Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion
Construction workers move steel beam pulled from ground zero rubble into its permanent home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
September 3rd, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - David O'Brien couldn't help himself. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he became obsessed.

O'Brien read the stories of 9/11 victims over and over, stunned by what he was discovering.

He read about the firefighters who marched up the smoke-choked stairwells of the World Trade Center, though many knew they could die; the beloved priest killed while giving last rites as the twin towers collapsed; the passengers on hijacked planes who called their families one last time to say, "I love you."

"I was obsessed with these stories," says O'Brien, a Catholic historian at the University of Dayton in Ohio. "There were so many stories of self-sacrifice, not just by the first responders, but by people fleeing the building. There was this revelation of goodness."

O'Brien saw an Easter message in 9/11 - good rising out of the ashes of evil. Yet there were other religious messages sent that day, and afterward, that are more troubling, religious leaders and scholars say.

September 11 didn't just change America, they say. It changed the nation's attitude toward religion. Here are four ways:

1: A chosen nation becomes a humbled one.

One man died because he arrived early to work. A woman died because she decided to take a later flight. The arbitrary nature of some of the deaths on 9/11 still sticks with many Americans today.

Yet this is what life is like for billions of people on the planet today, some religious leaders say. A random event - a car bomb, a stray bullet - can end their lives at any minute.

Most Americans had not lived with this vulnerability until 9/11, says Mathew Schmalz, a religion professor at the College of the Holy Cross  in Massachusetts, who once lived in Karachi, Pakistan.

"We had this sense of specialness and invulnerability that 9/11 shattered," he says. "Given that a large section of the world's population deals with random violence every day, one of the outcomes of 9/11 should be a greater feeling of solidarity with people who live in cities like Karachi in which violence is a part of everyday life."

Recognizing that vulnerability, though, is difficult for some Americans because of how they see their country, Schmalz and others say.

They say Americans have long had a triumphalist view of their place in history. Certain beliefs have been engrained: Tomorrow will always be better; we're number one. The term "American" even reflects a certain arrogance. It casually discounts millions of people living in Central and Latin America.

The 9/11 attacks, though, forced many Americans to confront their limitations, says Rev. Thomas Long, a nationally known pastor who has been active in post 9/11 interfaith efforts.

"We're losing the power of the American empire and becoming more a nation among nations," says Long, a religion professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "The world is a much more dangerous and fragile place economically."

How Americans cope with their loss of power is ultimately a theological question, Long says. It's the same question the ancient Hebrews confronted in the Old and New Testaments when they faced national calamities.

The chosen people had to learn how to be humble people, Long says. Americans face the same test today.

"The challenge for every faith tradition is going to be helping people grieve the loss of an image of America that they once had," he says, "and acquire a modern understanding of ourselves on the world's stage."

2: The re-emergence of "Christo-Americanism."

Before 9/11, if you asked the average American about Ramadan or sharia law, they probably would have given you a blank look.

Not anymore. The 9/11 attacks prompted more Americans to learn about Islam. Books on the subject became best-sellers. Colleges started offering more courses on Islam. Every cable news show suddenly had their stable of "Muslim experts."

More Americans know about Islam than ever before, but that hasn't stopped the post-9/11 Muslim backlash. The outrage over plans to build an Islamic prayer and community center near ground zero; the pastor who threatened to burn the Quran; conservative Christian leaders who called Islam evil - all occurred as knowledge of Islam spread throughout America, scholars says.

"One of the sobering lessons of the decade since 9/11 is that religious prejudice is not always rooted in raw ignorance," says Thomas Kidd, author of "American Christians and Islam."

"Some of America's most vociferous anti-Muslim critics know quite a lot about Muslim beliefs, but they often use their knowledge to construe Islam in the worst possible light."

Many of these public attacks against Islam were encouraged by conservative Christian leaders such as Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, who called Islam "wicked," and Pat Robertson, the Christian broadcaster who declared that "Islam is not a religion," says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Kammer says Graham and Robertson helped fuel the rise of "Christo-Americanism," a distorted form of Christianity that blends nationalism, conservative paranoia and Christian rhetoric.

"A segment of the religious community in the United States has been at the forefront of an anti-Islamic crusade that has helped to generate a climate of hatred and distrust toward all Muslims," says Kammer.

Other strains of Christo-Americanism have swept through America before.

