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. Kevin

    We get it, CNN. You want to make a belief in God appear absolutely ridiculous and beyond the realm of possibility. You don't have to pound it into our heads daily.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • CNN

      Yes we do. You guys don't seem to be getting it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Kevin

      Haha...nice. But, seriously, the US is in DIRE need of a respected, non-slanted news organization. Fox News and CNN ain't cuttin' it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "We get it, CNN. You want to make a belief in God appear absolutely ridiculous and beyond the realm of possibility."
      Did you read the article? It is merely a collection of responses from across the spectrum. Very little of it written by anybody employed by CNN. It represents the various opinions of a diverse collection of people. Something you might find in an opinion section, wouldn't you agree?

      If you feel this makes your beliefs "absolutely ridiculous and beyond the realm of possibility", you may want to reevaluate your beliefs. "They" may be on to something.

      You said, "You don't have to pound it into our heads daily."
      Yes, they do. Every day and every hour, until you get it. But nobody is forcing you to stick around.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  2. FaceFacts

    Why does "God" allow evil? Fundamentally, that's a simple question to answer: because there is no "God." Those who wish to believe there is have to go through tortuous machinations and sometimes silly sophistry to explain mass murder, as well as childhood cancer and infant mortality.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Kevin

      oooo, "sophistry"! Thanks so much for posting FaceFacts!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  3. uisignorant

    Where was God? He was not allowed by the libs.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Thomas

      There is no God, Only ignorant people following pedofiles around the neighborhood throwing money at a chance to get into "heaven' Sounds as crazy as the 70 virgin thing. When people just say NO to religion we will be a better society. Republicans may you meet your demise at the end of a AK47 or whatever else you think you need in your fear laden lives.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  4. Timmy

    God was mercifully willing to spare the cities for the sake of a few righteous people, but none lived there.
    Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah
    All Democrat controlled cities have to go
    Your murder rates are ridiculous
    Should call you Mexico

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  5. reelamerican

    Because we elect Liberals who are against gun control if more people in the theatre had been armed they probably would have saved lives and once Romney is elected everyone will be able to own an ARF and we will be able to defend ourselves

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Chuck

      Sorry to disappoint but Romney banned Assault Rifles in Massachusetts. Do a quick Google search and you'll see he once signed into law a ban on AR's in Massachusetts. There's no reason to expect him to reverse his position once in the White House.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  6. giggity

    what does this have to do with God? how about asking where was the NRA instead

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  7. Jason McCann

    If God didn't intervene during the holocaust, why would God swoop down for 12 Americans in a Movie Theater? Are we really bringing up the God question over this? I'm sorry, but God will NEVER EVER intervene. EVER. Except maybe on the so-called judgment day, but until then, he must by his own laws stay on the sidelines. He absolutely must and it has been proven in my mind by history that he will allow us to do absolutely anything we let ourselves get away with. Anything. I suggest you stop wondering where God was and start asking "Where were WE? Why is our culture creating this? What can *WE* do?" Focus on solutions for our citizens now, not in the afterlife.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Jason McCann

      History has proven that God never intervenes in anyway that is provable. (AKA that God never intervenes)

      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  8. starman

    god always gets credit for good things. A tornado kills 100 people and the 1 person who lived was blessed by god. Never given responsible for the tornado. Not a good record for someone who is supposed to know every millisecond of your live before and after you are born. The key is the rationalization that people have to make to continue the worship of such god considering the terrible deeds he ignores. But, at least in the modern age hes not involved like say the biblical ages where he got angry at everyone for being bad and murdered millions of people with a flood (instead of say using his omnipotent power to kill or change just the problems and let all the innocent women and children live). But I guess we can get away with saying as usual "god works in mysterious ways".

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  9. luigim

    After something like this I am beginning to believe that God was made up in Man's image.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  10. GJ

    What in the world is this! This isnt "news" this is opinions.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  11. Joski

    One might think that God did get involved in a positive way... The psyco's house bomb was never triggered, many people did get hurt but didn't die, and he got caught.

