George Zimmerman's defense: God made me do it

Zimmerman declares Trayvon Martin killing was God’s plan. Trayvon’s parents disagree. Photo: George Zimmerman in court with one of his lawyers AP

CHICAGO, July 24, 2012 — George Zimmerman does not regret anything he did the night he ended Trayvon Martin’s life. He believes it was God’s plan and that it is not his place to question it. Martin’s parents believe God’s plan in no way meant for their son to die a young, violent death.

We will never truly know what compelled Zimmerman to pull that trigger, just as we will never truly know God’s plan or, for that matter, whether there truly is a God.

So where does that leave us?

Zimmerman is left with a certain amount of consolation for his soul and his psyche. Martin’s death was not his fault. It is what God planned. Martin’s parents are left with yet another shock:  someone believes God planned for their son’s life to end that night. And God is left as either Zimmerman’s redeemer or his scapegoat.

In his interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Zimmerman clearly states that he does not regret following Trayvon Martin that night nor does he regret carrying a gun. He says it is not for him to second-guess God’s plan. At the end of the interview, Zimmerman reiterates his belief that events were beyond his control. “I do wish that there was something, anything, I could have done that wouldn’t have put me in the position where I had to take his life.”

There are things Zimmerman could have done differently. He could have listened to the 911 operator who told him not to pursue Martin. He could have not been carrying a gun. His belief in God’s plan, however, eliminates those options. God may not have specifically told George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin, but Zimmerman believes that God, for some inexplicable reason, wanted events to occur as they did. He had no choice; free will is sacrificed to God’s plan.

Zimmerman and his lawyer are interviewed by Sean Hannity AP

Trayvon Martin’s parents disagree. Strongly. In a follow-up interview on Fox, Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, declares, “I really don’t understand what God he worships because it’s not the same God I worship.” Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, asks why God would want an unarmed teenager killed. “I mean it just makes no sense.”

Unfortunately, that’s the thing about God’s plans. Sometimes they just make no sense to mere mortals. A child is killed in a car accident, but her donated heart beats on in another child. Why one child over another? Are we not all precious in God’s eyes?

If one accepts divine destiny, one trusts that when things do not make sense, there is a higher purpose at play. This is a slippery slope, however. We are taught from a young age that there is a difference between right and wrong. We are told not to steal, lie, or covet our neighbor’s wife. But why should we show restraint when it is possible that this is God’s plan? It is the flipside of “The devil made me do it.” “I couldn’t do anything else. It was God’s plan.”

As long as we have touched on the Commandments, it is hard to believe that God’s plan would involve Zimmerman shooting Martin after he specifically told us “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Whether God approves or not, killing in self-defense is considered justified by our human standards. But we don’t truly know whether Zimmerman acted in self-defense. We do know, however, that self-defense is legally justifiable. “It was God’s plan” is not.

The world is full of religious tensions: Muslims and Christians, Jews and Palestinians, Shiite and Sunni to name a few. In our country of religious freedom, we are told that acceptance of others’ beliefs is a key element of peace. We may not agree, but if we cherish the freedom to practice our beliefs we must also cherish others’ freedom to practice theirs.

George Zimmerman believes what happened was God’s plan. Trayvon Martin’s parents believe God is being used as a scapegoat. They all have the right to firmly believe as they wish.

Which scenario will be true in the end?

God only knows.

To contact Julia Goralka, see above.


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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

Contact Julia Goralka

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