After 9/11, some political leaders said terrorists hated the U.S. because of "our freedoms." But America's record on granting those freedoms to its citizens is mixed, says Lynn Neal, co-editor of the book, "Religious Intolerance in America."

In the 19th century, the U.S government passed numerous laws preventing Native American tribes from practicing their religion. Mormons were persecuted. Roman Catholics were once described as disloyal, sexual deviants, Neal says.

"Religious intolerance is not a new feature of the American landscape. Despite being the most religiously diverse nation on earth, despite having a first amendment that protects religious rights...we as a nation and as citizens have often failed to live up to those ideas."

3: Interfaith becomes cool.

Interfaith dialogue - it's not the type of term that makes the heart beat faster.

Before 9/11, interfaith efforts were dismissed as feel-good affairs that rarely got media coverage. The 9/11 attacks changed that.

Interfaith events spread across the country. Mosques and temples held joint worship services. Every college campus seemed to have an interfaith dialogue. The Obama White House launched a college interfaith program.

Becoming an interfaith leader is now hip, some say.

"A generation of students is saying that they want to be interfaith leaders, just like previous generations said they wanted to be human rights activists or environmentalists," says Eboo Patel, who founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 2002.

Patel says at least 250 colleges have signed up for the White House interfaith program, which he helped design. The program encourages students of different faiths to work together on service projects.

"These young leaders will make interfaith cooperation a social norm in America, similar to multiculturalism and volunteerism," Patel says.

These new leaders include people like Sarrah Shahawy, a Muslim-American medical student at Harvard University and the daughter of Egyptian immigrants.

After 9/11, Shahawy says she felt the responsibility to educate people about Islam. She became an interfaith leader at the University of Southern California,  where she noticed a steady increase in student participation in the years after the attacks.

Shahawy says her generation is drawn to interfaith efforts because 9/11 showed the destructive potential of any exclusive claims to religious truth. The 9/11 hijackers carried out their attacks in the name of Islam, but Muslim religious leaders and scholars said that the terrorists' actions did not reflect Islamic teachings.

"For one religious group to claim a monopoly on truth should be obsolete," she says. The interfaith movement doesn't teach people that all religions are the same, she says.

Shahawy calls herself a proud Muslim. "But for me, there's beauty and truth to be found in many different religions."

4: Atheists come out of the closet.

There's one group, however, that sees little beauty in any religion.

Before 9/11, many atheists kept a low profile. Something changed, though, after 9/11. They got loud.

Atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," and Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith," wrote best-selling books. Atheist groups launched national media campaigns with bold billboard messages such as "Christmas is a myth."

The pugnacious journalist Christopher Hitchens became the public face of a more combative form of atheism as he went on talk shows and lectures to defend not believing in God.

Criticism of all religion, not just fanatical cults, was no longer taboo after 9/11, says Daniel Dennett, a philosophy professor with Tufts University in Massachusetts.

"Atheist-bashing is now, like gay-bashing, no longer an activity that can be indulged in with impunity by politicians or commentators," Dennett says.

Atheists were driven to become more vocal because of the 9/11 attacks and America's reaction, says David Silverman, president of American Atheists. He says many atheists were disgusted when President George W. Bush and leaders in the religious right reacted to the attack by invoking "God is on our side" rhetoric while launching a "war on terror."

They adopted one form of religious extremism while condemning another, he says.

"It really showed atheists why religion should not be in power. Religion is dangerous, even our own religion," Silverman says.

Atheists are still the most disparaged group in America, but there's less stigma attached to being one, he says.

"The more noise that we make, the easier it us to accept us," Silverman says. "Most people know atheists now. They knew them before, but didn't know they were atheists."

Many Americans knew the people who perished on 9/11 as well, but they didn't know they were heroes until later, says David O'Brien, the Catholic historian who compulsively read the 9/11 obituaries.

O'Brien was so moved by the stories he read that he decided to write an essay for America magazine, a national Catholic weekly, entitled, "9/11 Then and Now."

He wrote: On 9/11, "Our people, my people, were tested and, for a shining moment ... they were found worthy."

He said many 9/11 victims didn't panic as their end drew near. They "thought not of themselves, but others ... when the chips were down." They saw themselves not as individuals, but as members of a "single human family."

So should we, he says, as we face new challenges 10 years later. The 9/11 victims aren't just heroes; they're our guides for the future, he says.

