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. Reality

    Once again we come to the rescue of our Islamic sisters and brothers with the Five Steps to Deflaw Islam:
    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    "1. Belief in Allah"
    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc." should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    June 13, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  2. AG

    I would like to ask so called "American Muslims", how many churches or temples or synagogue are there in predominantly Muslin countries? Muslims do not allow non-Muslims to practice non-Islamic religion in their countries but expect everyone else to embrace them. Nice thinking.

    Why are they trying to impose their religion on America? If they want to build a mosque, why ground zero? Why don't they build one in Arizona?

    There is no doubt that Muslims are fanatics when it comes to religion. They do not care about what they are doing in the name of religion even if it means stabbing the country, which gives them their livelihood, in the back. So Mr. Martin, keep your biased views and biased studies to yourself and keep your mouth shut.

    June 13, 2010 at 1:02 am |
    • AK

      Mr. AG,

      Your statements are NOT correct. Please visit , for example, Bangladesh, and see how all religions has their own temples etc.

      June 15, 2010 at 1:21 am |
  3. OhWakeUp

    "Good Muslims." "Good Christians." Ha! ANY religion that seeks to convert others should be banned worldwide. Have any religion you like but LEAVE THE REST OF US ALONE. Islam and Christianity are both crocks of manure. Cut them both out of the equation and see how quickly world affairs would simmer down.

    June 13, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • NoUseForSkyFairies

      Well said! The insanity of believing this rot must stop.

      June 13, 2010 at 5:40 am |
  4. Curious

    If Islam wants a better reputation in the United States, its leaders should speak up and denounce terrorism and events such as 9-11. All too often, the silence has been deafening.

    June 13, 2010 at 12:09 am |
    • sanethinker

      I would say it is "Height of expectation". If they have done that long time ago we would not have seen other acts of violence, hope they will manage their religion in future. We can at best do is to hope after we loose few more trillions and soldiers for their insane act.

      June 13, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  5. Do you even know what Jihad is?

    Frank- Jihad is struggling in the way of God. Do you work to support your family? That is Jihad. Do you study to get a degree? That is Jihad. Do you stand up for what is right? That is Jihad.

    I don't blame you for your ignorance. Even in college textbooks, the ACTUAL definition of Jihad is not found. It only states holy war, but it involves everyday activities that include simply getting up to go to work to support your family.

    True Islam is hard to find. Its been blinded by political power and has been completely revamped in a way that Leaders in Islamic Countries claiming to follow Shariah Law use it simply to gain power. They follow what they find would benefit them but do not follow what would condemn what they would do.

    A true muslim is extremely rare to find nowadays. But when you meet one, you will know. Always smiling, never negative, and simply a humble and peaceful person.

    The Koran states that I should explain to you my religion, but if you do not believe it, that is up to you. I have no right to take matters in to my own hands and force u to believe. One Believes in Islam from the heart, if it isn't from the heart, it isn't Islam.

    Some people choose to follow it and some don't. God will choose their path for them, and I have no right to change that path by using any type of force. All I am required to do is educate and let you understand the true meaning, the rest is up to God.

    I just wish more muslims would speak up.

    June 12, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
  6. Miata Painn

    A naive perception of Islamism through the eyes and pencil of Frankie Martin enhances the threats of muslums over the christian world. While islamism keeps promoting terror and violence as their means to conquer the world, I wonder how could anyone promote and encourage their expansion in the Americas?
    Why is it that muslums are not attacking Asia, China? and do attack the western hemisphere? Facts and history reveal their fond intentions: To DESTROY Christianity, and we should fight them in ALL fronts. Expel islamism from our life.

    June 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  7. Frank Sanders

    One big problem is that the Muslim leaders, Imams, mullahs and other Islamic leaders do not denounce Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the tremendous amount of violence that we hear about every day coming out of Muslim nations. Until Muslims themselves start coming out "en masse" to denounce the violence, Westerners will believe that most Muslims support this Jihad towards America, Israel, Christianity, and all non-Muslims.

    June 12, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  8. sanethinker

    Least we forget religious inspired AOA shouting jihadist causing 9/11, 11/26, Bali bombing, Spanish train bombing, London bombing, Russian bombing of apartment and public places and innumerable ones around the world, the most recent one being Shoe bombing, bomb hidden in diaper, Time Square courtesy Faisal Sehzad. Some from who did recon David Headley aka Daood Jilani. The world should know the truth.

    June 12, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
    • theresa

      I imagine these are the mostly widely-known facts on the planet at present.

      June 12, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • sanethinker

      One thing is known, human memory is short. What happened to all the bombing of buses, public placed in Israel as part of Intefeda. No wonder Turkey and others are sending Free Gaza flotilla. Is this what we all know???
      Or we ignore and keep getting hit with more such act, more trillion $$$ and more soldiers???

