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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. Normand du Canada

    There is only one true religion. All others are false. All these wars and crimes are committed by people whom are within these false religions.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • ja

      whats the true one?

      September 4, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • John Richardson

      You're count is off by one.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Atheist in FL

      I am assuming the "true" religion you refer to is Christianity. If so, your assertion that "false" religions only are involved in the wars and crimes committed is false. I refer you to the most recent example of the genocide in Bosnia. It was started by the Serbs (a largely Christian orthodox group) and advocated the "cleansing of Serbia". They perpetrated genocide on Croats (other Christians) and Muslims in their country. It may have been an ethnic war but it doesn't change the fact that it was Christians participating in genocide.
      WWII – the genocide perpetrated upon the Jews by a Christian nation, Germany.
      The Crusades – convert or die.
      Other religions have certainly used their beliefs to perpetrate atrocities, I am merely pointing out that Christians' hands are just as dirty...

      September 4, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Jeff

      "Religion is the most effective form of mind control EVER invented" Governments have used it to control populations and will continue to do so until people wake up worldwide. Sadly, Muslims have become the latest scapegoats of "bad people" over the last 10 years worldwide as the US government has put a POLICE STATE in place. Don't buy this?- go to an American airport. It's the start of a 1930's Nazi Germany style police state. But, Americans are too busy watching "American Idol" on television, so they don't get it yet. They will when the US Dollar collapses as the world currency in the near future- I guarantee it.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Brian

    #4 all the way! According to US census data, from 2000 – 2010 the number of self-identifying Athiests went from 8% to about 16%. Though it is still the most pathetic number in any developed country, the numbers of those not bound to the Flying Spaghetti Monster are growing. Thank God! Contradiction intended.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Allen

      Ra-men!

      September 4, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  3. susan

    I certainly have no problem with those who don't believe. I, on the other hand, have to believe there is a better place because right now the typical liberal bull about what my God is and is not, what Islam is and is not is just that – typical bull. I know in whom I believe and I know where I will spend eternity. In troubling times, in times that death has affected my family, I have to be able to believe we go to a better place with someone who loves us for the good in us.
    I also know there is a great deal of extremism in each faith and those who say they are Christians can be as unforgiving and spew hatred as those in the Muslim religion. I do have a problem with any religion that will stone a woman to death for what they think is bad, cut a child's hand off because he stole when he was hungry and one that men believe they are the best while women are just something they can wipe their feet on and that is the way women are treated in the Muslim faith. I also have to admit I have little respect for women who allow themselves to be treated this way.
    To me, Sharia law is part of the Muslim religion and it is evil. That simple. If JohnQuest, BlackSheep, mamakas and Rami cannot handle other's opinions and beliefs, they are the ones with the problem.
    I have enjoyed much of the religious section of CNN's site even though it was biased. This one on the other hand was more biased than most. I expect this from CNN and I read anyway, more because it gives me things to think about and it gives me a look at the other side. I'll take my side thank you.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • BlackSheep

      The christian bible tells you that you must stone non-believers, I didn't make that up. I didn't make up that law about a woman being a v|irgin, either. Can you imagine, your father running out of your house, showing everyone the bloody sheet? Or stoning you, if he didn't find blood? This is all in your bible! It is not just in the quran!

      I can handle your right to believe in anything you wish. But I have just as much right to laugh at it, too.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Mark

      Blackwater. There is a distinct dichotomy between the New and Old testament that comprise what you call "the christian bible". The laws you are referring to are Old testament Jewish texts though they are part of the "christian bible" they actually contridict the teachings of Christ. By actually reading the Bible you will see that much of what Christ did was set people straight on laws or customs of the times that were not good as previously thought.

      2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

      But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

      9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

      11 “No one, sir,” she said.

      “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

      You will not be able to refute the teachings of Christ. Good try though.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • BlackSheep

      Mack, you need to read Matthew 5

      September 4, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • BlackSheep

      Mick, Things that must be done, before all is fulfilled.
      A) Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
      B) Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
      C) Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
      D) Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world
      E) The second coming.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  4. Banter

    The path to collective enlightenment of Americans will not be an easy one, but I'm optimistic that we are on that path. It's too bad it takes something as painful as 911 for many to see a worldview beyond the confines of their own beliefs.

