December 14th, 2012
06:17 PM ET
Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where’s God?'
By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
(CNN) – As he waited with parents who feared that their kids were among the 20 children killed at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, Rabbi Shaul Praver said the main thing he could do for parents was to merely be present.
“It’s a terrible thing, families waiting to find out if their children made it out alive,” said Praver, who leads a synagogue in Newtown, Connecticut, and was among nine clergy gathered with parents at a firehouse near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the shooting occurred.
“They’re going to need a lot of help,” Praver said of those who are close to the dead.
From the first moments after Friday’s massacre, which also left six adults and the shooter dead, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.
Over the weekend, countless more Americans will look to clergy as they struggle to process a tragedy in which so many of the victims were children.
“Every single person who is watching the news today is asking ‘Where is God when this happens?’” says Max Lucado, a prominent Christian pastor and author based in San Antonio.
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Lucado says that pastors everywhere will be scrapping their scheduled Sunday sermons to address the massacre.
“You have to address it - you have to turn everything you had planned upside down on Friday because that’s where people’s hearts are,” Lucado says.
“The challenge here is to avoid the extremes – those who say there are easy answers and those who say there are no answers.”
Indeed, many religious leaders on Friday stressed that the important thing is for clergy to support those who are suffering, not to rush into theological questions. A University of Connecticut professor on Friday hung up the phone when asked to discuss religious responses to suffering, saying, “This is an immense tragedy, and you want an academic speculating on the problem of evil?”
“There is no good answer at that time that anyone can hear and comprehend and take in,” said Ian T. Douglas, the bishop for the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut, referring to counseling family and friends of the dead. “They’re crying out from a place of deep pain.”
Praver, the rabbi, will join a memorial service Friday night at Newtown’s St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.
“We’re going to have a moment of prayer for the victims,” Praver said of the service. “We cannot let it crush our spirit and we march on.”
Some national religious groups are also sending staff to Newtown, with 10 chaplains dispatched from the North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Friday.
Public officials including President Obama, meanwhile, turned to the Bible in responding to the shooting. “In the words of Scripture, 'heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds,' ” Obama said from the White House, citing the book of Psalms.
On Twitter, #PrayForNewton became a trending topic.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Some religious leaders argue that modern American life insulates much of the nation from the kind of senseless death and suffering that plagues much of the world every day.
“Most of the world, for most of the world’s history, has known tragedy and trauma in abundance,” wrote Rob Brendle, a Colorado pastor, in a commentary for CNN’s Belief Blog after this summer’s deadly shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which left 12 dead.
“You don’t get nearly the same consternation in Burundi or Burma, because suffering is normal to there,” wrote Brendle, who pastored congregants after a deadly shooting at his church five years ago. “For us, though, God has become anesthetist-in-chief. To believe in him is to be excused from bad things.”
My Take: This is where God was in Aurora
Lucado said there was an eerie irony for the Connecticut tragedy coming just before Christmas, noting the Bible says that Jesus Christ’s birth was followed by an order from King Herod to slay boys under 2 in the Roman city of Bethlehem.
“The Christmas story is that Jesus was born into a dark and impoverished world,” Lucado says. “His survival was surrounded by violence. The real Christmas story was pretty rough.”
Many religious leaders framed Friday’s shooting as evidence for evil in the world and for human free will in the face of a sovereign God.
“The Bible tells us the human heart is ‘wicked’ and ‘who can know it?’” the Rev. Franklin Graham said in a statement about the massacre. “My heart aches for the victims, their families and the entire community.”
Many religious leaders also said that such tragedies are a good time for lay people to express doubts about God – or anger.
“This is a time to go deep and pray,” says Lucado. “If you have a problem with God, shake a fist or two at him. If he’s God, he’s going to answer. And if he’s in control, he’ll find a way to let you know.
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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.
It's just great that people like John recruit so many atheists with their drooling craziness.
Keep up the good work, buddy!
Yeah. I only wish we had more like him. A religie with a lack of brains. Of course, that covers most of them.
as i recall god has killed more children than anyone.. potentially drowning millions of them from 1 min old to 18. So why would they think that the god of the bible would be anything but overjoyed at this mans actions. he's a chip off the old block. You have god committing all kinds of violence and ordering his people to do all kinds of atrocities in the OT. and in the new testament you have god torturing everyone for eternity. in fact there is a whole denomination of Christians with millions of members who think all these children are going to be tortured forever. ever heard of Calvinists?
