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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:

Lenny
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.

Kyle
"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:

Harleyxx
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. JT

    Based on some of the comments I've heard, we need only to ban assault rifles and put prayer back in schools, and all this evil will cease. Maybe global warming too.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      So reading Psalms before morning prayer in American classrooms will replace the melted ice shelves? Glad you're not a scientist.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam

      That's about the standard intelligence level on this forum.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  2. John Drake

    More people have been killed "in the name of god" than any other diety, event, freak of nature, psychopath or fascist/neo-con/liberal colonial power. If god exists, what makes you think he gives a rats kiester for us anyway. And what sort of egomaniacal mindset is worthy of god's intervention to begin with. Get over it. Take responsibility for your own lives. Stop blaming others. Start looking and living critically at the things and actions that you can undertake to make your own life a result of your own decisions, and not a reaction to the blame energy you put upon others.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  3. joe vidricko

    I believe new gun control laws will have vary little effect with people like James Holmes. I think U.S Congress should do some thing more special and a lot more effective. Like the use of a 16 th Century " Iron Maiden" for State Executions.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  4. jackriter

    RE: Lenny
    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?

    AMEN LENNY !! :)))

    July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • joe vidricko

      RIGHT ON ! Its nice to see there some good people out there. God Bless You. Let's make a difference.

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

      God wasn't on our currency until 1954 to begin with. No one's stopping you from worshiping however you like, you tool. You just don't to try and force the rest of the country to believe what you believe.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • So let me get this straight

      We're more powerful than God, then??

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand that he leave us alone?"
      So you are actually saying that God had a temper tantrum and let those people die because He didn't think enough people prayed that day? Is God a fourteen-year-old emo girl with black eyeshadow or something? Give me a break, dude.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      god was added to currency AND the pledge in 1954. It was the religious people forcing their beliefs on everyone else, and in doing so, removed the pledge for many patriotic people, and put a LIE in as our national motto.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • yeahalright

      What a fickle, sensitive and vain deity you've imagined up for yourself.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  5. Alan Soucy

    It amazes me every time there is a story about Christianity; the GOD haters come out like roaches. Just saying...

    July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • the voice of reason

      I don't hate something that I don't believe exists... And then there are the Atheist haters;-)

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • God

      Yes. It proves my existance!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      it amazes me that every time there is a story on christianity, christians bytch and whine about it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Alan Soucy

      As I chuckle... You poor pathetic fools...

      July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      It amazes me how the disciples of the emissary of God always show their understanding of His words by calling other people names. Roaches, eh? Yeah, that's the old familiar Christian love. I can feel it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Alan Soucy

      Touché

      July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Alan Soucy

      Thanks Clown for putting me back in my place.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Hogan's Goat

      I don't hate God, Mickey Mouse, Yoda, Captain Ahab, or Tarzan, because none of them exist. I also don't believe anyone would have a silly name like "Alan Soucy."

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "As I chuckle... You poor pathetic fools..."

      Yes I am the pathetic fool who believes the bible is the word of god. Look at yourself in the mirror.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  6. Just to let you know

    If you don't believe in God, that's your choice.. faith is a gift, and it's not given to everyone.

    Life is to short, and we're only here for a short time.. we can't take it with us when we go... and Aurora is just a reminder.

    for those who believe, it's not because we're told to do so.. it's because of the constant blessing we receive each day.

    May God's blessings always be with you.. and our hearts go out to those suffering in Aurora.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Faith is not a gift. It is a delusion.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Just to let you know

      It's ok Jackdaw.. maybe you get it the next time around... I feel really bad for you...

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "for those who believe, it's not because we're told to do so.. it's because of the constant blessing we receive each day."

      BS, you have been told by men what to believe since the bible was created. Those are words of men, not god.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • yeahalright

      So god only blesses some people with faith, and then sentences anyone without faith he didn't bless them with to an eternity of pain.

      Ok. Makes total sense.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Just to let you know

      "Control the weak mind"

      I'm far from weak, and nobody tells me what to do...
      But I am happy.. and I hope you find your happiness soon.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Just to let you know

      yeahalright

      Sorry to hear about your pain.... but undoubtably faith is a gift...
      there a plenty of those who don't have it.. and live painfree lives..
      but for those with faith... it's a foundation that gives us strenght to get the day

      July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      I've got faith that the universe works on physical laws, and no one is outside the universe making exceptions to the rules for His friends. That's been tested a bit by the notion that the Higgs Boson particle may exist in another dimension and yet still act on this one. It's the first good hypothesis for a physical basis for deity that I've ever heard, although I doubt it's that simple.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "I'm far from weak, and nobody tells me what to do...
      But I am happy.. and I hope you find your happiness soon."

      your body may not be weak but your mind certainly is...Men wrote the book you adhere to as the word of god, thus MEN told you what to believe.

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

      Just – spare me your faux pity.

