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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. ecstatist

    Has anyone mentioned that blind patriotism (which nearly all patriotism is) is another irrational fairy tale RELIGION dogmaed into children. Trust your government like you trust your ayatollah, priest, rabbi, witchdoctor, faith healer, insurance salesman, and me!

    September 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  2. AGuest9

    9/11 proved that Islam is evil, and is the reason why the Middle East has been in a constant state of war for nearly 1,400 years. Now, they want to export their cancer here.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Ben

      But here, we have our own virulent, evil cancer that much of the population suffers from. It's called Christianity.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  3. slojoe

    George Harrison said in imagine no religion to .I tend to agree , religion kills!

    September 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The Crusades, the Inquisitions and Jihad all prove it kills.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  4. Jonathan

    I'm really having a hard time understanding where all of these conversations are going? Apparently we all agree that everyone has the ability to do what they want under any excuse whether it be religious or non religious. And that apparently it is not just Atheists, or Muslims, or Christians that are doing of doing acts of extream violence that can only be taken as wrong.

    Perhaps then what needs to be looked at is if any creed, whether it be religious or non religions, actually supports such acts of violence openly. Because it can be said that many people use religion as an excuse to cause such acts, the same can also be said of people who follow a non religious path. One only has to look at history to see that both parties are guilty of such crimes when looked in an broad view. Such as the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the Ethnic Cleansing of Nazi Germany, The Political Cleansing in the Early Soviet Union, the Genocides committed in Africa under the same ideas of Ethnic Cleansing, China's Ethnic war on the Tibetan Monks, and finally the 9/11 attacks. All were and are committed under the ideals by people who use both religious and non religious views as an excuse to commit such acts.

    And since there is nothing we can do to stop people from continually using such views as excuses, lets find those views that actually support such acts and not support them.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • A Theist

      Agreed. We also need to include those that silently allow the violence and abuse that occur in their sects of faith, such as the sections of the Catholic Church that protect the pedophile priests. Silence is simply a form of quiet support.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  5. Bradly Thomas Horton

    I am a very proud Atheist and I will always work towards ending religion in all parts of life, because it is the most destructive thing that humans ever made up...

    September 6, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well, everyone should have a life's goal. As long as you are planning a Kristallnacht then we will just file you with the rest of the harmless extremist on both sides.

      I think you have your work cut out for you. Those in the middle are finding our voice is louder than those at the fringes of both the militant Faithful and the militant Atheist. I fear your like will soon find yourselves very alone. :)

      September 6, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Free

      Mark
      The militant Faithful have been known to blow people up, whereas it seems that an atheist is called 'militant' if he or she openly talks about their beliefs. Bit of a difference there, wouldn't you say?

      September 6, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      @Bradly Thomas Horton: That is a noble goal. I think it will be a very very long time until humanity has finally emancipated itself from the vice grip of religion. Ever since the 'Age of Enlightenment' and especially now with the technological revolution, it's only a matter of time until people come to their senses and start using their brains at full capacity. Unless, of course, the religious fanatics gain control and silence the non-believers as they have so often done in the past. It's interesting being a minority in this fashion. This must be what all the people who insisted the world was round felt like when the majority believed it was flat. lol.

      @Mark from Middle River: Don't worry. The goal isn't to wipe out all the believers from this world. Our goal is to undermine religion using logic and rationality. Eventually, people will stop mentally and emotionally abusing their children with religion and we'll move forward as a species of sane individuals. It will be a long time coming.

      September 6, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • RFBJR

      So, you don't believe in religious freedom? What if I like my religion? How are you going to eradicate my beliefs? Are you gonna kill me? Religion has had it's problems for sure, however no religion doesn't seem to be the answer to peace. Perhaps you should ask those that tried to practice their religion under Communist rule, like the Tibetans, as an example. Of course alot of them ended up dead. To have no religion, you would have to murder most of the world.

      September 6, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Why is GENOCIDE the first thing that pops into the minds of believers when we say we want to get rid of religion?

      Just because that's the standard way that god solves problems in the bible doesn't mean that's what we're secretly planning at our Atheists Take Over the World meeti.... wait. I've already said too much.

