May 3rd, 2011
04:03 PM ET

My Take: Bin Laden died long ago

Editor's Note: The Rev. David Lewicki is co-pastor of North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. He is a graduate of Yale University and Union Theological Seminary and was ordained in 2005 by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

By the Rev. David Lewicki, Special to CNN

On Sunday night I watched the news as it crescendoed around the president’s speech declaring the death of Osama bin Laden. The talking heads worked capably with what few details they had. On the split screen, familiar spliced video footage replayed what little most of us know — or care to know — about bin Laden: wearing a turban, sitting drinking tea, a long salt and pepper beard, speaking to friends, crouching holding a machine gun, skyscrapers smoking.

Twitter gave a way to take the public temperature. Some passed information without editorial: “Bin Laden is dead!” Others tried to score political points: “took O 2 years to do what B couldn’t do in 7,” or “THAT’S a ‘mission accomplished.’” Reports said impromptu crowds gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero exuberantly chanting “USA! USA!,” singing our anthem. Others retorted that they would not celebrate any person’s death, no matter who it was. Still others retrieved unsettling data about what it has cost us to find and kill bin Laden, in dollars and human lives.

Finally, from those with an intimate connection to the innocents of 9/11, there were tweets about tears. Tears of relief? Tears because the news dragged them back to the still-tender memories of a decade ago? Yes and yes. I was a first-year theology student in New York City on that day in 2001; I know the tears.

All of these responses are authentic for a Christian who lives in America. Bin Laden has had more influence in the last decade over the way we live our lives than any other person. He was a wedge in our politics, he disrupted our ability to come and go freely; he triggered a vast global security and surveillance apparatus. He was directly or indirectly the focus of two wars that affected the material well-being and peace of mind of millions here and across the world.

He desecrated Islam and radicalized Christianity, making some Christians more enthusiastic about military action than they might have been otherwise, while making others more enthusiastic about trying to find peaceful solutions to global problems.

He robbed people of mothers and fathers, took away their children. He made a whole nation feel vulnerable and fearful of unpredictable catastrophic violence.

One thing we might do well today is give permission to each other to feel all of the things that we might be feeling. There is no one manner by which to respond to this man’s death, because his life impacted all of us, sometimes in radically divergent ways.

Beyond our feelings, Christians might also spend time considering our Lord’s call to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. This is not easy. If we call ourselves Americans as well as Christians, we may feel a strong civic sense that what our government did in our name was the embodiment of public justice.

But our political identity and our identity as followers of Jesus are rarely reconcilable. Jesus did not meet enemies with violence. He asserted that the way to loose ourselves of our enemies was, counter-intuitively, by loving them and forgiving them — by wanting God’s best for them and believing in the Holy Spirit’s power to convert any person to faithful obedience. Jesus implied that if the Spirit does not convert them to goodness in this life, any judgment of their deeds is to be left in the hands of their creator — God alone. Our job is to never cease praying that they receive God’s blessing.

I have been praying for Osama bin Laden for 10 years. I was not surprised by news of his death. As I asked myself why, I suspect it is because, in my eyes, bin Laden died long ago. He died to goodness; he died to mercy; he died to peace. He died to the things that God cares most about. He was alive until this week — but he died to life a long time ago.

I have wondered over the years what God tried to do to win him back to love. I wonder about the confounding ability of human beings to resist the love of God. I wonder about these things for Osama bin Laden and I wonder about same things with respect to my own life. Today, as I have many days before, I pray for my enemy — I pray him into the hands of the God of justice and of mercy.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the Rev. David Lewicki. This post first appeared on the Fund for Theological Education website.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Christianity • Death • Islam • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Presbyterian

soundoff (1,280 Responses)
  1. thomas james

    Oh! shut up..

    May 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  2. Trista Harris

    Thank you for writing this. It is a lovely way to bring some lightness and peace to such a dark subject.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  3. David

    While not sharing the belief system of Christianity, I tended to agree with most of what the good Reverend said.

    However, his statements show a current limitation of religions in general, and a major reason why people of all religions and beliefs are doomed to continue repeating the mistake that has plagued humanity throughout history. In his statement "All of these responses are authentic for a Christian who lives in America", he (voluntarily? involontarily?) excludes everyone who is not a Christian. What about non-Christians living in America? Or anyone else living anywhere else on our shared planet? Is it not the height of folly and pride to presume that *ONLY* Christians in America were susceptible to these feelings and emotions?