I like the Ezekiel story, but the body count of the she bear was much lower than the gays.
God delights in horror.
As the great captain of the Enterprise once asked (or will ask, I get confused) – why does god need a starship?
God does not commit evil. It breaks His heart when we commit evil against each other.
God will not prevent mankind from destroying itself, we know this from Revelations.
Heck, he will help... we know this from Noahs flood.
But you said 666 was Nero (most historians agree), which means Revelations ended 1950 years ago.
actually in revelations it is God who does the killing not man. In fact from genesis to the end it is ALWAYS GOD who does the killing then blames others for his actions. Who put a tree in a garden with literal babies, the fruit of which would purposefully corrupt all of man forever thus resulting in death and eternal torment for billions..... and then tossed an evil talking snake in the garden to tempt them?
What kind of "loving parent" would EVER do such a horrid thing. or make the first choice anyone could make the ultimate game of Russian roulette? That is one f'ed up deity you got there if you guys would pull the cult induced psychopathic blinders off.
I feel sympathy for them because they are lost and having been there myself, I know the suffering that comes with it. The energy required to continue belief in something to satisfy some emptiness inside is exhausting. The need for everyone to accept them no matter what they believe is sheer desperation. The blind faith in the face of reality, is debilitating and dehumanizing. How could someone who found themselves free of such a bondage feel anything but sympathy for those still enslaved?
This shooting if a great opportunity for atheists too! Not just gun control advocates. If God does not prevent bad things from happening the God is immoral. If God does not have the power then he is a weak god indeed. Hardly worhy of worship. Not when we have the more powerful forces to worship. Like Obama, Hillary and Social Justice.
You just don't understand. If god does it or god allows it to happen, IT IS BY DEFINITION moral! Man, you should learn more about this unknowable god before posting such rubbish.
Cesar Nero in Greek does however = 666
Which means that Revelations already happened, and the Anti-Christ is long dead, and everything the Christians believe is wrong.
Wow. That's deep, John. Tell us more.
Cesar Nero is but the first beast of Daniel, with three more to go in Revelations.
More, please. More!
Ooh, scary stories! And I just made popcorn!
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You can't disprove the existence of god, neither can you prove it. So why believe in it? Why hide behind our insecurities? There is no evidence for the existence of god, however our rationalizing minds believe otherwise. A rational being will not believe in god, but we humans are not rational. We are rationalizing beings. I don't believe the existence of god should be of concern to anybody.
People, you can't look to god. Its not of any use. If we want to change something, we have to do something. If you don't like the way things are, you change it. If we look at the context of the problem/issue. It is that a troubled/unstable individual was able to get access to guns and commit this horrible crime. To prevent this, we must as a society look into to ways of making guns hard to get into the hands of people with bad intentions, or be radical and get rid of guns off the streets for good.
Coming up with a solution to prevent future attacks like this is the only way to salvation. In this case, god is not of concern.
Relativity and Quantum Mechanics require a sentient being poutside the universe to make the universe real. Science proved God 85 years ago.
That's not only totally untrue, John, it's downright insane.
That's no proof – that's all theory, Tarver. It can just as easily be said that because we really don't know what was on the other side of the big bang, that we don't know that those "laws" were applicable or existed in the same way there.
John, what are you referring to when you say "science proved god 85 years ago" ? I have never seen or heard of such a study.
I must ask, where was god yesterday? If god is ever-powerful, all-knowing, then where does god disappear to ?
Again, I'm not sure what belief in god will accomplish with regards to the event yesterday and preventing it in the future.
Civilization has been around for at least 5,000 years. If there was a way for humans, of our own ability, to solve this we would have done it by now. But we can't do it ourselves, we need God's help, God's power.
So you're going to leave it up to god and do nothing?
As the song goes ... praise the lord and pass the ammunition....
We should do whatever we can. But we should not limit ourselves to the relatively puny amount that we can do. God needs to be in the picture.
I agree. At this time, we need fairy tales....
Athiests are the spiritually impoverished and should be treated as we treat the poor. Christians must recognise the poverty of having Faith, Hope and Love as delusions.
Perhaps you should learn how to spell and try again. Intelligence impoverished LOL.