      June 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
    • sanethinker

      To cap it all those crude rocket with uncertain and devastating effect, courtesy to those who are behind the supply.

      June 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  9. mike0002

    -...and .. then bring in all those "macacas" drinking cows urine as a religious device

    June 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
    • theresa

      Your point isn't clear, but your racism is.

      In a fundamental sense, people can be no better than the pejoratives and slurs they hurl at others.

      June 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
    • believer in humanity

      Dear brother, please check facts, how many genes you have in common before making such silly comment. Please remove "uric acid haram" from the halal you eat. Truth is bitter my friend, science will at least enlighten you.

      June 13, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • sanethinker

      Science says even Bedouin use warm camel dung with a purpose. Check the German WWII story on web.

      June 17, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  10. theresa

    Ben, I sympathize with you; the statement to which you responded seems to be missing.

    Most Christians consider "the Bible" to include the New Testament. Some Christians actually consider it the ONLY part of the Bible. The words of Jesus recorded are actually IN the Bible, rather than overruling it.

    June 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • Educate yourself

      Theresa- You are right. The words that Jesus spoke is recorded and it is even in red to make it easier for people who don't see it.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
    • Ben Cooper

      Sorry, Theresa, but the bible is secondary to the NT wherever Christ said things that were in direct contradiction to it. His words did indeed overrule many of the teachings of the bible. And he added a commandment - one that Mohammed seems to have overlooked when he stole scripture from biblical and gospel sources and made them out to be his own. But back to the bible. It is no longer the last word of God where Jesus spoke in opposition to any of its passages. But Mohammed! After Jesus expressly told his followers that there would be many false prophets to come after him, sure enough, along comes this guy six centuries later who decides to install himself above Christ and then commits his followers to a path of murder and world domination. Hardly sounds like anything Christ said, does it? The Koran is a ripoff of Jewish writings, pure and simple, and Mohammed was a deluded power-hungry egomaniac.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
    • theresa

      Ben, the New Testament IS part of the Bible. The one I have on my desk in front of me has both Old and New Testaments in it.

      The New Testament, part of the Bible, is where all the stories about Jesus are found.

      June 12, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
    • Educate yourself

      Ben Cooper- Are you even a christian?? Go to your local Wal-Mart and pick up a Bible and there you will see that the old and the new testiments are both there. I have been a christian all of my life and I don't want to speak for Theresa but she probably has too!! Trust me we know the Bible pritty well and the old and new testiments are both there together. It seems to me that you really have no faith since you bashed tons of them. All I know is a person who has religion and uses and understands it in the right context is at peace with God. Whether they call him God, Alla (sorry about the spelling if wrong), or any other name. In my eyes it seems that you have not found peace with yourself because if you had you would feel no need to bash other religions. It would be a waste of your time. All I have to say is God bless!

      June 13, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  11. samp

    As far as I am concerned, the goverment CAN THROW EVERY ONE OF THE MUSLIMS OUT OUT, AND BAN THEM FROM THE USA. THEY ARE A CRUEL AND OPRESSIVE RELIGIAN. THE SAME GOES FOR ALL THE 'PROFETS". As far as I am concerned (my opion) the goverment can buldose ALL there mosiks too... Writen under of the AMERICAN RIGHT OF FREE SPEACH!

    June 12, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • Ben Cooper

      The bible states no such thing about Jesus. That statement appears in the NT. And if that's what Jesuss said, that if one doesn't have faith in Him, one doesn't go to heaven, then that's it. And, keep in mind, please, that whatever Jesus said that contradicted the bible OVERRULED the bible. The bible is not the last word on God if Jesus made comments that touched on anything it said.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  12. WOW

    Ignorance is the issue here. Ignorance that anyone believes today in these fairy tales, whether it be the koran, the old or the new testament.
    I'm always amazed how "GOD" always appeares to just one person just like how aliens are here and only take a select few. Religion was created out of ignorance for not understanding science and for controlling people, by putting the FEAR OF GOD into them.
    The first know civilization were the Sumerians around 3000BC, which is in what is now Iraq. These were their beliefs –
    There was no organized set of gods; each city-state had its own patrons, temples, and priest-kings. The Sumerians were probably the first to write down their beliefs, which were the inspiration for much of later Mesopotamian mythology, religion, and astrology.
    Yet Mohammed gets a calling from god over 3000 years later, by himself ? Why did God wait so long, because he doesn't exist.
    Moses gets the commandments at around 1440 BC, by himself? Seeing a pattern here?
    No mention of Dinosaurs in any of the fairy tales.
    I can't believe in the modern world we live in, achieving things like going to moon and the internet, people still cling on to these stories as truths, If God existed he would have spoken to all humans after he first created them and we would not have all the different religions but 1.
    If people stopped believing in century old stories (lies), the world would be a safer, happier, and friendlier place.

