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June 11th, 2010
03:59 AM ET

My Take: New portrait of Muslim America shows community on edge

Editor's Note: Frankie Martin is Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University's School of International Service and is a contributor to the new book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

By Frankie Martin, Special to CNN

As I got off the plane in St. Louis in September 2008, I didn’t realize I was beginning a journey that would change my life.

On that day, I–along with several researchers working with Professor Akbar Ahmed, American University’s Chair of Islamic Studies–began a grueling project aimed at studying America’s Muslim population and its relationship to American identity. Now, nearly two years, 75 cities and 100 mosques later, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, will be published by the Brookings Institution Press this month.

In addition to providing unprecedented insight into America’s Muslim community, it also led me to look at my own country, the United States, in a different way.

I had taken Professor Ahmed’s class on improving relations between Islam and the West as an underclassman shortly after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 and had traveled across the Muslim world with him for the book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization, listening to Muslim voices in countries including Jordan, Pakistan, and India.

On that trip, during which Muslims in eight countries cited “American negative perceptions of Islam” as the greatest threat to the Muslim world, I was ready for anything and eager to learn. After all, I had spent the second half of my life living and traveling widely around the world, from Kenya to China, and studying foreign lands in my international relations courses.

America was a different matter. This, I thought, was a country that I knew. Yet although I lived in the Baltimore suburbs until I was a teenager and went to college in Washington, DC, like many Americans I was familiar with only a few states, and had never experienced entire regions like the South.

Assisting a world-renowned anthropologist on a De Tocqueville-esque quest would change this. Like that earlier foreign traveler, Professor Ahmed saw his endeavor as a tribute to a nation that had welcomed him so warmly in crafting a study which would examine both the strengths of America and the parts that could be strengthened.

Within a few hours on our first day—which took us to Somali refugees in a St. Louis housing project—I realized I was experiencing something unique. Though I’m a Christian, I was seeing the country through Muslim eyes, including those of my professor.

But this was only part of the story. In order to see how Muslims were fitting into America—and what it meant to fit in—we would need to talk to Americans from all backgrounds and religions. Assisting us would be data from the roughly two thousand surveys we distributed in the field as well as countless conversations on our travels.

Over the next long months, we saw the ravages of inner city Detroit and the mansions of Palm Beach, Florida; the serene, impoverished Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona and a Silicon Valley “hackers conference” with scientists talking of settlements on the Moon and Mars. We spoke at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, spent an afternoon with Mennonites in Texas, were welcomed by the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City, and visited coal miners in the West Virginia wilderness.

The diversity of people and beliefs was striking and inspiring. And, for the first time, I saw the fall colors in New England, the Grand Canyon, and a Hawaiian sunset.

We found the Muslim community to be hospitable and patriotic, as they often said that America was the best place to be a Muslim because of religious freedom. But the community is on edge, divided and facing a leadership crisis—contributing to the “homegrown terrorist” phenomenon—and reeling from post-9/11 hatred and prejudice.

I was shocked to see the challenges American Muslims are facing, from kids beaten up and called terrorists at school to people incarcerated without charge and subjected to inhuman treatment and mosques being firebombed. A Muslim community that feels accepted as true Americans and is encouraged to enter the mainstream will be the best defense against homegrown terrorism.

Witnessing the challenges facing the Muslim community led me to ask a question I never had before: what does it mean to be American? Although we met Americans who had a different idea of the country (one official at a Church of Christ chapter in Austin named “pluralism” as the greatest threat to America and the Founding Fathers as the source of this threat) for me, the team, and my professor, being American means embracing the ideals of the Founding Fathers, which include pluralism, rule of law, and civil liberties.

Today, feelings against Islam are running high, with a prominent radio host recently expressing his hope that the proposed New York mosque near Ground Zero would be blown up. Every week seems to bring a new controversy, from the high emotions of the mosque debate to last month’s discussion about the current Miss USA, a Lebanese immigrant, who was slammed as a Hezbollah agent because her surname was said to be shared by people linked to the organization.