John, I dig your concept. Please send me a donation.
"Christians must recognize the poverty of having faith."
That says the opposite of what you think you are saying.
Cesar Nero fiddled while Rome burned; perhaps Obama should take up an instrument.
The fiddle would not be invented for centuries. Historians know Nero wasn't even in Rome at the time.
But don't let facts get in the way of your hatred.
Since when does a religie care about facts?
Why let accuracy get in the way of a good story?
God is everywhere, but never has he held us on a string like puppets. He gave us free will. It is up to others whether or not to use if for God or for evil. God is also sad when we hurt each other. He will take those children, and they were all someones children, and they will be loved in ways none of us have the capacity to even comprehend. He cannot stop what others chose to do with free will but He will always be there to comfort, to raise up on eagles wings those who reach out to Him.
If you consult the dictionary, here is the first definition of God that you will find:
"A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.
Most believers would agree with this definition because they share a remarkably clear and consistent view of God. Yes, there are thousands of minor (and some major) quibbles about religion. Believers express those quibbles in dozens of denominations - Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists and all faiths. But at the heart of it all, the belief in God aligns on a set of core ideas that everyone accepts.
What if you were to simply think about what it would mean if there were a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe? Is it possible for such a being to exist?
Epicures thought about it in 300 BCE, and he came up with this:
"The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so, cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are both able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can, but will not, than they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, then they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, how does it exist?"
In other words, if you sit and think about who God is supposed to be, you realize that such a being is impossible. Ridiculous, in fact...
If god gave us free will, why do his followers constantly try to remove free will from everyone who doesn't agree with them??
He gave us free will....whether we wanted it of not. A gift is not a gift if I have to accept it.
We have a well meaning God but he is obviously incompetent
@Apple Bush If you believe that there is no God then you are so wrong. Existence cannot come from nothing. Our existence came from a living God. It cannot come from non living things like cosmos or nature or whatever terms you want to fools your selves. That is impossible and this is what you believe. God gave us free will. Every time there is tragedy we always blame God. If God has made us without free will then what are we??? We are tested to choose right from wrong that is why we have free will. These kids who are victims of violence are all in a good place. They are all angels now because they are innocents.
epgomez. who or what made god then? Something can't come from nothing..right?
I don't question Epicures' intellect but believe his analysis oversimplifies things (as academics sometimes do). God is able but unwilling at the present time. Why? Because to do so would mean wiping out the world. We all have some good and some evil. Of course we don't see it that way. We are good and that one gunman is evil. God seeks to reconcile us to Himself. So there is a widespread and profound misunderstanding of the nature and pervasiveness of evil and what it would mean for God to "remove evil from the world." Those people who died were no more unrighteous than anyone else. But anyone who is unreconciled to God is in peril, because apart from God there is no life. Again, we don't see it that way; this world we live in tends to obscure that from us. God protects us from some things. He allows others. What we tend to see is a partially good, partially evil world which might get better if we try harder to make it better. That is not a bad impulse. But what we really need to see and what God wants us to see is that there is something worse than the bad things which happen in this world: Being unreconciled to Him when He finally does bring the curtain down on evil.
Interesting that you don't see these family's turning to atheists for comfort and relief. Proof that there's God if you need a reason. In the worst pain and suffering, atheism will never help, only God will.
Well the victims' families may very well be all religious. But do you actually have statistics on that or are you just spouting off?
Actually we "see" nothing of the sort... I have no doubt that there are PLENTY of these folks who are suffereing who turn to those they love for comfort REGARDLESS of the faith of the person they turn to, or lack thereof... You have no basis for your statement, much like you have no basis for what you believe in... Lacking proof, you have no credibility...
@"Are their truely atheists or just Soulless humans" I was going to type out a post detailing how, as an atheist, I have absolutely no problem with theists, and I do not ever try to argue with them that God isn't real. Then I saw the part of your post where you mock evolution (which you don't understand) and try to insult the intelligence of people who believe in science. Assuming you're not a troll (which I suspect you might be), people like you are the problem, not people like me. Even though I am an atheist, I get along just fine with Christians and other religious people and I do not try to convince them that there isn't a god. Who am I to try to take something away from you that gives you comfort?
Psalm 22:16-18 was written by David approximately 1000 B.C.