    In order to move beyond these limitations, and in order to practice the "love thine enemy", you must start by stopping the categorization of people ("the unconverted"), because that leads to situations where people begin to think in terms of "us versus them". More people need to practice acceptance/tolerance and respect for religions that are different than your own. It's an all-too-easy trap to fall into. The "us versus them" trap only helps widen the gap between you and those who believe differently than you. It may also lead to extremism. If you don't think of those with different religions and beliefs as an enemy, but as a fellow humans, it becomes easier to work with them to overcome your differences. After all, we are all people, regardless of our religion or belief system. Sure, there are some people who -because of the monstrous acts they have committed, no longer deserve the right to live within society: Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, etc (I'll leave the argument of "death as a punishment" for others to debate amongst themselves).

    Having said that, I can't help but wonder how different history would be if our ancestors had tried harder to avoid the "us versus them" trap, and instead practiced more acceptance (or at least tolerance) and respect for other religions or beliefs.

    Maybe Adolf Hitler wouldn't have been so hateful and sought to make everyone else the enemy? Maybe Osama bin Laden would not have had a problem with the US helping Saudi Arabia by establishing a base there? Extending that logic even further, there might even have never been a reason to need a US base there.

    A respected friend says that "the broken state of men" says we'll never get rid of the "us versus them" mentality. While history has proven him correct, shouldn't we all at least try?

    May 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Jon

      David, I agree 100%. As long as we keep seeing one another as separate, foreign and scary, we're going to keep having these incredibly sad displays of inhuman behavior.

      May 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Venkat

      David, Agree with you 100%. The Bible more than devotion to God has infused in its followers arrogance that they alone have the truth and *others* don't. And how many different sets of followers (mormon, catholic, protestant, pentacostal, seventh-day-adventists, ..) each claiming that their flavor of the truth is the correct one. I asked a christian friend of mine, who has never stopped trying to make me see the *Light*, I had a grandma who never left the kitchen.. who never saw TV, read newspapers, in short never had a chance to know that someone called Jesus ever existed. And she had never knowingly harmed a fly. Will she go to hell? My friend said, unfortunately she will..

      July 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  4. Lacy

    Where are you getting your information? It sounds like you HAVE read the Bible or you just think you know what's in it? If he was an "angry and vengeful" God, don't you think we would all have been destroyed by now? It's hard for me to explain to you since you don't know Him at all. That's like explaining my husband to you. My explanation won't make sense unless you get to know him for yourself, first. Until then, keep questioning and researching and maybe you'll find the answers you're looking for.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • nerdkill

      Except that you actually know your husband... poor analogy.

      May 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Sam

      So you mean 'know' in the biblical sense, right?

      May 5, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  5. G

    Interesting perspective David. While, I agree that Christ taught us to love our enemies and offer the other cheek, I strongly disagree with your perception of God's role.

    Having the arrogance to claim to know what God values most is a terrible misconception, David. Ask yourself how much comfort you derive from your perception that you are on the "right" path in God's eyes. It is an indulgence you afford yourself because it gives context and meaning to your life. As such, your conception of God and His will is a tool, a crutch. But it is not the Truth.

    There is no right and wrong, no absolutes in this world, and that is a blessing from Him. True responsibility for our actions lies with each of us individually. Osama cannot radicalize Christians, Muslims or anyone else. He can provide a framework for us to explore a variety of choices. Much like you have your framework, Osama and al Qaeda offer another. Neither one is better or worse than any other. They just are. Period.

    The potential to radicalize must fist exist within those who become radicalized. But it is their choice to become so, not anyone else's, not even God's. God does not try to win anyone back to love as you put it. If God were omnipotent, God would not need to "try", He would simply make it so. God's greatest gift to us, David, is the gift of free will, and His love – Agape – is divine, accepting and unconditional; God has no need for judgement; it is not in His nature to judge – that is the provenance of humans. Do not impose human thought, morals and values upon Him, because He is so much greater than that; so much greater than we are able to conceive.

    I offer this in love. Yours, G

    May 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Corpus Christian

      G you also present an interesting perspective. Am I to understand it is you position that since there is no right or wrong that the 911 attacks were not right or wrong?
      Also aren't your views as "arroagant" as you claim Pastor Lewicki's are? How did you get this insight?
      I am not attaching you but just trying to understand your post?

