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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. MiloB

    Every one on here seems to be bashing against atheism or religion, and that is not the point. I am a proundd Christian and I have friends who are atheists, but we still can realize that arguing who's fault the attacks on the towers were isn't ging to bring anyone back. So instead of using this fourm as a way to state each others belifes, how about we stop for a minuet and remember the 3,000 people who lost their lives that day

    September 4, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Because to many they feel the path or gateway to society fully accepting their way of thinking on either side is right through the ones we lost that day.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Corse

      The dead are dead. Remember who? I did not know any of them.
      They died and now we have yet another attempt to make it into a much bigger thing than it was in the first place.
      Some religious nuts flew airplanes into buildings causing the deaths of a few thousand people.
      Some people did the best they could and did very well in saving the lives of others, as happens every damn day.
      But I am more business than sentiment. I see a problem and I like to figure out if there is a solution.
      Wailing about their deaths ten years later is pathetic.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Jumper

      MiloB, that's an excellent idea.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  2. DC

    CNN, please don't use 9/11 as a platform to preach to America about its lack of religious tolerance, or history of injustice. It's tacky, and distracting. We don't need to be a nation of apologists every time someone attacks us.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • EricKuma

      Why?
      Its important.
      This is the Opinion section of the "news paper"
      Don't like reading others opinions? Then don't read it.
      Its certainly not a taboo subject and belongs to all Americans.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  3. Danteg8son

    To predict the behavior of religious believers, one has only to observe the behavior they report of their gods.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Jumper

      To predict the behavior of atheists, one needs only observe their blatant disrespect for others.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Godless

      @Jumper
      Cite some evidence

      September 4, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • EricKuma

      @Jumper
      You have been insulted and firing back at every chance you get,
      yet you have offered nothing of your own opinion on the subject except your own personal outrage against others.
      why?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  4. Spiffy

    I was 6 at the time of the attacks. I wasn't told much about what happened. I asked questions that adults wouldn't answer for me because they didn't want to spoil my innocence. My innocence I believe was already destroyed because of the attacks. I am an atheist now. I was exposed to the atheistic way of thinking via the internet and the library. If this is a result of 9/11 I'm not sure but if it takes 3,000 lives to get people to think logically then we are defiantly in trouble.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Corse

      "defiantly" is right. lol

      September 4, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • EricKuma

      Yea were in trouble.
      But that does not mean we can not get out of it.
      There is no perfect answer when it comes to religion.
      Logic is grand but Atheism certainly does not own it and the human brain is easily fooled by false logic.
      Live a little more, talk a little more, share a little more then look back on this in 30 more years.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Spiffy

      *definitely

      I don't feel the need to continue any spiritual search. False logic is provided by religious bigotry.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Jumper

      We are defiantly in trouble? Hmm. . . don't quite know what you were getting at.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • EricKuma

      No what I am saying is that what you consider solid logic today can easily change within context over time.
      Its a fallacy of context to think the content of any argument cant or wont change over time.
      Just stay on your toes and don't get to comfortable with any conclusion for to long without review.
      Personally I exercise the scientific method whenever possible.
      I try to remember that there is no such thing as scientific fact, only weak and strong scientific theory.
      This puts it at zero odds with Religion.
      I think it important to point out here that some of the most famous Scientists in the history of mankind have been people of Religion.
      Science is purely fact, logic driven and subject to constant, relentless review and so over time many Scientific theories change.
      I am certainly not suggesting any spiritual search. lol

      September 4, 2011 at 2:14 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Good for you Spiffy.

      Take a look at EricKuma's comments. Observe the mental gymnastics one has to do when trying to reconcile logic and religion. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

      Take care.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  5. Ron San Bruno, Ca

    I say this, why not have the religions of the world unit and form one religion ,which encompassies all faith's. Have everyone donate ten percent of their income, hire goldman sachs too invest it in the world market , crown eric oswald as the "Omnipotment One" and then just maybe, all those God's can get back to work creating even greater wraths upon this earth their so well known for .So let it be said. So let it be written. So let it be done.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  6. An Atheists View

