God will 'wrestle the light from darkness,' pastor tells heartbroken congregation
A woman receives a hug as she leaves a morning service at Trinity Episcopal Church not far from the Sandy Hook School December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut
December 16th, 2012
09:18 PM ET

God will 'wrestle the light from darkness,' pastor tells heartbroken congregation

By Eric Marrapodi and Kate Bolduan, CNN

Newtown, Connecticut (CNN)– The bulletins were printed on Thursday for the third Sunday of Advent for Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown. There was no mention of Friday in the pages' long order for worship.

By Sunday morning, the church was hosting its fourth service since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and the sanctuary had been open for 72 straight hours keeping vigil.

A half-empty pallet of tissue boxes greeted church members as they arrived in the front hallway. As the second of the morning's two worship services got underway, people were already quietly weeping in their seats.

Young children sat and quietly played or colored next to their parents, unaware of the tragedy around them or that their friend Benjamin Wheeler, a 6-year-old who attended Trinity with his family, was not there. Wheeler was among the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook on Friday when a gunman burst into his elementary school.

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Pastor Kathleen Adams-Sheperd recounted to the church how she spent Friday at the fire station, waiting with the parents of elementary school children to find out if their child had made it out safely or was among those who did not.

"Friday in some part has changed our lives forever," she said in her sermon as she stood in the middle of the congregation, eschewing the pulpit for proximity to her members.

Speaking to a crowd still raw and still suffering, she told them of the sermon she had prepared and how it was long gone, asking them to be patient with her as she preached with no notes.

On this day, she said, it was "important to be where we are," to be "present with people." She encouraged them to hug one another.

"No, really, get up and hug someone," she said. Old and young, visitors and members, embraced tearfully.

"Families of our lovely innocent children need our prayers," she said. "Families who survived need our prayers."

"I want you to know talking to the ones who have lost, the one spot of joy is that your children are not lost."

Adult men from the church were posted at the doors this week, she said, so the children in the service and Sunday schools would know this was a safe place for them.

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Dressed in purple vestments and wearing a small stud nose ring, Adams-Sheperd walked the church through pieces of the planned Advent service, when Christians light four candles in the four weeks leading up to Christmas to prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

"I believe faith will save us," she said. "To loose this faith is to let the darkness win."

"Was God absent from our world?" she asked, a burning question on the minds of many in this heartbroken town.

"Indeed not."

"Have we been shaken? Yes. Have we seen hope? Yes, yes, yes."

She pointed to the hero teachers who shielded children, administrators from the school who rushed toward the shooter, and the first-responders as evidence of that hope.

"So many signs of hope and light in the darkness that seems to envelope us; that's what Advent is," she said.

She said she believed the horrific acts were not the will of God.

"Where was God? Surrounding all the children. The 430 that made it out, and the 20 that did not."

God, she said, "was with them, is with them, and will be with them always.

"God will find a way to bring comfort and hope and light. He will wrestle it from the darkness."

In the coming days the church will see multiple funerals, including for little Benjamin Wheeler on Thursday and for another classmate, 6-year-old Madeleine Hsu, on Friday. Adams-Sheperd told the church local funeral directors had donated costs of the funeral to the families.

Cameras were not permitted to film the worship service but the church welcomed reporters to come and worship. Adams-Shepard explained to the crowd she would not go on camera and talk to reporters because she had given her word to the victim's families, and that what happened in the school is "owned by the parents."

She told the congregation if anyone was holding any enmity in their heart it was time to let it go.

"I'm done. I love you. Pray, everyone," she said. And with that she turned to prayer and recited the name of each victim.

CNN's Jeremy Moorhead contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Episcopal • Violence

soundoff (604 Responses)
  1. the AnViL

    the actual culprit here is not "darkness" – it's mental illness.

    imaginary gods have never fixed anything.

    only science can fix this – like all human problems.

    science never bends to religion – religion has always and will always bend to science.

    science is our only light.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • GAW

      But you're making science sound like a religion. Science is only as good as those who use it. Whether its directed towards making weapons of mass destruction or finding a cure for cancer. It produces life and death just like religion. So don't get your hopes up too high there.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • todd cook

      "Science is our only light." Gee, Anvil, YOU'VE given us all something to believe in!