In this environment, I was inspired during countless hours of research into American history to see how clear the Founding Fathers were on the subject of Islam in America. Thomas Jefferson learned Arabic using his Quran and hosted the first presidential iftaar during Ramadan, John Adams named Prophet Muhammad as one of the world’s “sober inquirers after truth” alongside Socrates and Confucius, and Benjamin Franklin, who cited the Prophet as a model of compassion, wrote of his hope that the head cleric of Istanbul would preach Islam to Americans from a Philadelphia pulpit, so passionate was his belief in religious freedom.

Today, America faces a crisis of identity. One focal point at the core of the debate is Islam, which some Americans see as a monolithic threat seeking the takeover of the country. They are fearful and suspicious of the Muslims in their midst. For many of these citizens, being a good American—and, for some, a good Christian—means opposing and fighting Islam.

My journey has led me to conclude the opposite. Being a good American means welcoming Muslims as the Founding Fathers did and following their guidelines on matters of law and security as laid out in the Constitution. As for Christianity, the attitude of the Founding Fathers was shaped by Christian thinkers like John Locke, who declared that the true Christian’s duty was to “practice charity, meekness, and good-will in general towards all mankind, even to those that are not Christians.”

Giving us hope for the future was data from our surveys, which showed that over ninety percent of Americans would vote for a Muslim for public office, and the similarly high percentage of people who are open to Muslims living in and being a part of this nation.

Some, however, inserted “if” clauses, indicating they believed Muslims could be American only if they followed narrowly defined rules, such as ceasing to identify as “Muslim” in favor of an exclusive “American” identity. The Founding Fathers set no such qualifications for “Americanness.”

Discovering America over the past few years has made me appreciate the inclusive vision of the Founding Fathers. Having traveled abroad, I know that their ideals also inspire people around the world, especially in Muslim countries. I can now say I am American with an awareness and pride I never had before.

With all of the challenges facing the country, perhaps the most important thing we can do as Americans is to consider who we really are. For me, being American means assuming and implementing the Founding Fathers’ vision of tolerance and religious freedom. The rediscovery of that vision has reaffirmed my belief in the promise of America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frankie Martin.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam

soundoff (826 Responses)
  1. Bubba Schmo

    A Muslim community that feels accepted as true Americans and is encouraged to enter the mainstream will be the best OFFENSE FOR homegrown terrorism.

    June 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • sanethinker

      Turkey pledged by secularism, what happened now??? All the caution of moderation thrown out of window. We do not see much difference between Iran Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt anymore.

      June 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  2. theresa

    That's certainly a new reading of the Crusades to me!

    The crusades were initially begun to reclaim the Holy Lands from Islamic forces – in other words, Christians and Muslims fighting over what wasn't really theirs to begin with. (Of course, Rome's conquest of the future Holy Lands predates all of this.)

    The crusades were extended to include near pogroms against pretty anybody who wasn't some version of Catholic Christian. Atrocities were committed on both sides.

    Christians, by the way, are also supposed to totally submit to God, just like Muslims.

    I am surrounded by bumper stickers scolding me to read my Bible, or Know Jesus, or even that if I don't, I will go to Hell. I hear religious music in the Mall during the Christmas holidays (they are using Jesus to sell stuff!), and am admonished to "Remember He's the Reason for the Season" from billboards; imagine how that feels to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics. The assumption is that everybody is, or is supposed to be, Christian.