    And then you have the people that hold us back from making progress, those that do not and will not look beyond their own beliefs and are ignorant to the fact that those beliefs harm others instead of leaving them alone or helping them.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • harmonynoyes

      pray to Jesus, the Godman, because no matter how smart you believe you are, there will probably come a time. when......

      September 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  5. watash60

    It has convinced me a Muslim is totally brainwashed, and never to be believed that he is telling the truth

    September 4, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Aezell

      "It has convinced me a religious person is totally brainwashed, and never to be believed that he is telling the truth"

      Fixed.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  6. Kansas Atheist

    I was an atheist before 9/11 and I still am. There is no god. You determine your life.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  7. taskmaster

    9/11 sure changed my mind about Islam and muslims as a whole. When I saw the vidios of the mulims dancing in the streets celebrating the deaths of hundreds in american simply because it was in america it changed my mind completely.I know there were thousans of muslims here celebrating in private.I will NEVER trust another muslim. All those people dancing in the streets were not all Al Quida or taliban but they were all muslims..

    September 4, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Banter

      Yeah, the Christians never celebrated the Crusades. The Americans never celebrated taking land from the Natives. This list can go on forever.

      By your logic you should hate everyone simply because they are labeled into a group. Bingo! We've just hit on the root of the problem.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  8. normalice

    That first point is covered pretty thoroughly by Earnest T. Becker's "The Denial of Death" It's a bit of an old book – written in a time when psychologists all had to give kudos to even Freud's more ridiculous theories, or they would not be taken seriously. But that aside, it's very enlightening.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  9. Dave

    Read back your comments Rami and JohnQuest and see who sounds more hateful. I wrote the truth and if that offends you, then it proves my point right? I never said I hated muslims. In fact I don't. I hate religious extremism on both sides...I will reiterate my point however...for those ho did not get it...Muslim extremists shouting "Allah is great" destroyed the World Trade center!!!

    September 4, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • JohnQuest

      I have reexamined my comments and yours, I stand by mine. I agree the monsters that committed that horrific act were evil, but have consider our response? Invading two countries, hundreds of thousands dead, trillions "stolen" perpetual war, these horrific acts were committed by Christians. (I still have questions about what really happened on that September morning, we may never know the truth).

      September 4, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  10. rod Paget

    TYPICAL OF YANKS....DUH!!!!!...CANADA IS AMERI"CAN" TOO 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.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • BlackSheep

      We are the only ones who called us, 'American'? Is the name so important to you now? What should we have called ourselves? Yeah, that's it! We will let you tell us what we should be called! Sounds like a stupid argument to me.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Allen

      Really? WE made that up? Go ask some guy in India, or Africa, or Russia, where "America" is. Provided he's not illiterate, I'll bet my next 10 paychecks that if you showed him a map, he'd point you to the U.S. Immigrants who flooded into Ellis Island in the late 1800's and early 1900's said they were going to "America" and wrote all about it. None of them were talking about Canada, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, etc. We didn't start the use of that term, everyone else did.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • BlackSheep

      It is a stupid argument. Like I said, what were we to call ourselves? United States of Americans? Unitedians? USAians? The only people to get upset about Americans being called Americans is, the South Americans and Canadians who are not proud enough of their countries and want to identify with us.

      I have traveled aboard for work and when I was introduced, I was called an American. No one ever said, "Well, from which country did you come from?"

      September 4, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • harmonynoyes

      Optimism, and the idea that life can get better and that maybe we can think of how, and we do, is not a bad thing .
      We also help others who haven't thought of a better way for whatever reason. It's not a perfect system, but to say it's not good or is somehow evil is just wrong. But I will pray for you, to Jesus the Godman, He comes through, just turn down the noise.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  11. Abdullah bin Achbar

    Moeslem is peace. Look at http://www.persecution.org about how we dealing with infidels.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  12. Da King

    This country was not chosen. In it's beginnings many of the explores, settlers, and founders were in Christ, not religion, and God gave them favor. That time is past. Just surf the 200 channels on your tv. You will find teachings of God on .001% of programing hours. The rest belongs to satin. The small minority of Christ followers in this country today just get to watch bible truths play out. Religion is actually part of the problem. Few religious people actually know God. In the end many will profess Jesus, their hearts will determine their outcome. God so loved the world that he gave his son that who so ever believes in Him will be saved. Religion is of man. The Word of God will give you the peace your heart seeks and set you free.