      Do you have any idea how incredibly narcisisitic and vain you sound? "I'm one of god's chosen he gave me a gift."

      You're absurd. You need to pretend up a deity that gives you special treatment. Go take a self esteem course.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  7. Mike

    Where is God, ever?
    It's funny how it's never the atheists or the Muslims that go crying to the press that they saw a "vision" of the Virgn Mary or Jesus, or whatever. It's always the true believers. And yet we are supposed to believe that there was a time when God spoke to people, interfered in life daily, and performed miracles?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Tom

      What's funny about it? People are only willing to admit that they see what they are willing to believe. You may witness miracles all of the time, but reject the idea that what you observe is miraculous. The birth of a child is miraculous, but you aren't willing to believe that God's hand was involved in that birth – instead, you think you can explain how the pregnancy and birth occurred through means other than God's involvement, whereas a believer may reach the conclusion that the very fact that pregnancy and childbirth could occur at all displays God's power and guidance. People interpret the world around them based on their system of beliefs. People of faith believe that God or a higher authority exists; you believe that God could not possible exist. Evidence doesn't have to reach a single universal conclusion, which is why jurors can, and do come to different conclusions in courts of law.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  8. Carl

    Wow, thanks to all the proselytizing (I realize that is a big word for some of you – take your time) I learned that your awesome god was there answering prayers and that god actually jammed the gun and saved some lives (just not the 12 that died) because god has an awesome plan of sitting around all day and praising him awaiting for them in heaven. It also turns out that god answers all prayers! Yes, this comment blog taught be god answers all prayers! Sometimes he answers yes and sometimes he answers no . . . well, unless you are an amputee . . . then he always answers no.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  9. tad

    i have struggled with this question for my entire life. i am 63 and raised southern baptist with basically sound religious beliefs. but i find myself wondering why God would allow such terrible events to occur. my wife who is not extremely religious, but looks for silver linings everywhere, said maybe God was there and prevented more innocent people from being killed or wounded. why was there hitler, why 9/11, why almost 60,000 men and women of my era and age killed in viet nam? a minister friend tried to expalin that life is a test of faith. it seems to me the older i get, the harder the test becomes. if there is a God and i trully hope there is, i am going hope and pray He has an anwser to this question. riight about now, we not only as a nation, but as an entire world, could use a little divine help.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Just to let you know

      tad.. please stop worrying.. enjoy each day and always tell you wife how much you love her even if you don't mean it...
      there are so many who are divorced... and don't have a wife by their side...
      In your 63 years, you've seen more examples of how short life can be... and life is life...
      Thank God for each day for it's a gift.. and make the most of what you have.. and smile, you haven't done that in a long time.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  10. God

    I was busy trying to watch BATMAN!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  11. MO

    GOD was in the movie theater just like he is in Mali, Sudan, Syria....where killings are by the seconds.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  12. pastor

    The Aurora gathering was not about God glory but the devil ! so..let not bring God unto this.....the Movie itself was demonic and evil. the devil was invited, the spirit of Jocker came alive but Batman was absent.

    The Bible says that the eyes of God are everywhere.
    (Proverbs 15:3) "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."

    Matthew 18:20 –
    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
    The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3). In other words, God “dwells” in the atmosphere of His praise. This means that praise is not merely a reaction from coming into His presence – Praise is a vehicle of faith which brings us into the presence of God!

    why looking for God only when thinks goes wrong? like during 9-11, people started questioning God.....God lives in the heart of every individual who seeks him in truth and even when they died he guaranty them eternal life in his presence where suffering will no longer exist.

    JOHN 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      But god created the devil...so he's not off the hook.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • the voice of reason

      Always the meaningless bible quotes.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "why looking for God only when thinks goes wrong?"

      why praise god when things are gravy but exonerate him when things go wrong?

      Just to let you know, those words you quote as the word of god, is nothing but the words of many men over many years, then edited by other men to control people, gain power, become wealthy and convert pagans. Please research the history of your religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • NickZadick

      Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.
      Homer, The Iliad ...see I can quote fiction too 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • JT

      True. Believe in Jesus (Yahushua) because He is coming soon to rapture His church out. After that, there will be hard times never seen before in this world for people who are left behind. Repent now for God is not willing for anyone to perish.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • NickZadick

      JT....I hope you don't mind waiting...cause it's not going to happen...sorry!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      ". Repent now for God is not willing for anyone to perish."