      May 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • G

      @Corpus Christian

      Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my views to you.

      There are those who consider me a teacher, but I think of myself as a student of many masters, Christ being one. Nevertheless, I can claim to have no special insight and am only offering my perspective based on my studies and experience, as is David, in the hope that some may find it worth evaluation.

      My goal is also not to attack David, and I thank him for sharing his views with us, as it has inspired much useful thought and discussion. Please indulge me therefore while I clarify my earlier comment. My intention was to convey that in my view, (and perhaps only in my view), it is arrogant of mankind to imagine that that which we value is that which God must, should or simply may also value. Thus we impose our own patterns of thought, with all of their inherent human limitations, on Him that is limitless. We indulge our insecurities by creating folk tales of what God does or doesn't want or expect or desire of us that allow us to identify with Him by humanizing Him, by bringing Him down to our level so to speak, which is of course, absurd. It is our responsibility to be the shepherd of our own thoughts and deeds – though nothing we do or think could ever diminish God in any respect, or alter His love for us. Is God not so great, that He has no need for needs, expectations or desires of us? Placing requirements on His approval of us is a human invention, one born of the desire to control behavior, to impose artificial restrictions on our thoughts and actions. Does God not have perfect understanding of our actions and motives, perfect compassion for our "failings" and sufferings, and perfect, unconditional love?

      To answer your question about 9/11: let me preface this by saying that I watched from the roof of my building and wept as the towers burned and fell, and I have friends who died there that day. I have no desire to see violence perpetrated against anyone, of course it is all too tempting to hate those who have hurt us. Let us imagine for a moment that, if there is no objective right or wrong, then indeed, what happened that day was no more wrong than it is wrong to cross the street or to tell someone you love them. So much of life, in my view, is about being, is about choices and the ramifications of choices – which in time lead to personal growth, spiritual evolution and greater communion with God.

      Does God pose challenges for us to overcome? Does He take one life in order to give greater meaning to others? I cannot claim to know. If he did pose 9/11 to us as a challenge, it may be worthwhile to reflect inward to see how and what opportunities arose for us to express love and compassion for our friends, family and even strangers during that painful time. Let's also imagine and ask for a moment that if God posed us this challenge, how could it have been "wrong"? If God posed us this challenge, then bin Laden and the hijackers acted as much in the service of God as anyone that day or any other. If we are all God's children, then that is true regardless of where you were born or what religion you choose to follow, and remains true regardless of how many people you choose to harm or love or be indifferent towards.

      I propose this simply as something to consider, and I apologize to anyone who may disagree with my views or be offended, as this was not my intention.

      Yours, G

      May 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Bruce

      G, a very well-written and interesting perspective you have there. Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor (a character we can find in his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov) has a warning for you: "man has no more tormenting care than to find someone to whom he can hand over as quickly as possible that gift of freedom with which the miserable creature is born."

      Your comment reminds me of the Book of Job. A man challenges God with just accusations of how God ruined his life for no reason, in spite of the fact that he was a righteous man. God's response is quite unsatisfying to those who don't understand goodness as its own reward and evil as its own punishment. True moral freedom is quite unsatisfying, quite challenging–a burden only borne by the very strong.

      It's a burden, I am a tad shamed to admit, that is too heavy for me.

      May 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  6. Jason

    There is a of anger in the responses to this piece. The man is calling for forgiveness and patience. Forgiveness and patience are not easy, I admit, but that doesn't make them any less necessary.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Chris

      Show forgiveness to Bin Laden? ummm nope sorry wont happen.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • nerdkill

      HHAHHAA. Yes, forgive him and send him to hell. OKIE DOKIE. I love how Christians are the least forgiving people when it comes to eternity, but here we should forgive. I don't forgive Bin Laden because what he did is unforgivable.

      May 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  7. yakman2

    Nice read Rev....As a Catholic I question my own joy and sadness at my feelings over a lost soul's death...I am glad he is gone....yet the humanity in me sees the loss of a wife, son, Father, ..........creation's of God.....His choice of a path has led him to his own demise.....When we choose to let anger and hatred live in us it truly becomes evil and that is what the devil wants and why we must step back and stand guard against him in all his forms....the faith in us or lack of as in an atheist does not justify the murderous taking of a life that God or The Universe or however or whatever you believe or not believe in...has created...it is not ours to take......so I struggle with it and ask my God for guidance....