    1. We are not chosen, but fortunate. Our country is very well off and we have a system of government that values freedom and rights. That hasn't changed. I think you're relying to much on the old 20th century stereotypes of Americans for this assessment.
    2. Christo-Americanism has always been here. It's a product of Christianity and human nature. It's just that there is another "enemy" very easily identifiable which brings out this element of American society.
    3. Interfaith is not "cool" but rather more determined and active given that the backlash of negative sentiment toward religion, partially as a result of 9/11.
    4. Atheists have found their voice in the internet. Atheists have become more active because religions have become more active as they attempt to stave off their natural diminishment in our society and culture. 9/11 has very little to do with this as history is replete with examples of religious extremism. An yes, Islam has to be held accountable for 9/11 just as Christianity has to be held accountable for the backlash against Islam. Religious wars are nothing new.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Jumper

      Natural diminishment. . . rofl, along with billions of other christians.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Disenchanted

      @Jumper
      Then why do they feel so threatened by people who don't belive in their god (or any of the other 1000's of gods)?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:13 am |
  7. Mina

    Only If you guys read the Bible and understand it you wouldn't say that. I feel so bad for me before everyone elsa

    September 4, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Corse

      Read it, understood it better than you, and threw it away for the trash it is. Too bad you are one of those people who don't know when someone is lying to you or passing along a lie they believe in. Sad, really.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • EricKuma

      I have read it many times.
      While there are many beautiful pieces and there are parts easily over looked, yet focused on by others, that are obviously backwards facing.
      It wasn't written by God.
      It was written by men inspired by their Ideas, thoughts and feelings, about God.
      Then it was hijacked by people who wanted to attribute their ideas to the voice of the Lord, which makes them immutable.
      After all how can you argue with God?
      No one knows the mind of God.
      No one speaks for God.
      No one really knows.
      And that's OK.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      @Mina: Have YOU read the bible? Sit down for a weekend and read it front to back by yourself. The entire thing.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  8. me

    The comments on CNN, like most other Internet discussion forums, sound like they're coming from kids. I suddenly remembered why I stopped posting on these forums in the first place.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Corse

      You obviously have no problem believing fairy tales. Who's the child here? Not me. I'm a geezer.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • Spiffy

      So you came to the place you deemed bad to deliver and stupid comment yourself about how stupid the comment section is.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • me

      I should correct myself – the posters *tend* to be kids, but clearly the *majority* of posters are people with little or no lives outside of the Internet. Armchair activists ... Keyboard warriors. It looks like Internet message forums have replaced writing messages on bathroom walls and having "sh1thouse discussions". That's a good thing I guess. It cuts down on vandalism.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • EricKuma

      There are more Adult Children than many would like to acknowledge.
      Some never want to look through the eyes of an adult because reality is Harsh, Vast, Unknown and Unmapped.
      So they re-live their childhood through their children... just like their parents did.
      Add dogma to the religion and the cycle repeats into oblivion for everyone.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • me

      I come here on occasion "Spiffy". Bye everyone. Have fun with your powerless posting. Keep up the good work with typing God to death.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • EricKuma

      Don't give up... that's what they want to see.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Corse

      Isn't it sad when a fool of a hypocrite finds he has nothing to say but can only make fun of those who have the strongest arguments?

      September 4, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      The whole "you don't have lives because you're on the internet" bit doesn't work anymore, sorry. Maybe you need to upgrade if you can't keep up.

      Now if you will excuse me, I must go have my armor polished for the battle later.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • harmonynoyes

      or maybe it's grown up adults who haven't lost the childlike perspective; which can be a good thing

      September 4, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  9. rich

    as soon as the first jihadist islamists obtain nuclear weaponry it's all over. It's only a matter of time.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Nymrod

      Yes, they are going to buy them from Walmart.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • EricKuma

      What do you expect?
      That's what happens when you live in a desert with the heat baking your brain your whole life.
      They all just want to die so they can go to heaven quicker... life is just that miserable.
      I say GO GO GO! Please as fast as you can.
      Glass ash tray your own @sses and leave the Living to those who want to LIVE!

      September 4, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Corse

      What is it with people who live in constant heat? The heat must do something bad to their brains. Anger and violence do not exactly provide cooler temperatures. Our Bible Belt is also the Murder Belt. The Middle East region is also the most violent region of the world. Maybe we should ban people from living in those unhealthy hot places...

      September 4, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Enlightenment

      What Would Jesus Bomb on 9/11?

      September 4, 2011 at 5:27 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      What sort of nuclear weapon are you fantasizing about? I bet it's an atomic bomb. They make big explosions like in the movies.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      What is with the hysterics?

