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.
Atheists believe in the fairy tale that a frog can turn into a prince. Evolution is a myth, and atheists belong to a cult that has Richard Dawkins as their leader. Darwin's philosophy led to Hitler's actions. (Catholic church and most other religions supported Hitler). Darwin wrote that the civilized races would exterminate and replace the s@v@ge races. The new atheist cult belief is embraced by the upper middle class and wealthy people of England and America who do not want anyone or anything to spoil their privilege of materialism.
Forgot to take your meds again, did you? Well, I have to admire a guy who makes a total fool of himself, then comes back the next night to do it again.
Pedro is a troll. Or an idiot. Or an idotic troll. Or maybe a trollish idiot. Something along those lines.
Pedo, how wrong you are my bed-wetting friend. God does not exist and never has. It's wishful thinking or delusion. Take your pick. BTW, unicorns and leprechauns are also not real. Same for Santa Claus, the Tooth fairy, and Tinker Bell. These mythical/magical figures are for children and extremely dull-witted adults.
Being an atheist or agnostic doesn't mean someone necessarily believes in evolution.
Do some research next time.
Observer, one does not "believe" in evolution. Evolution simply is.
Pedro is yanking our chain. Just ignore him, he's hopeless.
God magically made the first woman out of a dude's rib, and you call evolution a fairy tale?
Actually, that would be Martin Luther's actions and writings that inspired Hitler regarding anti-Semitism. Luther's "On the Jews and Their Lies" kept the hatred of Jews going strong in Germany all the way to the Holocaust. Yeah Protestantism!
It is hard to believe in things a person can't see. So let me ask a question. Can you see the core of the earth? What about the mantle of the earth? How about the tectonic plates? No you can't but we believe that it is there. What about seeing the electricity flow through a bare copper wire while energized? No and if someone told you, 'Hey don't touch that. It's energized.' You would believe him and not touch it.
So if an individual believes that there is a God then why knock him because you don't believe. It is funny how people can be so cruel and judgmental to people who believe there is a God and yet want people not to be judgmental of them for not believing. If I want to believe that there is a God (and I do believe) then don't knock me for it. It is what I believe and want to believe. I don't feel that it is your right to mock or criticize me for it. A lot of people like to quote the scripture that states "For who is not with sin cast the first stone," and then turn around and throw the largest one they can.
I think we can all agree on one thing, whether we are Christians, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, atheists, or whatever you may be. That on thing being; Children were slain and families broken because a sick, twisted, evil person did what he did.
One more thing then I will be done. If you have children or grandchildren go home and hug them this weekend. Love them and make sure to tell them how much you love them. I look at my baby girl and son everyday thanking the Lord that I have them and that everyday is blessing to be with them.
If youve ever ride the bible, you know that the god you beleive in is an egotistical maniac and its quit evident that the lunatics that beleive in this garbage are a detriment to society. Dont tell me not to bash your rediculous religion when your rediculous religiion tries to tell me I was born wrong and will spend eternity in torture. You are a selfish twit, who thinks his horrible beliefs deserve the right to persecute others. I for one, wont stand for it, Pick on someone else.
That sound of weeping you hear is your brain cells crying out to be put out of their misery.
Go outside, you are on a tectonic plate, go to an ocean trench, you can see tectonic plates colliding with each other, when you look down a volcano, you are looking at the mantle of the earth. If you keep touching a hot wire because you are confused as to why you get hurt, well, there's nothing I can do for you on that one.
I tell my children everyday I love them, are you somehow suggesting that because I don't believe in a deity I don't tell my kids I love them? How absurd.
A. All those things have been tested for scientifically. The bible cannot proovide any scientific support at all. Your analogy fails miserably.
B. When people use a totally imaginary delusion as a basis for voting and law and education, it really needs to be stopped. You may believe as you like, but we will not let you force it on us.
C. The "cast the first stone" story was not in the Bible originally. It is one of many known scribal amendments that came later. Nice story, but you can be sure Jesus did not actually do it. It's a short story by a scribe in about 400 CE.
E. We agree that children were slain? That's your point?
F. Think of the parents that God let experience the murder of their tiny children, and just wonder at the god who could but woouldn't.
