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. One one

    God lets bad people kill at will.
    The devoted say it’s because of “free will”.
    Then why do they pray, and pray, and pray?
    For god to help them, day after day?
    They pray to god to improve their fate
    Their own free will they ask god to negate

    July 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • lunchbreaker


      July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  2. junior

    Cruelty seems to be a god for many these days.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  3. Dave

    Where was God? There is NO God! Idiots!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Madtown

      Well, ok. The answer-man has spoken! Never mind the fact that the question is not answer-able, Dave will answer it for you anyway.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  4. Yea

    He does not intervene so that we can see that we humans can not guide our own path. It has been seen ever since man was first placed on this earth. I dont know where that guy got that it was "gods will" to let those people die. He should have chosen his words carefully. Perhaps he meant something else.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  5. Paulette Anderson

    Where were you when God created you & everything else? we have to realize that God gives us free will to choose & because of that evil people exist & evil things are going to happen! If you read His word,believe,pray & seek His face,then you would not lean to your own understanding. Some suffering on earth is the only way He can get some of our hardheaded attention. A massacre is not as awful as everyone spending eternity in hell. We are so busy entertaining ourselves when we should be serving Him & uplifting His Kingdom! He has told us, we live in a sinful world,His ways are not our ways. Get with God & you can deal with what He allows for His purpose-always working for the good for those who love Him & who are called according to His purpose. It rains on the just & the unjust,that's just the way it is. You will hear stories of those who didn't go to the movie but had planned to go. God is God & He doesn't need any help nor does He have to answer to anyone!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • jmo

      God's tried this method of getting people's attention by slaughtering others for centuries. You would think he could figure out by now that this isn't working very well, and maybe he can come up with another plan. Your god must be a bonehead.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  6. sunsetlove

    You're spending a lot of energy on somebody who probably can't give half a frack what random people say online. The web is full of jackals. Deal with it or stick to the Precious Moments message boards.

    U MAD, BRO?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  7. Billy

    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

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  8. mjg

    First God created everything- good, evil, jesus, satan, you ,me, sun, moon. We have free will, natural law was set into motion- Spiritual authority and guidance can help with being in the right location, but we can not stop free will of other humans good or bad. God is not separate from us- He is not a physical being in some mystical place separate from humans. It is extremely sad that this tragedy occurred – but there is tragedy everywhere.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  9. JackStraw

    We would be wise to stop blaming our own short coming on the existence of some mysterious god who knows anything about any of us. God did not fail here. WE FAILED. Stop believing in fairy tales and start thinking about what kind of society we want to life in. Would we really feel better about ourselves if 1/2 the audience jumped out of their seats and fired a few hundred bullets in this crazy guy? Really? Is that what your Christ would want? Really?

    I look forward to all your idiotic, childish, replies....

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  10. DaTruth

    It seems the only logical answer is that there isn't a bearded white man floating above the clouds....

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  11. betterdays

    It sure is fun to watch everyone make fun of "folks" who firmly believe in something that can't be proven to actually exist.

    Take the viability of social and economic equality, for example....

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |

    Why do people always start screaming "Where's God and why did he let this happen" everytime there is a castrophe? You people don't bother to call on him when things are going great in life. He's been kicked out of our schools, taken off the walls in city, county, state and federal buildings. You don't want his name mentioned at sporting events any more in the form of prayer. Do you bother to get up each morning and thank him for letting you have another day with your family and loved ones. Do you thank him for what you have no matter how small or great it may be. The leaders of our nation on capital hill don't even consult him on how to run this country even though this is suppose to be one nation under GOD. So how dare you self-righteous people sit back and blame this on God when a good portion of you won't even take the time to get to know him. It's going to get worse, because the more this country turns their back on God-he's going to turn his back on this country. God will do whatever he has to do to get our attention, whether we like it or not!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      F U and your bogus God too.

      You need some deprograming.

      And your God needs an ass whooping for letting that little girl suffer.