      September 6, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Seer Clearly

      Your efforts are not what's going to do the trick. Religion is doing it to itself. Fundamentalism is showing us that the "fundamental" belief structures religion teaches – personal superiority, unquestioned belief that you're right ('righteousness'), and relative morality – are the primary source of suffering and death in our world. These beliefs, when added to the religious underpinning that the physical world is bad, produce people who live tortured lives of self-hate, projected onto others. What will bring about the end of religion is that millions will discover that their relationship with the Divine doesn't depend on others who tell them they have to feel guilty or fear God. This was the Gospel of Thomas, and it's the self-evident reality of an increasing number of people who make spirituality a part of their lives with no ties to religion at all. It is the peace and bliss that those people experience that will destroy religion.

      September 6, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Seer Clearly

      The religious cannot imagine being separated from their emotional life-preserver without violence, but that is only because they are taught to see the world in such violent terms.

      September 6, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • A Theist

      @Seer Clearly You jumped from clear radical fundamentalism–in support of "personal superiority, unquestioned belief that you're right ('righteousness'), and relative morality"–to religion as a whole. I will point out that a true faith in Christ defies the very "pillars of Fundamentalism" and therefore is a far different breed than the fundamentalists you have indicated. These Fundamentalists are bred on tradition and indoctrination–and have, for whatever reason, stood the test of time despite the constant "turning away" from their radical and unfounded ideas.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>“The militant Faithful have been known to blow people up, whereas it seems that an atheist is called 'militant' if he or she openly talks about their beliefs. Bit of a difference there, wouldn't you say?”

      Hi Free, it is not the Atheist that talks openly about their beliefs that I feel concerned over. They are no different that the Faithful that talk openly about theirs. It is when folks make statements that their goal is: “I will always work towards ending religion in all parts of life,”. That is no different than Muslims when they declare that they would work to establish sharia or a Christian declaring to wipe out Judism. It is the same stupid hate.

      Would you have us wait until the militants within Atheism reaches that point of the Nazis or Al-Qaeda to then decide to speak out? I do not think we should wait. Sometimes it is better to prepare for the storm when you hear the distant thunder, not when it is wind and rain are upon you.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  6. Awkward Situations

    @Jesus saves: I double-dog dare you to read the entire bible front to back. Usually that's enough to make a Christian start questioning the nonsense they get so h_orny about.

    September 6, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • A Theist

      Madam, I will have you know that Jesus does not make me horn_y (silly, though, all the same :P ), and I have read the Bible the whole way through. Yes, I have many, many questions, but at the same time I still believe firmly in the aspects that matter when it comes to faith in God. And I will say confidently that the Bible in no way shattered these ideas, but rather, it strengthened them.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      This was in response to the fellow on the previous page but it got posted here by accident.
      Okay, the horn_y bit was funny to me. I can't help myself.

      I have met a lot of Christians who have never read the bible all the way through and so I as_sume that most of their knowledge is based on preaching or selected passages during bible study. I have a hard time taking them seriously when it comes to world views because I can't trust their fund of knowledge. I'm glad you have read it all the way through – it shows that you are serious about your beliefs and not just attending the weekly brainwashing sessions for your source of information.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward We are in thorough agreement then! :D Yes I, too, am concerned about anyone who holds fast to a belief without investigating it to its core. Unfortunately those that are capable yet refuse to question what they accept as reality cast a bad name on all believers, and I aim to make it clear that we are not all brainwashed :P . Glad to see others on this site understand that as well :). Awkward, you win in my book!

      September 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @A Theist: When us atheists finally implement the "final solution" and commit mass genocide against the religious... I'll make sure to add you to my list of religious people that should be spared. Of course, you have to meet a certain criteria to be accepted on the list. But I'll vouch for you! I swear! ;)

      September 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward, Haha I'm sure The Day is almost at hand!!! And I am certain I shall pass the test with flying colors :D. We can't be having a "V for Vendetta" world, after all!

      September 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @A Theist: Look for my post on page 4 of the article 'Website aims to show post-9/11 discrimination against Muslims, Sikhs'

      Cheerio!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  7. ChRIST TEMPLAR

    They had just told us that USA will get humble to Islam. Look at this. This happen in USA soil, in Colorado.

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/09/colorado-american-flag-lowered-replaced-with-saudi-flag-in-greeley-elementary-school-classroom.html

    September 6, 2011 at 4:27 am |
  8. ChRIST TEMPLAR

    http://quran.com/9/29
    Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah (Security Tax) willingly while they are humbled.

    1. Islam will not kill us except you pay Security Tax for your life.

    http://quran.com/9/30
    The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah "; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah ." That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?

