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Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion
Construction workers move steel beam pulled from ground zero rubble into its permanent home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
September 3rd, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - David O'Brien couldn't help himself. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he became obsessed.

O'Brien read the stories of 9/11 victims over and over, stunned by what he was discovering.

He read about the firefighters who marched up the smoke-choked stairwells of the World Trade Center, though many knew they could die; the beloved priest killed while giving last rites as the twin towers collapsed; the passengers on hijacked planes who called their families one last time to say, "I love you."

"I was obsessed with these stories," says O'Brien, a Catholic historian at the University of Dayton in Ohio. "There were so many stories of self-sacrifice, not just by the first responders, but by people fleeing the building. There was this revelation of goodness."

O'Brien saw an Easter message in 9/11 - good rising out of the ashes of evil. Yet there were other religious messages sent that day, and afterward, that are more troubling, religious leaders and scholars say.

September 11 didn't just change America, they say. It changed the nation's attitude toward religion. Here are four ways:

1: A chosen nation becomes a humbled one.

One man died because he arrived early to work. A woman died because she decided to take a later flight. The arbitrary nature of some of the deaths on 9/11 still sticks with many Americans today.

Yet this is what life is like for billions of people on the planet today, some religious leaders say. A random event - a car bomb, a stray bullet - can end their lives at any minute.

Most Americans had not lived with this vulnerability until 9/11, says Mathew Schmalz, a religion professor at the College of the Holy Cross  in Massachusetts, who once lived in Karachi, Pakistan.

"We had this sense of specialness and invulnerability that 9/11 shattered," he says. "Given that a large section of the world's population deals with random violence every day, one of the outcomes of 9/11 should be a greater feeling of solidarity with people who live in cities like Karachi in which violence is a part of everyday life."

Recognizing that vulnerability, though, is difficult for some Americans because of how they see their country, Schmalz and others say.

They say Americans have long had a triumphalist view of their place in history. Certain beliefs have been engrained: Tomorrow will always be better; we're number one. The term "American" even reflects a certain arrogance. It casually discounts millions of people living in Central and Latin America.

The 9/11 attacks, though, forced many Americans to confront their limitations, says Rev. Thomas Long, a nationally known pastor who has been active in post 9/11 interfaith efforts.

"We're losing the power of the American empire and becoming more a nation among nations," says Long, a religion professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "The world is a much more dangerous and fragile place economically."

How Americans cope with their loss of power is ultimately a theological question, Long says. It's the same question the ancient Hebrews confronted in the Old and New Testaments when they faced national calamities.

The chosen people had to learn how to be humble people, Long says. Americans face the same test today.

"The challenge for every faith tradition is going to be helping people grieve the loss of an image of America that they once had," he says, "and acquire a modern understanding of ourselves on the world's stage."

2: The re-emergence of "Christo-Americanism."

Before 9/11, if you asked the average American about Ramadan or sharia law, they probably would have given you a blank look.

Not anymore. The 9/11 attacks prompted more Americans to learn about Islam. Books on the subject became best-sellers. Colleges started offering more courses on Islam. Every cable news show suddenly had their stable of "Muslim experts."

More Americans know about Islam than ever before, but that hasn't stopped the post-9/11 Muslim backlash. The outrage over plans to build an Islamic prayer and community center near ground zero; the pastor who threatened to burn the Quran; conservative Christian leaders who called Islam evil - all occurred as knowledge of Islam spread throughout America, scholars says.

"One of the sobering lessons of the decade since 9/11 is that religious prejudice is not always rooted in raw ignorance," says Thomas Kidd, author of "American Christians and Islam."

"Some of America's most vociferous anti-Muslim critics know quite a lot about Muslim beliefs, but they often use their knowledge to construe Islam in the worst possible light."

Many of these public attacks against Islam were encouraged by conservative Christian leaders such as Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, who called Islam "wicked," and Pat Robertson, the Christian broadcaster who declared that "Islam is not a religion," says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Kammer says Graham and Robertson helped fuel the rise of "Christo-Americanism," a distorted form of Christianity that blends nationalism, conservative paranoia and Christian rhetoric.