    June 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • Joel Weymouth

      You are so open minded, you mind is full of crap. The Crusades were fought to keep Europe from falling under Islam. The recovery of the holy land was the excuse. Also the opportunity to reunite Eastern and Western Catholicism was another purpose. You seem to forget that Alexus Commemnus actually asked the Pope for help against the Turks. People like you always citing the Crusades forget that Islam invaded Europe at 700 AD and had driven all the way into France where they were stopped by a Frankish Army at Tours (one of the most bloody battles in history). They remained in Spain for another 700 years. The Muslims had already taken land that was historically belong to Greeks in North Africa and Sicily. Of course you know the Ottomans took Anatolia from the Greeks (modern day Turkey) and actually occupied the Balkans and butchered the Greeks and Slaves for the next 400 years, not to mention what they did to the Armenians and Kurds in the 20th Century. What is funny – Turkey is land that belongs to Greeks for 2500 years and there is no popular demand to return it to the Greeks.

      And the point is – when Muslim apologists like you want to show that "Christians are just as bad" – they always cite the Crusades or maybe the 30 years war as the last example of a religious war. On the other hand: we can cite Muslim excesses EVERY DAY. Did you know Islam cooperated with Hitler? Did you know the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem moved to Berlin for the duration of World war 2. Did you know that the Bosnians cooperated with the Nazi's along with the Croatians agains the Serbs during World War 2. That is why to this day there is such bad blood between the Serbs and the rest of the groups of the former Yugoslavia. Did you know the Arab nations that attacked Israel in 1948 screamed – "let's finish what Hitler started"?

      When Muslims are in a small minority, they are fine and peaceful. When their numbers grow, they become more aggressive and demanding to impose their rules on the majority. When they are in the majority, and you are not a Muslim: you are a second class citizen.

      For all the problems with the US and being a Country with a secular government – but a Christian majority and with Christianity ingrained in its culture: Muslims are NOT 2nd Class citizens in this country. This would not be the case for Christians in a Muslim country. Open your mind to that Theresa.

      June 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • theresa

      My mind IS open to that. My point isn't that Christians (and I'm not one) are just as bad as Muslims. I apologize for not being more clear: my point is that what we see happening is an essentially universal, human process, a process that western civilization has gone through itself. The risk is always there that it could happen again, here: the third Reich was practically yesterday. My point is that we should not categorize one group of people as being fundamentally different from us. We need to defend ourselves against terrorism, and fight for human dignity where it is denied. But we don't need to lump a diverse population, with a rich and diverse history, into one hated category to be able to protect ourselves or to right what is wrong. To do so actually lowers us to the level of the things we are, correctly or incorrectly, criticizing.

      You can't call Muslims "animals" without sacrificing your own self-worth and dignity. You can't talk about killing them (and one poster did) or deporting or banning them (more than one poster did) without lowering the value of your own meaning and potential.

      The people who resisted the Civil Rights movement in the south, many of whom used religious arguments, people who classified Blacks as animals, were degraded and debased by their own actions: turning fire hoses on children, setting dogs on peaceful marchers, lynching, firebombing churches . . .

      Resistance to wrong doing must be done with a spirit of nobility, of patience, of understanding, in addition to refusal to back down. When we fail to do this, the cycles of violence just repeat themselves. We need to be the place, the moment in time, where the violence stops.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
    • Ben Cooper

      Remember how that feels to Jews, Muslims, Hindis, Buddhists, etc., etc., etc. Well, who cares? If you can quote finer words than those Jesus uttered, please share them with us. And Mohammed? Now here's a guy that showed up six hundred years AFTER Christ and, after reading the bible and the NT, he PLAGIARIZED them...re-stated old Jewish scripture and had the balls to pass it off as his own. Some prophet, huh? Other than the fact that he elevated himself to the top of the food chain and told his brain dead followers to kill infidels, the guy brought nothing new to the table. He is the epitome of a false prophet, not worth the dust on your shoes. Jesus told us to love our neighbor. He claims we are to kill our neighbor. Jesus told us not to judge. Mohammed gave every one of his stinking followers not only the right to judge everyone but also a license to kill. Yeah, now there's a prophet for you. You know, it's too bad there weren't drone aircraft at the time of Mohammed. We could have nipped this problem in the bud.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
    • theresa

      Ben, are you serious? You don't care how anybody feels if they aren't Christian?

