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.
For all those that are spiteful towards those that have religious beliefs: This is a "belief" blog. This article is for people who believe in God, NOT for people who don't. Just like the Bible is for people who are Christians and NOT for people who aren't. When you become a Christian, then you'll understand and will want to read the Bible. If you are not a Chrisitan, then there's really no point posting on here is there? Maybe you can go and insult people on other more appropriate forums?
correct. this is a belief forum, NOT a DELUSIONAL forum 😉
Classic Christian: wants to stifle all dissent and silence free speech. He only wants his opinion heard.
So the only people allowed here are people who agree with you? That's what your church is for, dearie.
When Christians don't comment on non-believers on here, you will have credibility.
Sorry I didn't mean that non-Christians shouldn't post, I was repsonding to non-Christians that were being insulting and spiteful. I don't think being insulting towards your fellow man can ever be constructive or make way for an intelligent discourse or discussion.
Christians never read their Bibles. Many atheists have read the Bible and know it way better than Christians, which is why they are atheist.
Avleberry: ever feel like your talking to the wind? I do. We speak about what we know. That's all we can do.
But YOU are being spiteful, avleberry! That's just hypocrisy, and a thuggish unAmerican attempt to shut up those you don't agree with.
Patriot888: Yes...sometimes that's how I feel. We know that the Holy Spirit must draw the unbeliever and without that there is nothing we can say or try and explain that will open up their minds.
We will go away when you and your bretheren stop claiming you god is angry because he was kicked out of puplic school or because abortion is legal or the acceptance of gay's in society and therefore we deserve school shootings and hurricanes, ect, ect. Until you guys knock it off we are going to keep calling you out on your insane claims. Get used to it.
Blessed are the Cheesemakers: we never stop believing in our God and witnessing His love and the gospel to unbelievers. We will never stop fighting against the powers of hell and Satan. We will never stop calling evil evil. Get used to it.
I don't expect you to stop. You can believe any delusion you want and I would fight for your right to continue to do so. But I can also oppose those concepts in the marketplace of ideas. If there is a hell your god made it. If god punishes people for unbelief he is an immoral monster unworthy of worship (no I don't believe your god exists any more than Thor does). I was raised in the christian faith and I reject it as a moral worldview.
When I heard the Billy Graham had dispatched a team of pastors to inflict their delusions on the families of the victims, I could think of only one thing to say:
"May I have 10,000 marbles please?"
How are you??
I'm still a sensitivity trainer in Cleveland.
Everything shall pass (gotta be there somewhere in the bible) 😉
It's hindu. Predates the Bible by centuries.
Yup: thanks for the info. the bible is a loose copy of the Avesta which is a loose copy some hindu text.
The sad but true thing is that people will always try and justify what they do even if what they do is wrong. Take away truth, and morals. Take away the foundations of justice and leave it up to people's interpretations and society and the individual will crumble. When you take away truth and replace it with opinion then you eliminate the foundations of righteousness leaving to moral decay. Believe what you want. I'll believe in the truth. The foundations start with God and proper parenting. When children get older hopefully they will remember what you taught them.
Religion is just an opinion, and there are many opinions.
The truth is that if there is a God, he could have saved 20 children from being massacred and didn't.
Truth does not ask to be believed, it asks to be tested. Scientists do not join hands every Saturday or Sunday and sing…”Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have Faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up, must come down, down, down! Amen!” If they did we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.
Well then what do you think we should do. You know since you seem to have all the answers.
Amen Patriot 🙂
Blessed are the Cheesemakers: so truth must be tested? Can you test and prove evolution?...or wait: it's still a "theory". You know things exist but cannot see them: can you see Love? Can you see the wind? Can you see a Black Hole? No. But you know they are there because of how they affect the things and people around them.
Hey cheese maker: maybe gravity could have prevented this from happening!
I think we should start looking for some real cause and effect instead of the BS of "god has been kicked out of school and so we deserve the bad things that happen". Claiming truth comes from some supernatural unproven source does nothing to solve our problems.
You can see love on an EEG. It's just an electro-chemical reaction in the brain that releases endorphins. It's beeen done. I've seen documentaries on it.
You can see air molecules in an electron microscope, and you can feel it with your hand.
The effects of black holes can be easily seen with the right equipment. And when a black hole is in front of another celestial body, the distortion can be seen.
God cannot be senses in any way at all. What you think you experience as god is actually just your imaginary misinterpretation of reality.
Seeing is not the only form of perception. You fail miserably at your attempts to think.
