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. My Opinion

    Our government has required that we reject God from everything we do – in school, at graduation ceremonies, remove the Ten Commandments from inside or on government buildings (one being THOU SHALL NOT KILL!), remove IN GOD WE TRUST off of everything, change the words in our Pledge of Allegiance – for fear of offending someone. That is pure BOLOGNY! When you visit another country you have to adhere to their ways and laws. If they don't like it, let them GO HOME! I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK! Like my forefathers intended it to be – a God fearing country. When we welcome Him back into our lives and our country, He will protect all of us from satan and the evil that he represents.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • no nothing

      OH so you are saying that we should FEAR god. Well that really nice.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Yeah... ahhh. about that protection thing. God could destroy me, the evil one, anytime he wants, but he allows me free reign
      on earth to totally screw with humankind. No matter how much brown-nosing you christians do, and no matter how many people you convert to believe what you believe through intimidation and fear, your god will ALLOW me to kill as many of you as I wish. Your god is a real sweetheart isn't he? You zealots are pathetic, and the sooner you are raptured up, the better it will be for humankind. Trust me... I'm the devil.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • db3

      Wasn't it Thomas Jefferson (one of the forefathers you spoke of) who wrote, "... I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State." It wasn't our current government who decided there should be a separation of church and state, it was the very same forefathers who must've had some idea what they were talking about.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  2. really123

    This is the most absurd article I have ever read. The author should be fired for writing it. All this writer is doing is stirring up trouble and tryign to divide the country. Religion is a personal and private matter- whether you decide to believe or not-

    There will always be good and bad on this earth as long as there are humans living on it. This incident had nothing to do woth God's location on that day. This was one very mentally disturbed individual who snapped and killed all those people.

    I believe there would have been more casualites if God hadn't been there. There were angels protecting those who survived and the person who did this will have to face his maker someday. (like alll of us)

    I think it's rather ironic that the atheists in this world are the same people who use the dollar bill with the words "WE TRUST IN GOD" on the dollar bill. Think about that.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      So, the angels that were there just flipped the people who got shot the bird and told them to go get effed?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Bryan T

      " Religion is a personal and private matter- whether you decide to believe or not..."
      First – I can't "decide" whether or not to believe something. I'm a rational thinker and simply do not believe in the super natural.
      Second – it should be a personal and private matter, but so many of you try to make us believe what you believe. And leaders like Bush (who talks to his god) can cause a lot of suffering for the rest of us.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • db3

      you can't be this stupid. So because I'm an atheist, I should come up with my own form of currency? We could just take IN GOD WE TRUST off the dollar bill, but then we'd have to listen to a bunch of religious nutbags cry about how we're not allowed to believe in God anymore, since we know how much Jesus likes his $$$.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • VOR

      Okay, we get it. We understand. There are people who believe in God and people who dont. That's okay. Atheists, stop making fun of people who believe in a higher power, its their belief, stop torturing them for believing in something. Christians, dont poke back at Atheists when they say stuff making fun of you. Its not getting you anywhere. I believe in God, and I dont care if people think I'm silly for believing in something blindly and living my life through the good Protestant ideals in which I was raised on. Faith isn't bad, because from Faith there is Love, and you cant deny Love exists. This isnt a time to be petty and ask, where was God in Aurora? That's just stirring up trouble. Dan Gilgoff, should be ashamed of himself. Its awful that someone acted they way and killed 12 people and wounded 59 others, so what we should do is focus on what we can do to help those families in their time of need. Not sitting on CNN.com debating religion. That's insane.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  3. God's PR Agent

    Sorry... God has a new administrative assistant who's still in training, so we've had a few errors slip through the cracks. Her previous employment at Buddha, Inc. wasn't nearly as demanding, since their belief in divine intervention is exceptionally limited, so global crime fighting is a new responsibility she's had to pick up. We promise to return everyone to the world without crime that never existed ever in the history of forever sometime before the end of eternity. We're working on straightening this out as soon as possible. In the meantime, enjoy some ice cream in the sun.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Man, I just knew there was a sensible explanation. Bless you, or whatever.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  4. Wynette Clarke

