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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. JonathanSwift

    Isn't it interesting how many people have convinced themselves that know exactly what the Supreme Being is thinking? What can be said about those people, except that they are deluded, and possibly mentally ill?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Wally West

      I think it's funny that you have the faith that anyone cares what you say.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Adam

      I can say that they are enemies of this project we call civilization. And that for them to presume knowledge where they have only pious hope, is a species of evil.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Julie

      Jonathan, we know what God is thinking because he left us a complete book explaining his thinking, and our souls are in communion with Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Pretty simple. Everyone is in communication with a force, whether you know it or not. I prefer to be in communication with God.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Adam

      Julie: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Stephen

      Pretty simple?!! Julie, you might as well describe the fat bearded man who twitches his nose and slips down the chimney as "pretty simple." It's nonsense - it's meaningless blather, and you're apparently stuck in its web of fantasy. You can escape, though - come up for air, reality's a pretty interesting place, wonderful actually . . .

      July 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • jamy

      Faith........... Jonathan.. The coming of Christ was described to a tee In Isaiah 53.... 750 years before He came.. why is He hated so much.. What did Jesus ever do that was so awful? Nothing.. He even let people spit in his face and stood there.. that took something supernatural strong.. stronger than I would have ever been... I have a belief and many millions have died for that Belief.. Whether you or anyone believes it is right or wrong.. at least I have something to hold on too.. some hope in a hopless world and just because I want to share it does not make me a bad person.. in fact I would be doing wrong if I didnt' care and share the Gospel.. We were told too and if you or your friends don't except it.. then that is your fate.. Mine will be the Narrow Road for few will choose it... I pray one day.. all of you will see Truth. and I for one do not consider this a laughing matter and personaly believe the "jokers" should stop it....

      July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Stephen

      jamy - I think your logic is reversed. It is most likely that the writers of the New Testament shaped their version of Jesus to fit Isaiah's 750 year-old portrait, not the other way 'round.

      And, why are Christians always so desperate to ". . . have something to hold on too.. some hope in a hopless world?" It sounds so bleak, this despair for "something," some little thread to "hold onto," something to soothe their otherwise miserable hopelessness. Talk about existential angst . . . makes me grateful I'm an optimistic non-believer!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  2. ERIC BROWN

    FIRST I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I AM A MEXICAN LIVING IN MEXICO. EVERYTIME SOMETHING GOES WRONG, SOME PEOPLE USE IT AS A WAY TO BLAME GOD. I WAS WATCHING A CNN INTERVIEW WITH THE PERSON WHO SOLD THE GUNS TO THIS MADMAN AND I ASK YOU US CITIZENS, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, DID GOD PUT THOS GUNS THERE ? DID HE MAKE THE LAWS THAT ALLOWED THI PERSON LEGALLY SELL WEAPONS ? DOES GOD PRODUCE ALL THE VIOLENT MOVIES AND TV SHOWS THAT ARE PRODUCED IN THE USA AND SHOWN IN OTHER COUNTRIES ? THE ANSWER IS NO !! IF GOD HAD NOT BEEN IN THIS THEATER, MORE PEOPLE WOULD HAVE DIED. GOD WAS IN THE HEART OF THOSE WHO OFFERED THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR LOVED ONES. THE PURPOSE FOR THESE PEOPLE`S LIVES, WAS NOT CUT OFF BY GOD, BUT BY MEN. ACTS LIKE THIS SCARES PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD, BECAUSE IT JUST GIVES EVIL IDEAS FOR OTHER CRAZY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD. I PRAY TO GOD THAT THE FAMILIES OF THE VICTIMS RATHER THAN BLAMING GOD, FIND COMFORT IN HIM. AND TO YOUT AUTHORITIES I ASK, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO CHANGE THE LAWS THAT ALLOW THINGS LIKE THIS TO HAPPEN. GOD BLESS YOU AND MAY GOD REALLY BLESS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE !

    July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      so explain why when everything is GRAVY it is because of god and his goodness, but when things go bad, god had nothing to do with it? Double standard.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  3. art

    if there i s a god or not is up to your beliefs in my case i do think there is a god was he there? ask all the people that survive they probably mention his name in that moment. physically he wasnt but he gives us the choice to do good or bad the rest is up to us. in this case he chose to the wrong thing and innocent people payed the ultimate price.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  4. onestarman

    Where is GOD when Tragedy Strikes? Weeping with those who are in Pain. It is GOD'S Desire and the PURPOSE for Christ's Manifestation on earth that we ALL have LIFE and have it Abundantly. Why do Bad Things Happen? Because God is NOT a PUPPET MASTER and SOME PEOPLE do Bad Things. It is OUR Job to Do Good.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  5. golanego

