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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. John

    I prefer to welcome tax payers and law abiders. After that; whatever fairy tales you choose to believe in shouldn't matter.

    June 15, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  2. Pete

    There is some truth in many of these posts, and there is also misinformation, distortion, and deception. Most of us shall believe that which corresponds to our world-view and ignore or refute the rest. Regarding Islam, there are some telling data:

    Falsity has existed within all faiths, from Christian to Buddhist, and does so within Islam. The cultist teachings of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Sayyid Qutb has led to the creation of Hamas, al-Qaeda, and bi Laden's Jihad. These teachings, not intolerance by some Americans, leads to radicalization. As was previously mentioned, one need not look further than Europe and its open immigration policies to see governments being held captive by radical Muslims. The rate of radical converts in America is much lower than Europe and enormously lower than the Middle East. Segments of the American media, in their portrayal of "Girls Gone Wild" and anything goes reality TV, play into the fears of conservative Muslims of America as "The Great Satan." However, that certainly does not warrant extermination.

    I do not believe in violence against any group, but there is no moral equivalency between calling Muslim students names (name calling in common among many adolescent groups e.g. inner-city African American public school and suburban private schools) and slowly beheading journalists and women on the internet. As has been noted, there are radicals within all nations and faiths, nonetheless draconian theocratic Muslim states certainly have their fair share. bin Laden has said, "We worship death," and the ruling regime of Iran wishes to fulfill an eschatological vision to hasten the arrival of the 12th Imam via the use of nuclear arms.

    For further reading regarding the impact of cultism on Islam, take a look at Ibn Warraq's "Why I am Not a Muslim"

    June 15, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  3. Wm Skadder

    MR. Martin,, You've be dupped. Never trust a Muslim, never. Mr. Martin, you have not lived long enough, therefore you have not gained the wisdom the only living years can give to one. You got a free ride around the world and saw only what you wanted to. You are to sympathetic to the Muslim cause to make a true judgement. Muslim's are religious hypocrites. Treat woman like dirt. Throw acid in ones face because they've been spurned. even kill their own family or loved ones. Now there's someone I trust. This country are of "Americans", not Muslim Americans, not African Americans, AMERICANS.
    You young man still have some growing to do. But, you got paid for your services.

    June 15, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  4. Mark L.

    The Jewish People believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Christian People believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and worship their messiah, Jesus Christ. The Muslim People believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and worship their messiah, Mohammed. Bottom Line – Jews, Christians and Muslims ALL believe in the same God. If this world of ours can come to grips and learn to scrap religious views and just serve one God and ONLY ONE GOD without making a such a BIG DEAL about messianic belief, it would be a much more peaceful world to live in. I am a Proud American-Born Jew. However, I do have many friends of the various Christian denominations and the Muslim faith. We ALL AGREE, Jesus Christ has not come back, nor will he ever resurface. Nor will the prophet Mohammed. GET REAL PEOPLE, Jesus Christ was a human being, as was the prophet, Mohammed. When they died, THAT WAS IT – GAME OVER !! There's NO COMING BACK FROM THE DEAD !! Most Christians and Muslims are worshipping DEAD MESSIAHS THAT WILL NEVER RESURFACE OR MAGICALLY REAPPEAR !! Remember one thing – GOD ALMIGHTY Handed Down the Ten Commandments to Moses, NOT JESUS and NOT MOHAMMED !! The Bible was written by Man, NOT GOD ALMIGHTY !! Is there any one person on this earth that can literally PROVE that everything it states in the Bible ACTUALLY HAPPENED ?? I THINK NOT !! Love Thy Neighbor and Be Good to One Another – REGARDLESS OF RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS / BELIEFS !! THAT'S REALLY ALL IT TAKES TO ACCOMPLISH WORLD PEACE !! Remember – We ALL SHARE ONE THING IN COMMON – The Belief in One God !! WE ARE ALL OF THE HUMAN SPECIES AND WE ALL BLEED RED BLOOD !!

    June 15, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • Ben Cooper

      If you believe in God and the fact that God is written of to have said that He will do as He pleases, then resurrection is an indisputable ability of His. If you give no credence to the NT, then you can throw the bible out, too. But you can't have it BOTH WAYS. Let me remind you of something - in all the years Jewish archeologists have searched for stone tablets, columns and building blocks that clearly bear the name of anyone of the Hebrew bible, they have found NOTHING. You know what they have found? Proof of the existence of people written of in the NT. So, from an archeological viewpoint, there is more proof of Jesus than there is of Moses. And we can forget about Mohammed. Christ said that there would be many false prophets to follow Him. And, six hundred years LATER, guess who shows up and tells everyone HE is the top dog? What a joke.