      December 17, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Anvil is suggesting that reality is more productive than fantasy.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • the AnViL


      science is predicate on knowledge – religion is predicate on ignorance.

      science "sounds" like religion only to the uneducated.

      on the matter – you ignorantly posit: "It produces life and death just like religion." this statement is bollocks. religion produces division, delusional thinking, ignorance, bigotry and hate. religion produces nothing useful – in any way – to anyone – at all. if you personally find anything useful in the abrahamic religions – i assure you – you can find it all in much better places and of a much higher quality – that do not advocate faith or instill an almost complete loss of critical thinking skills.

      as for my hopes in relation to science... i'll place my faith in it – because it can be – and is, substantiated in rock-solid ways religion will never ever be.


      December 17, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • GAW

      Yes we must advance the cause of science but it is people who interpret the data and make the experiments. My point is that science is not perfect and can also be directed towards ill. btw Not all scientists agree on things and many engage in sharp debate just like in religion. Me thinks it's a human thing.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Religion offers us evil as an explanation for all that seems wrong in the world. God as the solution for evil. Science will allow us to get at what evil really is and solve it as a problem. Religion offers us only an imaginary capricious granter of wishes.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  2. Food for Thought

    The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.
    Peter Singer

    December 17, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  3. Reality

    The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac's Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764, where four Lenape American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed nine or ten children (reports vary). Only three children survived.[18]"

    Wikipedia has an excellet review of the topic.

    And the shootings obviously have not stopped.

    What to do?

    Background checks not only for the teachers but also their relatives.

    Added security for all schools.

    More at-home/internet education.

    Gated parking lots.

    No toleration of bullying or bullies.

    And instill in all global citizens, three words: DO NO HARM!!!

    December 17, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • ?

      There was no United States in 1764.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Badda Bing


      I bet Adam Lanza was a Lenape.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Reality

      School shootings have been occurring since 1764 in the territory that was to become the USA:

      Some recent statistics and history:

      "According to the National School Safety Center, since the 1992-1993 U.S. school year there has been a significant decline in school-as-sociated violent deaths (deaths on private or p-ublic school property for kindergarten through grade 12 and resulting from schools functions or activities):[37]"

      1992–1993 (44 H-o-micides and 55 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
      1993–1994 (42 H-omicides and 51 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
      1994–1995 (17 H-omicides and 20 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
      1995–1996 (29 H-omicides and 35 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
      1996–1997 (23 H-omicides and 25 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
      1997–1998 (35 H-omicides and 40 Deaths resulting from school shootings in the U.S.)
      1998–1999 (25 H-omicides from school shootings in the U.S.)
      1999–2000 (25 H-omicides from school shootings in the U.S.)

      According to the U.S. Department of Education, in the 1998-1999 School Year, 3,523 students (57% High School, 33% Junior High, 10% Elementary) were expelled for bringing a firearm to school.[38]

      The late 1990s started to see a major reduction in gun related school violence, but was still plagued with multiple victim shootings including;

      December 18, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  4. Humanist11

    A good, moral god would not allow this to happen.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  5. Electric Larry

    Interesting. Whenever Topher makes a fool of himself, he magically vanishes. A lot of Christians here do that, throw out wild statements then vanish when they have to defend themselves.

    December 17, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I call them the "drive by" Christian posters.

      Topher will usually just argue in circles until he has to go to work or to bed.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Electric Larry

      Work? I have some trouble imagining where someone with Topher's people skills and proselytizing and logical, uh, challenges would find work.

      Junior assistant condiment application technician, mayonaise department, at Chik-fil-A?

      December 17, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I don't know, but he is always going off to work. I would assume it is in the fast food industry.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • GAW

      Plenty of atheist posters share the blame. But then wild statements posted here and elsewhere are indicative of that new breed of wildlife found on the world wide web known as the Troll. They post and then sit back and enjoy the show.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Electric Larry

      The blame? The blame for Topher vanishing when he says something really stupid and heartless and doesn't want to defend it?

      Might want to find out what a troll actually is. Hint: it's not someone stating their views emphatically.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Dudley Do-Right's Sermon on the Mounties!!!