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

      I agree, Da King! We should go back to the old days, were your god said that we can have slaves, stone non-believers, heck, you could stone just about anyone for anything, back then! We should never eat shellfish, mix our wardrobe materials, eat pigs and all that other stuff your god said!

      When I read the bible, I see just how loving and caring your god is! If you wife was not a v|rgin when you married her, her parent should have stoned her! Now that is love!

      September 4, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Allen

      2 things:

      1.) "Satin" is a fabric. "Satan" is "the Devil", "Lucifer", "Beelzebub", etc.
      2.) The last Christian died about 2000 years ago. - or to illustrate my point better, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." – Ghandi

      September 4, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Da King

      BS and Allen, I pray you will learn the truth.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • BlackSheep

      You pray all you wish. In fact, Jesus said, if you pray in his name, he will make it happen! Give it a go and let me know how that works out for you.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  13. BlackSheep

    Who told religious people that Atheism is a belief system? Atheism is the lack of belief. Who told religious people that science requires faith? Faith is belief without proof, science requires proof.

    I guess, if it makes you feel better, you can say Atheism is a belief system and that science requires faith, but that just is not true.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • Allen

      Exactly. I hear these idiots say "Atheism is a religion" all the time. Well, first of all, there's no such thing as "Atheism." That word (the suffix, primarily) would imply that it's a belief system. Being that there's no place of worship or meeting, no leaders or clergy-like people, no main religious text, no holidays or traditions associated with it, it is not a religion or even a belief system. The same goes for the phrase "Are you "an" atheist?" The "an" makes no sense; again, not a religion. One can be atheist, meaning they lack belief in a deity, but the "an" implies you are part of a classified, established group. It's like saying "Are you "a" hungry?" or "Are you a cold?" Perhaps a better analogy would be "Are you "a" black?" People who are atheist don't actively pursue it, it's more like being hungry, or cold, or black. It's something you just are and you didn't deliberately become that way.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Da King

      No one.

      No, we are sad for you.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  14. Jeff

    "Religion is the most effective form of mind control EVER invented" Governments have used it to control populations and will continue to do so until people wake up worldwide. Sadly, Muslims have become the latest scapegoats of "bad people" over the last 10 years worldwide as the US government has put a POLICE STATE in place. Don't buy this?- go to an American airport. It's the start of a 1930's Nazi Germany style police state. But, Americans are too busy watching "American Idol" on television, so they don't get it yet. They will when the US Dollar collapses as the world currency in the near future- I guarantee it.

    September 4, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  15. Rami

    Peter, I feel bad for you. I do not hate you.

    September 4, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  16. Phil

    N0.5 Muslims had absolutely nothing to do with the controlled demolition that occurred at WTC 1, 2 and WTC BUILDING 7.

    September 4, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  17. Blue

    Real Islam is not the one al-qaida believes in. they viewed religion wrongly, they r violent ugly hearted people who doesnt reflect Islam in anyway. How many r they? one million people? well there are 1.2 billion muslims out there who think they r wrong!

    September 4, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Reality

      o Islam and World Domination

      "Mohammed could not have known the size of the world, but several passages in the Koran show that he envisioned Islam dominating all of it, however large it might be: “He it is who sent his messenger . . . that he may cause it [Islam] to prevail over all religions´(Koran 9:33, M.M. Ali; see also 48:28 and 61:9). M.M. Ali designates these three passages as “the prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam in the whole world.”

      Mohammed’s successors, the caliphs, quoted passages like these to inspire Muslim armies as they advanced out of Arabia, imposing Islam by the sword upon a peacefully unsuspecting Middle East and North Africa, as I described in the previous chapter.

      Islamic armies, imbued with what Mohammed claimed was divine authorization, imposed Islam by force over vast areas, all the while extorting wealth from subjugated Jews and Christians to fund their ongoing conquests. As I noted, major defeats at Tours, France, in A.D. 732, and again at Vienna, Austria, in A.D. 1683, halted Islam’s attempt to take all of Europe by force. Gradually Islamic forces were forced to retreat from Europe, except for part of the Balkans. But Islam has again set its sights on a conquest of Europe and of European civilization, wherever the latter has spread to North and South America and other regions. Muslim strategists ask their followers, Why do we find in these modern times that Allah has entrusted most of the world’s oil wealth primarily to Muslim nations?

