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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. Reality

    A post 9/11 review of the major religions:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current crises:

    The caste system and cow worship/reverence.

    6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    September 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Momwithaplan

      You evidently need a hobby dude.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • BG

      @ Mom

      Dude, I think you're looking at it. What's yours, macramé?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Reasonable

      This post is just a troll post from someone that just cuts and pastes his nonsense on this blog and in the washpo.

      Ignore him, he is nuts.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • steve

      the walls of jerico fell out. that was determined in the 30s by archiologists. seige weapons make walls fall in. mass hallucination means 2 or more of the same exact thing. number of times it has happened in history 0. jesus and 1000s of people didnt all see the same hallucination.

      September 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Chuks

      this article is a real show of ignorance and probably the worst Article I have seen online so far. When you analyzed the percentage authenticity of the NT, why did not say anything about the same articles when they appeared in the Koran. A complete cut and join with ignorance as the key index. Get informed. When God was bedrock of American society, they prospered.now that they are abandoning it, can't you see how they are going?if you want to know what your wife will look like at old age, look at your mother inlaw(biological) if America wants to know what they would be when they become Islamic, they should look at Pakistan, Iran, the middle east, and ask themselves "Are we better the way we are?"

      October 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  2. Truth

    What a bunch of disgusting liberal comments. Always negative.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Corse

      Like yours? You must be a liberal then.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Pastafarian

      lol. ironic much?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  3. Mr Mark

    The picture accompanying this story shows a crossbeam from the WTC. Why on earth anybody would consider this to be a Christian cross and/or a sign from god beats me.

    The fact is that humans have been tying and nailing wooden beams together for time immemorial to use as a basic construction support. Someone came up with the idea of using this basic construction structure as an implement of torture and execution. To listen to the religious, you'd think the construction industry got the idea of a cross beam from the execution of Jesus, rather than the other way round. The WTC was full of such structures, as are practically every other building on the planet.

    It would be nice if Christians could quit reading their religion into everything that happens in the world. Sometimes, it's just a crossbeam, not a cross, not a sign, and in this case, not a symbol of Christianity or god. it's not a miracle. it's what one would expect to pull from the rubble of a razed building, be it the WTC or a mosque.

    Now, show me a Star of David or a crescent that survives destruction like that visited on the WTC and I MIGHT think that there was some "sign" intended. A cross? Not so much.

    Maybe I should start a religion where the icon is a person crossing the street. Then, every time the light changes, i can aver that my god is giving us a sign.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Rex Lutherin

      Very well said. What you describe reminds me of a grilled cheese sandwich, with the face of Jesus cooked into it.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Felipe

      Christians are free to read whatever they want the same way you are free to read whatever you like. If Christians want to believe in a Gos then what is your problem? Does it bothers you that they believe in someone you dont believe in? Does it bothers you if they say they are going to heaven but you are not? Leave them alone so they can leave you alone because I bet you will not like for christians to be telling you what to read right?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • jamesquall

      i think what bothers him is when religious people (mainly christians) attempt to push their faith on people.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Mr Mark

      To Felipe:

      Sure. Christians are allowed to read their religious beliefs into any situation or event. it's just pathetic and a bit childish that they choose to do so in instances like the one under discussion.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Sathyavrath

      Mark, you wrote better than the article. Congrats and well said.

      September 4, 2011 at 6:19 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      @Felipe: It bothers me that so many people die as prisoners of their own minds and never feel what it's like to be a truly free human being. It's tragic. Most of us atheists are this way because we have released ourselves from our own shackles. In many ways we feel compelled to snap you, the religious people, out of your waking dream so that you can open your eyes and experience this reality the way that makes you happy. We can't do it for you. Unlike religion where you do some rituals and follow some rules that make you Christian or whatever else... no such thing exists in order to be an atheist. Logic and rationality are your keys and they will be pointed out to you numerous times. It's up to you recognize that you're under a mind control. Making that realization is a breakthrough that a lot of you probably never will achieve. Like waking up in a dream – do you ever get the feeling that something just isn't right? The world is not as it seems? Wake up. There is no god. We created him because we are conscious that we exist and we don't know why.

      Cogito ergo sum.

      September 4, 2011 at 7:47 am |
    • GAW

      @ Awkward Situations Thank you for showing us that Atheists can be holier than thou too,

      September 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Lee

      Yes wow it is a MIRACLE brothers and sisters!!! There were two beams in this building that were connected at right angles!!!! That can never happen without godly intervention!!! It must be a sign that all of us believers are going to heaven and now we get to watch the other 99.99% of people burn in hell. That is what we are looking forward to!!!