      How are internet trolls new? They have been around for 20 years.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • GAW

      New compared with other species

      December 17, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  6. In__GOD_ WE_TRUST

    Things are tough at times but if you keep your faith in GOD the answers will come clear. Someone asked me years ago when a Honor Student was struck by a drunken driver, killed on his way to school, why...why did God allow this to happen?
    This took a while to answer because of the angers and emotions of the times, the confusions of what had happen...we are from this earth, a place where we trust in God and reach out to God though the graces of Jesus Christ from our hearts, this place called Earth is not Heaven, Heaven is our final destiny, the Earth is a place to test our existence among other men, our faith and our destinies are in God's hands.
    When God allows things to transpire on earth for the sake of trials and tribulations, meaning, a test of your individual faith in Him. He may allow forces of evil to transpire to test your faith in the Holy Spirit. "God why did you allow this to happen"? The answer is God...I pray to you that we can find the answers to our troubled times, we place this burden in Your hands as we, as a human race, gather together in strengths of the many masses, believers to pray to you, show us the way to mend our sadden hearts. God We Trust in You.

    As a Country, We, in mourning for the losses in yesterday's massacre, young innocent children and adults, we as a Nation of Christian beliefs are also stricken with sorrow and sadness, we are hurting oh Lord, the cause of this hurt is not a question of our faith in You but a special request that You come and heal our hearts. Lead us into the future without pain. Lead us to give to one another that special Love for life. We never doubt your strength, we Love You God with all our existence.

    The innocent Children and others we have lost are all in Heaven sitting next to God in His World experiencing a new life in Holy eternity, a place without pain, a place without any evil. For those children and adult are safe and warm forever, waiting to reunite with their loving families in the course of time.


    December 17, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Can you imagine for just one moment that there is no such God? Nothing eternal awaits any of us.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • 20 Dead Kindergarteners

      Oh, we understand now. God was testing our faith by slaughtering us. Okay. That makes everything hunky dory.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • In__GOD_ WE_TRUST

      "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son" (A Nursery Rhyme How Appropriate, from a person with your I.Q.)...your into kids huh, you sicko. Why don't you post some information about your experiences with children. Come on Tom, Tom, the Piper Son, come out of the closet and let it be known...tell us about those kids you see? You fit the profile. Give us something you coward, tell us how you like children suffering? Come on tell us, we will forgive you, don't you worry about a thing Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son follows in his father's footsteps, a child molesting pervert. That's right, Tom, Tom the Piper's Son leads those kids into dark places. What's the story Tom, Tom?

      December 17, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • The Parents of 20 Dead Kindergarteners

      God let our children be murdered to test our loyalty?!?!?!?! Even Stalin wouldn't do that!!!!!

      But God is omniscient, so he alredy knows our faith. He knows everything that will ever happen, so he doesn't need to test anything!

      And couldn't he come up with a better test than slaughtering the dearest, most precious things on our lives? What a horrible thing to allow!

      We are coming to understand that Satan is the god of the Christians.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • the AnViL


      you seem a little angry. what's the problem?
      why are you so frustrated?

      why are you so filled with hate?

      you need to evolve, son.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Kinda curious

      Uh, Mr. in_GOD_WE_TRUST, uh how is it okay for you to bear such insane and slanderous false witness about TomTom when the Ninth Commandment sends you to hell for bearing false witness?

      December 17, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Humanist11

      The people who are not angry must be the true Christians. They believe this is God's plan and it was necessary to take these kids in this manner for a good reason. They must trust God and have faith He is teaching someone a very important lesson. A true Christian will not question his ways.

      For the rest of us, we can be angry and not accept this behavior anymore. Instead of praying we can insist that our elected representatives pass laws that will reduce the chances this will happen again. This is the only way this situation will improve. We will not accept it as fate or some grand plan that must play out from a sky daddy.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  7. In__GOD_ WE_TRUST