    Positive energy America.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  12. jomama


    July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • sam

      Faux News.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  13. Mark A

    If there is a God, he or she is where they always are. Someplace watching what we are doing and never ceasing to be amazed that some people expect him/her to interfere with our human madness. Of course, maybe he/she has forgotten about us and moved on to a more fruitful experiment?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • OOO

      Your not even sure there is a god, but you claim to know what it thinks and does? Wow.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Answer b

      July 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Peanut

      NO one can be sure there is a god but that never stops them from being sure they are the ones knowing the will of god.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  14. Guy

    We do not know if there is a god; we have to believe there is – it give us hope. That is all we need to know about that. But here is what we do know; everything happens because of what we do and from that we get probabilities. A series or a one thing triggered that guy to do what he did, and unfortunately, the probablity were the lives of innocent people. If you believe in god still, then maybe god jammed his automatic weapon; believe in what is good is our salvation while on this earth – what happens after, 18 people now know. We are in charge of our own fate by what we do; it's just some of us have been more fortunate and luckier than others.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  15. Sly

    The concept of God is very irrational. If there is a big fat man in the clouds, there is also a Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Devil, Trolls, Ghosts, Elves and all those other concepts – as they are all completely as logical.

    People who attribute all good to God ("Hey, I got just what I wanted for my birthday – thank you God") and all bad things to God ("Hey, the Red Sox won, God must be mad today") are rather weak.

    Just live life, and we'll all find out when we die. Either I go to heaven, where there are millions of beautiful teen-age virgins, and no laws, in which case all is great, and I'll beat Wilt the Stilt's record, or we just rot in the dirt, which is what all scientists believe. We'll find out!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  16. Marty in MA

    there is no God. simple.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Citizen

      I'm sorry you feel that way, but one day u will know God is real...........

      July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  17. Citizen

    Yes God is in control, but for every positive there is a negative. There is much evil out there. Remember God sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross for all of us. This is the testing age and Satan is out there with his evil ones doing these terrible deeds. Send the murderer to the LORD for justice.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • David G.

      Lord of the Rings had more logic behind it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • OOO

      Sounds like drivel to me.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • christ_child1991

      amen to that god is in control and soooooooooooo many years ago when adam sinned he gave control of the earth to satan and that is y bad things happen and satan is running wild cause we are in the last days now more than ever and I belive god is testing the faithful and making them stronger through all of this.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  18. jg

    God is not with people that live in sin and do the will of the devil, God protects only His chosen people that Love Him and stays close to Him, does His will on this earth that He created with His Hands!!! end of story !!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hi -jg...

      "God is not with people that live in sin and do the will of the devil, God *protects* only His chosen people, etc..." 😯

      So... the people that got k-illed in this tragedy were living in sin ? Not his 'chosen' people ?

      Does that explain the 'lack' of 'protection' from God ?


      July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • christ_child1991

      I disagree with that god is with everyone because we are all his children but people have to choose to accept him to keep from going to burning HELL because HELL was crreated for us it was created for satan and his angels

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • christ_child1991

      I disagree with that god is with everyone because we are all his children but people have to choose to accept him to keep from going to burning HELL because HELL was NOT created for us it was created for satan and his angels

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Peanut


      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Islandgrl

      Well that statement clearly lets YOU out of the chosen few.... better watch your back

      July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  19. LiberalsAreAngry

    God was there. He was in the people that became heroes. No, he did nto step in and stop the entire event from happening, for him to do that would be to eliminate free will from man kind, and therefore defeat the purpose of human souls he created. He was still there though, you can bet on it.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • OOO

      And how do you know this?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • christ_child1991

      I totally agree with that and @OOO it clearly says it in the bible from begining to the end. Because if god didnt make everything with a free will Satan would still be an angel in heaven and we would all liove forever

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  20. jomama

    TMZ wins again! http://www.tmz.com/2012/07/25/james-holmes-notebook-colorado-batman-movie-shooting-massacre/

    July 25, 2012 at 1:34 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.