      Their answer: Allah foresaw Islam’s need for funds to finance a final politico-religious victory over what Islam perceives as its ultimate enemy: Christianized Euro-American civilization. So, Islam follows Nazism, fascism and communism as the world’s latest hostile takeover aspirant.

      Nazis, fascists and communists failed. Does Islam have a better chance at success? I believe it will flounder if we awaken to its threat in time; yet, if there is not adequate planned resistance, Islam does have a better chance of succeeding. Communism’s world takeover attempt was guaranteed to fail because its economic policy was naively contrary to human nature. Advocating the rubric What is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, communism failed to see that human nature will not keep those two balanced propositions in equilibrium. Like a female black widow spider consuming her mate, the latter part of the formula makes a meal of the former, leading to the collapse of any system based upon that formula.
      In contrast, political systems do well if they can persuade people to adhere to What’s mine is mine and What’s thine is thine maxims.

      Only if a strong religious incentive is added does such an idealistic formula have any long-term chance. Even then success will be spotty. But communism (and Nazism, for that matter) excluded religion. And that mistake was the final nail eventually clamping a lid on communism’s coffin. Communism, on a historical scale, perished while still in its childhood.
      Islam is not repeating communism’s mistake. Mating political cunning and incredible wealth with religious zeal, Islam does have a chance to succeed and will succeed unless major parts of the Western world unite to take appropriate countermeasures. But many Western leaders, unable to believe that a mere religion could possible be a serious political threat, keep proclaiming themselves as Islam-friendly, reasoning that all religions are good-aren’t they?

      A Muslim strategist in Beverly Hills, California, declared several years ago, as quoted by a friend of mine: “Now that the struggle between Western democracies and international communism is winding down, it is time for the real and final struggle to begin, and we are going to win!”

      Don Richardson

      September 4, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  18. Dave

    CNN and the author's anti-christian bias, once again shines through very clearly in this article. While I no doubt agree with some of the author's assertions, what he fails to mention is the strengthening of the faith on many Christians in America after 9/11 – including mine. Christians have not become hateful of Islam – even though there are irresponsible leaders who made irresponsible statements, as there are in any faith – rather there is more of an effort to show up Islamic extremism for what it really is. If you do not believe me read the reports of Muslims killing Muslims in Middle Eastern countries. It pales in significance and comparison of numbers with what happened in New York.

    9/11 happened because of Muslim extremists, plain and simple. Not because of Christianiity, George Bush, America's foreign policy or the other lame excuses we hear so often. Muslim men with an idealogy that despises western culture flew planes into the World Trade center and Pentagon while shouting "Allah is great!!!" Let us never forget that!

    So while CNN with its bias continues to present stories that clearly tries to paint Islam with a moderate brush to evoke sympathy without laying the blame where it should be people should "never forget."

    If you do not think CNN is biased against Christianity look at the caption under the picture. Most writers or editors would have said the "piece of steel in the shape of a Christian cross." To CNN its just a steal beam. I can guess that CNN and its employees fully support the building of a victory mosque at ground zero but if you take a poll, most would be against putting the cross there.

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

      Dave, with that I can say your are full of hate and an idiot.

      September 4, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Dave, I fell sorry for you, your hatred will consume you until there is nothing left. Its people like you on the other side that become extremist Never Forget that.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  19. Reality

    A post 9/11 review of the major religions using over 100 references and summarized below:

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

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

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

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

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

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

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

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

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

    Current RCC problems:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Current crises:

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

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

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

    Current crises:

    The caste system and cow worship/reverence.

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

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

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

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

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

    September 4, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Reality

      For those who are "reading challenged":

      • 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.

      September 4, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Dave

      Reality, re. your comments on Buddism. I am not a Buddhist, but I have studied several different flavors of it. While it's true that Buddhism has its share of mythology, none of that is central to the practice. They key tthing about Buddism is that Siddhartha Gautama was a teacher and that following his teachings is a way to achieve enlightenment. Buddhism does not claim to be the only way. I would describe enlightenment as the state of being free of suffering, and suffering in this case is the emotionsl response and not the physical pain.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  20. peter

    II think you forgot #5. NOW EVERYONE WILL HATE ISLAM

    September 4, 2011 at 7:42 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.