      September 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • steve

      @ Lee
      good attempt at making fun of christians but l would like you to know that 1/3 of the world claims christianity not .01%. so close and yet so far.

      September 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @GAW: Sometimes you gotta speak to them in a language they understand. Cheers.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  4. Rex Lutherin

    Try this... believe in whatever you want to believe in, but don't tell anybody else they're wrong unless they're threatening your life to think otherwise. Until that moment comes, respect each other's freedom to believe whatever you want to believe.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Corse

      There is less choice in "what to believe" than you might think.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Rex Lutherin

      Corse: It all depends on where you live.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Corse

      Only partly. What about the people who want to be free of all lies? How do you fight lies? Why can't people be free of lies from birth? At some point you're going to intrude upon those who seek to spread lies.
      They should not be free to spread lies. Period. There can be no justification of such a "freedom" in my book.
      Any ideas?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Religion is only an illusion of choice. You have the freedom to choose the shackles that you fancy the most. Just please stop trying to force those shackles on others so that you may have company in your lifelong misery.

      September 4, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  5. Felipe

    Religion is not = God. Jesus thought us about peace though Christian made war agaisnt Muslims. By the way, I am Catholic and I believe in God but our religions have its negative sides and good sides and so does science because if it would not have been by science we would not be fearing for someone to start a nuclear war. Everything has a positive side and negative side.
    Get along people because at the end we were ment to live in the same planet. Peace to you all.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Corse

      Sorry to hear that you were molested as a child. Co-dependency is a sad way of life.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Felipe

      Corse irs weird, for a moment I thought that a well educated atheist would have given an argument that would have make me change the way that I think. Sorry bro but if this is the way you guys want us to end with religion the whole world would have to be doommed for that to happen

      September 4, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Al

      It took scientists to make the first bombs, but a Christian president to actually decide to drop them on people.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Felipe

      Al so you agree with me that science still has a negative sing? And what if that bomb had not been dropped? How many more people would have die? That is one of the positive sings although I feel sorry for the ones that die.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Corse

      If I knew what to say to insane people to make them sane, I would do so.
      You say you see the negative sides to your religion, yet you cling to it with all the simple-minded strength of your malformed id.
      So you don't get much from me other than scorn, yet you need mental help. I am not your mental health counselor.
      Why doesn't your fake god fix these "negative" things? Because he doesn't exist.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • Maani

      Since we've never had anything BUT Christian presidents, that's a pretty stupid statement.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Use your LOGIC god dam_n it!!!! Ahhhhh!! 🙂

      But seriously. Logic, use it.

      Cheerio.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • Al

      Maani
      "that's a pretty stupid statement."
      Why? They could have chosen not to drop them, right? They all bought into the MAD idea of killing all of humanity should the Soviets strike first. Makes them no different than the Soviets, right?

      September 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  6. failed.

    Any new hollywood 911 movie? HERO saves the world?!?!

    911 movie for academy award ?

    September 3, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  7. Reality

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years and most before 9/11)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    September 3, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • SciGuy

      He was conceived by the holy spirit through the then-virgin Mary, and lived a perfect life on behalf of his people, and died bearing God's wrath for them, and now intercedes for them at God's right hand.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Pastafarian

      SciGuy: unless you're being sarcastic, you should be forced to give up your screen name on here. It's an insult to real scientists like me.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • jamesquall

      hmm, might want to change your name "SciGuy". just seems really...hypocritical.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • SciGuy

      Pasty & James: I will keep the name. I am a scientist and a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the creator of all things. I love all truth, both that given by God to us in special revelation (his word and his Word), and that which is given to us through natural revelation. Science plays a humble role in the latter.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  8. Rex Lutherin

    Damnit, you people are ALL WRONG for arguing about your religious beliefs and practices in the first place.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  9. SciGuy

    People loving people is good, but it does not compensate for, nor satisfy the wrath of God regarding, their breaking of his law.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Be more concerned about my wrath since it's real. Mmmmmkay.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • SciGuy

      Awkward, your wrath at its worst can destroy my body. God's wrath can destroy both body and soul. Fear him.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  10. Jim

    What Jefferson thinks about all this:

    http://www.federalistblog.us/2010/11/_defending_jeffersons_wall_of_separation_metaphor/

    September 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  11. Paco the Avenger

    If only people would realize religion is a crock. For sure, religion is the opiate of the masses. Not christianity, not judaism, not islam... all of them.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • SciGuy

      False religion, yes. But the true way revealed by God in revelation to man, no.