      I say we nail him up again.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Madtown

      a good portion of you won't even take the time to get to know him.
      And, how might we do that? Do not answer "read the bible", because there are many humans in this world who will never hear of it. You are not more special than they are, so cannot claim it as the 1 truth.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • ???

      so...god felt like we weren't paying enough attention to him...so...he picked out a soul in colorado and sent him on a killing spree to get our attention?

      and this is the guy ya'll worship? logical. keep it up

      July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • tolajn

      Wondering, I find it a point of concern that in order to have God in one's life he must plaster His name on government buildings, schools and sporting events. If God does truly live in us, we don't need an ark, as King David so wanted to build for God. God lives in our actions, our hearts, our empathy toward others. If we act with rage toward others we are pushing away God and His energy to bring reconciliation in tough situations. No Ten Commandments on the court house or mandatory prayer in school will bring about the relationship that is needed to live out the Gospels that Jesus directed us to. Jesus never complained that the coins with Roman emporors should also state "In God We Trust". Our founding fathers never envisioned our government stamping our coins with such a tagline. It was not until the 1950's in a very segregated and cold war climate that such nonsense made it onto our coins. Did we as a nation trust God all the while we abused entire ethnic groups who were not white? I want Christians to live their faith, not market it!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  13. J A Smith

    Did the perpetrator develop his twisted personality in total isolation from society?
    What do I do to minimize the risk of having a deranged person in my part of the world?
    Can anyone but God provide hope for peace?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  14. miguelgenius

    Where was GOD in Aurora? ....... Who do you think jumped in to jam the semi-auto AR-15 ?

    GOD figures that as a society, by allowing the sales of such mass murder weapons, we intend for these types of massacres to happen every so often.....but HE couldn't just stand idly by and watch the carnage.....so he stepped in to jam the assault rifle.

    Prayers go out to the innocent victims of our gun laws...they're man made...same as the weapons!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Observer



      So God stopped him after he had ONLY killed 12 people and shot 71?

      Get serious. How ridiculous can you get?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • miguelgenius

      Do you know how fast and how many bullets can be fired from an AR-15.....TRY THIS......tickle your nose real fast 70 times with your index finger...elapsed time 20 seconds...... And in case you hadn't noticed...GOD was clear across the planet tending to his other lost flock in the middle-east.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  15. Michigan

    We are quick to wonder where God was in such an event? Well it seems He isn't here from man's perspective – He isn't in the town square, in our schools, at our assemblies, at the abortion clinics, or on TV for the most part . . . . I recall the collective God-haters say "not allowed here." Go away. This tragedy passed through the hands of His permissive will, He is near those obedient to Him, those who worship Him, love Him, know Him. To the rest He will say one day in judgment – "Depart from Me, I never knew you." You either belong to Jesus Christ or not. Your choice, your eternity.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Ana


      July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • anonymous


      July 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Sean

      Why this question is not asked when innocent people are killed everyday in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, Mianmar, and many other places on earth?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Cat Lady

      Very well said. We live in a sinful, fallen world. Remember sin? Nobody wants to use that word anymore since there is no cloaking it or making it "socially acceptable." Mankind does these types of things to each other based on their own free will. God is in total control of everything if you believe it or not. God doesn't need us, we need him and events such as this are a stark reminder of how evil and twisted people can be. My sympathies and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Madtown

      You either belong to Jesus Christ or not. Your choice, your eternity.
      No chance you are correct. What if I believe, in a general way, that God exists, and I look at the world and am convinced that God created all. But, I live in a place where christanity does not exist, say in a primitive South American rain forest tribe. I've never heard of Jesus, how could I possibly accept or deny him? The answer is: I could not. Because I am equal to you, and all christians, in terms of human value, there cannot be only 1 way to God, that way being christianity. Because if there was only 1 way, God would provide it to me as well, as we are equals.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • inHISlight

      Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Madtown

      Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
      Right, and he said that TO THOSE THAT COULD SEE AND HEAR HIM!!!! Are you people brain-dead? Once again........if someone has never heard of Jesus, has no idea who he is, through no fault of their own, how on earth can they accept or deny him? This isn't really meant for you to answer, because the only right answer is: they couldn't.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  16. Bri Guy