    2. Allah only in Arabs? Only Arab Jews that think Ezra is the son of God.

    http://quran.com/3/67
    Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah ]. And he was not of the polytheists.

    3. So be it with Jesus and Christians.

    http://quran.com/2/115
    And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah . Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.

    4. Allah not live in Mecca so why you turn your prayer to that place.

    http://quran.com/5/51
    O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.

    5. If so, why all Muslim immigrant are trying to migrant to west. You are disobey your own law, you must not be come and live among us. You have a plenty oil and water there with your camel. We have our dogs.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  9. Carla

    Canadians were more godly Christian than Americans until 1960's. Their unwise inclusiveness all changed. "O Canada" is a religious anthem dedicated to the God of Christians. Christians made great nations and secularists corrupt everything.

    September 6, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • AGuest9

      O Canada!
      Our home and native land!
      True patriot love in all thy sons command.
      With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
      The True North strong and free!
      From far and wide,
      O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
      God keep our land glorious and free!
      O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
      O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

      No god there, Carla!!!!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Hmmm... Missed that line. See, how they sneak that god in, everywhere?

      September 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  10. Reality

    Bottom line on the major religions in short form:

    • There probably was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There probably was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas/Buddhists everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    More details upon request or simply scroll back to p. 22.---------------–

    September 6, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • AndyB

      Your arguments against Buddhism are fail. Fat Buddha is Budai, and skinny Buddha is Gautama Buddha. They are two different people. The first is Chinese and the second is Indian.
      While I disbelieve reincarnation I see nothing wrong with using the Noble Truths and Eightfold Path to find peace of mind.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Reality

      The 29 named Buddhas, some fat, some thin, some in-between:

      Taṇhaṅkara[1]

      Medhaṅkara[2]

      Saraṇaṅkara[3]

      Dīpankara[4]

      Koṇḍañña[5]

      Maṅgala[6]

      Sumana[7]

      Revata[8]

      Sobhita[9]

      Anomadassi[10]

      Paduma[11]

      Nārada[12]

      Padumuttara[13]

      Sumedha[14]

      Sujāta[15]

      Piyadassi[16]

      Atthadassi[17]

      Dhammadassī[18]

      Siddharttha[19]

      Tissa[20

      Phussa[21]

      Vipassī[22]

      Sikhī[23]

      Vessabhū[24]

      Kakusandha[25]

      Koṇāgamana[26]

      Kassapa[27]

      Gautama[28]

      Maitreya[29]

      September 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  11. Carla

    By the stat, Americas became only worse for the last 10 years. America's real problem is her refusal to change her deadly course of evil life by repentance and humility before the Almighty God.

    September 5, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Reality

      Carla, the "red-neck" lady of many names, continues to spout from her den of inanity.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Carla

      Reality, keep your user name. No one bothers you because all the bullying villains are your own kind.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • GFW

      And countries that don't bow to your god are doing so much better than the US how?

      September 6, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Aitamen

      Yeah, but only if you look at the nation as a whole. Largely, our problems come from the nation's unwillingness to change and/or fall in line with the more socially advanced societies. With the larger decline of religion worldwide, both in terms of rising atheist/agnostic numbers and irreligion in general, more people and countries are pushing for equality within society, especially in terms of education and medicine, both of which are lacking (along with a great many other issues) in the US if it wishes to claim status as "World Leading". Look at countries like Norway, Estonia, and Sweden (extremely highly irreligious) and compare them, in recent years and in terms of human advancement, to any highly religious country. Which is causation and which is correlation thereof is subject to debate, but there's certainly a trend if you follow statistics.

      Oh... I see GFW already pointed this out, heh.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Aitamen

      That first line is supposed to be: "But only if you look at the nation, instead of the world as a whole."

      We may be "falling", but most of it is related to our feet arguing with each other instead of running to keep up.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • Charles

      hi Carla. I think it's always been a question of thirst for power and control, and unfortunately, you find this in all levels of society. The higher you go, the more corrupt you become. I think if all Americans new everything that goes on behind the true dark closets and the true dark curtains of so called diplomacy, well... As for religion, the problem with religion has never been the existence of GOD but rather the existence of man's PRIDE and again, his THIRST for POWER and CONTROL on his fellow humans. The problem in the world today is not religion it's PRIDE and everything else. So in that sense absolutely Carla, the problem is "Lack of Humility " ! GOD BLESS Carla, GOD BLESS !

