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. In God We Trust

    Atheists got rid of prayers from public schools.... they are the main reason for the decline of this once a great nation.
    They want us to turn into a atheistic communist nation like North Korea and China!

    July 25, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • LinCA

      Does it hurt to be this delusional?

      July 25, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Rick James

      Not really. Thinking like that is what is bring the country back to a place it never was.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Eric

      There maybesome truth to that statement a study has not been done might be worth tracking back lets say to 1967 and start there.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Rick James

      Eric, there is ZERO truth to that statement. We have had worse times as a nation, but we pulled through them by being proactive, not sitting on our hands waiting for God.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Eric

      I agree with the proactive part, GOD isnt an ATM doesnt work that way. I Had the year wrong alse I would want to start in 1962. Im not saying there is or isnt just it might be worth studying might be a good thesis idea.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Ms Galaxy

      Oh, yeah, my whole goal in life is to live in North Korea! This is one of the dumbest comments I've seen so far. Akin to saying "All christians want to turn the entire country into another Iraq." it IS a religious government.. Isn't that what you want? (See how stupid that sounds?)

      July 25, 2012 at 5:03 am |
  2. In God We Trust

    Atheists needs to SHUT the F UP.
    Jesus Christ..... I'm tired of having them here on CNN >> FAITH << blog!

    July 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • LinCA

      Fuck off.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      A good way to shut up anyone is with proof. You have none, so it is you that needs to shut it.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Eric

      Brother calm dowm. patients, kindness, meekness

      July 25, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Ms Galaxy

      Blah blah balh... Still writing... Blah blah blah... Still writing... Blah blah... Do you see how I'm not following your order? LOL!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 am |
  3. ArthurP

    There is no proof that the Bible is not the work of the Devil. Ah but you say look at this passage in the Bible that proves it is the word of God. Really, if the Devil himself wrote it is it not what you would expect him to say to confuse you?

    July 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  4. thr

    Like others have said, pain in this world is a product of our sin and our hope is in Jesus Christ.
    If there wasn't evil and injustice in this world, would you know what good or justice looked like?

    Though it's hard to grasp and understand, it's the world we live in and the truth I've come to believe.
    Christianity isn't there to convince people.. its there to show God's love and grab hearts who testify of this love.
    If it were there to convince people.. it would be called logic not faith.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  5. Beloved4ever

    Solera21 This is a good one ..Proverbs 26:4 ' do not answer a fool according to his folly or you yourself will be just like him" Wise move 😉

    July 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  6. Religion is the truth

    I don't care about having atheists living in this country as long as they keep their mouth shut regards to putting religion in public, etc.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Rick James

      We have freedom of speech. We don't step on yours, don't step on ours.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • In God We Trust

      Rick your cult got rid of prayers from public school... so there you go

      July 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Rick James

      Nope, that never happened. Children can still pray in school. What happened in 1962 was that the Supreme Court ruled on the concept on mandatory prayer in public school, and for good reason.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • pastapharian

      Sorry buddy. In this country we not only have freedom OF religion, but freedom FROM religion. People like you need to s t f u.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  7. JL

    You can't blame God for every tragedy! Now is the time to seek him for comfort . Don't blame what you do not understand search the bible for answers.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  8. Daddy

    HAHA atheists cannot show off that they do not believe in God in public.... they cannot put bumper stickers either because their cars will be vandalized 🙂

    God is with us!

    July 24, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Reality

      Not so fast. I saw this posted on many a bulletin board:

      The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (references used are available upon request)

      July 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Rick James

      Why would we? We are a people that are very secure with ourselves and our place in the world, unlike some who want to show off.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "they cannot put bumper stickers either because their cars will be vandalized"
      Goes to show how completely retarded believers are, don't you think. They don't have the ability to verbalize their arguments and resort to violence.

      I'm so glad I shed that delusion a long time ago.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  9. Reality

    Giving up a bit on the god belief but rational to some:

    o From Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous Catholic theologian from his book, Church: The Human Story of God,
    Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover)

    "Christians must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history" .

    "Nothing is determined in advance: in nature there is chance and determinism; in the world of human
    activity there is possibility of free choices.

    Therefore the historical future is not known even to God; otherwise we and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings.

    For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women."

    July 24, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  10. Mr. Reason

    I love bugging atheists out..... that's why I wear big cross and put God bumber stickers 😀

    July 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Rick James

      Do you like to misspell words as well?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  11. Reality

    Giving up a bit on the god belief but rational to some:

    July 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  12. Young Autistic Man

    Both JazzyMom and G. Zeus Kreiszchte are somewhat correct about the cross. It was a symbol of torture by the Romans but it was also the symbol of love. The Christian cross symbolize the two greatest commandments. Vertical associated with God and hortizontal associated with the people around you. Both of these commandments associated with love. However, JazzyMom, even as a Christian, I do not believed the cross should be in every single public place.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Mr. Reason

      America is a Christian country and in this nation, Crosses should be placed at all federal and state buildings.
      It suppose to be there and it is consti.tutional.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Rick James

      America is NOT a Christian country. I know you're trolling, reason, but some could have that conception. It was made to be a secular country, and I think that it what makes it so special.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Religion is the truth

      America is a Christian nation.. now keep your mouth shut

      Denying the Christianity of America is same as denying that Washington D.C. is the capital.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Rick James

      Hey, religion, bite my shiny metal a.ss. I wish 2050 would show up so that the religious really feel that they are persecuted.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  13. Christie

    Cnn's "belief blog" needs to be called CNN's Unbelief Blog.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Mr. Reason

      Why not send nonbelievers to concentration camps? Better....

      July 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      That's the trend. Isn't it great !

      July 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  14. Mr. Reason

    Being an atheist is worse than being a fundamentalist Muslim...