"A segment of the religious community in the United States has been at the forefront of an anti-Islamic crusade that has helped to generate a climate of hatred and distrust toward all Muslims," says Kammer.

Other strains of Christo-Americanism have swept through America before.

After 9/11, some political leaders said terrorists hated the U.S. because of "our freedoms." But America's record on granting those freedoms to its citizens is mixed, says Lynn Neal, co-editor of the book, "Religious Intolerance in America."

In the 19th century, the U.S government passed numerous laws preventing Native American tribes from practicing their religion. Mormons were persecuted. Roman Catholics were once described as disloyal, sexual deviants, Neal says.

"Religious intolerance is not a new feature of the American landscape. Despite being the most religiously diverse nation on earth, despite having a first amendment that protects religious rights...we as a nation and as citizens have often failed to live up to those ideas."

3: Interfaith becomes cool.

Interfaith dialogue - it's not the type of term that makes the heart beat faster.

Before 9/11, interfaith efforts were dismissed as feel-good affairs that rarely got media coverage. The 9/11 attacks changed that.

Interfaith events spread across the country. Mosques and temples held joint worship services. Every college campus seemed to have an interfaith dialogue. The Obama White House launched a college interfaith program.

Becoming an interfaith leader is now hip, some say.

"A generation of students is saying that they want to be interfaith leaders, just like previous generations said they wanted to be human rights activists or environmentalists," says Eboo Patel, who founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 2002.

Patel says at least 250 colleges have signed up for the White House interfaith program, which he helped design. The program encourages students of different faiths to work together on service projects.

"These young leaders will make interfaith cooperation a social norm in America, similar to multiculturalism and volunteerism," Patel says.

These new leaders include people like Sarrah Shahawy, a Muslim-American medical student at Harvard University and the daughter of Egyptian immigrants.

After 9/11, Shahawy says she felt the responsibility to educate people about Islam. She became an interfaith leader at the University of Southern California,  where she noticed a steady increase in student participation in the years after the attacks.

Shahawy says her generation is drawn to interfaith efforts because 9/11 showed the destructive potential of any exclusive claims to religious truth. The 9/11 hijackers carried out their attacks in the name of Islam, but Muslim religious leaders and scholars said that the terrorists' actions did not reflect Islamic teachings.

"For one religious group to claim a monopoly on truth should be obsolete," she says. The interfaith movement doesn't teach people that all religions are the same, she says.

Shahawy calls herself a proud Muslim. "But for me, there's beauty and truth to be found in many different religions."

4: Atheists come out of the closet.

There's one group, however, that sees little beauty in any religion.

Before 9/11, many atheists kept a low profile. Something changed, though, after 9/11. They got loud.

Atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," and Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith," wrote best-selling books. Atheist groups launched national media campaigns with bold billboard messages such as "Christmas is a myth."

The pugnacious journalist Christopher Hitchens became the public face of a more combative form of atheism as he went on talk shows and lectures to defend not believing in God.

Criticism of all religion, not just fanatical cults, was no longer taboo after 9/11, says Daniel Dennett, a philosophy professor with Tufts University in Massachusetts.

"Atheist-bashing is now, like gay-bashing, no longer an activity that can be indulged in with impunity by politicians or commentators," Dennett says.

Atheists were driven to become more vocal because of the 9/11 attacks and America's reaction, says David Silverman, president of American Atheists. He says many atheists were disgusted when President George W. Bush and leaders in the religious right reacted to the attack by invoking "God is on our side" rhetoric while launching a "war on terror."

They adopted one form of religious extremism while condemning another, he says.

"It really showed atheists why religion should not be in power. Religion is dangerous, even our own religion," Silverman says.

Atheists are still the most disparaged group in America, but there's less stigma attached to being one, he says.

"The more noise that we make, the easier it us to accept us," Silverman says. "Most people know atheists now. They knew them before, but didn't know they were atheists."