      June 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  5. Victoria

    America as a Judeo-Christian nation has every right to be mindful of Muslims.... look back into history for your facts, and how the Muslims overtook and massacred the non-Muslims of Jerusalem, the cause of the Crusades over the next 200 years. Can we really believe that the Muslims have stopped there? Should we not be wary that Muslims are just looking to weaken Israel's strongest ally in order to reclaim the Holy Land for themselves? Christians were tolerant enough to welcome them into Jerusalem, and then look what happened. Americans would be wise to remember this part of history as the US continues to welcome Muslims in droves. Europe and Asia aren't exactly the pillars for peace since the Muslims have moved there.

    June 15, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  6. sanethinker

    We had Joseph Goebbel then in 1940s and 50s, mainly promoting race and certainly not a practicing christian. Now we have many million Yousuf Goebbels trying to preach us the kind and compassionate about their religion and its laws:)

    June 15, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • sanethinker

      One has led to death and destruction, not sure when the other is going to end:(

      June 15, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  7. William

    The media never publishes the Muslim Community’s condemnation of violent acts by so called Muslims. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) releases a statement condemning any violent act or statements that would incite violence such as those by that Imam in Yemen. They do this anytime there is an incident that affects the nation. However, those statements never make it into the media. The media never goes to that organization for any comments and they are the largest Muslim organization on this side of the world. But, everyday we get Muslim bashing Christians on TV which is no better for the reputation of Christians.

    June 15, 2010 at 8:03 am |
  8. sanethinker

    Bragging is disease, big ego with tiny heart for other faiths...

    June 15, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  9. William

    QMAX 1234. The interpretation of Sura 9:30 is wrong. You have used an interpretation where people like to put in parentheses what they think the sura is talking about. A good translation is:

    [9:30] The Jews said, "Ezra is the son of GOD," while the Christians said, "Jesus is the son of GOD!" These are blasphemies uttered by their mouths. They thus match the blasphemies of those who have disbelieved in the past. GOD condemns them. They have surely deviated.

    Concerning the hadith. I don't much believe in them as they are not better than parts of the Bible. They were authored by men with an agenda. However, understanding why Islam was sent you gather the Prophet cursed those who were doing wrong according to what God had sent him.

    Lastly, there were many Jewish sects and Christian denominations during that time. Some still exist today and they aren’t Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, CofC, etc. The are much older. They often became intertwined with the local culture so it is very possible the Jews and Christians in that area integrated beliefs that where somewhat pagan. This happened also when Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire and needed to modify it to get everyone to accept it. You will never find all of that in the Bible, but do your historical research and it all comes out. Start with the Council of Nicea and the politics involved and the various beliefs of Christian Sects that were a part of that.

    June 15, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  10. sanethinker

    @gnostic, the opinion expressed by you seems to be o f f e n s i v e by any standard. It might make them think irrationally and s u s p i c i o u s about others. In the moment of d a r k n e s s they probably need kind words and support or facts for them to think rationally.

    IMHO only followers have the right to change any opinion that too with acceptable choice of words to express.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:26 am |
  11. Sophia

    I'm a Muslim woman, born and raised in Australia and I went to a Catholic school. I've been to America (USA and Canada), but we have the same issues of identity in Australia. From my experience, I found the biggest threat to Muslims living in the West is fear.

    As a Muslim, I still find it difficult interpreting the Qur’an and often ask others to help out. I'm glad that non-Muslims take to reading the Qur’an to further their understanding, especially since Islam is repeatedly portrayed as a predominantly violent and oppressive religion. What better way to learn? But again, it's important to understand the text, not just see what you're looking for, which is what a lot of Islamophobes are doing and disappointingly, terrorist who fight in the name is Islam.

    Miscommunication breads more miscommunication. I think America and many European countries perceive Islam as a grave threat because you don't understand it and naturally, you fear the unknown. This paranoia which everyone has about Muslims trying to take over the world, plotting against non-Muslims, men hiding behind Burqa’s and such is the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard. Thanks for giving me, a Muslim, credit for being capable of taking over the world. I do appreciate it, but it’s not something I’m interested in at the moment. For myself and many Muslims, we’re more concerned about survival and teaching Islam, not to convert everyone, but so that people understand who we are and what we stand for – and respect that. And that’s not easy, since there’s so much hate mongering. If you’re going to read the Qur’an as a non-Muslim, try not to let your prejudices get in the way – because you’re overlooking everything Islam stands for and adding to the affliction of Muslims. And if you are a Muslim, don’t use Islam as an excuse to fulfil your selfish desires.

    I choose to identify myself as an Australian-Muslim and I do so because I’m proud of who I am and I can be both. As can any Muslim living in America, or someone of another faith. My understanding is, that America was the land of the ‘free’. I didn’t know there were strings attached.

