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. Vern Farnum

    Evil is alive and well in the creation, and continues to rear its ugly head in our world. Where was God? God was in the people who shielded others from bullets, in emergency service people who ran toward the shooting and perhaps in a jammed magazine that prevented more bullets from being fired. Today God is in the care and compassion being provided to those lives that have been impacted forever, and in the ways we respond with loving care to a hurting world.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So God could have stopped it all, but he didn't?

      I say we gas him at the same time as the Redheaded clown guy.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Good post Vern.


      July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Great post, William. Spot on.


      July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • inHISlight

      well said Vern

      July 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Randall

      The problem there is that would qualify as divine interjection into the event. Which means that Free Will has been mitigated. God was altering the scene according to His divine will. Which while complimentary to theology of Sovereignty, negates Free Will. If He became involved at all in the event then one must assume that the event happened and proceeded according to God's plan. However if the evil that happened in the event was not God's will then neither was the good. That's the thing with Free Will and Sovereignty. They're absolutes. They either apply universally or they don't apply at all.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  2. Jim McGuire

    There is no God.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • TheTeacher

      But there is a Dog.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  3. TheTeacher

    So we're still paying for the Original Sin? I thought Jesus' sacrifice and our baptisms had wiped the slate

    July 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The original sin is Eve being lied to by satan to go against God's truth. What happened in the garden is happening today ... being deceived by the liar satan pulling us away from Jesus' truth.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      But personally, I think Eve rocks. Go, grrrlll.


      July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  4. Kat

    God gives eash individual free will to do or think what they want...& if that free will opens someone's heart to evil that's the individual's will.
    The 12 who were murdered are now with God.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Kats are Dumb

      Prove it. And how come goddy let them die and made loved ones bereft? Mean old goddy again.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Kats, the reason you don't understand God's truth as was just posted is, you believe satan's lies that this life is all there is.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • nightsun2k7

      According to Jerry Newcombe, a spokesman for the evangelical group Truth in Action, most of the 12 people are burning in hell. So which is it? You "christians" really need to get your stories straight.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Ted

      HS, your religion is all about you lying to yourself, and you are a pro at that.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • HeavenSent is Dumb

      So how come god tortures us so in present life as in the latest shootings? He must be quite the azzhole.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  5. Michelle

    We, as a society, celebrate movies with violence and murder. Yet, when something happens in real life, we are horrified by it. Where is the disconnect? God did not want this tragedy to happen – it is what society has allowed to come into people's minds that has turned people to do horrific things. What we take in is what we put out. God does not control people as if they were robots. In His sovereignty (which I would never claim to understand) He gives humans free will. It does not mean that He's not ultimately in control. I believe God is in control, but it was not His will for this to happen. We can never understand why horrible things happen; we are but mere humans who cannot even fathom the mind of an Almighty God.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So Jeebus supports the assault rifle ban?

      Is that you Mr's Bachman? Any more Muslim conspiracies you care to explain?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Michelle, God allowed the shooter to stay blinded to His truth.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ Michelle

      Excellent point, friend. It's so sad what happened but it's almost like picturing someone saying, "Wait a minute, the violence and killings was suppose to happen in the movie we are watching, not in real life?" Kind of ironic you might say.

      But the saddest part about this is people are very much blinded by their own lust and pleasure that they would rather continue to disbelief in God and continue in sin rather than search Him out for answers, guidance and best of all, eternal life.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  6. Stephen

    I think God was at a sporting event, he seems to like sports alot...

    July 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  7. duckz86

    God was busy cleaning up the mess in Happy Valley.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  8. Fred8680

    Maybe God was nowhere.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  9. palintwit

    In no time at all the police will find a copy of Sarah Palin's "crosshairs' poster in the shooter's apartment. Proving once again the negative influence she has with gun loving nut cases.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  10. Henry

    Where was god? Seriously? People ask that question? Has anyone ever heard of 'free will'? Some people need to pick up a bible once in a while.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Some people need to pick up a bible once in a while."
      I do. Every time I run out of kindling or toilet paper.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Bob

      Actually the bible is at the root of a lot of violence, and it has explicit demands purportedly from god for humans to do violence.

      And come on, Henry, really. Sadly, hardly anyone in the western world hasn't read the Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible. Many of us know it better than you do.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • TheTeacher

      So where was God as Holmes exercised his "free will" on undeserving people?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • William Demuth


      I have read it 18 times, and studied it for fifty years.

      Where are you refering to? The ENTIRE Bible is based on predeterminisim, and without it, ther is no Christianity at all.