    Not to diminish the pain and suffering of those involved in the massacre, but there have been countless other similar and worse events throughout the history of man. God did not step in and stop those bad things from happening. Does this mean that God wanted those things to occur? Of course not. All this means is that God allows people to do as they will. Rest assured they will be dealt with justly by him when the time comes. He is the eternal and perfect judge. Our own mortal understanding makes it seem outrageous that these types of things are allowed to occur by a loving God, but God could not justly punish the wicked if He prevented them from carrying out their wicked acts.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  17. Betsy Whitfill

    Isn't it time to leave God out of our religious talks? Religion has more to do with people and their ideas about God than God Himself, Who has long ago given endless clues and examples of the Rules of LIfe....which people continue to disregard.
    So what is the point of an article in a Religion Section, that asks where God was on such and such a day and place?

    Today, there is ample evidence that God continues to send Teachers to mankind, to teach Love, Sharing, Justice and the human freedom that enables men and women to live sanely and with dignity. You should see Share-International.org.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  18. MrCurve

    God is in each and everyone of us whether we want to accept it or not, and obviously he did not...

    July 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  19. trueamericanpatriot99

    The difference between believers and non-believers is that no matter what the issue: global warming, gay marriage, evolution – faith always trumps science and data for the believer. Instead of engaging with the real world and the evidence in front of them, they draw their conclusions on a magic book written thousands of years ago. This is the battle of rational thinking versus irrational thinking. Isn't it then ironic that irrational thinking is what leads to tragedies like Aurora?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  20. Corey

    Why is it gods will when the s**t hits the fan but it's always his miracles when something good happens? What kind of god has to be worshiped? A little self centered if you ask me. Why is killing in the name of god or justice always acceptable but is clearly one of the ten commandments not to kill? If all it takes is to ask for forgiveness to get into heaven why spend your entire life asking for forgiveness? Thanks for creating me but I fearfully ask for your forgiveness, you know for creating me.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • John Smith

      God doesn't "have" to be worshipped. The last time I checked, God isn't forcing you to church or making you pray. How you interact with your Creator is totally up to you.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Corey

      John does he have to be feared? Are you a god fearing man John? To me something or someone that has to be feared is evil. A dictator comes to mind. Play by my rules or of to hell for eternity for you. Well F-that. Why in the world would anyone believe in something that they have to fear?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Bri Guy

      I don't believe it is God's will for terrible things like this to happen. I believe it is God's law that He will not take away man's free will. Rest assured those who abuse the free will given them will be dealt with justly by Him, but it is not God's will for these things to happen. God loves His children but He is also just and allows men and women to exercise their free will to their eternal good or to their eternal damnation. Whichever they choose. I also believe that men and women have the ability within themselves to do great things. It is admirable to give the credit to God since God created them and gave them life. They may have felt inspired by God to do those good things and in that sense you could say it was God's miracle.

      As for your forgiveness question: I believe it is not merely asking forgiveness, but actually changing. Changing from a sinful person to a humble follower of Christ in my case, or whoever you believe God to be. This doesn't mean you become a different person, but you work hard to free yourself from sinful habits and acts in your life. You work hard to get to know God and to live his laws. It is about who you have become through getting to know God and changing your ways to align more with His ways. The mere act of asking forgiveness by itself does no good if it is not accompanied with effort and real intent to change. That doesn't happen overnight.

      The last point I want to make is that no matter how much good we do we still fall short in the end. That is why (I believe) that we need Jesus Christ to make up the difference for us. That does not mean, however that we can go and sin as much as we want without a care in the world because Jesus will save us in the end. No, I don't believe it works that way as I stated in the paragraph above it's about who you've become through your journey in getting to know God and changing your ways to live His laws. Nobody will be perfect.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Bri Guy

      Corey, fear of God is not the same type of fear you are referring to. Fear of God is respect for Him. The word fear in the Bible is a poor translation from the original writings. Some words just don't translate perfectly into other languages and you have to go with a word that is near to the same meaning. If you are a God fearing person then you are a person who does not abuse His laws. You perhaps have a fear or a dread of offending God due to your devout loyalty to Him, while others go on offending God without a care.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:11 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.