" My enemies surround Me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on Me. They have pierced My hands and feet. Ican count every bone in My body. My enemies stare at Me and gloat. They divide My clothes among themselves and gamble for My garments."
This was written before Christ appeared in the flesh. No Roman army existed then. No cruxifixion techniques applied, stoning was the way Jews were executed. This was revealed to David by the Holy Spirit 1000+ before it happened...
The fact that you believe that's anything other than a fairy tale is stunning... How can a human possibly be that gullible??
And you're going with this 2000-year-old bullshit?
Yes, there are some cute stories in Gullible's Travels, part 1.
Any one can prophecy all kinds of stuff, and enough stuff happens over time that they have a good chance of eventually being right. Now, with that in mind, present a "prophecy" with a specific date in it, and then show how the predicted event happened on that date. Or, just stuff your steaming bullshit and shove off already. K. Thanx.
So in one part of the book there is a prophacy, and then in another part it is claimed it came true! Wow, how could have they faked that? I am impressed, it MUST be true!
Why exactly do you feel this is relevent to the conversation...? What does this passage have to do with anything concerning this current event...?
What point are you trying to make?
actually that is a complete mistranslation by Christians with an agenda. that scripture actually says. "like a lion at my hands and feet" because david felt like someone on his back being attacked by his enemies like lions. in fact there is not a single OT scripture that backs up the jesus story at all. this is why christian theologians and those like paul who started the religion can only hack bits and pieces together to make a new version to fit them
Tickling lions' tongues?
Don't you think that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (or the men who wrote under those names) read those old-time "prophecies"? There is not a shred of verified evidence that any of that stuff really happened to Jesus (if he existed).
Pretty tough for god to stop the killing in schools when he is not allowed in them anymore.
Well then how did he get in there and kill all those kids?
You missed Loretta's just below.
Amen take god out of schools and the devil walks right in.
You always have the option of sending your kids to private school. Or you can home-school them and teach them the world is flat if you want.
You said, "You missed Loretta's just below."
Well, thank dog for The Count.
Amen! You are absolutely right! The author of this article has the audacity to ask a stupid question like that, given the fact that this once blessed nation has turned its back on God with its immoral culture. How dare this author ask this. This author needs to wake up and look around him. There's your answer. You reap what you sow. Unfortunately, alot of innocent victims who had nothing to do with this immoral culture had to pay the price for this nation turning its back on God. So sad.
You can always trust a muppet vampire, Lin.
Wow,...that has to be the most ignorant, pahtetic, and disgusting thing I've ever seen typed in my life... Apparently your "god" is so weak that we can "force" him out of someplace... So much for "him" being omnipotent...
Oh,...and I'm so glad to know that your "god" is so petty and spite-filled that he'd allow a d o u c h e like you to represent him in any way...
People; Do no credit the deaths of the Newtown twenty to the removal of God from the schools to the United States. While the two events are related, they are distinctly NOT down to the U.S government. These two acts were perpetrated by the most evil mind in the universe. That of Satan the Devil. This is serious. Every sick act perpetrated since Noah came out of the ark has been down to this one character.
The reason he is doing this is discussed in Revelation/Apocalypse chapter 12. Since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, the Devil has been cast out of heaven down to the earth. His aim now is to stop YOU from hearing the preaching of the good news of God's Kingdom. If you don't hear that message and respond to it, you wind up losing out on paradise life in God's New World. (Matt. 24:14) Remember it must be about "God's kingdom," NOT about opening your heart and letting Jesus in, or having a "spiritual experience," or finding God, or Jesus. Only one religious group on earth talks about the Kingdom, so they shouldn't be hard to find, and may even find you. As a matter of fact it's about the only religious organization that won't ask you for money. [That's one of the things that attracted me.]
SPELLING ERRORS CORRECTED
People; Do not credit the deaths of the Newtown twenty to the removal of God from the schools of the United States. While the two events are related, they are distinctly NOT down to the U.S government. These two acts were perpetrated by the most evil mind in the universe. That of Satan the Devil. This is serious. Every sick act perpetrated since Noah came out of the ark has been down to this one character.