    May 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  8. jake

    My dad is gone because of this man. I'll never know him but i still wouldnt have wanted to pull the trigger myself. I just want my daddy back.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • rrm

      Sorry for your loss, Jake.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • David Lewicki

      Jake, me too. Thanks for your strength and for honoring your father.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  9. Lacy

    I don't understand how people can hate God when they don't even KNOW Him. It's impossible to hate someone you don't even know. How can one hate the Bible when you've never read the it. How do you get to know someone? Just like you do with your spouse, friends and children. You spend TIME with them by speaking to them, listening and believing in them. The Bible helps you get to know Him as well. You can't hate someone if you have never really spent TIME with them. It also doesn't matter if one hates God. He still loves them no matter what!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Meh

      The real problem is that there is nobody to get to know other than yourself. There is most likely no mystical man flying around in the clouds. If there were, there would only be one religion and everybody would know of this existence. Instead, man has WAY too many options and most of them dont work well with others in close proximity. I think all humans are born with the ability to know what you should do, its just obvious and I for one dont need some little black book telling me what to do, especially considering that it was written by man LONG after the supposed events took place. People dont want faith, they need something real and tangible to cling to. Something that isnt surrounded by witchcraft or sorcery, which is basically what religion is.
      Why do we need some tyrant telling us to be good or he will smite us by the way? God is full of vengeance and anger apparently, considering that he is said to be full of love. If that is the case, why are we told to follow his path or we will end up being tortured forever? Too many rules man. I dont want any part of the organized piece of it all. I have my own beliefs and I think I will be much better off for thinking the way I do.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • MacMan

      If you were born in a jungle in Africa you would not care about Jesus at all.....The point is religious people have been brainwashed since birth to believe in whatever figure fits the bill and will control the you......Don't you see....religion caused this man to kill thousands of people.........I don't hate Jesus ( I don't believe in his fairytale) I don't hate anyone.....I have love for every human being as long as he's not masterminding the death of one and/or thousands of people...

      May 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Bruce

      Lacy, take a read of the Book of Job, and you will find a very powerful narrative of a man who knew God quite well and still challenged Him in a straightforward manner, with quite a spine I might add–I daresay he even hated Him. What's interesting in that book is how poor God's answer to Job is, how unsatisfying it is, how Job's chosen response (perhaps the only response left to him at that point) was not, "oh, I understand now that you explained it to me," but rather one of self-deprication, of denial of himself and of his just complaints against God.

      Quite a powerful book. It stands in contrast to your claim that getting to know God does not result in hate but rather in love.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  10. nerdkill

    Nothing like a bunch of religious bs to start off the morning. The only thing separating your beliefs from Bin Laden's is that he's trying to hurry up your journey to hell. Remember you both share the same feelings about where an atheist is going to end up for ETERNITY. Who knows, maybe Bin Laden accepted Jesus as his savior right before he died! Maybe he's in heaven having a friendly talk with Jesus right now.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Lacy

      Who told you "where an atheist is going to end up for ETERNITY." I'm sorry someone told you this. Our heavenly Father loves you unconditionally. He is FREEDOM! He gives you freedom from anger, depression, sadness, etc. He gives you freedom to live your life without bondage from crappy things this world gives out. Who doesn't want that? God is the love we all yearn for.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  11. Reality

    Bin Laden was a pox upon the earth. Unfortunately his pox of a religion aka Islam remains.

    Some history of said diseased religion:

    The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

    ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

    and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

    and more recently

    1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

    1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

    2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

    3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,483 and 925 in non combat roles. 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

    4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

    5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

    6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

    7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

    8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

    9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

    10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

    11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

    12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

    13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

    14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

    15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

    16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

    17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

    18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

    19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

    20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

    21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

    22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Peace Lover

      Thats all lie and propoganda. India still has 85% hindu population. If Muslims were just to kill, India would be a muslim nation after ruling for 800 years. Look at America's history .. In 200 yrs Red Indians have been wiped out completely so STFU.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Reality

      Get over it – these are the FACTS. And watch, India and its close neighbors havent come out for the final act yet.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • JoeG

      Would you like me to start posting the numbers of the millions of deaths over the years caused by Christianity and the Catholic Church? You can't bring up one without the other...religion overall has been the cause of more atrocities in the history of mankind than anything else. Christianity is not immune from that fact.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Reality

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:

      http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u ( A "must read")

      o The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank <<<Death Toll <Cause <<Centuries<<<Religions/Groups involved*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)
      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Pagans)

      8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."