      I don't think Jesus would agree.

      June 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  3. sanethinker

    History knows who catapulted plague infected bodies inside Europe, Christianity was defending using crusaders and Islam was aggressively running people through the sword. If self defense is bad then what is aggression by entering other country uninvited and causing mayhem? They use all sweet word to show compassionate like every other civilized religion, tell us to read their book which is full of contradictions. See how they interpret after reading???
    Unable to set their religion in order they do not have any right to tell others to read their book. They need total submission "for instead to modern thoughts which are rooted in scientific way of thinking". At least we would have a better place to live instead of being reminded us to read Koran.

    June 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  4. Towering_Pine

    Black Jack – you are wrong.

    Your trying to combine 2 different forms of ideology & lumping together as if they are one & the same. Yes both claim to be from God, but both are not non-violent. Why say such a blatant lie? One condones martyrdom for the sake of killing others for a belief, while the other praises martyrdom for being killed for a belief. Can you guess which one is which?

    Islam is a religion of people fighting for their God; Christianity is a religion of God fighting for the hearts of people.

    June 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • theresa

      Sorry – I've known many Muslims (and you know that there are multiple sects in Islam, don't you?) not fighting for anything.

      I also remember singing "Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before, Christ the Royal Master, leads against the foe – forward into to battle, see his banners glow . . ."

      I find the phrase "fighting for the hearts of people" in your post really troubling. Do you think you can win the hearts of people by fighting?

      June 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • Towering_Pine

      Theresa –

      What's "troubling" to me is that you bring Muslim people that you know as your main source of information & give their religion credit as a peaceful religion because they themselves are peaceful. Yet you refuse to accept that the doctrine that they follow – the Quran – is a violent religion even though it specifically calls for the destruction of any one who refuses to accept the prophet Mohammed.

      What's even further "troubling" is how you try to take my words & twist them to make me out to be a violent person. I never said that I would fight for anyone or anything. If you consider "talking" & "writing" as fighting then you have freely given up your American right to Free Speech.

      In my previous comment, in contesting what Black Jack had to say, I said that "Christianity is a religion of God fighting for the hearts of people." NOT ME or MAN fighting, but GOD. This is the difference between Islam & Christianity. In Christianity God calls believers to wash their hands & feet of the dust of anyone who refuses to accept the Word of Peace, not to slay them.

      June 12, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  5. sanethinker

    Unfortunately in Islam most of the unemployed street side loafer, rowdy sheather is elevated and glorified to perform certain stupid act like 9/11 11/26, all the background in 11/26 in Mumbai were unemployed youth with to purpose in life.

    June 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  6. sanethinker

    What an argument, Oklahoma bomber did not do his act in the "glory of god", he never shouted AOA like all terrorist doing freely around the world specially in 9/11 and 11/26 in Mumbai. They let off the Turkish guests in Mumbai when the visitors read some kind of khalima to prove their religion, what a shame. Hitler for that matter was not even a practicing Christian, stop giving lame excuse. IRA did for their cause which did not affect anyone specially muslims, so do not give that excuse. We can confidently say majority or almost all the terrorist shouting AOA before their act are very religious fanatical Muslims.

    June 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  7. sanethinker

    Muslims were at best partners with sharing of oil resource and now they proved to be total liability to civilized world, specially the WOT War On Terror with trillions of precious $$$ down the drain. They are unable to manage themselves and blame others for interference. What a shame, claiming to be very civilized and then using street thug ism and then outright terrorism. They do not mind running you through sword any where around the world.
    They need to set their act together even before we thing of any kind of partnership. Better they stop blaming others with 7th century brain buried deep in sand.