      September 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Of course, America's decline over the past ten years had nothing to do with the Bush administrations, right? It was just "god's will to punish 'evil America'", right? Empires rise and empires fall. Your imaginary friend has nothing to do with it.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  12. Eh?

    "The term "American" even reflects a certain arrogance. It casually discounts millions of people living in Central and Latin America."

    Not to mention the 35 million (+/-) other people living in North America – Canadians. Oops!

    September 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sorry, Eh? I often use it simply because sometimes you need a break from saying "U.S." Also, it's a much cooler word. Sorry if I offended any Canadians, who I think are the coolest people in the world, what with hockey and curling, although Bryan Adams and Celine Dion are a bit of a miscue. However, Oh, Canada is the coolest national anthem ever!

      September 5, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sorry about the "cool" overkill. I get a little enthusiastic. Did I mention how much I love your flag?

      (I'm serious here. I really do love all or at least most things Canada.)

      September 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • captain america

      CNN is not short for the"canadian news network".It is American news,"eh,"perhaps you should seek out CBC.

      September 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Don't diss the CBC. They have great hockey coverage.

      September 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Redneck louie

      ifn ya seen a moose a mounty and a beaver ya seen all canadia got to offer best set home

      September 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Them's fightin words! And let me tell you, those hockey players can fight! They didn't call Stu Grimson the Grim Reaper for nothin'!

      September 5, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Them’s fightin words!"

      Tally, someone says Hail Mary or just says proudly they are a Christian and you consider "thems fight'n words" :)

      September 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      O'Canada might be the coolest national anthem except that it mentions god. I hope that blemish will be removed one day.

      September 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Current Russian Anthem which has little changes from the Soviet Anthem.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      Yeah, Ace, but that line about "True North" gets me every time. I have a soft spot for true things.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • tallulah13

      Mark, this isn't about god. It's about Canada and hockey and things that are real.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      @HotAirAce: We got it in the U.S. national anthem as well. But I don't really care, can't really remove that historical artifact.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Awkward:

      The concept of the divine only makes an appearance in the last verse of the Star-Spangled Banner. If you just look at the first verse (the only one we ever sing), it makes no mention of any god. Or America, for that matter.

      September 6, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      @iamdeadlyserious: Yea, I had to google that little bit of trivia.

      September 6, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  13. kimsland

    I feel sorry for all religious people.
    Sorry

    September 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Redneck louie

      i feels sorry for all them that feel sorry for all religious folks sorry

      September 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Redneck louie

      an i does mean sorry

      September 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Redneck louie

      has i said i felt sorry

      September 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  14. AlanMohammed

    Do we need to listen to this evry year. 911. it like a hollyday now. stop with this S.

    September 5, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I guess you don't recognize December 7th, either? Know what "Remember the Maine" stands for?

      September 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • nada33

      I agree,,,,

      September 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  15. Interplexer

    Religion in America should ( on a Governmental level) not exist. We give the right to practice any religion we want, America itself does not lay claim to any specific religion. Even so America prints" in God we trust" on their coins. This still dosen't point to a specific religion. Just in God, any God, whatever God you believe in. The Idea of God anyway is to provide proper guidance and hope for the future. If we followed the Bible for example, to the " T " , our society would be acting pretty silly compared to how we actually act.

    September 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • pProf

      "We give the right..." No. We possess that right, and don't need a govt to give it. The thing govt infamously does is attempt to strip it from us. In our fortunate case, our founding fathers attempted to prohibit the govt they were forming from being able to do that.

      September 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  16. Russell

    The most common tie to religions is the six day work week and one day to rest; most atheist accept this rhythm cycle, and would fight to preserve it. Muslims use Friday, the Jews and some Christians use Saturday; Roman and Eastern orthodox, and most Protestant Christians use Sunday. I find it interesting that most atheist practice the seven day weekly cycle. It comes from the idea that God created the world in six days, and took the seventh day to rest.

    September 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Not sure how an arbitrary measurement proves your religion correct. All it proves is that humans enjoy subdividing their time. And by the way, the 7 day week isn't particularly pretty when viewed on a mathematical level, as it never fits cleanly into a year (which is an actual measurement of time built around a natural occurrence).

      September 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • pProf

      @deadly: he did not say it proved his religion correct. Your "reputation for rational thought" is at risk.