    July 24, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Sorry you don't like being an atheist. maybe you should go back to fundamentalist Islam.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Mr. Reason

      You said, "Being an atheist is worse than being a fundamentalist Muslim..."
      It is rough sometimes. Being part of the most hated group in the US, simply because the simpletons feel threatened. But I assure you, it's worth it. Shedding the delusion can provide relief that is better than sex.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  15. hypostasis

    The same place he was when 14 people were killed in a truck accident in Texas, a day or two later: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/24/usa-texas-immigrants-accident-idINDEE86N0GC20120724

    July 24, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Eric

      Or when thousands of babies are aborted... IED kills american soldiers..... random guy has a heart attack.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  16. Rio Vista

    I don't understand how nonbelievers even want to live in the U.S. where the national motto is "In God We Trust".

    Atheists =/= Americans

    July 24, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • IrishYank2

      Seriously? Do you really think this country requires religion? Go look up the opinions the founding fathers had of the church and monarchy (pretty much one in the same then), then tell me atheists are not Americans. Narrow mindedness is your strong suit I can see, hypocrite, and I will die before the Christian Taliban tries to impose their theocratic law on me and my family.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Mr. Reason

      America is a Christian country and our founding fathers were mostly Christians. Read history and don't listen to the atheist isolated groups bashing religion and God ! Or time for you to sleep?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Greg

      National motto was "E Pluribus Unum" (out of many, one). Just like the "in god we trust" being added to currency, and "one nation under god" being added to the pledge of allegiance, these travesties were all added during the great Red Scare during the mid-1950s. Fear of the boogey man commies, spearheaded by Saint Joseph McCarthy. None of these were envisioned as guiding principles during the founding of this country.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  17. St. Peter


    July 24, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • St. Paul

      Not so much. So I better invent a whole lotta sh1t.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      "god" was too lame to prevent myopia, wisdom teeth when there is not enough room on the jawbone for them, facial hair in women, let alone a buttload of other more serious ailments.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  18. Joel

    Why can't atheists tell us how we got here?? No you can't; therefore God exists. End of story.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      What an idiot. What's wrong with "we might not have whole story yet".
      Now go tell mommy your ready for bed.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Why can't atheists tell us how we got here?? No you can't; therefore God exists. End of story."
      If I can't tell you exactly how each part of an internal combustion engine works, does that mean that the delusion that cars are propelled by magic suddenly becomes the only possibility? Does it get any more merit? Would it be any more sane to believe it?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • IrishYank2

      The Bible proves the existence of God as the Spiderman series of comic books prove the existence of God. You basically believe in a Disney Fairytale.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      There is more actual, legal, considered, testimonial evidence that the Salem Mass. women were really witches, than there is for the resurrection. If they were consistent, they would believe that too, since there is more evidence for that.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Science can't explain everything,

      Religion can't explain anything

      July 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  19. Bill

    Where was god during the black plague? Where was god during WWII? Why is god not in poverty and AIDS stricken Africa? Well because god most likely doesn't exist. If god does exist, he probably doesn't give a damn about us.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Nick

      You're right a fairytale God that pops in when you're having a bad day to say hi and stops wars and plagues doesn't exist. But could there be a different kind of God?

      God allowed Jesus Christ to be born poor in a stable, be ridiculed, tortured and killed. We learn from the Bible that before His crucifixion Jesus Christ prayed to God to save him from all this, adding "but do what you want, not what I want". Should we then conclude that there is proof in the Bible that God won't listen to your prayers since He did not listen to His own Son?

      We have countless accounts of lives of saints who lived in poverty, were tortured and martyred. St. Peter the Aleut believed in God yet had is toes, fingers and hands cut off and was eventually disemboweled. St. Panteleimon believed in God and as a doctor healed others for free, yet, he was tortured and beheaded. St. Mary of Egypt believed in God and lived her life as a hermit in the desert. St. Procopius and so many more saints lived in poverty. Why did God not help them? Where are these Saints now? Why do we have these people as Saints and role models? Must we detest a "happy" life and live in poverty in order to be saved?

      My point in all this is that faith is completely illogical when you approach it from a worldly perspective. Some have the mindset that belief in God = utopia in life and this world, and if that doesn't exist then clearly God doesn't exist. There are answers to spiritual questions yet people don't seek them out and see what has been said about these topics in the past centuries and believed by people today. Then, unfortunately a few unsatisfactory answers from forums like these and it’s easy conclude there can't be a God.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • k kim

      To Nick,

      AMEN! But I'm not sure if most "Christians" would agree with you.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  20. zookini3

    I believe in God. I believe that he made the heavens and the earth and all things therein. I believe that he established men on this earth to test them in order to determine who would desire to live in His presence. Therefore, he gave every man the right to choose good or evil. In some cases, those who are faithful and obedient are affected by the evil choices of others. If one believes that death is the end...then one might think that this plan is flawed. But the life of a righteous person is never cut short enough to miss out on their eventual salvation. Starving children who die will be saved. Righteous people who are killed by evil doers are saved. The evil doers, however, are not. For the faithful, this life is merely a stepping stone.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • St. Paul

      Do we feel better now that we got that out, cuz nobody care about your delusions ?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Nick

      @St. Paul: Do we feel better now that we got that out, cuz nobody care about your delusions ?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • St. Paul

      @ Nick
      Do we feel better now that we got that out, cuz nobody cares about your delusions.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Nick

      @St. Paul Yes, I do feel better now, thank you for asking 🙂 Just pointing out that even though zookini3's thoughts are delusions to you, your opinion of his thoughts can be seen as a delusion by others, so in the end we're all delusional to each other it seems 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 12:21 am |
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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.