    There’s a lot of “well you did this to us so why shouldn’t we do that to you!” rubbish going on. Grow up. If we were to hold everyone accountable for all their crimes spanning the human existence, we’d never make any progress.

    June 15, 2010 at 5:32 am |
    • sanethinker

      We do not have any issue in USA as long as we keep faith in strictly private domain, I hardly came across any discrimination worth mentioning. The problem starts when someone interprets their opinion and point to certain religions belief. Except for minor racial issue in Australia and Europe, western world is the best among nations for immigrants with diverse beliefs, faith and race. Try to avoid saying non Muslims, try to address others as people of "other faith". It is not ok to lump in general as "believers and non believers".

      Think of other faith settling in any of the Islamic countries, it is discriminatory and do not have many rights and privilege compared to Muslims. Less we talk about western world the better.

      June 15, 2010 at 6:35 am |
    • sanethinker

      Less we talk about Islamic country the better.

      June 15, 2010 at 6:50 am |
    • Sophia

      Not being Muslim isn't the same as being a non-believer. I'm a Muslim and I think you can believe in any faith. If you think it is the same, then that's your opinion and again, you let your blind prejudices get in the way of what I'm actually saying.

      Don't get your panties in a twist over being 'politically correct'.

      June 16, 2010 at 5:25 am |
  12. Agnostic

    Let's try a little freedom of speech and see how long it is permitted to stay for all to see. Mohammed is dog copulating drunk and Allah is a pig. For that I should die, mere words. Okay, so Muslims are offended, so what? From their viewpoint they should be, but it does not warrant taking a life. By design Allah gave us a free will. Muslims demand that our free will be stripped from us by their religious police, e.g., the Revolutionary Guard. This is in violation of Allah's design and is a sin of pride by placing themselves above the wishes of Allah that we have a free will. Islam is so irrational that only someone duped since childhood could subscribe to it. It can not compete in an open market of ideas, that is why it is so prone to terrorism. It is the only way that it can survive. It cannot stand on its own merits, it has none.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:34 am |
    • Sophia

      I didn't find that offensive. But I do feel sorry for you.

      June 15, 2010 at 5:33 am |
  13. INDies

    Building Mosque on ground zero is surprising idea. Will this mosque will give space to moderate one to say something and it is still doubt. It is more likely appeasing and showing favoritism to particular religion. I think many other sects and religion are existing on this earth so why not to make historic monument that contains all religion values and content where people can contact each other and learn whatever they would like to know.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:14 am |
  14. Polonius

    Another pro-islam CNN puff piece! Frankie makes it look like we're firing up the ovens already for the muslims; show us some statistics instead of your demagogery. His portrayl of the Founding Fathers as friend of the ROP is the height of taquiya. I guess he forgot about why we fought the Barbary Pirates and why Ben Franklin wrote a letter about an imaginary muslim Algerian pirate to satirize a pro-slavery Congressman showing his clear understanding of the danger posed by iislam. Selective memory or being a good dhimmi? You decide!

    June 15, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  15. Agnostic

    The tenor of this blog goes to show that religion is the bane of humanity. We would all be better off if everyone just relied on and used their own intelligence to determine how to conduct themselves among others. I still contend that Islam is the worst and needs to be the first to go. Ryan, your quotes from religious texts demonstrate that the pathway to peace is not via theological ramblings. Theresa, you are either a convert to Islam or a very, very naive girl.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  16. theresa

    I agree. Micheal M's statement is so inspiring that I'm pulling it down here:

    Some of these respones make me completely ashamed to be an American. So many seem like all they do is listen to the hype and doom of "Infotainment" provided by major news corps to garner viewer rates.

    The facts are really quite simple. Islam is a very, very big religion, with over a billion followers. Many of these followers aren't even located in the Middle East, but spread throughout the world. They lead peaceful, perfectly happy lives with everyone around them and you'd never know they were Muslim unless you asked them point blank.

    The extremists are very few. Far fewer than 1% of Muslims, and yet the blanket statements here would make any decent person cringe.

    Blind hatred. Hatred founded on a lack of experience or understanding of fellow humans is the worst any person can possibly be, and no nationality or religion will make it otherwise. Osama has blind hatred for Americans – he cannot see that amongst the corporate swindlers and bought politicians are decent folk living their lives in a good way. To retain a blind hatred towards Muslims makes you no better than those you hate, it brings you much closer to being them.

    I see Muslims walking peacefully every single day. They ride my bus, go to my classes, shop at my stores, and laugh at my jokes. I do not fear them. I do not fear them any ounce more than I fear other human beings because I understand that they are no different from me. Their biology is the same as mine. My DNA has mixed with theirs however many generations back, and at some point, we were brother and sister.