      September 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      pProf:

      It's implied, through his constant insistence that atheists would rise up and fight to protect the 7-day week (we would?) and his assertion that it's odd for atheists to accept a god-made construct. Neither assertion is particularly true, but more importantly, neither assertion is relevant to the article.

      September 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • tallulah13

      All I know is, Loverboy had it right when they sang "Everybody's Working For the Weekend."

      September 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • *frank*

      Yes, I'm not sure about their outfits though.

      September 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That headband? Scary stuff.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      I suppose we should ditch the calendar too.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:52 am |
  17. pProf

    @Peeje: By definition one who is a Christian adheres to the teachings of Jesus Christ. One of his crystal clear teachings is that there is one way, and only one way, to God, and that is through him. He says that any who do not believe in him are under the wrath of God and condemned by God, while those who do believe in him are loved by God and accepted by God.

    September 5, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Many universalist Christians reject that view and have their favorite scriptures to back them up.

      September 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • pProf

      @JR: You are correct. While God has given us his inerrant revelation we call the Bible, it is not uncommon for people to pervert its teachings.

      September 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The bible sure has a lot of contradictions for something "inerrant."

      September 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • AndyB

      The Bible never refers to itself as being "inerrant" or infallible in any way. Just FYI

      September 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  18. Haime52

    Many atheists paint those who embrace religion with an awfully broad brush. "Religion is dangerous", "religion is stupid", "religion is inrrational", etc. Are they jealous of the hope religious people have in something better? Do they simply view themselves as more intelligent or superior, in some way? They often ask for proof, visible proff. Who amoung them has seen evolution or the big bang? Who sat and watched for the millions of years, that they say it took to form fossils? Is the universe so small that mankind can know everything? Have we progressed so far that we imagine we can do any with the unknown and unknowable? Do we really believe that we know ALL the :laws of nature". I believe there are laws far beyond what we now know and are, perhaps, beyond our conception, because they are outside our observation.

    September 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      I think atheists just view themselves as more rational. Because, by definition, they pretty much have to be.

      As for not "seeing" evidence for evolution or the Big Bang, both of those scientific theories have been tested, and ample evidence has been found to support them. But like all good science, they're open to changing when new information is introduced (unlike religion). And more importantly, there's zero evidence for a god. Which means there's no reason to even presuppose that one exists. The burden of proof is on the people who are making the claim of existence, not the other way around.

      September 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Peter

      "Are they jealous of the hope religious people have in something better"

      OK I'll bite. What exactly is your hope of something better? How is it better than the life we have right now?

      I'm very happy right now with my life–all of it.

      September 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • pProf

      @deadly: what does "zero evidence" mean? Is it the same as saying "The probability that there is a God is precisely zero"?

      September 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Peter. A atheist once asked if a Christian could be truly happy in their lives with a known atheist in their close presence. It was shocking to a few rabid athiest when those of Faith replied they had friends, coworkers and close relatives that were athiest. They kept quoting this scripture and that scripture and almost demanded that we should live upset lives hating every atheist we come across.

      The point is that I am happy to see that you live a happy life and the same can be said of many in the middle or closer to it.

      September 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      pProf:

      Zero evidence means precisely that. There is no tangible, positive evidence that supports the notion of a god or gods. Nothing. There is, in fact, more evidence to support the existence of Bigfoot.

      September 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You are correct that there are things beyond our observation, but there are people working on that. It is not necessary to observe a process to understand that it has happened. It's rather like a crime scene. By compiling evidence, you can understand the events that have occurred.

      There is ample evidence to support evolution and the natural development of the earth through many stages, but not a trace of evidence for any god. This leads me logically to believe that this planet was not created, but developed to become what it is today via a series of natural processes.

      You are certainly welcome to believe what you want, but the easiest and perhaps only way to convert rational atheists is with proof that your god exists.

      September 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"There is ample evidence to support evolution and the natural development of the earth through many stages"

      Yet creationist will point to genesis and point out how close the biblical text is to items that it took evolutionists a few thousand years to therorize.

      September 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Mark-

      What on earth are you referring to? The part where all the animals are created on the same day? Or the part where women are made from man-rib?

      Genesis, taken literally, has nothing to do with evolutionary theory, and there are no scientific revelations to be found in that text.