Many Americans knew the people who perished on 9/11 as well, but they didn't know they were heroes until later, says David O'Brien, the Catholic historian who compulsively read the 9/11 obituaries.

O'Brien was so moved by the stories he read that he decided to write an essay for America magazine, a national Catholic weekly, entitled, "9/11 Then and Now."

He wrote: On 9/11, "Our people, my people, were tested and, for a shining moment ... they were found worthy."

He said many 9/11 victims didn't panic as their end drew near. They "thought not of themselves, but others ... when the chips were down." They saw themselves not as individuals, but as members of a "single human family."

So should we, he says, as we face new challenges 10 years later. The 9/11 victims aren't just heroes; they're our guides for the future, he says.

"The story is not over, not by a long shot," O'Brien wrote. "Look at all the love that day. Love can still write another chapter and keep hope alive for a better future. The meaning of 9/11 lies ahead, and it's in our hands, and maybe in our hearts.'

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 9/11 • Atheism • Christianity • Faith • Interfaith issues

soundoff (2,180 Responses)
  1. Giuseppe

    I read in a lot of these stories, admittedly not this one, about how 9/11 made a lot of Muslim women want to wear 7th century headgears. I don't really understand this, it seems like they are making a statement with their headgears that they sympathize with the Islamists.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  2. HotAirAce

    @SciGuy

    A presupposition of the existence or non-existence, or truth or non-truth, of anything is definitely not science.

    Are you sure your childish belief in imaginary beings isn't biasing your "science"?

    September 4, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  3. rev.spike

    I think that country music is evil. Did I just incite violence against country music stars and their fans?

    September 4, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • juan sol

      Yes.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Frank S

      Absolutely. Now I expect attacks against them at any time. Seriously, I think you know what is going on, Rev. It depends on who is the messenger, who is the audience and how many nutcakes in their audience are moved to take action. This is exactly like the jihadist leaders in Yemen able to radicalize US citizens over the internet. No different.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  4. zip

    Does God realize how many humans have killed each other in his name?? Just keep thinking folks. It's what you do best.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • scott

      God has sent one group of people after another several times according to the bible. There's the loophole.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • C. Dionisi

      Quite right, and it's no surprise; you can always find someone to justify any behavior, no matter how extreme.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • retrostar1000

      Indeed, more people have died in the name of religion than in all the wars of all mankind combined. Man has ruined religion, and religion has ruined our country.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • rev.spike

      On the other hand, there has been a great deal of good done in the name of religion also. People often forget this; or they determine that the liabilities of faith outweigh the benefits. I suspect this is due in part to the ignorance of the many of the faithful when it comes to their own religion. For instance, it is hard to take the New Testament seriously and turn a blind eye to the poor.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • C. Dionisi

      In my opinion, religion is simply a tool used by many people for various ends. Like any tool, it can be put to good use or bad use. A hammer can drive nails to build a home or break a home's window to steal a television. Religion is used to both uplift people and kill people. Depends on who is wielding the tool.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • EFGRHG

      That doesn't make Him a party to it.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  5. C. Dionisi

    You mention that 'The term "American" even reflects a certain arrogance. It casually discounts millions of people living in Central and Latin America"'. You forgot over 34 million Canadians who share North America with the USA.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • bob rock

      They are not real Americans!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • John Richardson

      Dang. You had to remind us. We've been trying to forget the Canadians ever since that whole Neil Young fiasco ...

      September 4, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Geez

      Do you really want to start saying United States of American? Common, grow up Friend.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • rev.spike

      I would say that this is pretty dumb. We can all call ourselves Americans.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • C. Dionisi

      Heh heh... I agree that your idea of 'United States of American' isn't pretty, nor would, say 'United Statesian' be either.
      Really though, the term 'American' applies to anyone living in either North, Central or South America, just as the term 'European' applies to people from any country in Europe.
      So what to call people from the U.S.A.? I'll leave that decision to others.
      Cheers

      September 4, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • HotAirAce

      All the Canadians I know do not mind being forgotten. There is an old joke that says the definition of being Canadian is "not American." Given the direction religion and politics are taking in the US, I'm quite happy to be not American. This comment should not be taken as a broad based anti American sentiment, but I'm sure that it will, so let the retaliatory Canada and not-American bashing begin...

