ABC Tells Story of Faith in Tragedy

Good Morning America today showed that faith can sustain people through tragedy with the inspiring story of the Chapman family enduring the loss of their youngest daughter.

The show aired co-anchor Robin Roberts's exclusive interview with Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman and his family, as they talked about their grief, struggles, faith, and hope through the death of Chapman's youngest daughter, Maria.  One of three daughters adopted by the family from China, Maria was killed on May 21st when her 17-year-old brother, Will Franklin, accidentally hit his sister in the driveway of their home as she rushed in front of the car to greet him.

Roberts allowed both Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, to talk about how their faith had given them hope in the future and the perseverance to move on after the tragedy of their daughter.

Roberts asked the Chapmans, “How do you grieve and also be there for your children?”

Mary Beth Chapman responded that it was her faith in knowing that Maria is in heaven and that she will one day see her daughter again that allows her to let go and focus on the lives of her children that are still here.  She explained how she is able to persevere: “Because I know that she is completely whole.  Because of my faith, I know that she's completely whole and completely okay and I'm going to see her again.”

Steven Curtis Chapman said as well that it was a firm hope in something greater that has strengthened him and his family.  He told Roberts, “We've talked a lot and you'll hear all of us talk about the process of grieving with hope.  That's such—for us—that's what has kept us breathing, kept us alive is that while we are grieving this process, there is a hope that we have that we're anchored to in the midst of just what sometimes seems unbearable.”  He later noted, “I'm gonna dance with Maria again.  I'm absolutely sure of that.”

Roberts said that for the Chapman children, healing has come through “counseling and faith.”

Will Franklin Chapman said that coping with the grief had been a struggle, but that his faith had been strengthened through the process.  He told Roberts, “I've gotten a stronger faith through all of this but then there's those days you know that just hit you and you're just like, oh man, this is just awful.  You just got to continue to choose to live and that's the faith that you know that continues to keep me going.”

Steven Curtis Chapman later added that his family's faith doesn't mean that they don't have questions, but that their faith allows them to live on amid the questions.  He told Roberts, “My son said the other day that, you now, we are a family, and a lot of people say of great faith but we're a family with a lot of questions but that's what faith is.  It's living with the questions.”

At the end of the story, Roberts told co-anchor Diane Sawyer that even though the family has questions, “they don't question their faith.”

For another rare example of the networks allowing people to discuss the role of religious belief in their lives, see CMI research assistant Colleen Raezler's story back in May about NBC's Kathie Lee Gifford interviewing Bella star Eduardo Verastegui about his faith.

Julia Seward is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.