    June 12, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  8. ana44

    Same here, Theresa; I think (and hope) it's due to computer glitches. And I agree with your previous posts about Love and tolerance being the model that anyone calling themselves Christian should best emulate as an example to others. I do see the fear and anger level rising amongst many, regardless of affiliation. This is unfortunate and maybe we all need to calm down before posting words that hurt or scare others. We all have the right to worship as we choose in the USA, and we also have the right to tell others to prosletize elsewhere, I hope. Understanding the religious teachings of others is desireable, as is tolerance of all personal beliefs. We're all human; opinions and beliefs will differ. It's good that what has obviously festered quietly for 9-10 years is coming out in the open to be seen and heard, in my opinion.

    June 12, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • theresa

      Maybe it isn't random. I've posted a quotation from Deuteronomy twice now, and both have been deleted or failed to appear.

      June 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  9. theresa

    This is weird: about half of the posts I've made either never appear; one was removed. I can't see anything abusive about them – quite the opposite. This seems to be pretty random.

    June 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  10. Educate yourself

    Dawn- I am sorry to inform you that MM is right and you did not do your research correctly. Ever since 9/11 people have been up in arms with the Muslum faith, so I decided to research it. The Quran is just as violent as the Bible is (i.e. Cain and Able, An eye for an eye, and so on). The Bible also states that if you do not believe that Christ is your Lord and savior you are going to hell. Like that is very peaceful?? The Bible also informs us to fear God, but as a Christian I know that means to love, respect, and trust God, not to litterally fear him. BUT if you are of a different faith that translation may confuse you. I am sure you did not even think of translation differences. Next time you read something that was written in another language take into acount the translation difference. It just might change the whole thing! Calling all Muslums evil is like calling all Catholic priests child preditors. Their are Christians killing abortion doctors because abortion is against the christan faith, but also is murder. Last time I checked it is still one of the Ten Commandments!! The BTK killer was very involved in his Lutheran Church, should we ban Lutheran churches and call all of them Terorists?? I know four people who have served in Iraq and Afanganistan and they all think that people in the US are crazy for feeling this way. My cousin in general hated seeing so many Muslum people in and out of the US prisons in Iraq. They were very upset most of the time because they were not told why they were there, they did not know were their families were, if they were safe or not. Plus most of the these men in theses prisons were not guilty of anything other than having someone acuse them of something they did not do. Think of way back to the reformation were the only religion allowed was the Roman Catholic faith and that the Roman Empire would kill you for practicing any other faith. That is the main reason for Religious freedom in the USA. What people in the USA are doing is just like what the Roman Empire was doing during the reformation. If you watched CNN you would also be aware of the radical muslums killing other muslums in a hospital and a mosque for not having their radical idea's. I know that after 9/11 it brought a lot of fear and questions about the Muslum faith; but the Oklahoma City bomber was a terorist and it had nothing to do with the Muslum faith. If he was a christian would you stop a church from being built near the Oklahoma City Bombing sight. I doubt you would. Not trusting other Religions in history is nothing new. The WWII Hitler and the nazi's, Salem Witch Trial fear of the Voodoo faith, the reformation against all other christian religions, and tons more. Plus other people have mentioned bombing mosque's, what kind of example are we teaching are children and future generations?? If we don't trust people just eliminate them! Well most of us are probally of the christian of Jewish and faith and guess what that is a sin and against Gods law. All I can say is one day God will will and we all will be judged for the people we hurt and judge, but one thing I can be sure of is that when it comes to respecting people of other faiths I will not have blood on my hands for harming Gods children. Because whether they believe in God or not the Bible states that we are all Gods children and only God can judge us. you might say that I am judging you in this comment section but I am not, I am just informing you on the facts and to correctly educate yourself and to not believe everything you read or hear on TV.

    P.S. Sorry if my spelling and puncuation is off.It just makes me very upset to see you judge another faith not is not yours to judge. The only one who can judge their faith is God and God alone.

    June 12, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • theresa

      Bravo! (Or Brava!)

      June 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
    • Black Jack

      i am a Muslim and agree with you hundred percent. But I tend to disagree on one point. Both Bible and Quran are from the same source, God. They don't teach violence. People who kill in the name of relgion just did not understand these books. If lets say some students of a certain class flunk the Maths test but most others passed it, does it mean the students who failed did not study their Math book properly and there is something wrong with the Math book?