    Whenever something good happens people thank god.....but when something bad happens they say he doesn’t intervene. If your body doesn’t matter (and only your soul does) then what is the point of living? Tell the guy praying for his life that God doesn’t intervene. Hundreds if not thousands of Muslims prayed to their God on 9//11/2001 that planes would successfully fly into buildings and kill thousands of people who at the same time were praying to their God that they wouldn’t be burned alive.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  6. ceecee1234

    The issue in America is not everyone has the same belief in God. Many base their beliefs on other people's view and fail to find out who God is for themselves properly. To answer the question " Where was God in Aurora massacre? " is a rhetorical question to ask. Simply go back to at least the 3rd English translation (KJV) of the bible and ask God to give you a spiritual understanding of what is written. If and when done properly, (which by the way, its a process, not an overnight adventure) you will learn that God is a supernatural spirit and does not have a human spirit like us. Ever heard of us humans having a Mind, Body, Soul, Spirit?

    So to know where was God in this, one will have to through faith in God, become a part of God's supernatural spirit, which is taught how to do, again from someone who is truly connected to God spiritually. And when you do so, you will understand that our lives are in our hands under God. It's simple. God said choose to live good or evil. You make the choice. Shockingly you will learn that God created evil for some other purpose but through trickery, the devil, if you believe in him, brought evil thoughts, ideas, suggestions, plans, attacks, you name it, into the minds and hearts of people who are OPEN to it. The choice is yours to make. Give it every medical name you want, they are real demonic spirits that have taken over human spirits, bodies, minds, and souls, and mostly through ignorant means.

    This man exposed himself to evil by simply entertaining evil advice and council. When I looked at his photo in court the other day, yes his body was there but his spirit was taken over by a demonic spirit(s). This is the reason for the daze look. Once that evil spirit has released his mind back to himself, you will see a remorseful young man who probably didn't realize he had did something bad.

    Search for a pastor or person who is connected to God in the right way and you understand who is causing evil being done in this world.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  7. virginia

    Does any one think God was in the heart of Holmes when he shot those standing infront of him, or was he blinded by dispair that he was the one responsible for judgement that day up on his fellow men, he punished that which as not acceptable to him....

    July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  8. Hugo

    This happened because's of mans disobedience.
    America is fundamentally broken.
    A nation that was brought up on biblical principals, is now casting away the very essence of its originality. God.
    God was a priority in this nation and now it seems like "America doesn't need God anymore"

    Things like these happen when their are not enough God fearing people.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • golanego

      Yes of course. Because God always punishes small towns in Colorado.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  9. Stephen

    Many of those victims of this violence who barely escaped being killed will praise God for their miracle. Those who died are blessed in eulogies and delivered into the hands of the loving God who could have, but did not, extend His miraculous largess to their lives as well. In churches they will say that God works in mysterious ways that we don't understand, but all that happens is part of His good plan for us - so no matter what occurs in life, a surrender to faith is promoted as the best reaction. Some say such tragedies as Aurora are due to God's neglect or His punishment to America for having strayed.

    This is all madness. How can people believe in such nonsense?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  10. john dec

    WHERE WAS GOD/? for last decade this country has been on a campaign to get God out of our way of life crosses at bldgs. on anything with govt. our air force getting rid of bibles never mention His name in schools so please dont ask Where was God! Ifeel badly for God the way we have tried to dismiss HIMor Her from our daily lives

    July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Susan

      AMEN John!! AMEN 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  11. Susan

    So many people have tried to take God out of the Pledge of Alligance, off of our money & out of our schools..........THEN they want to know WHERE GOD IS when something tragic happens such as Colorado or 9/11????? God is EXACTLY where He was put....OUT OF EVERYTHING! People can't honestly expect God to just come around when He is needed????? Are we turning God into Santa Claus; just give us good things Lord and then go away until I need you again????
    THIS is why so many awful tragedies like this keep happening more frequently.....God has been put in a corner & we have been left to fend for ourselves.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • JWT

      God waa not in the pledge to start with. The commy fear mongers added it in.

      Prayer was never removed from anything. What was removed was the state forcing some version of religion on people in schools and etc. A perfect ly correct thing for the government to get rid of. Of course if you want religion back in schools and court you will have to use my religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  12. Todd

    Easy. God doesn't exist. End of debate.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • TC

      In your arrogant heart – of course god does not exist – you know everything of course. Thanks for educating all of us you omnipotent human.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  13. DC

    As an atheist, I have to ask...where was humanity in the Aurora massacre?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • AndriconBoy

      Praying to their imaginary friend.