      Pascals wager....look it up sometime.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "the Movie itself was demonic and evil. the devil was invited, the spirit of Jocker came alive but Batman was absent."
      So, can you explain why Batman didn't appear, or God? Scared of the "Jocker?" You guys will believe ANYTHING!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  13. dawga2010

    God can pucker up his divine lips, lean on down and suck my ass. Once he's done he can beg me for seconds.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  14. Just the facts

    blue beam project

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  15. TJ

    Heaven is the only place where evil does not exist. Just as Hell is the only place where good does not exist. Evil is everywhere here on earth. Haven't you heard of Adam and Eve?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Yes,thats that fictional story in the bible that suggests that all humans are the descendants of two people who oddly enough, shared exactly the same DNA.
      Science has proven that humans come from approximately 600 sets of DNA.
      What is your point?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • NickZadick

      I believe in Mickey Mouse!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  16. Rabbi Jeff Kurtz-Lendner

    God was absolutely in Aurora. God was working overtime. God helped Alex Teves save the life of his girlfriend, Amanda Lindgren when he protected her from a bullet. God was saving the life of 14 year old Prodeo Patria who was helping a man to safety while he himself had a bullet in his head. God was in the spirit of Jonathan Blunk as he died protecting the life of his girlfriend. God was with Stephanie Davis and Allie Young. Stephanie was protecting an injured Allie, and Allie told Stephanie to leave to save herself. Yet Stephanie did not. God was giving them the courage to protect each other. God was present when Dark Knight actor Christian Bale visited recovering victim Carey Rottman in the hospital. God was with Mike White Sr. who was with his son and his son's girlfriend when they were shot and he protected his son's girlfriend with his body and held her organs as they were spilling out of her wound to save her life until the rampage stopped and they could receive treatment. So, God indeed was present. Not everyone was saved and that is truly a tragedy but God was busy helping keeping victims and potential victims alive so that they could do their best to help each other.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • the voice of reason

      Always nice to know that Rabbis can be just as nuts as priests.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • NickZadick

      WOW! you smoke good stuff!!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Cool story, dude. God couldn't just stop the guy from shooting, I suppose.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Bryan T

      Seems kind of random to me. Does he roll a dice to decide who to leave unscathed, who will survive with horrific injuries and who will die heroically?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  17. TOMG

    INHALE THE FRESH AIR IS TO INVITING JESUS AND GOD TO COME IN INTO THE HUMAN BODY ORGAN TO HEALING ALL KINDS OF SICKNESS , AMEN .
    EXHALE THE TOXIC AIR IS TO RELEASE ALL THE POISON AIR INSIDE ALL BODY ORGAN , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      I'm not poisoned and I don't share your imaginary friend.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Are you possessed by a demon?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      TOMG is trip n

      July 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  18. saukrhiann

    Do you really have to ask that question when you read about all the miracles and and human outreach that occurred during and after the event? How about the woman who suffered no brain damage despite having a shotgun pellet directly enter her brain? How about Warner and DC, along with Christian Bale's separate, private acts to support and console the victims? How about the fact that the shooter's rifle jammed long before he ran out of ammunition?

    Where was God? If you have to ask that, then you're just not listening to what he has to say.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Alex

      That is a very ignorant and disrespectful thing to say. Where was god for all of the people who died that day, or the families who are now mourning for their lost loved ones. If you think that god was there to save those people, then you have to hold him responsible for all of the deaths as well.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Stephen

      Can I ask you why we have to take this out of out hands. Why can't this be the doing of a single man. And why can't the good we do after be given to the ones that do it. Look around mankind does this we do all of it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "How about the woman who suffered no brain damage despite having a shotgun pellet directly enter her brain?"

      That's not a miracle! That's shear happenstance as the result of a birth defect...no divine intervention required.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • yuighkg

      What kinda screwed up god has a bullet enter someones brain in the first place.... Or kills 12 people just so some others can be heros....come on. If that god exists hes at the very best morally questionable, i would call that straight up evil.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      God just wanted everyone to see the neat trick He pulled with the empty space in that lady's head, so He had her shot? No! Bad God! Bad!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  19. catypillrgirl

    God created us in his image, we have free will. However, as seen by the state of the world today people use that gift to inflict pain, oppress and commit terrible acts against other people. I believe he weeps for us, his children, who hurt, suffer and die.
    That is not his hope for us. Then people might ask what is the point of free will if we are incapable of managing it? Not only bad comes of free will. There is so much joy and love in the world because of it. When something bad happens he hasn't abandoned you just because he didn't cause lighting to strike the one that means to commit a terrible act. "My Grace is sufficient". This means that he gives you what you need to endure. He opens his arms to you and never lets go. He gives you strength through family and friends and community. But you must open your heart to him and your mind. So many cynical minds.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • NickZadick

      You don't seem to have free will.... you seem thouroughly brainwashed!! good luck with that!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      everything you believe is based on what MEN have written and edited in that book. Nothing in there was written by god

      July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  20. Adolph Hitler

    Every time I hear people saying ' The Hail Mary' prayer, I think it strange hearing the people say to the Virgin Mary, – " pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen" Personally, I don't think it is my place to tell Mary when to pray for me...

    July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Just to let you know

      So change the wording.. and say " Please pray for us sinners...." your prayers should come from your heart and not be a routine and no-one is going to look at you funny.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:59 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.