      June 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • ana44

      Well said, except that I think you mean Roman Catholicism, not Roman Empire–unless you mean the Holy Roman Empire which did exist after the Reformation. Not to quibble, just want to be accurate.
      Good point Jack, but the "book" that muslims follow, regardless of training or translation, gives Christians chills because it places the dispensation of Jesus: "Love thy neighbor as thyself" under and beneath the later dispensation of Muhammed which in fact harks back to the old testament, earlier Hebraic tribal codes.

      June 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  11. US Citizenry

    All muslim immigration into the US should have been halted after 9/11

    June 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • ana44

      I'm all for peaceful co-existence, and consider myself a transcendentalist in the Emerson/Thoreau line of thought; I've studied more than the major 6-8 religions and see the values and the drawbacks for this century in their teachings. I must agree that we majority of Americans do not wish to live under anyone's domination, and certainly not under Sharia law. And we'll never permit our society to regress to a medieval state under tribal law, especially someone else's. Get a clue: although I support your right to worship as you choose, most of us don't want to be Muslim. It's time to evolve, folks.

      June 12, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  12. Ben Cooper

    Islam is full of dullards that can't think for themselves. Actually, I guess one could make a case for him being the antiChrist. Passing off Jewish writers' words about love and peace as his own but then ordering his stupid believers to kill anyone that doesn't agree with him. And now we have a Muslim epidemic in the world. Is there really such a thing as a peaceful Muslim? Since when has any Islamic country not slaughtered people of their own and other countries? Gotta love Switzerland for denying Muslims any more mosques in their country. As one Swiss person said, they are nothing but symbols of Islamic terrorism. That mosque they're going to build in Manhattan...just wait until the FBI raids the place upon learning of what kind of plots are being hatched there. Who on this planet would actually trust a Muslim?

    June 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
    • theresa

      I would, and have, trusted a Muslim, and have never regretted it. I have felt love from Muslims, along with serenity, determination, and dignity.

      I was not hated, much less executed. On the contrary, my life was enriched, and I was moved by our common humanity and our common instinct towards the common good.

      June 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  13. Vijai

    The trouble with Islam is that there are toooo many Muslims who are deviants, nuts, and plain idiotic. These guys like the Taliban are unheard of in other religions. Of course every religion has its share of deviants but Islam by far has the highest % tage and visible deviant population. This problem can only be rectified by getting rid of the nonsensical mullahs, madarasssas, fatwas, and last but not least the fundamental flawed concept that all non Muslims are infidels. When you have clowns like Ahmadnejad running all over the world and stating that only Muslims are the good people it is a laugher and plain idiotic. So in conclusion, the situation will get worse for every Muslim unless they come with a pragmatic leader who preaches respect and coexistence with other religions and get rid of the nonsensical beliefs like mentioned above plus the veil and mistreatment of women.

    June 12, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • theresa

      I was raised in a Christian faith that considers itself mainstream, pacifist (when it's convenient, anyway), and dedicated to the love of God. Within that circle of influence have been some of the nuttiest people of whom I'm aware. It is now clear that deceit and mental illness were foundations of our denomination, and fanaticism and outright hatred can be found there. The Branch Davidians were an offshoot of Seventh-day Adventism. The FLDS is an offshoot of Mormonism. Yitzhaq Hayutman wants to build a holographic temple in Jerusalem, to bring on the end times by using massive game playing. A group called Concerned Christians were deported from Israel for plotting violence intended to trigger the apocalypse.

      There are crazy people in every major religion.

      We've had 'em too. We still do.

      June 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  14. Arthur in Arlington

    While we're on the subject...when were these mosques "firebombed" in the United States? Does anyone reading this not think that would make a headline story on CNN?