      September 3, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Corse

      SciGuy, you are insane. Good thing you have so many people around you just as stupidly insane as you, otherwise you'd be out in the cold, wouldn't you? What a waste of a life. There is no "god". Not even a little tiny one.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Pastafarian

      so "Sci" Guy, what you're really saying is that your magic man in the sky is better than everyone lese's magic man in the sky? Interesting.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      @Paco the Avenger: You must be a real life superhero! Saving people from themselves (and religion)!

      September 4, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • SciGuy

      Corse, you are blind. Ironically, it is the "god" of this world who is blinding you to the truth that is found only in Jesus, who is God in human flesh.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • SciGuy

      No, "pasta" farian, I really said what I really said. It's still there for you to try again.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • UU_Atheist_Buddhist

      Belief in god is a crock, not religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  12. TruthatCNN

    All the attacks caused by Muslims. If there no BAD Muslim group involvement, this world will be so peaceful.

    I am not saying every Muslim is BAD… But all the attacks caused by Muslims

    September 3, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Here I'll throw a little truth your way. Those attacks are going going to stop.. until ALL religions fade away into history. Yes, that means your religion too. When is the last time that you remember reading about religious peace on Earth? How about since we've been able to make automatic weapons?

      If you're with religion, you're a part of the problem too. Goodluck.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      *EDIT*

      Those attacks are NEVER going to stop..

      September 4, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Yamada

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      June 26, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  13. just saying...

    ...one looks at events such as the Stalinist purges and the Maoist Cultural Revolution, which were 100% motivated by athiest ideologies, and wonders why thinking people still subscribe to the moral nonsense of athiesm in the 21st Century.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Colin

      Stalin was educated as an Orthodox monk. Mao was schooled in Buddhism. Please read their biographies before saying anything so silly.

      September 3, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Free

      You forgot to add Hitler, who was Christian. What they all shared was totalitarian control of their citizens, something that the average American atheist wouldn't advocate any more than most Americans.

      September 3, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • alkhuu

      It is not the concept of religion as much as the beliefs in absolute truths and inflexible ideologies that caused all of these genocides. If you think you are absolutely right, then those who do not believe in what you believe are wrong . Fringe believers of these ideologies and religions think they are doing the world a favor by ridding it of the wrong sort of human beings. Communism, fascism, Christianity, Islam and Judiasm are all purveyors of absolutism and their more violent believers have killed far more humans than atheists ever will. Yes, Stalin was atheistic, but if that is all he was he wouldn't have killed. Atheismn is based upon reason and science, communism (Stalin's other belief system) is the real killer.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • colton

      What you "claim" and what you "are" are to two completely different things.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • eyesWIDEopen

      "...the moral nonsense of athiesm..."

      LMFAO! Over the course of human history, more innocent blood has been shed in the name of someone's "god" than for every other reason COMBINED! Just saying...

      September 4, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • csy

      Colin - still, Mao and Stalin eventually became atheists - no one can deny that (or have atheists "rationally" explained that away as well?). And it was in their atheism and anti-religionism that they started killing millions. One could argue a *logic* that had Stalin and Mao stayed true to their religious upbringings, maybe they wouldn't have killed so many? It's funny how atheists and anti-religionists like to quote Marx so much (i.e. religion = opiate of masses) and yet not acknowledge how much Marx influenced the likes of the murderous Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, India's Naxalites, Che Guevara, etc. in the same way the Quran influenced al-Qaeda, Taliban, al-Shabaab, etc. Also, google "Reign of Terror" (yeah, that's "Terror" as in "terrorist") and learn how anti-religionists beheaded 1000s during the French Revolution (and surprise, no Christians, Muslims, or Jews involved in that blood-spilling there). One of the ROT's leaders, Robespierre, was a deist and eventually got his head whacked off for that (which might make a few atheists beam inside).

      September 5, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  14. mtnmedic

    Religion is a crutch and an excuse to commit sin. The worst evildoers are often the most religious. This has been revealed for thousands of years.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • steve

      what is sin without religion? what is good and evil? without religious convictions where do you get your definition or authority to claim something is wrong? remember everyone has a religion because everyone has faith in something. even radical religious people are human therefore easily led astray and inevitably will sin, some more destructively than others.