      May 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Sam

      @PeaceLover – your post is offensive and a ridiculous fallacy of logic from beginning to end. The indiginous peoples of the Americas are not referred to as 'red indians' by anyone with common sense, and have not been 'completely wiped out.' What on earth is wrong with you?

      May 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  12. MacMan

    If it wasn't for all these religions we would almost never have war. Religious groups have killed more people in the name of God that anyone else. I don't understand how people that are so smart and rational about every other part of their lives are sucked in to this man in the sky fiction. Plus every religion believes something different?? So..............believe me if you were born in a different place or time you would fight to the death for your god because that is what you have been told to do since birth......not because there really is a god! Stop embarassing your selves......end the madness...

    May 4, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • joe thurbur

      I agree 100 percent!

      May 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jason

      Two largest mass murderers in the 20th century: Stalin and Hitler. Neither were religious men, and Stalin in fact actively suppressed religion. Your statements are not historically accurate.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Qohelet

      Yes, World War 1 and 2 were both religious wars.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • MacMan

      Oh so Hitler didn't kill people because they were Jews.....hmmmmm. Both men were born Religious, Stalins mother wanted him to be a Russian Orthodox Priest. Stalin however decided he didn't want to be religious later in life. I don't know what motivated him to kill thousands but he did not kill in the name of Athieism anyway?? With out Question he was evil. Hitler was also a Catholic......he speaks of God and blamed the Jews for Killing Jesus in many of his speeches?? Call it what you will but having a "belief" that your skin color or ethnicity makes you the master race and then brainwashing your people to believe the same way??? Sounds like he made up his own religion. And these are 2 people in history?? Religious people love to bring up these two........It doesn't change the fact that people start wars all the time in the name of religion......ill give you those two because there are thousands of Religious slaughters through out history

      May 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  13. joe thurbur

    Religion is the main problem in the world today! Weak minded idiots that take the bible literally and live by it are fools! christians and muslims are judgemental and hippocrites! Everyone should live like them, they believe! a white guy from the middle east is their savior, what a joke!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Lacy

      Yes you are right. Religion is the problem. It leads to frustrations, anger, war and many other things. Man made religion. God didn't. It's all about the relationship; knowing Jesus and NOT going by all the religions "rules". It's about having Him in your heart and mind. Believing is the key...NOT religion.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Corpus Christian

      Thankfully you are not judgmental like those stupid christian !

      May 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Bruce

      All the problems in the world today were caused by your excessive use of exclamation points!!!11!1!!!1!ONE!!!!1!

      May 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  14. humtake

    Sorry, but regarding life as sacred and being religious are not inclusive of not celebrating a death. I'm getting sick of people like you who think people are not allowed to celebrate. Yeah, Jesus never met his enemies with violence...but guess what, Jesus was murdered. In order for any country to not be murdered, we have to kill our enemies. We do not celebrate that we have to kill our enemies, we celebrate because we are fortunate enough to live in a country where we are free to do so. We celebrate because we are fortunate enough to live in a country that can defend itself from being murdered. There's no moral issues with that. In fact, the only moral issue is that people like you try to deny people like me our GOD GIVEN right to feel however we want to feel about something. God gave us our feelings and our reactions. To deny them because you have a problem with it means you are no better than Osama.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  15. SoSad

    God forgives everyone, after they have passed. I did not need to graduate from Yale to know that, nor do I belong to any organized relgion. It took the death of my daugther to understand!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • joe thurbur

      you are such an idiot! so educated and better than the rest, people who think like you are the problem of the world! oh your so christian, too bad a majority of the bible is nothing but re-told stories of previous religions and stupid people like you believe it word for word. close minded religious people cause the most hate in this world, they always stick their nose in other peoples business and judge them like they are christ themselves! like the losers who protest in front of abortion clinics or at soldiers funerals, this world would be so much better without religion!

      May 4, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Bruce

      Hey joe thurbur, you off your meds? Someone speaks of the loss of their daughter, and you think what you wrote is an appropriate response?