      September 4, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Mary

      Yes, Canada, where we combat fear with knowledge and discussion and an attempt at understanding instead of nurturing ignorance fear and hate. Canada, with amazing cities like Calgary, home of the stampede, a million cowboys, big oil.... and a Muslim mayor. Where our news media shows Muslims as part of the community, hockey fans, welcoming our service men/women home, where we laugh and enjoy a sitcom called "Little Mosque on the Prairie", sold to over 80 markets, except, of course, the U.S.
      http://www.cbc.ca/littlemosque/episodes.php?sid=1&eid=101

      September 4, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • John Richardson

      Ok, ok. Now that the bliss of simply forgetting about Canada has been shattered. let me give credit where credit is due. Canada did after all give us Martin Short and a good basketball player who plays in Phoenix who kinda looks like Martin Short. And where else can you enjoy a football game (well, sort of) by sitting on the 55 yard line? Nice flag, too. Simple, not merely geometric, but still nicely stylized. Could use a third color somewhere, however.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • HotAirAce

      John Richardson

      Re: flag colors – I'm old enough to rememeber the flag debate and chossing which one we wanted. I much preferred the one with blue on the left and right symbolizing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  6. Azeem Rathore

    The most quoted Prophet in the Holy Quran is in fact Moses. Prophet Muhammad is only mentioned four times. Average Americans think that Muslims blindly follow Muhammad. False. Education of other religions is important. I am an American-Muslim, and I have been participating in many Interfaith dialogues because, now more than ever, religion should be our guide, not our enemy.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Who gives a crap who your stupid prophet is. It's all BS either way.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Jeff

      None of Quran is true, so who cares.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Giuseppe

      shove it

      September 4, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Similarly, none of The Babble is true, so who cares?

      September 4, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • C. Dionisi

      In my opinion, people should be free to follow whatever religion they want as long as it doesn't result in segregation from or conflict with others. In reality, we can always find zealots wherever we find a deep system of beliefs be it in politics religion or something else.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • harmonynoyes

      they should get beyond that "Moses thing" and start with the new testament
      and from there, Pray to Jesus the Godman - it works, it helps

      September 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  7. bob rock

    We need to start viewing all religions for what they are – delusional insanity. We need to take a hard stance towards it. We have been soft – and the ever escalating terrorist acts and religious conflicts are the end result. Time to get rational for a change – and a chance to survive the next couple of hundred years!

    September 4, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • scott

      You're talking nonsense. It's not religion we need to abolish, it's violent intolerance. Including verbal, much like your post.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • retrostar1000

      It's Christians that are the most intolerant, blasphemous, hypocritical, just plain mean people on the planet. They have ruined religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  8. kimsland

    All religions are ridiculous

    The sooner the world (and the stubborn US) come to grips with this simplicity of understanding the better.

    Generally religion is a JOKE, but in situations like 911, its just disgusting.
    PLEASE teach your children NOT to take on any religion, they are ALL wrong, backward and pathetic.
    It disturbs me that some people still choose to keep ignorant faith as something to follow.
    Its sad and funny at the same time.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • SCAtheist

      As long as we keep building Christian madrassas we'll keep the teabag assembly line going.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Geez

      And when you make comments like these, how are you exactly any different? Prejudice, judgemental and intolerant. Sounds about the same to me.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Philojazz

      Actually this a reply to "Geez". What kimsland is saying is not "intolerant" as you say, but rather good sensible advice for parents to follow, if we are to have a better world. Kind of like, "make your kids wear bike helmets", "use seat belts", "don't get obese", "don't torture your pets", and, finally, here's a big one..."DON'T teach your kids a religion.". We'd all be better off. If that is all "intolerance" in your eyes, I'm worried for you, and for our country.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • kimsland

      Thanks Philojazz

      When I read his pathetic reply I suddenly realized that some 'religious' people out there think that we should still be open to this rubbish.
      This is ludicrous.
      ITS OBVIOUS that people's 200K history on Earth is nothing to the BILLIONS of years that Earth has been around.
      Religion has been made out of FEAR and DEATH alone. Some (most actually) use it to control others.