      September 4, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  10. bobby

    Every thing was made by chance? That's one of the stupidest statements I ever heard in my life. Life is to complicated to be by chance. Men are really some dumb creatures.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • EricKuma

      No one really knows... and that's OK...
      Its the greatest mystery we have...

      September 4, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • jamesquall

      life is complicated....therefore we must have been created by some iron-age, abrahamic god of war. need proof? we got the bible. need proof the bible is true? well the bible says that it's true! how are there still atheists? 🙂

      September 4, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • RT

      Actual men themselves are not stupid, put them in a large group, and they make stupid decisions.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • sox

      You prove your own point

      September 4, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  11. J.W

    All of those things are good besides the last one of course.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  12. matt houston

    Here what 9/11 proved yet again about religion. It is illogical, liable to destructive results, if followed through word for word...the results would always be catastrophic as 9/11 has shown.

    Not only Islam, but all Abrahamic religions and any religion which teaches a doctrine of superiority over others, a doctrine of ego–"we are the chosen people" etc...all these faiths are a cancer to human society.

    The only religions which have managed to transcend all this madness are Taoism, Buddhism, Jainism...plus some minor ones such as the Bahai Faith due to context or lack of long established history.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • total nonsense

      Religion is mental illness

      September 4, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Jumper

      Well then, Total Nonsense, the overwhelming majority of the earth's populations is mentally ill. Congratulations on managing to insult most of the world.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Mad Cow

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster rules!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:11 am |
  13. chris

    9/11 changed how people view Islam for the worse and rightfully so.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • matt houston

      Agreed.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • armada

      And what did the crusades, inquisition, "discovery of america", etc. say about christianity

      September 4, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  14. EricKuma

    I don't agree with the premise of this article.
    The fight over God has just been made worse because of 911.
    Now the only thing that represents the faith (or lack of) for the victims of 911 is a Christian Cross.
    There is nothing humble about that.
    I feel its quite insulting. Hijacking Catastrophe is the Fear & the Selling of American Empire by those in power at the expense of those with no voice.
    Its obvious who is in power and what religion they prefer.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  15. Joe

    Religion will die only if a meteorite destroys life on the planet. No men alive, religion is gone. If this never happen, religion will survive. I think that as long as men believe first in his own mind, what they think after that, it's ok. Neither them nor anyone else will ever know who was wrong or right or should I say, nobody ever never will know the truth. Men are stupid, limited in what they can learn. Men are ridiculous and opportunists; best example, the NASA drones. They know they will never know or 'discover' something useless for men. The cosmos (not universe), an infinite matter or space created by chance, is something that these NASA experts will never know anything important about. This is too big for men. Men are minuscules. Earth is minuscule. Solar system is minuscule, finally, our universe is minuscule within thousands of them that float themselves in the infinite above space. So, for the stupidity we were born with, religion is another pastime, like a yo-yo, a kite, and all the other imbecilities that men kill the time with. Religion creates the coward. That coward that preaches something he is not sure of, however his ant brain feels more comfortable that way, which according to him, it assures a place in heaven or paradise (the most ridiculous thing ever created). Everything we know was created by chance, including life on earth. We are product of what the cosmos contains, like minerals, gases, matters, atoms, and dust. Yes, dust, our own raw material. We live thanks to dust, we return to be dust when we die. The cosmos does not lose anything. We are part of this and that is it. Religion therefore does not form part of this. Religion is for the ignorant. It is the opium and the preferred entertainment for many. I am an atheist and I am quite happy with what I believe, which is taken from my own mind not from others. At least I can say that to my sons with pride, regardless if I have to pay my credit card tomorrow and I do not have a penny in my pocket.

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

      I didn't read your essay, Joe, and I won't write an essay of my own. If you look into the arguments for God and the paranormal in general, you'll find that they are much stronger than you think. Sweeping generalizations won't make those arguments and facts go away.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Brian

      You really need to simmer down...

      September 4, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Corse

      Joe, that was quite the ramble without hitting the enter key.

      me, you have no proof of anything paranormal and are only talking out your ass.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • me

      Corse, I won't write essays or novels (lol), and I won't "take anything out of my ass". I urge you to look into the paranormal research that's out there, and don't just look to your favorite atheist "debunking"sites that spout propoganda.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • EricKuma

      No one really knows dude... that's why they call it faith.
      Its a very uncomfortable thing for many people not knowing...
      Don't try to convince any that you do. It wont help.
      You'll sound just as bad as someone who argues that Jebus road the dinosaurs...