ThreePee, there is no Lord to pray to. There is more evidence for the Loch Ness Monster than there is for God. And evidence is not proof.
There is actual evidence for all those things you listed, whereas God... you know!
Christian logic 101. Something good happens, because christians praise god and he is rewarding us. Something bad happens, becuase atheists dont praise god and he is smiting us.
Why do all the non-religious people make comments about God but they don't even know him. That would be like one of us making comments about someone that we know nothing about, how stupid.
I know your god isnt real and you dont, so it would appear I know more about him than you do.
Ohhh crap.... too easy... I'm gonna let you slide this time CRC.
Please enumerate the characteristics of your "God" and include the verified evidence for these...
Get back to me when you can prove that God is a "someone" who I can get to know.
Wow, such an easy target. Have at it guys.
You don't KNOW one way or another. You are believing God isn't real. That's far different than knowing.
I know He is real. Very real. And one day, you will also.
I doubt it.
Oh my! So you say that RIBS is wrong, but claim that you are right merely because.... you say you are right. Isn't arrogance frowned upon in the bible?
All I know is what I read in the Bible. Written, I might add, by slope-headed cavemen that didn't know what a germ or a molecule, or toilet paper was.
BldrRepublican, Ill give you that. That i dont "know" god exists. Just like I dont "know" unicorns dontexist. And if you "know" god is real, they it should be very easy to prove. SO prove it. Also, you can have faith and knowledge in something, so either you dont have faith or you dont have knowledge. And your ego is too big and you are too naive to admit one or the other.
Here is something to ponder...More than 90% of people believe in God in the U.S. If this is so, why would God punish the 90% because of the non-believing 10%?
WHy are they christians refusing to answer my question on why these things dont happen in Canada, even though god is less welcome there? Because they know they are full of it.
Hey "religiousbs"; what is your proof that nothing bad happens in Canada? Our news outlets don't report Canadian news.
Because God's a mean SOB?
It's actually about 84%. No religious belief/practice has grown to 16%, doubling every 20 years (same growth rate for atheism). Due to the stigma put upon it by religious bigots, few atheists identify as such, much like how the gay population would not say they were gay to any survey.
We're on the rise, far faster that religion!
CRC, bad things happen everywhere. You idiots keep saying this is because god isnt allowed in school. Prayer isnt allowed in canadian schools either, and things this bad never happen there. Kids get molested in church though, the place where god should be most present. Explain please. Are you insinuating that the lack of prayer in American schools is responsible for bad things happening everywhere. You havent made any sense all night
Thank you Yankee Blade...Nonetheless, it makes no sense that a majority would be punished by God because of the faithless minority...So, 84% of people whom are slaughtered by these mass killings are believers.
Where is God? God is in your heart, and in your mind, but that doesn't make him real. He's not. He's a concept, an idea, a figment of man; but that doesn't make him real. He's not.
If God is not real then you have no rational explanation for your existence.
We exist because we're members of a biological species on a planet that supports life. Sorry that you don't find this as "rational" as thinking that you were created by magic.
NatL, I wish I could give a thumbs up to your comment. Spot on, and well said.
I notice a big trend here to attack the bible, jesus, and christianity. However, the issue is GOD, not man's creation. disprove God not mans attempts to control the soulless. Man is easy to disprove. you will find the creator a bit more difficult.
You will find it even harder to prove God exists.
Are there truly Christians or just humans who imagine they have an eternal soul?
We are attacking stupidity. Your religion fits.
Please prove the existence of your god, not your religion, or everything you have written today is garbage. Proof, lets have it.
Not hard at all. No evidence, no proof. Simple as that.
How, exactly, are we humans so easy to disprove, Oh great thinker? I'd like to see what your "thinking" is on this. 🙂
Actually my trend is to try and point out the goofiness of saying a deity is responsible for everything and can go everywhere and do anything and then start pointing out that because of us humans it suddenly can't do everything, go anywhere or do anything. This deity is rather crippled it seems. I don't really have to try and disprove anything, the believers do a pretty decent job all by themselves.