Air, black holes, gravity and evolution can be tested and their effects proven. Now do that with your god....you can be the first.
Blessed are the Cheesemakers: you are totally right. Cause and effect. If you don't raise your children to differentiate right from wrong, you disallow the moral teachings of the Bible in schools (which, again, teach children right from wrong)...then...effect: children grow up being self-centered and immoral...not caring for their fellow man, doing whatever pleases themselves instead of doing what is right and having a conscious.
But I do believe in more secular solutions to help alleviate this problem. I think that there should be a lot more scrutiny into the psychological history including interviews, references, opening up juvenile records before anyone can purchase handguns or assault rifles. These investigations should be directed at the prospective gun owner as well as whoever he/she is living with. Of course that wouldn't stop people from taking other people's weapons but it's a fair start. I know that the ACLU would complain about rights but I believe that if one needs to possess this weaponary one must give up some of those rights for the sake of the safety of others.
Gravity had a better chance of stopping this than the "truth of your god" did.
They were his mother's guns. No screening would have stopped those sales.
Blessed are the Cheesemakers: Evolultion hasn't been yet proven. If it was, it would become a Law and not remain a Theory.
I have seen the effects of God, just like the effects of a black hole. My dad's spine was healed of God where he wasn't supposed to walk again, I've seen people's lives changed because they follow God. You must believe that there are things in this world that are unexplainable. Not everything can be explained with science.
Yeah the imaginary space father that allegedly mass murdered the whole world by drowning everyone. That certainly screams moral foundation.
Rolph: I hear what you are saying. But I was suggesting that everyone in the houshold or people living with the prospective gun owner would also have to be screened.
Name a moral teaching of the bible that originates in the bible? Religion and specifically christianity are in no way required for teaching empathy....and I would argue hinder it.
You have no understanding of what a "scientific theory" is. Gravity is a theory....and a law. Please educate yourself.
Have you heard of the Scientific Process? Where theories come from hypothising and proven theories become laws? There are laws of gravity and theories about gravity such as Whitehead's theory of gravitation in regards to general relativity. One scientific subject can have theories as well as proven laws.
Blessed are the Cheesemakers: "hinder it?". So teaching that there is no higher Power to be accountable to, teaching that "whatever feels good do it", evolution and the survival of the fittest is going to instill empathy and morality?
And a scientfic theory is much different than a hypothosis and yet you are conflating the two dishonestly. Evolution has been proven as much as any scientific theory.
I have children and they are loving caring kids who enjoy helping others in need, no god, no bible. And they don't have the baggage of religion that does more to divide than unite. There is nothing wrong with doing things that feel good if done responsibly. S.e.x is not wrong.
I completely agree with avleberry. we need to scrutinize the mental health records of people and find better ways at early detection of potentially harmful people with mental illnesses. we need to look closely at standards for some type cognitive apt i t u d e – and legislate severe limits in society for certain types of cognitive impairments.
mental illness is certainly the culprit in most murders – it's rarely a sane act. a tremendous amount of suffering on this planet has been at the hands of psychopaths and schizophrenics.
we need to clamp down on delusional thinking in all forms. people who suffer from mental illnesses should not be allowed to purchase or own firearms – but the definition needs to reach much further.
it's past time to scrutinize what have historically been the greatest causes of delusional thinking in the minds of humans.
tolerance of religious idiocy has to end – and it will.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
So that's why god let those children get shot . . .
That's some good 'cult logic' there
You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.
p.s. meanwhile, give the pastors all of your hard-earned stuff.
God is always welcome at NRA meetings.
Forget about god, In the NRA we trust, Bng !
The guy's mother was a gun nut. It was her own guns that did her and those children in.
Studies have found that a gun in the house is far more likely to injure or kill a person who lives there than it is to be used to stop a crime. And that holds true here.
Really. 20 kids dead and you nut jobs want to say its because we didn't offer the right sacrifice to your stupid sky fairy. Maybe you bible bashers need to think before speaking. There is alot more to this than not praying to a make believe man in school. 20 kids died so shut up about your god has left America stupidity.
Shame on you.
During the worst crisis a parent could endure and these churches are worried about their money.. Shameful !
A better question is "Where is humanity?"
No one knows, but imagine if the Adam became a Christian right before he pulled the trigger on himself. Those kids will wake up in heaven next to the guy that took them out. How nice.