      September 4, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • paganguy

      Pagans don't know one way or other and pagans know that we will never be able to find out what is out there. Religious people are afraid of death and what is beyond; they need the promise of heaven. If religion and the prospect of 21 virgins make them happy, so be it. The real culprits are the preachers promising you eternal life for money. In China it is illegal; you go to jail for it. I like that. I rather talk to the birds and the trees than to any religious leader.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Willowspring

      Joe, yo are a professed atheist. That's fine. I'll leave you alone and not disparage you for not believing in a creator and I would very much appreciate it if you would afford me the same courtesy.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • armada

      @me
      So you use a sweeping generalization of your own! There is no evidence proving or disproving the existence of a god or gods. What we do know is that the christian bible is not the literal truth

      September 4, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      People who believe in zombies and holy ghosts have a tendency to believe in the "paranormal". No surprise here.

      Ghostbusters!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  16. steven

    It all makes sense now!!!! If someone attacks you because they believe their invisible master in the sky wishes it, than you have no choice but to retalliate because your invisible master in the sky is obvisously stronger and wants you to win.

    Without religion 9/11 doesnt happen. Period

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

      Steven, extremism and aggression would exist with or without religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Corse

      Without religion, the reasons would at least be more likely to make sense in the first place.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • me

      No Corse, they're often racial, ethnic, political, tribal, etc. Atheists are quick to forget the hundreds of millions killed by communism. Most violence is drug related here in America, and wars are usually fought over resources and land.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Corse

      I meant that they would be that much more likely to make sense with such a large body of nonsense out of the way.
      Of course, stupidity will continue to be a factor. I was not saying that it wouldn't be.
      Lies, like racism, etc., include religion. Perhaps if we just made lies illegal....hmm.
      Why isn't lying illegal except for lying under oath? So religions can keep on what they're doing. So racists can keep lying about race, so politicians can keep saying lies, so the status quo can continue without hindrance.
      If you are against lies, you are against religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • Jumper

      Your argument is incredibly sarcastic and brainless! Period.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  17. Serenade

    9/11 was a wake up to the masses that history repeats and that religious aggressions will continue to lay waste to our beautiful world if we do not obliterate them. America needs to accept religion as a private and spiritual manner, and that organized religion and religious interests were something that the founding fathers despised.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • me

      Serenade, that's what most of the religious in America already do.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  18. me

    My thoughts on the 4 points in the article:
    1. No, we didn't get humble. We got furious and bloodthirsty.
    2. I agree with this one the most, but it really became more of a "West is Best" mentality.
    3. No, it harmed the dialogue between faiths, particularly towards Muslims.
    4. Somewhat, but primarily, atheists spend their time "posting" religion to death on the Internet.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • EricKuma

      I don't agree with the premise of this article. The fight over God has just been made worse because of 911. Now the only thing that represents the faith (or lack of) for the victims of 911 is a Christian Cross. There is nothing humble about that. I feel its quite insulting. Hijacking Catastrophe is the Fear & the Selling of American Empire by those in power at the expense of those with no voice. Its obvious who is in power and what religion they prefer.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  19. thes33k3r

    Give up your religious beliefs and I assure you things will begin to make more sense. It does not mean that you will find the answer to every question but it is a step in the right direction. As Hitch put it, religion poisons everything. There are things I do not know and I am glad to say that I do not feel any urge to invoke religious nonsense in order to pretend that I do know. The burden of proof is on you...religious man.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  20. Cassarit

    He forgets to mention one crucial point.: How the Israelis and their fellow travellers used 9/11 to further instigate hatred towards Moslems, not only within the ranks of the Zionist infiltrated Christian apostate sects, but also among the Christian general public. Today increasing numbers Christians seem to believe that supporting Israel is central to Christendom and to salvation itself! Of course, that's a road to hell!

    September 4, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Serenade

      Israeli's don't hate Muslims, 20% of their population is Muslim. They simply prefer atheism and secularism to religion. Though they do hate people who fire missiles into their territories..

      September 4, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • Dave836

      @serenade What? Israelis prefer Atheism? Where in the world did you hear that? They are basically all either Jewish or Muslim. I mean, they even have the star of David as their flag...

      Unless you meant they prefer to hate Atheism which I don't know about at all... 🙂

      September 4, 2011 at 12:46 am |
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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.