    The distorted concept of superiority based upon nationality or religion is what's to fear. It's the coward's call to arms because it's much easier to hate believe the words other people tell you than to form thoughts of your own. It's easier to fight someone else's battles because they told you to than to sit down with your supposed "enemy" and find common ground.

    In short, it's easier to let someone have power over you and relieve yourself of responsibility, than to retain your independence and forge ahead according to your own understanding of the world. Blind hatred – like some of what's been written here – is not the work of a man determined to rid the world of evil. It's not the work of a person who sets out to save lives. Blind hatred is the work of a coward.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:04 am |
    • Sophia

      You're the only one making any sense on this. It's good to know that you can be American and not be racist and xenophobic. Just remember, there are a lot of Americans – and just because a few of the lowest kinds of humans choose to comment on this thread, doesn't mean you're all the same. Thanks for representing the other side 🙂

      June 15, 2010 at 5:38 am |
    • chris

      That is a person who grasps the true concept of being an American. Well said!

      June 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  17. D Syed, Overland Park, KS

    Michael M, I intend to quote you. The most brilliant commentary in the entire thread.

    June 15, 2010 at 12:47 am |
    • sanethinker

      Yeah, we all have big ego and tiny heart for other faith. That is the problem:(

      June 15, 2010 at 7:31 am |
  18. INDies

    Is Islam a greatest religion? or followers?

    June 15, 2010 at 12:45 am |
  19. HeReigns

    Dude. There may be differing opinions around here, but it's never ok to verbally abuse someone.

    June 15, 2010 at 12:36 am |
  20. Connie

    Americans need only look at countries where Muslims are the majority to see what our fate would be in our own country if we allow current levels of muslim immigration. Don't tell me how peaceful most muslims are. If the musllims majoritycountries were loving and eacevful people, then you woulldn't have Christiands and Jews treated like second class citizens there. In Egypt, a supposeduly western friendly muslim nation, you willl lose your citizenship if you marry a Christian, it's also illegal in many Muslim countries to convert to Christianity, it can get you killed. . So when we allow Muslims to have a foothold in this country, with enough voting power to enact muslim friendly, anti-Christian laws, what then? Don't say it can't happen, it can and it will if we don't put a stop to it NOW!, Muslims try to come off as peacfuly because they are still in the minority. What'sity. Watch the transformation when they feel more powerful in numbers. Wake Up People!!

    June 15, 2010 at 12:22 am |
    • theresa

      What proportion of Muslims live in those countries?

      What do American Muslims think about those countries?

      How many Muslims live in countries that do not have an Islamic state?

      How many American Muslims are willing to live by American law and the American Constitution?

      Has anybody even bothered to ask them? No, I don't mean one person's limited experience of a few people they know (and I bet never asked these questions) in their neighborhood or village. I mean the entire country.

      If you are concerned about Muslims – or anybody else – not being willing to abide by American principles and the Constitution, is there anything else we can do to prevent this, beyond the Draconian and character-destroying (our character and theirs) discussion of deportation or internment camps.

      Too much of this conversation hasn't graduated out of the sand box. The educated voices I've heard, on different sides of these issues, have withdrawn. The tenor of this discussion has become – disgusting. I've only stayed on because I don't want people from other countries to think that this is what Americans are like.

      I hope everybody will take a moment and visualize what is being proposed: deportation of loyal, law-abiding American citizens. This will never happen. If it WERE to happen, many of them would have no countries to which they could return, or would face severe punishment or death. Alternatively, you might think of what happened to the Japanese in the second World War. My uncle, a loyal citizen both then and now, was interned. His family lost everything and have never completely recovered, financially or emotionally. Japanese were killed by ruffians. Chinese – ironically – were sometimes also killed. Is that what you want for our country? A place where concentration camps (let's not gloss that over) house loyal citizens?

      And what gives any of us the right to decide which of us is a "real" American? Not very many of us are descended from the original 13 colonies. NONE of us are Puritans. Are we going to limit American citizenship to Protestants? Jehovah's Witnesses? Catholics? Where are you going to draw the line? If I'm to follow the logic of some of the posters above, a radical right Christian, Protestant country would result. I need to point out that Freedom of Speech would disappear – our churches would tell us how to vote and what to say and think.

      These are not liberal, touchy-feely ideas. They aren't new. You can seem them in Normal Rockwell. Some of those old guys really understood what we stood for.

      June 15, 2010 at 12:49 am |
    • theresa

      To precisely which countries do you refer? Most Muslims don't live in Islamic-governed countries.

      June 15, 2010 at 1:01 am |
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About this blog

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