And let not forget the NRA leaders standing there right next to them 😉
The Son of Sam has gone Christian and now calls himself the Son of Hope – seriously. By Christian theology, the Son of Sam goes to heaven, though a number of his victims do not. A couple of the Manson girls too. Heaven for them, including the one who stabbed the 8 1/2 months pregnant Sharon Tate 16 times, including in the womb to kill the baby. Heaven for them.
Yes, God does not care about good or right or decency. He only rewards toadies, no matter how murderous.
It doesn't work that way. You cannot take your own life and expect salvation in Heaven. It is considered the lowest level of cowardice.
But Jesus committed suicide. He did it to wash away sins, but it is still suicide by cop. That means Jesus is a coward and he is not in heaven.
If I were God, I would have compassion and mercy on most of the poor people driven so far into pain and despair that they kill themselves. I wouldn't make it worse. I'd rehabilitate them and let them into heaven in time for crumpets and champagne.
Funny how a lowly atheist can easily come up with a better, more humane and just system than god.
It doesn't work that way. You cannot take your own life and expect salvation in Heaven. It is considered the lowest level of cowardice.
Baptist believe once saved always saved. The gunman could be in heaven and a six year old boy or girl could be hell. He's such a wonderful god.
Apparently the Pope did know how to use Twitter to alert God on that Friday or in future either 😉
He's not allowed in schools anymore. Remember?
And that's good. He shouldn't be allowed in government either.
So God just sat and watched while 20 kids were butchered. Nice guy.
@WanderingLingam: so YOU wasn't there at the school so you not feeling sorry for the 20 children either ?
And you are the 522nd dingbat to repeat that idiotic cliche on this story!!
Tell us, where are you hearing this? Is it Fox News, or Limbaugh? We have been flooded with the same asinine cliche, and as you all parrot it almost verbatim, we would love to know the source of it.
"God" wasn't banned from the Episcopalian School last year when the principal was shot and killed by a teacher.
"God" wasn't banned from the Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago in the 1950s when 92 students and 3 nuns died in a fire.
"God" wasn't banned from the church shooting in Atlanta last year.
do you want more....?
I think that slogan is handed out like little fortune cookie messages with their communion wafers...
That's true, skytag. We had carnies teach us how to set up the contest so that no one can possibly win.
Ooops. Got off on the wrong floor. Elevator going dooooown.
Prayer won't change anything on Friday.
Prayer will absolutely definitely without fail be answered exactly as you ask it, including making a mountain throw itself into the sea!!!!!!! I said it, so it is definitely true!!!!
But is it in the bible? You need to put it in writing to be legally binding.
Oh Jesus, you prayed for the cup to be taken away , didn't uou ?
Oh yeah, that's in the bible, in both Matthew 21 and Mark 11. Including the mountain thing. So it's true.
The Bible is a big tease. It promises amazing blessings, if you're just faithful enough, but all the evidence suggests that no one has ever been faithful enough.
That's quite true, skytag. We had carnies teach us how to set up the contest so that no one can possibly win.
America has murdered millions of unborn children and wonders where God is when 20 kids get murdered? We have thrown God out of our schools, society and government and deny his existence and then wonder where He is when tragedy strikes? Do you have a personal relationship with God or just use Him for someone to blame when things go awry? This evil person murdered these children, not God. He was used of Satan just like everyone else that sins. Whether we lie, steal, kill...we are doing Satan's work not God's work.
Wake up America. You’ve been blessed for all these years but now you leaving God and turning to your own wicked ways. God loves America. God chastises those that he loves to turn them towards Him again.
It is sad to be without these children, but they are in a much better place and safe with Him. We as Christians will see these children again. We only live on this corrupted world for a few years before we too must face eternity with or without God. Turn to Him.
for the millionth time christains, please explain why these things dont happen in Canada. A place where god is even more unwelcome and where abortions are also illegal. Explain it or we all know you are full of it.
Then why won't God strike down those who kill children before they are successful ???????????????????????????????
Innocent children have been suffering and dying for all of mankinds history, it has nothing to do with lack of prayer you pompous asshat.
521! We were really slumping there.
Suffer, you are so confused. God does not exist.
Read the Bible sometime. It NEVER mentions abortion. Try again.
Apples. Oranges. Apples. Oranges. Apples. Oranges.
Keep saying it again and again until you figure it out.
It must be sad to be you. Ask yourself some hard questions. The foundation of all the nonsense, analysis, thoughts, pontificating, mouth-pooping, BS that you say and think and write is one little choice you made. You believe in an imaginary friend in the sky. Question that part, and the rest falls apart. Just question it, think about it with the same fervor you put into all of the banalities that have come after you decided to believe in a god. You will come up with the right answer. God makes no sense, has no proof, and is endlessly malevolent. Try it. Question your one belief. It may blow your mind.