      September 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi I Am. I am typing fron a iPhone app right now so I will see how much I can get to of a previous post on the same subject. Genesis begins with the formation of the earth from a shapeless matter without form. Following that earth rotation and followed by rotiation around another object and then the sun was created. Then in sequence we have formation of the atmosphere, land mass from oceans. The text then I believe speaks of vegetation followed by the first creatures which were listed as created in the seas first then the land. It all finished with God creating man.

      If you read the text the similarities can be seen while not absolute to evolutionists theory it is close enough that I can not see enough differences to have creationist and evolutionist to be deemed as polar opposites in thinking.

      September 5, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Mark:

      I'll try to go in order. First, your reading of Genesis is incredibly loose, and/or completely inaccurate. The formation of the earth from "formless matter" is a very broad reading of a passage saying that "the earth was formless and empty". It doesn't say that Yahweh shapes Earth from formless matter, but rather that there was no differentiation between sky and earth, land and water, light and dark, etc. This really has nothing to do with the Big Bang. And more importantly, the Big Bang has nothing to do with evolutionary theory.

      The rotation and orbit of Earth are never mentioned in the Bible. In fact, there are no passages that even suggest that the planet is round. The description of the placement of the sun, moon and stars with relation to Earth as given in Genesis implies that the Earth is the center of the universe, and these objects are all placed in relation to it. That lines up with hundreds of years of church doctrine, but not with scientific fact. And again, it's completely unrelated to evolution.

      Now, the final bit you mention is at least somewhat related to evolution. But again, you're misreading the passages. Genesis gives us an account of creatures of the sea and birds being created at the same time, followed by land creatures. The simplest theory of how life evolved from single-cell organisms into complex creatures is that it progressed from water to land. But birds would have actually come after land creatures (specifically, after reptiles). Finally, man is created last, but humans have not been the last species to evolve. Evolution is constantly happening. So again, the bible is far short. And let's not forget that in Genesis, everything is created in the space of a day.

      So no, there isn't one single congruence between the literal interpretation of Genesis and the actual theory of evolution.

      And can we please stop saying "evolutionist" as if it's some kind of belief system? It's like saying "germist" or "gravity-ist".

      September 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Mark, that's an insanely loose translation of genesis. You might as well say that the bible presaged Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins because it had the word "genesis" in it.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Dude or Dudette. I am at a actual desktop PC.

      Earlier today, I wrote something that I still hold as true to me:

      “If you read the text the similarities can be seen while not absolute to evolutionists theory it is close enough that I can not see enough differences to have creationist and evolutionist to be deemed as polar opposites in thinking.”

      If you are looking for absolute similarities then you are failing to comprehend me stating that there are no absolute similarities but places that are so close in agreement that I could not say that we are on polar opposites. What you are trying desperately to say is that you do not acknowledge any similarities between the Genesis text and established evolutionary theory. In that, the failing is yours.

      You would have better proof arguing the length of time period comparisons.

      I stated in another thread that from the first few scriptures....”Gen1:2 The Earth was without form”... in the process of the formation of our planet it was as it was written, a substance without form.

      “Initially molten, the outer layer of the planet Earth cooled to form a solid crust when water began acc'umulating in the atmosphere. The Moon formed shortly thereafter, 4.53 billion years ago.” wiki direct quote from another source.

      I could see you having a issue, if the scripture said … poof... and God created the Earth from nothing, but the scriptures do not say that, it mirrors what it would take science theorizes hundreds of years later. It said God moved upon that form and created Earth. If you take out “God”, you have basically the same steps that science states in forming the Earth. Still you can not take this as a place that science and the Biblical text can safely meet? If anything I find it very interesting that someone, with the lack of science and the creation of our planet got it basically right so long before the likes of Newton.

      >>>”it doesn't say that Yahweh shapes Earth from formless matter,”

      Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

      Gen1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

      In coming together with Science.... I can point to these and the description above and find peace that I can say that your statement I feel is wrong.

      >>>””Genesis gives us an account of creatures of the sea and birds being created at the same time, followed by land creatures. The simplest theory of how life evolved from single-cell organisms into complex creatures is that it progressed from water to land. But birds would have actually come after land creatures (specifically, after reptiles). “

      Well, the first flying creatures were reptiles so that they and the creatures of the seas were written pretty close enough to happened at the same time, I do believe my comparison continues to hold. Additional weight for my argument comes in that the Genesis text progresses from things of the sea to beast and cattle of the land. We can look to science to confirm in theory that we went: single cell, creatures of the seas, reptile amphibians, then land based reptiles then land based beast such as cattle and such. Look to Genesis and the track runs basically the same and again I find peace in my original statement.