    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son.......... your into those Nursery Rhymes: YOU SICKO
    Tom, Tom, he was a piper's son,
    He learned to play when he was young.
    And all the tune that he could play
    Was over the hills and far away;
    Over the hills is a great way off.
    The wind shall blow my top-knot off.
    Tom with his pipe made such a noise,
    That he pleased both the girls and boys,
    And they all stopped to hear him play,
    'Over the hills and far away'.
    Tom with his pipe did play with such skill
    That those who heard him could never keep still;
    As soon as he played they began for to dance,
    Even the pigs on their hind legs would after him dance.
    As Dolly was milking her cow one day,
    Tom took his pipe and began to play;
    So Dolly and the cow danced 'The Cheshire Round',
    Till the pail was broken and the milk ran on the ground.
    He met old Dame Trot with a basket of eggs,
    He used his pipe and she used her legs;
    She danced about till the eggs were all broke,
    She began for to fret, but he laughed at the joke.
    Tom saw a cross fellow was beating an ass,
    Heavy laden with pots, pans, dishes, and glass;
    He took out his pipe and he played them a tune,
    And the poor donkey's load was lightened full soon.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Spoken like a true Christian.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  8. Apple Bush

    Topher, my 16 year old daughter is an atheist and lesbian. She is also a wonderful, kind and compassionate girl with nothing but love in her heart. She is talented, well-liked and an excellent student. She is a fantastic daughter and I am very proud lf her. I wouldn't change a thing.

    Tell me again why she will have to go to hell, while rapists and murderers who are "saved" get to go to heaven? This story always fascinates me.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Vern

      Apple Bush, you've got one of two motivations here:

      1) You're waiting for Topher to say anything, after which you will bash/insult him, regardless of what he says.
      2) You're truly interested because perhaps some part of you wants to beleive in God/Christ.

      So which is it, bud? 🙂

      December 17, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • lol??

      Tell another whopper.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Apple Bush

      3) I am waiting for Topher to say something, after which I will bash/insult him if what he says is stupid, and it always is.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Dudley Do-Right's Sermon on the Mounties!

      Vern, didn't mommy tuck you beddy-byes yet? You really should not bring that wee little childish mind of yours in with the adults.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • mama k

      Well it seems this reply goes to the conversation at 12:13 by AB. Before crapping here like a pigeon, Vern, you may want to answer some of the questions below that you ran from.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • todd cook

      Apple Bush, your daughter, you, and all others who insist on rejecting Jesus Christ, will go to Hell. That's the unvarnished truth. The good news is, you have the power to change course. Don't screw it up.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Apple Bush

      todd cook, ok that is fine. But why? We are good people who do good things on this here Earth.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Topher, you can use your real handle.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "todd cook", but "Jesus Christ" and "Hell" are elements of mythology, therefore "Apple Bush", "Apple Bush"'s daughter, "you", and "all others" who insist on rejecting "Jesus Christ" cannot go to "Hell". Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent true statements is: "EPIC FAIL".

      December 17, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • Topher

      Huh? I've never used anything but "Topher".

      December 17, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • Topher

      Still up, Apple?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I admire Pastor Kathleen Adams-Sheperd for her commitment to the emotional and material well being of the people of her community.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Apple Bush

      What Tom Tom said.

      My step-mother is a Christian and probably never had an exitential thought in her life but she is like Kathleen Adams-Sheperd. Always helping, always giving. She says it is god working through her, but I know it is in her DNA. Is she a little looney, yes, but she is good.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Apple Bush


      December 17, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Kirk

      The same could be said for any compassionate person, so her religion is not really a factor here.
      A social worker with good resources can do a thousand times better than any fraud behind a podium.

      December 17, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  10. HeavenSent

    Pay no attention to the small minded fools that got their brain fried. I know you atheists to be fools. My camel-toe has become a historical landmark. Notice who is most quoted in the Golden rule. Jesus Christ's wisdom.


    December 17, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  11. a few ideas for President Obama

    a) Ban all weapons that are by all accounts, not for hunting or self defense. All automatic machine guns are obviously unnecessary. Ban all types of lethal bullets of the type this psychopath used.

    b) crack down on Hollywood's excessive use of violent imagery in films...they voted for obama, time to start to help him out...Hollywood have been hypocrites for far too long.

    c) crack down on all violent video games. It’s time to go after the studios who make them.

    d) better screening and rigorous background checks on mental health patients and kids who have had mental health issues and do not allow them to buy any guns whatsoever. Tough sentencing on illegal gun ownership. Stop letting the ACLU dominate these discussions... we must put limits on civil liberties for the greater good.