    God gave man a free will to do, say and act as their own free leads them too. We are not remote controlled beings, that God is sitting in heaven controlling. It is not Gods will for anyone's life to be taken, from the beginning we were created to live forever, it was sin that separated us from His perfect design for our life. In Ecclesiastes 3 (please read) it says, for in everything there is a season, a time to live and a time to die. No one knows how long that season will be, the most important thing is to make sure you have prepared yourself for what comes after death. If you do not know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, allow me to encourage you to do so, find a church and let them know you desire to be saved.
    many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all.God bless !!!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • James

      "God gave man a free will to do, say and act as their own free leads them too. We are not remote controlled beings, that God is sitting in heaven controlling. It is not Gods will for anyone's life to be taken"

      So your God just stood by while the baby and little girl where shot, your God just stood by doing nothing as people who believe in it where killed. That's not a loving God, that is a monster. You belong to a cult so no thanks of wanting to join it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  5. Yoni

    This is where people have to take a leap of faith and understand that God, in His infinite wisdom, sees and knows all, and cries when His creations are destroyed. When the Egyptians were being washed away at the Splitting of the Sea, Jewish tradition teaches that the angels were singing praises to God that the Israelites' oppressors were being punished. But God yelled at them and said that the Israelites had a right to sing for being saved, but the angels had no right, because God was upset that He had to destroy His creations. We don't know why God allows some things to happen; but we have to take a leap of faith and believe that everything God does is somehow for our good, and sometimes God takes people early from this world because they fulfilled their mission and by dying tragically, they can enter heaven immediately. Of course we don't wish for such things to happen, and God certainly didn't make this person kill everyone; he had free will. But one day, either after we die or when God once again reveals Himself to the world, we will know why "seemingly" bad things happened, and we will know that they were really for the good.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  6. azlady630

    At one time in my life, I thought that God really did take care of his "children". The older I get and the more I see about how God doesn't pay attention, the less I believe in Him. How can God allow innocents such as those below the age of reason suffer ? Why does it appear that the bad guys alway win? Why doesn't God bring down his wrath on the bad guys? How can God allow the child abuse in the largest church organization in the world to continue without end? Maybe if God showed us once in a while that he is there and he does care more people might have a deeper belif in God.
    If there is a God, I think he hung up his cell phone and went on a permanant vacation!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Sdavis


      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  7. Sdavis

    The shooter had this planned for over a year, PREMEDITATED!!! God gives everyone FREE WILL and he doesnt make peoples choices for them. If you choose to do something evil, this is your CHOICE and will suffer consequences when you meet your maker. God left a guide, its called "The Holy Bible" with 10 COMMANDMENTS, YOU can choose whether to live your life obeying Gods rules or NOT. In the end, YOU will meet your maker and have his final judgement. SO DONT ASK "WHERE IS GOD" hes here and hes watching. Its all about the choices people make, LIFE is a CHOICE!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  8. steve

    God 's presence is not restricted by the liberal media or government. If He were, He would not be a God worthy of our worship. In regards to Aurora. God was at the same place where He was when the same type of evil nailed His Son to the Cross

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  9. coloradom

    It's interesting to me that when something bad happens, people ask this same question. Truly, this questions could be asked all of the time: how about the starving children in Africa? How about those that are kidnapped and sold into slavery? Those dying of cancer? The list goes on and on. If you really want to know the answer to this question, read the Bible. If you are asking the questions simply to try to prove that God does not exist, you are asking the wrong question (in fact, it's not worth asking at all if that's the case). If you really want to know though, read the Bible – it will answer this question and many more.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • yeahalright

      How about you summarize?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Brothers and sisters:
      We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
      that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
      We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
      perplexed, but not driven to despair;
      persecuted, but not abandoned;
      struck down, but not destroyed;
      always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus
      so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
      For we who live are constantly being given up to death
      for the sake of Jesus
      so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh

