Where Was God? (September 2002)

Below is just a sampling of typical news clippings detailing the many tragedies or disasters befalling believers. As usual, “god” gets the credit, but never the blame.

The “Comforts” of Death? The tragic suffocation of three little girls, ages 2, 4, and 6, in their family’s cedar chest in rural Wisconsin on Aug. 5, was declared “an act of God” by their deeply religious Mennonite family. “They feel the children are in better hands right now,” reported Clark County Sheriff Louis J. Rosandich. Pastor James Martin of the Unity Mennonite Church said, “One of the comforts of this is that children are innocent before God. There is no doubt of the justice of God in this situation.” Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 7, 2002

Church-goers forget toddler, who dies. Daniel James McCray, 23 months old, died on July 28 when his church-going parents accidentally left him in their van for five hours. Temperatures in Lehigh Acres, Fla., reached the mid-90s that day. He was not discovered until the parents were getting ready to return to church for evening services. He was the youngest of five children. Source: AP Online, July 29, 2002

Bus Crash Kills Five. A chartered bus taking youngsters to church camp inexplicably crashed into a concrete pillar of an overpass near Dallas, Tex., killing the driver and four teenagers. Most victims were members of Metro Church of Garland. Sean Burns, a deacon at Metro Church, said: “God’s ways are higher than our ways, obviously, and we’ve just got to trust in God. There may be a reason why this happened.” Source: Daily Oklahoman/AP, June 25, 2002

Church Wall Kills Four. Four people, including three children, were killed in a minivan when a church wall collapsed as worshippers were leaving a prayer service in Memphis, Tenn. Three other children were hurt when the wall collapsed at New Greater Hyde Park Missionary Baptist Church. Source: Associated Press, July 22, 2002

Three Killed in Church Bus. Three people were killed and 16 were injured when a semitrailer hit a church bus traveling with a flat tire on Florida’s Turnpike near Fort Drum. Eighteen people from First Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church were on the bus. Source: Associated Press, July 22, 2002

Pilgrimage Ends in Disaster. A bus carrying Polish pilgrims on a religious pilgrimage to Medjugorje crashed near Hungary’s Lake Balaton, killing 19 people and injuring 32. The shrine to the Virgin Mary is in southeast Bosnia. Source: Reuters, July 1, 2002

Wall Collapses at Religious School. Eight children, ages 6-12, were killed and eight others were injured while reciting verses from the Koran, when a wall at a religious school collapsed after heavy rains in Quetta, Pakistan. Source: Associated Press, April 8, 2002

God Wasn’t His Co-Pilot? A pilot of a plane, towing a “heavenly love” banner memorializing a teen car accident victim, died when his plane crashed near Bradenton, Fla. Brian Mason, 21, worked for a banner advertising company. Source: Daily Oklahoman, June 8, 2002

Bikers in Accident after Blessing. Four people who had just attended a “Blessing of the Bikes” service for motorcyclists got into an accident after leaving the Melrose Alliance Church, Melrose, Wis. None was injured. Source: Associated Press, May 5, 2002

Church Member Critically Wounded. Church member Nancy Browning was in critical condition with a gunshot wound after interceding in a dispute between an estranged lesbian couple outside Holy Cross Metropolitan Community Church, Pensacola, Fla. Andrea Cobb, 61, was charged with two counts of attempted murder after shooting at people in the church parking lot following a worship service. Source: Associated Press, April 29, 2002

Tree Crash Kills Four. When a long-dead oak tree crashed on the roof of Baptist preacher Stan Jones’s Lincoln car on New Year’s Eve in a country road near Cumberland, Ind., he, his wife and two of their three young children were killed. Source: AP/Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2002

Five Christian Students Die. A truck carrying five students from Abilene Christian University ran off a highway bridge, fell 30 feet to a concrete embankment and killed all five people inside. The accident occurred near Weatherford, Texas. Source: Daily Oklahoman, April 1, 2002

Priest, Worshipper Killed. A priest celebrating Mass and a 73-year-old worshipper were killed when a man opened fire without provocation at Our Lady of Peace Church, New York City. Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 13, 2002

Pilgrims Start Epidemic. More than 1,000 people in the country of Burkina Faso (north of Ghana) have died since January of a strain of meningitis linked to an outbreak among Islamic pilgrims traveling to Mecca in 2000. Source: Associated Press, April 11, 2002

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