The reason he is doing this is discussed in Revelation/Apocalypse chapter 12. Since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, the Devil has been cast out of heaven down to the earth. His aim now is to distract you and stop YOU from hearing the preaching of the good news of God's Kingdom. If you don't hear that message and respond to it, you wind up losing out on paradise life in God's New World. (Matt. 24:14) Remember it must be about "God's kingdom," NOT about opening your heart and letting Jesus in, or having a "spiritual experience," or finding God, or Jesus. Only one religious group on earth talks about the Kingdom, so they shouldn't be hard to find, and may even find you. As a matter of fact it's about the only religious organization that won't ask you for money. [That's one of the things that attracted me.]
NOW people ask??? He is here....but they have removed him from schools and pretty much everywhere else....How is THAT is fault??
514? I am late to the party.
That's ridiculous Loretta, and it would mean that your god is a mean, vindictive b-stard.
What is it? 512?
Why would his presense be absent just because some words are? Is he really that petty?
If God wants to be in schools, he's in schools....what, you think he's gonna just list to our paltry laws of separation of church and state?
Oh, he's mad because they aren't forced to say a few words, so he slaughtered some kids who have nothing to do with something passed 40 years ago?
Wow,..your god's quite the wuss if he's so easily "removed" from a school full of grade-schoolers... I guess he didn't deserve to be there in the first place...
By the way,...nice way to push your zealot agenda at the expense of all these folk's pain and suffering...
Great religion you have there...
Religion is for the ignorant, the gullible, the stupid, and the cowardly, and for those who would profit from them.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
lol?? is quoting the farmer's almanac now.
With the world closing in on some very interesting changes. Let me put this discussion to rest.
I DO EXIST.
Yeah,...good luck convincing anyone when you can't even spell "there" correctly...
People say God is evil for allowing these kids to be killed.
People also say God is evil for stopping the Canaanites from killing their kids.
...maybe it's the people killing kids who are evil?
There is no such thing as evil.
Jesus Christ fulfilled about 300 old and new testament prophecies. The odds of someone doing this equals to about 10 to the 17th power! Jesus Christ is Messiah and Lord...
That claim is as accurate as the assertion that Santa visits every house in the world every Christmas Eve... Except that Santa was created to trick children, while Jesus was created to trick weak-minded adults.... and it worked.
State even one of your claimed fulfilled prophecies, one with a specific date in it.
Jesus predicted his own return 1900 years ago....and didn't show up.
The Easter Bunny successfully hid about 1,000,000 colored eggs in my state alone this year. The odds of someone doing this equals to about 10 to the 17th power! The Easter Bunny is Messiah and Lord...
The Tooth Fairy successfully traded about 2,000,000 baby teeth for quarters in North America this year. The odds of someone doing this equals to about 10 to the 17th power! The Tooth Fairy is Messiah and Lord...
Jack Frost successfully created about 4,000,000,000 snowflakes in Alaska this year. The odds of someone doing this equals to about 10 to the 17th power! Jack Frost is Messiah and Lord...
It's so good to have all these wonderful Messiah and Lord choices!!!
Thanks for opening my eyes to the amazing truth about all of these fairytales!!!
To the real athiests out there, not the trolls (comprising most of the idiotic comments ). How can you possibly know what does NOT exist? Simply because YOU have no soul,does that translate to the rest of humanity? How absurd you must be to know everything, yet in fact no nothing. Because you have no connection to anything higher, negates that others do? Do you feel that life evolved from the ocean? man evolved from apes?? that a barren rock can create life? are you that naive? life takes a push, intelligent life needs an intelligent push. use common sense. because you dont understand a thing, does not negates its existence.
A god could exist, just not yours.
You're the one who believes in talking snakes,.. How can you prove they existed? How can you prove that god exists?? It's a logical fallacy to try to prove that something doesn't exist; it's impossible... You're the one claiming that god exists, so the burden of proof is on you... And you can't use the bible as proof since it's been proven to be a work of fiction in hundreds of different ways... Good luck.
Typical religie writing. "no" instead of "know". Very typical of an uneducated biblebabbler.
So life takes a push, yet something as complex as a god that creates everything can just pop into existence. That seems more naïve. It is not that we say there is no god, just that looking at the evidence, and the increasing understanding of nature and the universe, god is receding into smaller and smaller corners – just about to the point where god only exists in the minds of people who want god to exist. Which is great if it makes you feel good, but bad when you inflict these childish thoughts on others and restrict stem cell research and other things. People die because the pope declares condoms are not allowed.