      >>>”And let's not forget that in Genesis, everything is created in the space of a day.”

      Gen 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

      Gen 1:23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

      Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

      It was? Which interpretation? Personally, there are the ones that say “a thousand years are but a blink of a eye to God.” Would explain a lot. I might have missed something, where did you hear that it all happened in a day?

      I am going to close here. I did mistype with the “finished” with man. The auto correct on the iPhone was ki'lling me but it still came to the end of the Genesis creation sega.

      What I am not trying to do …. well maybe a little for principle.... I am not trying convert you to Christianity by saying that your theory is wrong but, that peace and common ground on this subject can be found if you so desire it. Your post reminds me of when I speak to some Muslims and some militant Christians and tell them that we both are serving the same God. They declare that it is not true because of fear. The fear that their path might not be the only path. The desire is not there for peace because to them the only peace is a Earth without the other. You, I feel are in the same boat. If the Bible holds the steps to peace and commonality, then you fear it will lessen what you hold to be true. That is why so many of us are saying that Atheist are not that much different than some of the Faithful.

      Good post and much respect. It is a honor to converse free of the banter of simple name calling.

      L'Chaim

      PS: Do you know how long it takes to edit a post like this to get by the filters..... Zzzz :)

      September 6, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>” Mark, that's an insanely loose translation of genesis.”

      My Atheist friend, welcome to the causes of some peaceful and some violent debates in the Faith. Everyone does not read the scriptures and interpret the text the same. Your interpretation of Genesis, will chances are, find a echo in different sects of Christianity, Judism and Islam. We see it differently.

      But "insane"? ..... Tally, to find peace and coexistence between two groups or issues....

      ….. the best I can say is that , when you pull out all of the stops, many would think you to be insane but the hope of achieving understanding and respect between groups, people or organizations... is always worth the wild ride. :D

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJVr0vJK2rs&w=640&h=390]

      “Maybe, it's not too late, To learn how to love, And forget how to hate” Ozzy

      September 6, 2011 at 3:23 am |
    • eville_11

      iamdeadlyserious: they tested evolution and the big bang... umm.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • Jim

      Haime52
      A lot of people practice their religion without affecting others at all, but for some religion can be dangerous, stupid, and irrational, and some of us live in places where it is regularly all three. Even more unfortunately, the 'dangerous, stupid, and irrational' groups are growing.

      September 6, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Haime52

      @iamdeadlyserious -so am I. Please give me your reference material for a recreation of the big bang! Oh, and the one where they recreated evolution, too! Oh, sorry, that never happened, did it? We seem to think that we know all the conditions that existed, in the past, but it is only a guess. We don't really know, as no one was there. You and I both know that science can have all the correct results and draw all the wrong conclusions. Even Dawkens acknowledges the possilble existence of God, as evolution cannot rule out such a being's existence. How would You go about testing such a being's existence? Someone like that, who is beyond mankind's ken? Who might just not wish to be "tested"? Would that being not hide their existence, to some extent? How could you, or anyone analyze a being so old and so far above anything we could grasp? You see our senses may not be able to perceive a being such as that because such a one may not exist on the same level we do and since we live on one level and not on others, that beings or beings would be undetectible unless they wished it and manifested on our level.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Ben

      The broad brush thing is mainly a function of it being really tedious to explain every time that the "religion" I really dislike is the silly, petty nonsense that people use as an excuse to dislike each other. I know a lot of religious people that I really respect, some partially because of their faith. When I complain about religion, it's the people who don't believe in freedom of religion enough to stop themselves from condemning the non-religious. It's pretty annoying to have to spend your entire life with a few loudmouths obnoxiously bothering you all the time.

      September 11, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Ben

      Evidence for evolution? Well... Have you heard of bacterial antibiotic resistance? Because that's evolution in action.

      September 11, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  19. Rick

    I'm not sure if religion is really the main subject here:

    Armed SWAT Raids Confirm 9/11 Criminal Hearings Necessary

    http://templestream.blogspot.com/

    September 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  20. Rick

    I'm not sure if religion is really the main subject here:

    Armed SWAT Raids Confirm 9/11 Criminal Hearings Necessary

    http://templestream.blogspot.com/2011/09/armed-swat-raids-and-news-confirm-911.html

    September 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
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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.