    Here's an idea. Instead of all of the "peaceful" Muslims marching in the streets everytime they think someone has said something unpleasant about their "prophet," they marched in the streets when innocent people are murdered in the name of their "peaceful" religion?

    Could it possibly be that they recognize that part of being a Muslim is to hate and kill people who aren't? Surely not!

    Isn't it amazing that in every country that has a sizeable Muslim population, the Muslim population commits terrorist acts? This happens all over the globe. Why would Muslims all over the planet come to the same conclusion - they need to kill people who don't agree with their ideology - if it really is a peaceful religion? Is it possible that there is something in the religion itself that compels them to do so?

    June 12, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • blue-blooded

      columbia, TN, jacksonville, FL, Memphis TN, chicago, IL, Miineapolis, MN, los angeles, culver city, CA, Ft. Collins, CO, Bloomington, IN, Flint, MI.

      on and on.

      christians, muslims, jews, athiests, buddhists, Hindus are the problem. they are also the solution.

      i'm pretty sure the author was trying to point out that america can be a solution and has a history of accepting others after an initial struggle. this is what we're going through now with muslims. just like the jews, the irish, the italians, etc.
      the roadmap was paved by the founding fathers. the author did his research and laid it out for you. to ignore that is to dismiss the founding fathers and america.

      June 12, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • theresa

      I was just about to respond to this with a list of firebombed mosques straight from Google – and then I saw that the previous poster already did something like that. I just didn't understand the list (I thought it was a list of places the author was from, you know, like Chanel: Paris, New York, London in the advertisements!).

      You might want to Google firebombing with the words "mosque" and "church" and "temple" and "synagogue." You might be surprised at the hatred and fear that exists out there.

      June 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  15. Arthur in Arlington

    The "prophet" of this "peaceful" religion was a warlord, murderer, slave keeper, pedophile, and rapist. This is all in the Koran and Hadith.

    Look it up people, before you get sucked in to defending this "peaceful" religion.

    Islam is what Islam does. What is Islam doing?

    June 12, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  16. SharkBite

    Atheism is enlightenment and we'll all get along with one another once we all become enlightened.

    June 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • theresa

      Your proposed universal "enlightenment" will never occur, and that's a good thing. When everybody believes the same thing, about something that is essentially not comprehensible, every kind of moral and scientific progress is inhibited.

      What is most important is that people have the choice to discover what they believe and to be respected, with basic human dignity, no matter what their belief system is. People are more – and more important – than their beliefs.

      June 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • Black Jack

      theresa, I totally agree with you.

      June 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
  17. randy S

    I too hope that if a mosque is built at the site of the Trade Centers that it will be blown up...I would actually expect it to be.

    June 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  18. ted

    All religions can be harmful to your children it always causes war , you all should be arested for child endangerment.
    don't worship ,if i was God i wouldn't expect or want anyone to worship me. Just believe in that that you see and be good to your neighbors.

    June 12, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Johnny Thrill

    If a large scale attack hits the U.S. ALL your opinions will change. The WTC and Pentagon were considered small against biological or nuclear threats. Everyone on the planet is paranoid of everything. Let it happen and you will see people running around like ants or animals. As a matter of fact, it may spell the beginning of the end due to our animalistic nature, as opposed to our religious beliefs. Beliefs are tossed when our little children are turned to ashes or get welts on their skin. Face reality, you softballed this subject matter. One Attack, One End.

    June 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  20. Johnny Thrill

    To the author of this article: I'm dumbfounded as to how that survey was done. The survey, in which 90% of Americans would vote for a Muslim President should be qualified. There aren't any American that want the Muslim Governments of the middle east here in this country. So, the question should have been stated as follows. If a Muslim were to run for President and shed the beliefs of the Muslim Governments of the Middle East would you vote for him or her. I know the survey is false. I talk to Americans in general and I know I can't find 90%. I need to see the question you asked to believe you. Americans absolutely abhore the religious governments of the Middle East. We only deal with them for world trade.

    June 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
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About this blog

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