And, by the way, it's "there," not "their" in your handle. But leave it as is. It nicely identifies you as an illiterate religie.
Christian logic 101. Something good happens, because christians praise god and he is rewarding us. Something bad happens, becuase atheists dont praise god and he is smiting us.
Name one thing (other than god) that exists, but for which there is absolutely no evidence of any kind anywhere in the universe.
Yeah, and it's also "truly", not "truely", but shhhhh, don't tell her...
Nice catch. I missed that one.
And a comma and one less capitalization. But you must admit: she packed a whole lotta error into a very small package. Her stupidity is very efficient.
Anyone who can look at themselves let alone all of creation and then say that God does not exist is either a fool or in serious denial. The Bible tells us that the fools hath said in his heart that there is no God.
Hey, a new definition for "density".
So there's a god because the bible says so? You're really going with that proof?
So anything in a book is true?
People stopped worshiping Thor thousands of years ago, and now look. Look what you have cause Athor's! Its your fault because you dont beleive in Thor! Blame the Athors!
Athors? LOL, that's great!
This is fun!
An aPeleist? Is that a person who doesn't believe that Pele is a deity? He was a good soccer player though....
Good soccer player, but he kept throwing virgins into volcanoes.
Hey everyone has to have a hobby and why not make it something you love to do?
Athorist is my new favorite word. I will use my hammer on anyone who defies my usage of the word.
ReligionIsBS-God loves you too!
Of coars he does, thats why I get to spend ETERNITY in a LAKE OF FIRE! Please tell me more about what you think love is.
Nothin says lovin like throwing the one you love in an oven....
Just think of it as the big hot tub of love.
Oh, I'm short on cash again. Could you send some, now? Operators are standing by.
Sorry man, I had some loose change, but I donated it to a homeless shelter to try and help out some of those people you neglect. I know, I know, no one can expect a deity whos owners claim he can be everywhere to BE everywhere.
@ Religion is BS
Love is acceptance of another in spite of the differences. Love understands truths for one human being may not be for another. Love holds when all else is broken. Love suffers to give. To give love for the sake of love, not for eternal reward or damnation. Love that is beyond the self.
Nothin says lovin like throwing the one you love in an oven....
I think I just fell in love with you a little bit....
Are you saying you want to throw me in an oven?? 🙂
My condolences go to the families of victims in Newtown, Connecticut. It is a heartbreaking moment for all parents. In such tragic events, as Muslim, we always remind ourselves by saying “To the all Mighty we belong & to Him we shall return” which means that the God is the creator, the soul giver, and he is the soul taker. He knows our fate and controls every aspect of it.
This is a horrific moment as well as a reminder to all that life is worth nothing when you lose beloved ones, but faith in the All Mighty is incomparable & this should strengthen all parents to have peace within their hearts. Surrender and submit to the all Mighty. Accept what He has decided for them. This is the real test of faith and it will help them to overcome this moment, remember those whom they lost & work hard to prevent such tragedy. We don’t control life and death, but, we can take all precautionary measures to prevent such event once and for all. Families, Counties, States, Congress & Government are all responsible to prevent this shocking event from happening again in our communities.
How are they supposed to stop things like this? I mean, it must be fun to ponitificate like that, but if you get off your high horse, for a moment, you will realize that you are telling government to do the impossible.
Surrender and Submit? I don't think so. One thing you religionists might want to consider: Just because someone can hurt you, doesn't make him right. So even if your God can smite you, it doesn't make him right, or just, or worthy of worship.
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What the hell??
Spam spam spam spam
Lovely spam, wonderful spam!
Then I would like the Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.
Why the 'ell are you ordering to a flipping Viking? This is a spameteria! You order your spam eggs sausage and spam to the waitress.
I didn't know! Wow! I didn't expect this kind of Spanish Inquisition!
The parrot is clearly dead.
I'm just pining for the fjords.
I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay.
@ Syntheitc Akira .. wouldn't that be the Spam-ish Inquisition? 😉
Christians, the great irony is that Jesus WAS the anti-Christ. The great deceiver. Even now the horror of his reign is realized upon this Earth but you are too blind to see. He has you under his spell. The Dark Lord, the Necromancer. Jesus Christ. He presides over misery and you worship him. Fools.