    If you want to tackle or at least mitigate this problem, you MUST go after all sides of the problem. I really hope obama doesn’t turn this into a political witch hunt. That won’t help anyone.

    Lastly, stop using campaigns to divide people...I don’t want to be too political here, but obama in this last campaign really pitted one american against another .....in every demographic...rich vs. poor, men v women, young v old, illegal immigrants v white legals, christian vs secular, etc...etc...he really didn’t encourage the bringing together of people, of the nation, as he once promised...

    December 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • mama k

      "Lastly, stop using campaigns to divide people" Please give me a specific example of what you mean by this.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Damocles

      1) Any gun can be used for self-defense.
      2) Ummm bullets are supposed to be lethal.
      3) Hollywood can make all the violent movies it wants, ditto for game makers. Parents should be more involved in their kids life and not use these two scapegoats as to why their kids are running amuck.

      I do agree with d.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  12. William Miller

    Kevin, Regarding the former USSR, you are engaging in semantics. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were very specific from the beginning that religion was the Primary problem in a "modern" society, and that once you eliminated all that "hocus-pocus" you could then begin to solve all other problems. The fact that politically they became a dictatorship directly follows from the idea that Man could replace God as the supreme arbiter of all ethics and morality. As for the Scandinavian countries, yes, they are so much more modern and civilized than us that their people have higher rates of suicide and alcoholism than do ours. Again, God may not always be the best answer for everyone, but atheism clearly isn't going to lead to a demonstrably better society than ours, either.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • mama k

      OK – I'm not sure about your stats. for Sweden (2011 stat), for instance they only show an average difference of 3 per 100,000 people higher suicides than the U.S. (2009 stat). Maybe you better back up your claim.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:44 am |
      • William Miller

        So...they are higher. Isn't that what I said?

        December 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  13. freethinkr

    "She said she believed the horrific acts were not the will of God."

    "Where was God? Surrounding all the children. The 430 that made it out, and the 20 that did not."

    So God was "surrounding the children' when the bullets ripped into their flesh? He surrounded them as they screamed and cried? What did he do, just watch and say "it is no my will but I will let this unspeakable horror continue"? What kind of God is this exactly? He is either an evil monster to let innocent children be slaughtered if he could have stopped it, or cannot do anything to stop it and is not omnipotent. Either way this god is irrelevant.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  14. William Miller

    I'm not a very religious person myself, but I find it fascinating how much obvious hatred so many of you have for those who are religious. As for me, I don't care what Christians believe, if it gives them comfort. It's not infringing on my right to not go to church. I do oppose some of their political objectives, but I do understand that they simply have a different way of viewing the world. I would also like to add that I spent a bit of time in a religion-free "rational" country called the USSR a couple of decades ago. Their rational, scientific world was a hell-hole. A society without religion can, at the very least, be just as bad as a society with many religious believers. Atheists, don't kid yourselves otherwise.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Kevin

      William, the former Soviet Union was more an oligarchy than an atheist state, and the problems there had more to do with that oligarchy than any lack of religious belief. They certainly had nothing to do with any demands from atheism. You would do well to also consider the cases of other countries that are far less religious than the US, such as Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, and also Canada and the UK.It's odd that the US is so backward compared to those countries regarding religion, but hopefully that is changing as people face the utter uselessness and impotence of their "god" in regard to the current tragedy.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I have no quarrel whatsoever with people who are finding comfort in religious faith. None at all. What I DO object to is the obnoxious habit many of the so-called "faithful" here have of blaming a terrible tragedy like this one on our secular government and a lack of sufficient belief by others. It trivializes the event and it's disgusting, and such creeps deserve the lambasting they get for it.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Vern

      It's really sad. And since CNN is so cleary anti-Chrstian (obvious by the shear number of articles either trivializing or sensasionalizing the religion), it's all set up for these haters. My ex-gf worked at CNN briefly, in Atlanta. She mentioned that that is precisely why the Belief Blog comments section has never been configured to their standard comments section format, with people having to log in on real accounts, and people being able to click "Like" or "Dislike". Some 75% of the people report themselves as Christian in the country, but the current comments format allows the minority atheist hater group free reign to post as many insulting posts as they want, using as many usernames as they want. It gives the ultimate illusion that 90% of CNN's viewership is atheist (and full of hate), which is likely not really the case. The Christians on the other hand, post their one or two posts here, usually always positive, and are off.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Damocles