      I BAN RELIGION FOREVER

      September 4, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • PulTab

      Absolutely correct kimsland!

      September 4, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • harmonynoyes

      do'nt believe in that "kimsland religion"

      September 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  9. truth

    More christians, have converted to Islam, in the U.S.since 911, that's FACTS!!!

    September 4, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • SCAtheist

      What is your evidence?

      September 4, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • rev.spike

      I doubt that. Although Islam has grown substantially in America in the last 10 yrs, in particular among prison populations (however in this case it is the Nation of Islam, prob not recognized as 'true Islam').

      September 4, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  10. Jeff

    Allah doesn't like Mohammad because he has ham in his name.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Ali

      im a muslim but i found that comment hilarious!

      September 4, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  11. Mohammad

    For the atheists here, it's the worst thing you can ever do is not to believe in God. If you don't know that there is a God just say I don't know but don't go around saying there is no God. I am a man of science too but I come across various things that are hard to explain so I just say I don't know. How can you explain the chances of this coincidence in a 1400 old book :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUA0EGTGFtg

    September 4, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Aezell

      I don't have to say "I don't know." There is ZERO evidence of a God. From all the knowledge we have gathered about the universe, there has never been ANYTHING to indicate there is any sort of higher power. For the moment, that means any sane person operates under the assumption there is no God.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Sarah

      I will gladly burn your Koran, Mohammad. I will gladly say there is no god. I am free of your lies.
      If that's the worst thing for you, then good. I hope you choke on it.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Serenade

      The Quran also says that salt water and fresh water does not mix in the world...
      Look, the primitive people were not dumb, they made educated observations. They saw asteroids made of metals and rocks, containing metals which were not iron, but they assumed it was, likewise your black holy rock in Mecca is nothing more than a meteorite.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • TEE-atheist

      You DONT KNOW there is a God. And I would say that your position remains the weakest of all. And Your faith doesn't negate my freedom to say the complete opposite – no matter how you couch it in semi-scientific terms, or the tired – "Oh its so obvious there is a god" line of rhetoric.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Mohammad

      @ Sarah There is so much anger in you, find what the root of that (certainly not religion) and work on it, you will be a happier human being.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Mohammad

      God is Not Jesus. I don't know how God looks like, it's only your narrow thinking to imagine him in a certain way. Study some quantum physics, look at the marvels of the universe, and your body maybe you start getting some idea.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • ugh

      Athiests appear in response to religion, not the other way around. If you don't want to hear from athiests, don't talk about your imaginary friend.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Ali

      mohammad...there is no fix to these people's blindness. And no proof is good enough for them. Let them be their ignorant and angry.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • John Richardson

      So something is "hard to explain", so this bold man of science places faith in a book full of silly angels and prophets and other dark age nonsense. That's quite a leap!

      Goldbach's conjecture seems empirically very likely to be true. But it's defied proof for centuries. Fortunately, in a truly rational field like mathematics, people don't settle for "God told me its true!"

      September 4, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • C. Dionisi

      Consider the word 'agnostic', which means that we can never know the true nature of (any) god. An atheist has no more proof of the non-existence of god than a religious person has of the existence of god. It is also important to understand that the word 'god', and the expectations this god has, means different things to different people, even within the same religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  12. notyep

    There's no athiest on a sinking ship.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • bob rock

      Sure. They are all in the lifeboats!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Aezell

      Utter nonsense. Only a complete moron would think that somehow the greatest minds of our time who are primarily atheists would somehow decide all of the knowledge they have is wrong and pray to some imaginary sky person because they are going to die.