    June 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
    • Ben Cooper

      Wow. Here we go again...someone making the same argument as did those thousands of years ago. It's tiring. You don't see God because you don't look for Him. And, by the way, He is under no obligation to answer to you or anyone. You can write, call and stamp your feet, but the president of the U.S (or even a neighbor, for that matter) can ignore you all the same. And he's just an elected official. God gave you the gift of liife, a lot more than Obama or any president can do for you. So how you spend it is up to you. But if you use your gift in a way that doesn't thank Him or please Him, you will regret your stance but by then it will be too late.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
    • theresa

      You may find the stories in different religions to be no more than fairy tales, but the religions themselves are most emphatically NOT fairy tales. They are the way that most people try to make sense of a confusing world, and achieve meaning. You'll have to take them more seriously if you ever hope for world peace. You're talking about the core of humanity.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
    • theresa

      Ben, I have sincerely and honestly and vigorously looked for God for more than 50 years now; I'm still doing this, including prayer. Nothing has resulted, other than a sense that I'm giving the attempt to connect with whatever runs the universe my best shot.

      Either you have to believe that I've been damned by some pre-election in which I had no choice, or you have to suspect that God isn't interested in being revealed to me.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
    • stephen douglas

      Sooo, Muhammed claimed he rode a winged horse to the site of the temple mount and God told him to build a mosque there. Then he also started receiving regular communications from God telling him to kill pagens, smite unbeilevers, take no prisoners, beat your wife if she steps out of line, be a martyr by fighting for Allah and receive 72 virgins in a beautiful garden, and my favorite...Allah said that Muhammed alone could have access to any woman he desired except wives of other Muslims – slave girls, prisoners, widows, NIECES, daughters, you name it, all fair game for the Prophet of Allah.

      What if I claimed I flew to New York in a 67 Mustang, heard God through the radio speaking to me alone and telling me to build a church on the site of the twinitowers? Would that be believable? No? What about after I rounded up some of your family members and cut off their heads, along with a few of your neighbors? Would you believe me then? I bet you would. I bet you would accept my teachings and swear I was a prophet of God.

      That is how Islam got it's start. That is how it has grown. A murdering psycopath plagierizing passages from the bible while adding a few choice phrases for his own purposes. The Qu'ran is a bluebook for developing terrorists, and Islam is one of the biggest threats to world peace today.

      June 12, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  13. theresa

    I can't deny that the oppression of women isn't a serious problem.

    The oppression of women is not unique to Islam. It is a problem we have to tackle wherever we find it.

    Women can't be ministers in my childhood church. In some places, they were never allowed to speak "from the platform."

    I've lost three people I've cared about to arranged marriages. One was Hindu; she attempted suicide when her husband rejected her. Another was a Hmong Christian; she knew she would be shunned by everyone she knew growing up if she rejected her parent's choice of suitor. A third was from the People's Republic of China, of no certain religion.

    I know Mexican women from very traditional Catholic homes who aren't allowed to be any place else than home, church, or school – and school often is ultimately denied.

    I have seen articulate and confident women achieve public success, supported by their glowing husbands: Christians, Muslims, and Hindus.

    We find some of the conditions imposed on women in some Islamic states really shocking. But my grandmother wasn't able to vote. Birth control was illegal when my mother married. I was told not to pursue a career, but to seek to be a good Christian wife, who could earn her living typing if something happened to her husband (called "the sweet promise). What rights women and their families take for granted in the United States are actually rather recent – and Muslim feminists (yes, they exist: Google before you say otherwise) are not that far behind us.

    June 12, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
    • Jon

      "The oppression of women is not unique to Islam."

      You can't possibly hope to compare the oppression of women of Islam with any other culture in the world and hope to be called sane, can you?

      June 12, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
    • NoUseForSkyFairies

      Your entire post reeks of "utterly made up."

      June 13, 2010 at 5:45 am |
  14. theresa

    At what point does a cult become a mainstream religion? Christianity was a cult until Rome thought it would help them to adopt the religion. Islam was a cult. Do you stop being a cult when you have at least a million members? To an outsider, beliefs in the teachings of Mormon are no more fantastic, say, than those in the Acts of the Apostles, or Revelation.

    June 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
    • Towering_Pin


      your getting off topic here.

      We're not arguing what a cult is, or even how it starts. The previous question was in regards to what you considered "esentially imprisioned." I would like to know what you think of imprisonment w/in the Mormon belief. And I would like to see how you would then go on to defend Islam when in comparison to Mormons – which is still a cult – is completely babaric in its treatment of women.