Surfer, so God is taking revenge for the abortions performed around the world by going and killing children who have been born??
Do you know how retarded that sounds?
Your stupidity is staggering.
ReligionIsBS: Abortion is legal in Canada. Also Canada has over 10 times LESS the population of the US so logically there are less occurances of these incidents. But Canada has had it's share of mass murders: 1982 David Shearing killed six of his family members, there was the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal that killed 14 people...there was just the incident where a man killed a Greyhound bus passenger and started eating him. Another father Guy Turcotte stabbed and killed his children is being released after 2 years because he's apparently "rehabilited". There are a lot more stabbings in Canada than shootings as there are stricter laws about owning handguns and assault rifles.
Angel Moroni: Why doesn't God strike down the whole earth? Who is not guilty of sin or planning to sin? In God's eyes if we break one of the 10 commandments we have broken them all. If He strikes people down then I deserve to be struck as well. All have sinned. We are all guilty. Do you have children? If they do wrong do you "strike them down?" We are God's children. He could remove our ability to make decisions and choose but then we would just be robots. He didn't create robots to do exactly what He wants us to do, He created free-willed persons. He wishes that these free-willed persons choose a relationship with Him but they don't have to.
Wake up, fool. There is no god. Stop wasting so much time rationalizing why there is no evidence of a god that influences the outcome of events. Stop blaming me for the fact that God doesn't do what you're taught he does. The simplest explanation is the correct one: there is no god. Accept it and move on.
I did, and I found very freeing. I know longer waste time trying to rationalize why the real world didn't match what Christianity taught or why so many Christians are hypocrites.
The catholic church is one of the biggest anti-abortion groups out there and yet your god doesn't help the children stop from being abused or guide the church to stop protecting the abusers.....your cause and effect claim fails....as does your god.
According to Wikipedia, In the USA in 2008, 825,564 abortions were performed. That is 234 out of every 1000 live births.
The death of these children are unbearable and unforgiveable. But there are many more deaths of unborn children that the media does not report.
I simply love the "free will" clause; God's "get out of jail free" card.
He also has the free will to stop the madness he created.
And 83% of those abortions were performed on Chriatian women...so what is your point??
"Sources vary, but many estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; and some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss." - http://www.hopexchange.com/Statistics.htm
That'd be the work of your stupid god (if it existed).
God is all-knowing
God is all-seeing
God is all powerful
Terrible things happen to good people
@bp: why don't take place of the 20 children. I know you are a good person 😉
That was a criticism, not an ad for god.
God is a myth- what did you expect?
Religions are like conspiracy theories. You build a theory based no evidence. When people point out inconsistencies in what you believe, you explain them with more theories based on no evidence. Eventually you've spun an elaborate narrative, none of which is supported by any evidence, and the few unanswered questions can be dismissed by claiming "that's why we need an investigation," or in the case of religion by claiming we can't know everything about God and that you'll have your answers in the next life.
The point being that they'll have a theory to reconcile what you point out, and they'll have no more proof that it's true than anything else they believe.
Bertrand Russel said that if there is a God he is a fiend or a pervert or both.
So you are a christian, but you dont have faith?
I would enjoy some food.
I could eat.
They have a special on fresh soylent green in Connecticutt today.
I've got a hankering for shrimp, guess I'll have to try and put Red Lobster out of business here soon.
Hey Akira. I am very unhappy like eveyone else. I did go see The Hobbit though. It was great.
AB, did it meet your expectations?
Yes! It was great, it exceeded my expectations. Don’t believe the critics!
I never believe critics anyway, Apple.
It's their job to criticize...
Wayne LaPierre has stayed quiet and largely disappeared so I must conclude that THERE IS NO GOD on that Friday.
When those 20 children ask God ( if he is there) why does this happen to us ? What will the answer be : you all are just pawns in the game of good vs evil. God is NOT the almighty 🙁
You should be ashamed of yourself for using this terrible tragedy to push your idiotic philosophy
What's up with the prayerbot?
Speaking of idiiotic philosophy, if the gun had jammed on the first shot, would you be using this as a reason to praise God for a "miracle"?
Good point Akira,
haven't heard much from "prayer changes things"
hhhhmmmmmmmmm.......I can't imagine why??
Blessed, maybe the things that prayer changed were not as desirable as the bot thought.
I guess prayer can be a weapon...