      July 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  10. Avoman

    God was busy trying to answer the first time prayers of Democrats finding religion in time for divine intervention in November

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  11. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  12. WhatNot

    Yet again people are "speaking" for God and telling us exactly what he may or may not have been meaning or thinking with this tragedy, when all people are doing is guessing, and just like thousands of times before working "God's plan" to fit their own agendas and beliefs. If there is a God we have no right to say what he was intending because there is no way we can possibly know, it is all a guess. Countless lives have been lost and wars have been fought by people "speaking" for a God and claiming they are carrying out his "plan" and it is all a load of crap.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  13. Loso

    I agree with Harleyxx above 100%. I feel sorry for people who don't know God. The bible is the only thing that makes sense in this world...

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • blahblahblah


      July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Humanitee

      So you pity everyone who is not a literalist? You pity everyone who is not Christian? Please be more specific because I am unaware of being deserving of your pity.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  14. no nothing

    That cross guy is looking for publicity at the expense of the ones who were killed.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  15. virginia

    I there is no God there is no evil there for Holmes actions are not evil or wrong just his disire to kill and judge other according to his on beilieves of right and wrong...it make no sense there is a God there for there is Evil and some actions are wrong...

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  16. LoriC

    Unfortunately, people would rather believe in a supernatural, all-powerful, all-knowing being that controls everything (because he made everything) than admit to themselves that we are solely responsible for ourselves. Believing in such a being allows people to do and live with the horrible things (big and small) they do to other humans. People convince themselves that all they have to do is believe and ask for forgiveness so that no matter what they do it will be ok in the end. There is nothing wrong with admitting we're it... we are a product of evolution. We're born, we live, then we die...that is how it's been for millenia. I chose to live my life to the best of my abilities knowing that when I lie on my death bed I did my best to be a decent human being. What really gets me, is people like Sarah Hill who say things like "SATAN allowed the shooting"; it's ironic...if you believe in god and he's so powerful that he created all things then guess what, he created your satan too and that means he should have been able to stop him and all the horrible things people do...what with him being so powerful and all. Horrible things will continue to happen because there is no one to stop it. If there were, it would be a very different world.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  17. AustinITguy

    Where was God when the Christians killed millions of people people in the last 2,000 years?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • keeeleee

      Where is that lie coming from?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • AustinITguy

      look at history, the crusades, Spanish inquisition, you'd have to be an idiot to not realize the death caused by these horrible lairs.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  18. keeeleee

    God has sent his Son Jesus Christ for us. Anyone trusts in Jesus as his/her Savior will be able to conquer sin and evil that dominate the world right now. So, don't blame God. He has given us solution. The question is that whether we accept His solution or not. If not, we can be certain that this kind of tragedy will happen again and again.

    We sinners kill each other. That's the result of rejecting God.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • no nothing

      YEA, just keep telling yourself that as the rest of the world passes you by.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Yeah.... ahhhhh....no. No god, no sin, no resurrsection, no talking snake, no ark. Being stupid and sheeplike makes baby Lucifer cry. Happy now? You made baby Lucifer cry. No eternal disneyland for you.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  19. Patrick

    Supposedly God gave us free will. If he gave us free well then he cannot intervene, because that would be taking away free will of the shooter. You can't be pro free will for yourself but not for others. It doesn't work that way. By giving us free will, God essentially washed his hands of our actions by letting us deal with it ourselves. be it good actions or horrible actions. Free will comes with a price – namely consequences. for our actions and for others...Period.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  20. Rich

    From an "unbelievers" perspective, we need to stop using "God" as an excuse. "God" did this, or didn't do this, or should've done this, who cares? People need to take responsibility for their actions. You know what I think about all this? It's not guns or video games or violent movies... it's Parenting. Goto a Wal-mart and you'll know what I'm talking about.

    We need to look inwards and not up and solve this problem on our own. God won't save us, we will.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:09 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.