      Those in power in the USSR and hell, those in power anywhere, tend to attack those that don't go along with everything they say. In the USSR, all kinds of people died, religious and non-religious, same as in China and any other country or timeframe that believers want to dredge up.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You are blind or stupid, Vern. Read the comments by the "Christians" here and then get back to me. I call Poe on you.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Lisa

      "The Christians on the other hand, post their one or two posts here, usually always positive, and are off."

      You obviously have just plain ignored the posts by "Atheism is not healthy..", Nii, Pervert Alert, and a host of other regular Christian posters who call everyone who disagrees with the evil.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Damocles

      Let's also remember that those in charge had a tendency to kill scientist types who didn't toe the party line as well. Their system was a failure in that there weren't that many people left who felt comfortable making the choices that could have helped the country.

      Please stop acting like only religious people suffer under oppresive regimes.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • mama k

      "usually always positive" comments by Christians, vern?

      Oh like say, for example the ones from the "pervert alert"? You know the one that says "que ers the ones who gave aids to america" Like that one, vern?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Damocles


      Yeah I think you are pretty much a liar.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Humanist11

      Stalin crushed religion because their evil was competing with his evil. This has been a common trait for many dictators. Sometimes they co-opt a religion and use it to control the masses, like they do in several Islamic countries.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  15. Apple Bush

    Topher, at what age do kids have to start going to Hell? Is it like the movies? Up to age 11 you get to go to heaven, but 12 and up it is eternal damnation?

    December 17, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Topher

      Hey, Apple

      It is called the age of accountability. It's different for everyone because we all mature at different rates.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Where did you get that?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah. Too bad you haven't reached maturity yet, Gopher.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Damocles

      Ahhh so you can murder willy-nilly and you are golden if you have been deemed to not have reached the age of accountability. This also puts the lie in your statement that all the kids would be in a heaven because you have no clue if they are accountable.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Topher

      2 Samuel. David's baby has died but he will see that child again in Heaven.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Kevin

      You can't expect accountability from religion. Not from Christianit, anyway, when you can do anything you like and then just ask god nice and sincerely for forgiveness, and be all better. That's one of the many big problems with Christianity.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Topher, where does the bible say, "It is called the age of accountability. It's different for everyone because we all mature at different rates." ?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Topher


      I just told you where that theology comes from. 2 Samuel.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Topher

      Asking for forgiveness won't help you.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Apple Bush

      So from "David's baby has died but he will see that child again in Heaven."

      You get, "It is called the age of accountability. It's different for everyone because we all mature at different rates."

      I don't follow. Where did you get the part about the age of accountability and maturity rates?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Topher


      I can point you at some very interesting columns on the subject if you are interested.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Columns Topher? Where is it in the bible? Can't I just read God's word?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Topher

      I pointed out the scripture. The articles probably point to other passages as well. It's been awhile since I read them.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Nice try Topher. I will stick with reality.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Damocles


      You have to learn how to interpret the passages to suit your needs at any given time.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Apple Bush


      Murder = Love
      Vengence = Love
      Genocide = Love
      Rape = Love

      December 17, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Electric Larry

      Topher, that Samuel quote says nothing about any child but Daniels. Nothing about age of accountability or all children below it go to heaven. You think you get to invent your own meanings? That quote does not even come close to saying what you said it did.

      And why did you abandon you "people should be happy for those children" thread? Should we take that as an admission that you now realize you were incredibly insensitive?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  16. Beth

    Atheists have nothing better to do then troll the Beleif Blog here daily and pull out the same tired, insults.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Blah, blah, blah. How would you know that if you weren't on here daily with the same tired complaint?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Yup, atheists don't have jobs or families. They just stay on the blog all the time being mean to christians.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Damocles

      I totally agree with you, Beth, your dad should have pulled out and you are a tired excuse for a human. You nailed it, stand up and take a bow.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • sam stone

      and theists have nothing better to do than to proclaim they know the mind of god and post empty proxy threats

      December 17, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  17. DaveLake

    Well it is time for me to hit the sack. I hope it is ok for me to speak for my fellow atheists: We are atheists but we are profoundly saddened by the horrific events that took place just like anyone else. The grief parents must feel is simply beyond understanding. We wish all those involved well!