      September 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  15. David

    And THAT is why people have every right to fear atheists, because you are just as latently murderous and intolerant as the religious individuals you hate.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Free

      Yeah, and all black men are just waiting for their chance to attack white women. Just like all gays are just waiting to abuse kids. Same old irrational fear, just the object is new.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Corse

      Now that we're all murderous and intolerant together, why don't we have a party?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      We're here! Where's beer? Get used to it!

      Atheists know how to party. We have secret se_xy mass org_y rendezvous where we cap off the evening with a discussion on how to take over the world over a hot chocolate fudge sundae. Wanna join? Free salvation when you sign up, but for a limited time only. Don't wait!

      September 4, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  16. The Dude

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXfXuk6aWJc&w=640&h=390]

    September 3, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  17. ten2andeven

    You may ask...why is it that i do not believe...or literally have no faith? It is a gift from God...and you can ask for faith to believe...to understand...to get a grip. also ; the Bible is a good source, try hearing what it says.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • mei'mthere

      Nothing worse than a moron who believes in the bible who uses the bible to defend the bible.

      September 3, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Free

      If God didn't give us atheists this 'gift' then why do you blame us for not believing?

      September 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Get a grip on what exactly? If you say "reality" I'm going to be angry.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  18. Felipe

    Oh please stop this non-sense. We blame everything in religion but the ones that make the decision is us, humans. Why cant we live together in peace instead of trying to prove the others wrong. We as humans have the abilities to think and choose what is right and what is wrong. If a person decides to kill another person we cannot blame it on religion because at the end if he wanted he could have stopped.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • mdamone

      Holding religion responsible and blaming it are two different things. You are right: it is not right to BLAME religion for murder, since the person committing it made the choice. But it is right to HOLD RESPONSIBLE any religion that preaches murder and promotes its members to act this way (i.e. – by telling them that they will go to 'heaven', or be rewarded in the afterlife for the act, etc.).
      Religion doesn't cause murder (including mass murder), it justifies it in many cases. The former is what the individual person is responsible for; the latter is what the religion is responsible for.
      Every religion on Earth has at one point in history justified the murder of those outside of itself (many times those inside, too). But as human society has evolved, MOST religions have moved into the current century and abandoned that. A few religions have not. Islam is one of these, plain and simple.
      No, this doesn't mean that all Muslims are bad, or that all Islamic leaders preach murder. No need to confuse facts with the religions 'race' card. There are some who hold all of Islam guilty and they are wrong. But ask yourself this: of all the major religions on the planet, why is it that members of only one are engaged in regular mass murder via terrorism?
      No, Israel does not count. They are engaged in a political struggle, not a religious one. No, relatively recent events in Ireland don't count, either. That was not religious – it was also political.
      Only one major religion today has a relatively large population engaging in terrorism against civilians of other religions, regularly justifies the acts, and those who do not openly justify do not make their voice heard criticizing the terrorism.
      These are uncomfortable questions to consider but not doing so only makes more innocent people dead.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Corse

      What people believe has a great deal to do with their actions. If you believe in lies, your actions will not be based on truth.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Enlightenment

      What Would Jesus Bomb?

      September 4, 2011 at 5:25 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Killing in the name of religion overrides any sort of innate sense of right or wrong humans have. You should be able to understand that. When a person believes god is on their side they will do just about anything. Especially if they believe a reward is waiting for them beyond the grave. That takes faith.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  19. PhilG.

    If the attacks were designed to destroy America,they have almost worked out as planned.

    We have practically bankrupted several generations of Americans using two hugely expensive wars to fight a small group of people.

    I havent felt any different towards Muslims since the attacks have occured.

    These terrorists were simply people who wanted to kill anyone-we were the next targets on their list.

    I feel strongly different to our politicians who continue to support policies that are sending America towards economic ruin and causing her to be a pariah in the world.

    And as far as religion in general-it is not needed to connect with God.

    NO RELIGION has a GOD CARD you need to get into Heaven.

    Sorry,it just don't work that way and ALL the religions actually know it.

    September 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      My friend, there is no god. We've all we got. That's it.
      It's not so bad. Use your logic. Take care.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  20. SDMom22

    Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions ~ Blaise Pascal

    September 3, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • steve

      please realize blaise pascal was devoutly christian.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
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About this blog

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.