      June 12, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
    • theresa

      I can't accept the logic that because things that are wrong are worse "over there" than they are "here" that a qualitative difference exists. Evil is evil, on any scale.

      Imprisonment, when a woman can't leave her husband without the police stopping here, is what has happened in the FLDS. I used the word "essentially' because, technically, the woman is free to go. But because the cult doesn't insure its cars, she is usually pulled over, cited for driving uninsured, and sent back to her husband. The only way out for some women is help from outside.

      Is that what you were asking?

      My heart breaks for the women I've seen harmed in the name of religion – ANY religion. I believe that what is done to women in the FLDS, with all of its psychological subtleties, is the same kind of thing done to women who can't leave their homes without a male relative in Saudi Arabia.

      June 12, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  15. TonyInLargo

    I hate to say it, but I have very little respect for Muslims, and, they have earned every bit of it.

    June 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  16. theresa

    Christians and Muslims BOTH choose whether or not to submit to God. It isn't obvious from "the outside" because children are expected to "choose" to be good Christians or good Muslims, respectively. Amish shun those who leave. FLDS essentially imprison their women and children.

    Forgive the disjointed nature of this bit of thread; I couldn't get this posted as a reply to a previous comment.

    June 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
    • Towering_Pine

      I would rather be shunned than slain. And what would you consider "essentially" imprisoned? I'm assuming that you’re talking about the Mormons – a cult who added their own book to the Bible written in the 1800's.

      June 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jon

      You're comparing the Amish to Muslims? Really? REALLY??!! Are you THAT steeped in cultural relativism?

      June 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  17. sanethinker

    If we are fooling ourselves to think they are right and we need to change, we will be dodo, history may describe us as stupid and ignorant people.

    June 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  18. sanethinker

    Why are our soldier dying for these silly cause??? They should decide if they wanted to be part of this world or some kind of hell where they are promised 72 virgins with rivers of milk and honey.

    June 12, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  19. sanethinker

    Western world has come out of pogrom and have progressed so much as to uplift most of the humanity out of poverty. What has Islam learn t??? It is err to human, it require evil intention to repeat it and that too sanctioned by religion. The extreme version of it like Salafis, Deobandis and Wahabbis does interpret to run non believers through sword or maim through suicide bombers like happening now.

    June 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • sanethinker

      Sorry, it is supposed to be "To err is human", to repeat it needs evil inside us or sanction from religion or both.

      June 12, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • theresa

      Pogroms, I'm afraid, are part of our recent history. A quarter of a million Jews were killed around the time of the Russian Revolution. Pogroms were carried out by slavic nations during the second world war. If you permit western genocide as qualifying as pogroms, Seventh-day-Adventists, an American export, were responsible for orchestrating the murder of thousands of Tutsi in Rawanda in 1994, along with Roman Catholic Clergy. The reign of terror of the KKK is nothing more than transplanted pogrom behavior.

      June 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
    • sanethinker

      Agreed, we have check on those activity and people have confidence. What is happening from other side, they are denying at best and laughing at the chaos. Sadly what is happening in Sudan, Egypt, Saudi (no freedom), Pakistan, Chechnya, Iran (Baloch/kurd minority), Palestine (Hamas and Fatah), Lebanon, Turkey (Armenia, Kurd and Greek Cypriot), Malaysia, Indonesia, Afganistan, now Uzbekistan (against Tadzhik) etc. There is the cloning of faith to suite certain belief which is quickly spinning out of control. When we have UN to resolve issues Bosnia, Rawanda, Congo etc why certain contries are resorting to unilateral approach?

      June 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
    • sanethinker

      Check which one of those are local phenomenon and which one affect countries, also which one is contained and which is global in appeal (jihad) and out of control. Let us not fool ourself into thinking everything is ok and can be shrugged off under the carpet. How many Tutsis fight in US, how many KKK exsts in Saudi Arabia???

      June 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  20. Towering_Pine

    theresa – your right – Christians are to submit to God, but according to Christianity you have the choice to follow or not. There are no repercussions in this life. You say that if you don't believe you go to hell. Well no one in this earth can make the final call on who goes to where for eternity – that's up to God @ the last judgment.

    But that’s only if you believe in it – what is there to fear in the afterlife if you don't even believe it in the 1st place?

    The fear of rejecting Islam though is real – it’s real in this life.

    Rejecting Islam is punishable by death. Or if the invading Islam force should feel inclined to do so, they can make you a secondary citizen of their country where they will tax you for not being Muslim. These citizens are called Dhimmi's. They have no rights & their lives are made miserable. They are even excluded from educational & professional opportunities.

    June 12, 2010 at 6:10 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.