    December 17, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thank you. I agree. The grief is beyond comprehension.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • tallulah13

      Perfectly said.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Humanist11

      As a parent my worst nightmare is the death of my children. Atheists love their kids just as much as religious people do. This, I hope, we can all agree on. In fact we agree on quite a bit, including a lot of what is moral behavior or not. We just don't agree with the source of why this is so. We are all here on this earth together and we must morn this tragedy together. My thoughts are with the parents, siblings and grandparents of the fallen.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Albert the Long-Winded

      Their grief is NOT beyond understanding! And how dare you presume to speak for anyone else! Go fuck yourself, Dave.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  18. Bwain

    It's a fallen world. The Bible says the world is tough place to live.

    There will be joy and sorrow. There will be war and peace. There will be birth and death.

    God's people respond to tragedy and help. God works through us.

    He is good. He is holy. He is in heaven.

    He has given us Earth. A planet that has enough food to feed every single person. But due to sin (greed, lust, pride, anger) not everybody gets food.

    Look at the world. God has blessed his creation. But his creatures have turned their back on him. Our self-centered, complacent and sinful lifestyles lead to tragedies like this.

    God wants us to do good. To love him as we love others. When we hurt ourselves he offers comfort. Sometimes he has to let evil and tragic things happen to get our attention.

    You might be better off being shot by a mad man then leading a life of sin that leads you to go to hell.

    December 17, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Kevin

      The world would be better off if you and so many others did not have god delusions.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Kirk

      If I were religious, it would be a BILLION TIMES EASIER to commit mass murder for any religious reason I might come up with to justify such a violent act.
      Religion is excellent for murders, suicides, tyranny, torture, terrorism, and anything else we see religious people doing on a REGULAR BASIS.
      As for atheism, it is simply the lack of any such delusions over an imaginary deity and whatever made-up nonsense I wanted the "rules" to be for myself as I would, of course, "interpret" my religion in such a way so that violence becomes GOD-APPROVED and then human laws mean NOTHING!!!
      So go die in a fire. You'll be fine, right? Go ahead and leave the rest of us to carry on bravely without you. Go on.

      December 17, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • sam stone

      Wow, the bible says so.....
      You know that this is not a convincing argument, don't you?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:36 am |
  19. Topher

    At least we can have peace knowing those children are now with God where they will never be in fear again.

    December 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where's your evidence for that, Topher? Oh, never mind. There isn't any.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Damocles

      There is not even a word to describe how horrible that post is.

      December 16, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Topher

      Huh? What is horrible about the thought the children are now in Heaven?

      December 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Topher is a monster

      Yes, their parents should be very happy. That killer did them a favor. Except the ones who had not become the correct variant of Christians. God already has them in his kindergarten of fire.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That you don't even see it, Topher, says more about you than anything you could possibly write.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Topher

      Little children don't go to Hell. You need to read up on your theology.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Electric Larry

      Topher, would you be kind enough to go out on a busy street corner and say that to every person who walks by? We need more seculars, and that will convert a LOT!

      December 17, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Topher

      Please explain why children in Heaven is a bad thing.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Topher is a monster

      Quote the part of the Bible that says that "little children don't go to hell." God slaughtered many little children in Sodom and Gomorrah, for everyone there was evil. He massacred a whole world full of children for being evil, saving only Noah and his immediate family.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You know what gives ME peace, Topher? The fact that none of the parents of any of those poor children will have to endure you or your odious pap. I hope there's no one anywhere near them who's anything like you.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Topher

      2 Samuel 12:22-23

      December 17, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Damocles

      Don;t take this the wrong way, Topher, but if you were to come to me and say that crap, I'd soon be in jail for GBH.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, I'm sure the parents of these murdered kids will be looking up the chapter and verse, Topher.

