then say what you know ,, not what you don't know

    July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      OK,, and you read about six books by Carl Sagan or Chris Hitchens before you try to explain any more about the real world to us.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  8. sam

    Why do we think it is God's responsibility to stop evil in the world? If something bad happens, we call it an Act of God. The responsibility lies with the psycho that went in and shot these people. When we blame it on God not stopping it and charge it to him, it takes the heat off from us. Flip Wilson used to say "The devil made me do it." It's always easier to pass the buck. The man who did this acted of his own will and should reap the consequences of his actions.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  9. George Tannous

    Stanley Jones once asked Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
    “How can we make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government and a foreign people, but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India’s uplift?"
    Gandhi responded with great clarity,
    "First, I would suggest that all Christians, missionaries begin to live more like Jesus Christ.
    Second, practice it without adulterating it or toning it down.
    Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is central in Christianity.
    Fourth, study the non–Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people."
    "Therefore it is very important for Christians to practice Christianity among the non-believers so that they can know the real love of Lord Jesus"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  10. Marlene

    We can not ask where was God when all this happened. God was right there the whole time. God gave man free will to make decisions and while some decisions men make are wrong we can not blame God for everything. In this world there is a battle of Good verses Evil. God is not in the decision this man made to take this lives, I am pretty sure he was there advising him that it wasn't the correct decision but he listened to evil as opposed to good. I guess it is sort of the good angel and bad angel on your shoulder. I mourn for these people because it hurts and it hits home. I can imagine what these people go through with such a senseless loss and although our natural instinct is to blame God it isnt the correct decision. We must pray and continue to look for God amidst these times. Although we may not understand why these things happen, we must understand that everything in life happens for a reason and God is always in control.

    And for those that believe that God doesnt exist is ridiculous. How else did we get here. There is a higher power out there. its funny how when things go bad we can say god doesnt exist but the moment something good happens you inherit money anything.... the first words out of our mouth is Thank YOU God. We must learn to look to God for everything. In a situation likethis.."god I may not understand why you allowed this to happen but I am confident that you have a reason in all things and that you will bring peace to my heart and to the families who lost loved ones. Help me God to understand your will even when I cant see it right now" those are the words that should be said.

    God bless all and I pray for comfort to all those families in aurora colorado.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  11. dave

    Why do bad things happen? The Fall of Man. Because of it bodies ultimately fail and minds sometimes go haywire. In Aurora, God was neither the puppet master nor the innocent bystander. He could have intervened, and perhaps he did in ways we'll never know for sure. Still, in the end, we all die. Imagine if we were all spared that fate–within 10 years there would be more of us than the world could sustain. That being the case, should God just save us from violent death? Or death before a certain age? Painful death? Or should he save the people he likes the most? No, personally I think the only times God intervenes to save a person from dying at a specific point in time is if there is some kind of purpose to be served in their life continuing. Perhaps children they will have, people they will impact, or the fact that their story of miraculous survival will remind us that he's still there. In these things, it's impossible to say what God has done, what he should have done, or what will eventually come of what he did or didn't do. It's a mystery, and we're much too limited to understand it. The "why" always has been.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Nate Guajardo

      If someone can demonstrate that there is a god then I suppose we can have this talk. Even if there is a god and it is the Jewish one, this was apparently in his plan.

      "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?"

      July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  12. John

    God was there, are beholden to NRA rather than God. We regulate Sudafed with more regs than guns. It is criminal that individuals can stockpile munitions with no oversight. I believe you have the right to bear arms not build a small army.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  13. Raj


    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  14. LariSpitler

    It's not news it's CNN. . . Nice cover story.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  15. Aerin

    It's simple. There is no god.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Ilovejesus

      "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."

      July 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  16. varun


    na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
    nāyaḿ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
    ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaḿ purāṇo
    na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

    For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  17. Kevin

    God does not exist, hence "his" absence. The devil might have been there though...

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • cristina

      if the devil exist, then why not GOD. I will not throw bible verus, I just want to say things happen sometimes that we cant explain . So if you do dont belive in God, then hey that is you. But lets fouces on the real evil, and that is James Homle; let morn the ones lost and the ones who are still struggling metally. If you want to pray for the victums family, then do so, if not then that is a right given to us. Let just come together as the HUMAN BEINGS that we are and show that SOB that while he took, we are stronger when we come together.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  18. PG13

    This is like asking, "Where was Batman in Aurora massacre?"

    Batman wasn't around.
    Santa wasn't around.
    Tooth fairy wasn't around.
    Unicorn wasn't around.
    Catch my drift?

    God wasn't around.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Timothy Richardson

      I promise you that GOD you so easliy dismiss as a Fairytale, One day you will fall to your knees and your mouth will confess that he is the LORD of all LORDS and you will see that GOD, JESUS, HEAVEN and HELL are definately real!!! I just hope that you realize that before you leave this world. I pray that you fall to your knees and beg GOD to save you while you have an opportunity. I will pray for you!!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • The King Is Coming

      Amen Timothy! How wonderful it is to know the truth! We serve an awesome God.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  19. Jon

    If God is all-knowing then freewill does not exist. If God is all-knowing then he knew the massacre would happen and did nothing to stop it. That is a sign of malevolence...if God exists.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  20. Big Cheese

    Clearly God was getting popcorn and settling down to watch a good movie... It was the midnight showing and he figured all crazies were in bed!?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
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.