How do you really feel, Apple?
Don't hold back, now.
Yeah, man. Don't beat around the "bush."
Hi Akira! Just messin' about.
I came to the same conclusion about all the variants of the Abrahamic god. They are so angry and mean and cruel and murderous and unjust and petty and spiteful that if he/they actually existed, they had to be satan, not god. They are all religions of evil, and all have histories of evil.
Good thing it's all just idiotic horseshit.
I agree with Athy and Akira, you can't keep your feelings bottled up like that. Let the flow, get it off your chest. You will feel much better.
Joe Smith's Wife, my Grandfather died fighting the germans in Russia, you jerk. You are clueless, the reich is rising before your very nose, you buffoon!!!
What are you on about now, Sid?
god was right where he always is...in peoples minds
My thoughts exactly.
Dinosaurs diverged from their approximately 230 million years ago.
Some scholars thus estimate the year 28 AD/CE to be roughly the 32nd birthday of Jesus and the birth year of Jesus to be around 6–4 BC/BCE.
One of these are backed up physical evidence called FOSSILS, the other is GOSSIP....
Try again. Something was lost this time.
"No reason to get excited,"
The thief, he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late"
Dylan is souless, too.
God is where he was (and always is) when my daughter died in my arms. When these poor children died in the school. And countless others around the world. There is no insurance policy or genie in the bottle. His promise is not about the here and now or God would be with us and none of this would happen. We are on our own as we wanted it from the beginning. From this we will face evil, unfairness, suffering, unspeakable pain. In short, sin. God isn't unfaithful but we are and for this reason Jesus died so we may live in forgiveness. Whether you are faithful or evil, good and bad fortune will rise and fall upon your days. There is no surety other than what God has promised in His kingdom which isn't here yet. Where is God? Where he needs to be with His own heart breaking at what we must endure so that we may receive the incomprehensible wonder He has in store for us. I still hurt and will all the days of my life. I still get sad and upset with God and remind myself of how and why we find ourselves in this state. I then remind myself of how the story ends and in the end thank Him for doing what needs to be done for in my weak state I couldn't help myself but to attempt to shield us all from evil and in doing so perhaps harm the very thing I want for us all. There are no words for what these poor parents are and will experience for the rest of their life. We must strive no matter what to be a better people if we want to live now in a better place.
God is where we left him, in the bible, killing children, committing genocide, drowning people, teaching people how to beat slaves and telling woman to be silent. Your imaginary god is a physcopath. Anyone who can read knows that.
There is no God you dope.
"We are on our own" except for when God chooses to answer somebody's prayer, or sends somebody a "sign", right? He saves some with miracles, but doesn't do it for everyone who asks for one. Face it, you can't justify a God that sometimes intervenes in people's lives, but who also just lets something like this happen.
God is slowly being left out on the streets. We are inching Him away from us with every decision the country makes to remove Nativities from the public sector, as we remove prayer from school functions and as we remove him from our every day discussions. God will not barge into our lives or selectively support us, he comes by invitation only.
Please explain why these things dont happen in Canada, where god is even less present in public. Otherwise, we all know that you are full of it.
That's 520. We were on a dry spell there for a bit, but Dustin bravely stepped in and parroted the party line for the 520th time.
Whats more pathetic, the fact that this statment has been brought up 520 times today or the fact that NONE of the posters can explain why these things dont happen in Canada, where god is even more unwelcome than here?
Yes, Count, I was getting bored for a minute there, lol.
It's only been 520 times? Sheesh seems like they have repeated repeated themselves at least 10,000 times.
Random events sometimes appear to come in bursts.
My God is an awesome god; he reigns over heaven and earth!
And which god would that be? Thor? Vishnu? Ra? Allah? My god could beat up your god.
Religious people who try their best to understand these tragedies in relationship to God and their faith are to be thanked. Those like Franklin Graham who see "wicked" people instead of people twisted by the violence, hate and religious bigotry of the world are to be dismissed as having any credible opinions on anything.