      Every book indicates the outcome is preordained.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      William, try reading His truth in the Bible while in humble mode. Your ego erases God out.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  11. rdon49@yahoo.com

    God took them to heaven and a better place. Holmes has a mental disorder, how vile can you be with god was in Holmes's heart. Another one in the making

    July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  12. SpenceSpeaksOne

    God was still available in Aurora. Unfortunately, Holmes forgot who and where God was long before he entered that theater. The saddest part is that others had to pay for his ignorance. This is a stark example of a Universal Truth. When we become divorced from ourselves and ignore our connection and responsibility to each other, it can have dire consequences. God is still available in Aurora. In the midst of our mourning, may we All recognize the need to turn to the Light and acknowledge our Oneness. Peace, Love, and Comfort to the victims and their families.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  13. Boom

    If God is our father and permits such events to occur, he should be charged with neglect

    July 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • highplainsparson

      By nature we are His enemies, not His sons.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  14. David Larson

    God was in the same place where He was ....When His Son died on the cross for us!!!!! So we might have forgiveness.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Madtown

      HeavenSent will tell you that God and his son are 1 and the same. Wacky, huh?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I don't think non-existence is a place.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • YBP

      Was that when one third of god sent a second third of himself down to earth to clean up the mess he made with the talking snake and the magic tree, knowing all along that the third third of himself would never become pervasive enough to guide billions belonging to his many faiths, sects and denominations to stop killing each other over it?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Madtown, read His truth for yourself.

      John 14:6   Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

      John 14:7   If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

      John 14:8   Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

      John 14:9   Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou [then], Shew us the Father?

      John 14:10   Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

      John 14:11   Believe me that I [am] in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

      John 14:12   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

      John 14:13   And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

      John 14:14   If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].

      John 14:15   If ye love me, keep my commandments.

      John 14:16   And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

      John 14:17   [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

      John 14:18   I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

      John 14:19   Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

      John 14:20   At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

      John 14:21   He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.


      July 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Madtown

      Madtown, read His truth for yourself.
      His truth, John's truth? You quoted some writings of human beings. How do their opinions prove anything?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  15. BoldGeorge

    If you believe that the evidence is clear and that there is no God because of horrific incidents like these, then what happened at that movie theater wasn't all that bad after all. The demon-possessed man shouldn't really get what's coming to him (and by the looks of the justice system nowadays, there is a chance he might not).But...if the few of you that believe there is a God but have doubts or question why He allowed this to happen, then I would tell you that you are still alive and able to be reconciled to God. He has placed his call out to you and it is your FREE WILL and responsibility to respond to His calling. He won't draw you near unless you heed his call. It's not the other way around like most people would like it to be.

    It is because of horrific incidents like these that we should believe in a Savior. I'm sure that in that movie theater, some, if not all, would have wished for a Savior to whisk them out safely and defeated the bad guy. That incident is but a fraction of the reflection of life, a life full of chaos due to man's free will to do what pleases him/her. We need a Savior to save us from our sins and from the devil's schemes and lies we daily fall into. That will only happen we recognize that we are sinful and have offended God, we repent of our sins, ask God to forgive us and trust Christ to save us and guide us until He calls us home.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      What a load of crap.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Programed nonesense.

      Vengance is OURS!

      String his deviant rear end up, or better yet crucify him.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  16. Howard

    God was at the local Chic-Fil-A?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  17. freewill

    God gives man free will. Freedom has its pros & cons. If you use it wisely, then it's great. Abuse it, then you suffer the consequences.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Others suffer the consequences, like the little girl who had her throat blown out by that Jeebus freak.

      Maybe if it was one of yours they were cleaning up with a mop and bucket you might get your head out of your rear end.

      If your God exists, and allowed that, he deserves to be overthrown and banished to his own hell.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Rampas Mornay

      How, exactly, did the abuse of free will cause the victims to be killed or injured?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • enarray

      Americans are free to own guns. Americans are free to teach or not teach morality. The gunman grew up in American society. America is the land of the free.


      Deaths ? Well, you should have thought about that, smart one.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • kat

      As long as Satan is loose to promote evil, bad things will happen to good people.. and innocent people, and young people, and babies, and yes, even bad people! Simple. God doesnt force us to follow him and thereby its because we are free to choose that creates an opening for Satan and his evil. Wheres the glory in having forced obedience? ..then it isnt obedience, its slavery, and God does NOT want slaves. Does God have a plan? yes. Does God allow bad things to happen? yes, he must.. otherwise it wouldnt be free choice. Try telling the non-believers that they MUST follow God and see what happens! When tragedy strikes, God is there alright.. carrying us through the mess that Satan has created!!!..and likely tearful that Satan is still wreaking havoc on his children.. good, bad, and the ones that havent gotten it yet... "Lord have mercy on them, for they know not what they do." .. Lord, have mercy on us all!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  18. David

    well how about this...God doesn't make these things happen..we as human beings do..we are always held accountable and responsible for our actions..it's all a matter of choice..to do the right thing, or to do what's easier and self gratifying.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  19. Dyslexic Dog

    James Holmes is a good, church going christian, so where was God in the Aurora massacre ... God was in James Holmes' heart.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  20. Keith

    As the Lord removes His hand of protection from this nation, this question is going to be asked more frequently.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Stoned on Fox again?

      Good grief dude, you act like it's the 14th century!

      July 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • BRC

      Interesting. If we did still have "God's protecting hand", how would that have helped?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Nate

      Skepticism of Faith certainly plays into all of our trajedies as humans. It is in our nature to believe that someone/something has created us, therefore we are the puppets that he controls from above. Our life is not controlled, but represented by examples being set. Man controls his actions for judgement, and yes, we are a living, breathing and more importantly perishable species that can be dissolved of and dismissed just as fast as your opinions as to why there is no God.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 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.