      May 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  16. Shawn

    I almost submitted a similar opinion piece the day after OBL death. As a veteran of two wars I understand the need to remove any and all threats. As a friend and father I wanted to see OBL judged in a court of law by his peers and pay for his crimes in the manner in which our legal system calls for. What I found the most disturbing thing was seeing people from all over the world celebrate the death of one individual. I understand celebrating the end of conflicts or even the end of a certain military operation. Celebrating the death of one man in this fashion makes me question where we are as a society. I am a Catholic and Christian...and we are asked to forgive the worst of our enemies and prayer for their souls....does cheering and celebrating his death in this fashion achieve those ideals? The world is a better place without OBL....but our actions surrounding his death continues to spread the hatred he preached for so long.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Corpus Christian

      Well said !

      May 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • LV

      Well said!

      May 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  17. Scott

    Who cares how Bin Laden was killed or whether he was buried in accordance with Islamic tradition which he doesn't deserve anyways. He was a murderer and was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people all over the world. He was nothing but a piece of crap and deserved to die in the most painful and violent fashion possible. The only thing that would have better is to let the families of 9-11 victims kill Bin Laden themselves.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  18. BIGRED

    Why should we care what a priest, preacher, or reverand has to say? Why is his rant on CNN? How is a preacher's opinion relevant when it is religion that got us into this mess to begin with.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Julia

      Correction: It is not religion, but rather the abuse of religion, that got us into this mess. Simply to write off the reflections of a well-educated and thoughtful religious leader who has knowledge very relevant to the topic would be unintelligent and unenlightened.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • UncleM

      Religion spreads ignorance. It's all made-up.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  19. JeramieH

    "loose ourselves of our enemies was, counter-intuitively, by loving them and forgiving them "

    I don't think loving and forgiving him would have stopped him from continuing to murder people.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  20. A.J. Heinrich

    As a Christian, and one concerned about truth and justice, I am appalled at the silent approval our American churches are granting our administrations, present and past.
    I find it confusing, frustrating and disappointing that only a handful of the more liberal churches seem to be able to find a voice, speaking to the issues of our Global War of Terror. The same churches that spoke up for those seeking justice and equality during the Civil Rights movement.
    The more conservative, fundamental churches seem to be rallying behind the GWOT, fanning the flames of anti-muslim hatred and distrust (some even going so far as to declare the Anti-Christ to be Muslim). It all reeks of a Crusader-like mentality. Where are the true believers and followers of Jesus, who declared, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God"?
    I'm not saying that we should all declare ourselves pacifists....I'm not....but, where is the righteous indignation against the inhumanity, injustice and outright illegality of our present occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and our incursions into Pakistan, Libya, et. al.? Where is the righteous disgust for the illegal programs of rendition, secret prisons, torture, assasinations, and on and on.
    When I attend church today, I hear applause for our troops and prayers for our troops. I see bulletin boards loaded with pictures of deployed servicemembers asking for support for their families. But, what about the hundreds of thousands of civilians left dead, or maimed, orphaned or homeless due to our GWOT? No one's cheering for them. No one's praying for them. No one's posting bulletin boards with their pictures and asking for help for them. And that just breaks my heart.
    Instead, what I'm hearing (and never imagined I'd hear in a Christian Church - although, historically, I should not be surprized) is an outright visceral hatred for muslim extremism, a distrust for moderate Muslims and a sick and decidedly unChristian pleasure in the death of another human being, and calls for more death and destruction, shock and awe.
    So my question is this: where has the Christian sense of justice gone? Are there churches out there actually saddened by all this hatred, violence and unlawfulness? Are there churches out there actually speaking against it, and doing something to help those affected by the violence? If so, please let me know. I need to have my faith in the Church of Jesus restored!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • BIGRED

      Perhaps you have forgotten that it was OBL and his followers that attacked us initially. Prior to that Palestinians blew up planes in flight and hijacked thousands of innocent people. How about the Achille Lauro? What about Pan Am flight 103 and the Libyan terrorists. The attacks on Kobar Towers and the attacks on our Embassies in Africa. Radical Islam wishes to attack the west and establish a Caliphate. It is these radicals who bring death who we attack. We welcome Muslims in this country with open arms, and they are happily part of our communities. They are begrudged nothing and not persecuted. Nor will they ever be. Our issue rather is with violent radicals who hide behind innocent old people, women, and children. They will be rooted out, but sadly there will be innocents who will perish because of the cowardly use of human shields.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:41 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.