      I'm an atheist now, and I guarantee you I will be the day I die.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Colin

      Nonsense. You obviously are confusing atheists with unsure or vacillating agnostics. An atheist can no more turn to a sky-god in times of need than (s)he could implore a potted plant for help.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Agnostics aren't any different than atheist – they are just acknowledging a nuance that you can't prove there isn't a god.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • notyep

      When your ship sinks on the Day of Judgement, let me tell you, you're not going to be an athiest.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • TEE-atheist

      Oh yes there are – I'm example of that. But I didnt stop saving myself and others by praying, I kept working because ONLY we can save ourselves.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • John Richardson

      @notyep And when Jesus bellows at you "I never knew you!", your day is gonna suck, too.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • notyep

      You have no power to save yourself whatsoever; Christ alone saves. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, agnosticism, athiesm and every other religion are all sinking ships.

      Why would he say, "I never knew you," when he has from eternity past? (Eph 1:4)

      September 4, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • retrostar1000

      Thats one of the problems with Christians. They just can't let you have your own relationship with your God, whomever you cal God. It's nobody's business what I believe. Christians are incredibly judgmental. They can't resist sticking their nose in your beliefs.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • John Richardson

      @notyep You don't know your own bible very well. Read up a little on those who claim to follow Christ but are in fact false followers.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  13. bob rock

    Adter 9/11, Americans started to doubt religion. Good, merciful god would not let anything as bas as that to happen to good people, right?

    September 4, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • C. Dionisi

      Wasn't the god of the old testament considered a 'vengeful god'? We can justify anything..... In any case, remember that around the world, thousands die each year for lack of things that many of us in North America may take for granted such as water, food and access to basic medical care. Tsunamis, earthquakes etc. also take huge tolls. Clearly, if there is a god out there, then large scale death and destruction is either beyond its power, or part of its plan.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • C. Dionisi

      .....forgot to mention that this death and destruction may also not be something this god cares about.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  14. bigdoggie

    Glyder: You are the problem, not the solution! Please do not procreate!

    September 4, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  15. Ann

    it's not God that is the problem...it's people & their free will to choose.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  16. mightyfudge

    America, repeat after me: "No one knows what happens when we die, and anyone claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money."

    September 4, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • bob rock

      With a current global population of 6-7 billion, that means that approx. 60-70 billion people ever lived from the dawn of humans. Aren't you glad they all went somewhere else (probably hell)?

      September 4, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  17. frootyme

    I dd not see religion has anything to do with 9/11 attackers or the Holocaust drivers. The problem is that a religion, sect, cult or tribe are the vital platforms to gain the attention of few ignorant people to be recruited as followers. Unfortunately few personalities have emerged time and again to exploit it. And most civilized and democratic governments did not do anything to resolve the conflicts to reduce the influence of lunatics who are seeking the religious shelter to propagate their agenda. So sad. And Bush called it Operation Crusade before changing the name to Operation Enduring Freedom. His dirty mind spoke to reveal the secrete to make it look like a religious war between Christianity and Islam (others).

    September 4, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  18. bigdoggie

    Lottafun: Agreed. Also, it didn't change my views on religion...it's a waste of time and a crutch for the weak and ignorant!

    September 4, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  19. glyder

    kissing ass to islam is what has happened.anti-christian.the left will get in bed with anyone.even though this will also destroy them.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Steve

      Seriously? Christians are the most coddled and privileged group in the country. You always get things your way and you complain if you have to even share space with non-Christians. Get over it. This isn't a Christian nation. Never has been. Never will be.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  20. Matthew Lucas

    Wow, what a great article. This one really provoked me to think about my own religious beliefs. Now i understand that being christian isn't just about blind devotion to "God", it is about love for one's neighbor. That is the most important message that God/the church/pastors/fellow christians are trying to express. Thank you CNN for the article, and I believe that this country is moving in the right direction for the future because love for one another and our country is growing.

    September 4, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • lottafun

      I'm not fooled. There is no hope for mankind. George Carlin said it best; we're pests!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:39 am |
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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.