Questioning credit to God after Charleston

<strong>Consider This</strong> Rob Swindell

Consider This Rob Swindell

It is hard to find words to describe the senselessness that occurred in Charleston, S.C., this June. Such tragedy often brings out the best and worst of people. While those with political or religious agendas rush to find a way to connect the dots to blame their enemies, it’s always amazing and uplifting how communities can come together to support each other.

Tragedy often leaves people looking for answers and that search often leads people to their religion. In the juxtaposition of tragedy with an all-powerful God, it’s remarkable that God is given glory for any splinter of joy but escapes blame for the terrible suffering. I know it is not polite to say, especially in the face of tragedy, but even as an ideological contention, it is logically preposterous.

This ideological contention includes several incidents of the credit given to “divine intervention” in regards the Charlestown shooting.

Almost inconceivably, three people involved in the incident found a way to give God credit following the shooting that took place in his house, of all places, and during a Bible study class.

One person who normally participates in the Bible study, the Rev. Brenda Wilson, was absent on that fateful day. Apparently her air conditioner broke and she did not attend the Bible class in hopes that someone would come to repair it. While I would regard this as truly fortunate timing — fateful is even a stretch — she attributed it to God.

“What we saw as an inconvenience we know now by our faith, in our faith and through our faith that it was God’s divine intervention” she said during a CNN interview with Erin Burnett.

That statement was even more incomprehensible when she followed it up with the statement that, “Regardless of what happens, that God is truly in control strengthens my faith.”

Does she realize what she said, what she implied? If God were in control, why did the tragedy happen at all?

Felecia Sanders had to experience the calamity with her 11-year-old granddaughter, but responded as a heroine would when she pulled her granddaughter down with her under a round table in the fellowship hall.

However, in surviving the event, she gave credit to God, claiming that “it was the hand of God that put me under the table.”

Doesn’t it seem a bit arrogant to think that God saved Sanders and her granddaughter but allowed the others to die, including Sanders’ own son?

When the killer failed to kill himself as planned, he escaped until noticed by Debbie Dills on her way to work. She led police to the killer, but likewise she gave all credit to God. “It wasn’t me, it was God. He used me as a vehicle. If anyone is a hero, it is him. I feel like God had his hand in it. I feel like he had me where he needed me to be,” she said.

While I appreciate her humility, does it occur to anyone that it would be much easier for God to prevent the killing than to arrange for a broken air conditioner, guiding a potential victim under a table, and leading someone to notice the South Carolina license plates? Why not just have the killer struck down by a lightning bolt or have the gun backfire? Why not have an off-duty cop attend the Bible study that day? Or maybe the killer’s car breaks down on the way to the church? That seems simple enough for God and would make a case for true divine intervention.

Better yet, why not inspire the killer to change his viewpoints about racism and lead him to embrace all of humanity?

Not all religions believe in divine intervention, but if yours does, how can you not question the lack of intervention amidst a terrible, unwarranted tragedy — and then give credit to God when others are left to pick up the pieces?

Rob Swindell is a lifelong Lorain County resident offering his opinions on politics, science, and social issues. He can be reached at

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