      You are so dense.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Damocles

      Just stop. If you can only dredge up sympathy because it says to do so in some book, you are a pi-ss poor excuse for a human.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Topher

      I read lots of complaining, but not one reason why children in Heaven is so offensive.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The fact that you need to have this explained to you, Topher, is one thing among many that makes me extremely happy that you aren't a parent.

      Or anywhere near one right now.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Electric Larry

      Topher, that Samuel quote does not say little children all go to heaven. It says dead children don't come back.

      Do you have a real quote to support your assertion?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Topher

      Right. It says the dead don't come back, but David would see his child again one day in Heaven.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I hope you never lose a child to murder, Topher. I doubt you can even wrap your little pea-brain around what these parents would feel if you attempted to "comfort" them by assuring them they'd see their child in heaven someday.

      What a friggin' idiot you are.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Electric Larry

      I'll spell it out to you, Topher, but I must admit that I am shocked at how clueless and callous you are to not know.

      Those children were murdered. Their last moments on earth were filled with intense terror, then they felt extreme pain, then they died. On those grounds alone, saying you are happy for them is stunningly offensive. But that's not all.

      Their parents will never see them again. They loved them immensely, and they now are pummelled by this horror. They are pained terribly at knowing what those last minutes must have been like for their poor children. And you say we should be happy because they are in heaven. Unbelievable. But there's more.

      None of those parents can be absolutely sure their children ARE in heaven. That is what real people feel at the time of passing of a loved one – terrible uncertainty to go with the terrible pain. Secular parents know their children just stopped, that's it, no more, ripped off. Horrible. Only an extremist zealot like yourself can think he is sure. That's just ugly.

      We are astounded at your heartless insensitivity. But let me share a story to help you. I know a devout Catholic who lost her mother, also a devout Catholic. Both are/were extremely kind and wonderful women. At the funeral, the people who said exactly what you said made her experience all the more miserably, because it is a clueless, insensitive trivialization of their massive grief.

      You are a pice of work, Topher, and may you stay far away from people in mourning.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • freethinkr

      So with that reasoning all good parents should kill their children. A free ticket to heaven, no chance to mess things up later on in life and go to hell. You will go to hell for killing them, but you will guarantee them a place in heaven as all good parents want right? Yeah that makes sense.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Electric Larry

      It says David thinks he will see his child in heaven. I think you were asked to prove that ALL children go to heaven, which is what you asserted.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Damocles


      Thank you. You said it in a nicer way than I would have.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Electric Larry

      Oh, statistically, a couple of those parents are probably going to kill themselves due to grief. Death of a young child, even if expected, is the #1 reason a parent will commit suicide. A large number of the rest are going to go through full-blown depression.

      And you say be happy.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Humanist11

      This is nothing different than turning to drugs to make someone feel better after a tragedy. I prefer to deal with the problem head on and keep my life grounded in reality. The situation may suck, but it helps in dealing with the situation. My dad's death earlier this year was tough, but I would never want to mask the truth of why he died and where he is now. It is not OK that these children were killed in cold blood and it was not part of God's plan. No god would do this. This is why I don't believe in one.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • sam stone

      "Little children don't go to Hell. You need to read up on your theology."

      No, Topher, you mean they should read up on YOUR theology, don't you?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • sam stone

      Don't listen to Electric Larry, Gopher. I think you should go to Connecticut, and find those grieving parents and explain to them why they should be happy.

      Gopher......you are an impotent punk, and so is your god.
      Back on your knees, B!tch

      December 17, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Topher "Right. It says the dead don't come back, but David would see his child again one day in Heaven."

      And where exactly does it say that? I've read it several times and can't see that anywhere.

      In fact, I don't think the Bible says anywhere that we will be reunited with loved ones in Heaven. That was a 19th Century invention.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  20. ThinkDefyUnite

    God will certainly not "wrestle light from darkness". What kind of drivel is this? If the light is to be wrestled from the darkness it will be by man's hand. Imaginary sky fairies are not required.

    December 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Craig

      And you know that for sure?

      December 17, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Electric Larry

      Due to the total lack of evidence and the fact that all scriptures have major errors on crucial points, the probability that there is no deity is 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999%

      Your wild and totally evidence-free god has a probability of

      Yeah. Pretty damn sure.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • the AnViL

      electric larry wins.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.