      Prayer is that thing people do when they want to feel better about themselves but dont actually want to help. 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  14. TOMG

    ONESELF SIX – SENSE ARE THE REALITY LIVING DAILY GOD FOR US ALL , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  15. AndriconBoy

    God was at the same place he is when hundreds of thousands of children in Africa die each year from AIDS as the Church forbids condoms instead of teaching logic, and hands out bibles instead of food.
    God was at the same place he is when 2 million people die every year from Malaria, which is preventable and curable.
    God was at the same place he is when Christians in Rwanda execute people because God made them gay, and orders Christian warlords like Joseph Kony to commit genocide in his name so that God’s people will have a “pure” place to live.
    God was at the same place he is when he causes millions of children to be miscarried and stillborn each year (because that’s “part of God’s plan”) and then condemns them to all h3|| for never having accepted Jesus as their savior. Don’t complain to me about it. I didn’t make the rules, but they are clearly stipulated in his book.
    God was at the same place he is when millions of children are born with crippling birth defects each year and have no chance of having a normal life.
    God was at the same place he is when he orders a religiously devout woman to drown her children in the tub, approves of Benny Hinn duping people out of their money, and whispers to Pat Robertson to repeat horrible, atrocious, hateful things in his name.

    So exactly where was God?
    He was helping Joe Republican’s mom refinance her house “just in time.”
    He was helping the Cardinals butcher the Cubs last week, because apparently God likes the Redbirds.
    He was putting that missing $20 in the pocket of your other pants after you thought you lost it.
    He was robbing employers of their free will in order to give you the job you interviewed for, because clearly you could not have gotten the job on your own and clearly the people interviewing you are incapable of making decisions.
    He was ever so slightly belaying the heatwave he caused so you could get in a full 18 holes at the course.

    Yup, God’s priorities are perfectly aligned, and it’s not at all a coincidence that his actions fall in line with what each individual believer wants, enjoys, and hates.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Susan

      Very well stated 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • TC

      An arrogant atheist with a long winded post – laughable as no one will read it.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • SAi

      Nicely said

      July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • dh84

      thanks for your posts.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • AndriconBoy

      @ TC

      Arrogant? I'm not the one who thinks "God" pours sunshine on my @$$ while he is out helping bombs and missiles from US planes and launching platforms kill a record high percentage of innocent children and civillians in the Middle East.

      So before you try to insult me, do please tell me how anything I said is wrong.
      Does God not do all the thigns I spoke of? Is that not what you fruitty whack-jobs believe?

      And clearly you read at least some of what I typed, else how would you know how to judge me?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  16. ChicagoRob

    I am agnostic and personally believe there is a God(s). I do not for one instance believe I could fathom that being(s) thoughts, actions or lack thereof when it comes to our lives. No matter what religion puts forth their ideologies they are just that..thoughts and ideas of man. Which are used to control the populace. Sure there is a chance a religion is right..but which one? even Christianity has so many branches its all muddled.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      If you believe there is a God, you are not agnostic. You just don't like going to church, which is okay. Take the next step and admit that religion is simply in place to explain the unexplainable. As we develop explanations, religion becomes less relevant.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  17. Woody

    Many of our guns and ammunition today are actually made in China !

    July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  18. Lawana Maria

    In my opinion, it is hard for God to be apart of individuals lives when they simply do not pray. Prayer is the key breakthrough for protection and release of the Super natural power of God. As humans, it is crucial that we Pray and acknowledge God in everything that we do, so that a hedge of protection is around us at all times. As parents, Grandparents, uncles and guardians, prayer allows us to protect and keep our family in God's convent even when we are not there. There is evil around ever corner and without the proper belief and recognition from us, we will never see God in a Spiritual outbreak. When things happen we look at God like and ask " Why would you let this happen" but we fail to forget that there is things that he simply ask us to do in order for him to take full control of our lives. No matter what religion you are, we all in some way believe in the same God or higher being. All of our criteria in order for an results to take place in our lives are typically one in the same. We just have to give our Country to God and put everything BACK into his hands because if we do not there can be a end one day for America as we know it.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      You can pray all you want. God didn't save the dinosaurs and he's not going to save you either.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  19. Darrell

    there is no God, unless God lives with Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy. So the real question is : Where was Santa Claus?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • TC

      Yes, there is no god for the atheist. Thanks Capt Obvious.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  20. Andrew

    The good lord jammed the gun the shooter was using to prevent any more harm!!! This was the dumbest article CNN could ever post. Just saying

    July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Oops

      Yeah.... that's it. God, after allowing him to spray the crowd and injure 58 people, killing 12 he decided NOW was the time to jam the gun. Not before, or even stopping Holmes from getting a gun, it was at that specific moment when god stepped in.... that makes sense.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:06 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.