"The story is not over, not by a long shot," O'Brien wrote. "Look at all the love that day. Love can still write another chapter and keep hope alive for a better future. The meaning of 9/11 lies ahead, and it's in our hands, and maybe in our hearts.'

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 9/11 • Atheism • Christianity • Faith • Interfaith issues

soundoff (2,180 Responses)
  1. Corvus1

    Dawkins just proves you don't need religion in order to be a bigot. I rank him right down there with the likes of Jerry Falwell, Glenn Beck, and other ignorant loudmouths with an agenda.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      When you were young, it was ok to have imaginary friends. As an adult, they would lock you up.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • bigDizzle

      Specifically, why?

      September 4, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Kevin

      Have you actually read anything by Dawkins? He's nothing like Beck or Falwell. Ignorant is the last word you could use to describe him.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  2. A thought

    Isn't it true that lack of religion is a religion also?

    It is faith in something that is to our current understanding unprovable.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Norps

      No because religion explain the supernatural. Atheism makes no such attempt.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • RonFromNM

      Atheism simply means without theism. If pressed, I am an agnostic, as you rationally can't prove a negative. But the question, "then who created god?" results in either circular reasoning or blind, irrational faith. If it works for you, great. Just don't impose it on me.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • aaaaa

      Atheism is the default position.
      Everyone is born an atheist– lacking the belief in gods.

      If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • RonFromNM

      aaaa, that is an awesome response. Thank you.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • A thought

      @ aaaaa

      You make a reasonable point...but I'm not sure I follow your analogy. "Bald" is in fact a state of one's head covering, so to speak.

      I might argue that a better analogy is that colorless is still a color. And that an empty set, is mathematically, also a set.

      In other words, belief that there is no God is still a conviction built upon faith...

      September 4, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  3. Norps

    On My, Thank you Kramer, for nothing, NOTHING describes the religious nutbags in this country better than this statement.

    "Kammer says Graham and Robertson helped fuel the rise of "Christo-Americanism," a distorted form of Christianity that blends nationalism, conservative paranoia and Christian rhetoric"

    September 4, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  4. SCAtheist

    Aheists are the most disparaged group yet he cry of the persecuted Christians never ends.

    I say we add "Christian Persecution Complex" to the DSM

    September 4, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  5. yep

    We'll always be a nation in turmoil until we can stop the finger pointing. It's not just in the sphere of religion, just look at Congress.

    If theres one thing I took from this article, its that EVERYONE has been prejudice towards someone. The author is right, its not ignorance that breeds hatred. Its just the American way of not taking stock of what you say and believe.

    I really believe that until we can see our own fault, America wont be different 10 years from now. We'll still be blaming each other for our own troubles.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  6. Vicki

    I am going to burn a quran every day in the barbeque. The muslim slugs can kiss my butt if they don't like it!

    September 4, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Norps

      No one cares. I will be burning a bible every day, and you know what, no one cares about that either.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • RonFromNM

      Great, and someone else will burn a bible. What does it prove other than to breed distrust and hatred?

      September 4, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • give your head a shake

      Here's a better idea. Take all the holy books and put them in one big pile and set a match to them.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Sigh

      Better yet, let's replace all religious books with physics books and start advancing the species.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Vicki

      Bibles and torahs are definitely next on the menu!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  7. SCAtheist

    Franlin Graham has been radicalized and joined the Ameican Christian Taliban.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  8. Gregorio

    Islam demands that all nonbelievers either convert or suffer consequences. This is not a religion like any other and we infidels can not coexist with it. To believe anything else is like being a sheep waiting for slaughter. It's not going away. Islam must be moderated or destroyed if we nonbelievers want Western civilization to survive.
    Read Mark Steyn's 'America Alone'.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Moby49

      So did christianity in the 4th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 15th, & 16th centuries. They slaughtered anyone not willing to convert. Not to mention how many wars and crusades have been fought between christian groups themselves.

      Your are the pot calling the kettle black.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Norps

      If only there were some place all you christians can go fight all the jews and muslims away from all the rational people so you can kill each other in the name of your gods while leaving the rest of us in peace.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  9. Carlton

    You can make up all the analogies and excuses you want about God and faith, as it pertains to America, but let me remind you that God is not an American God, but He is God of all creation and not matter what mankind thinks about Him, He God and will never change!!! Look at America right now, for most if they would be honest its not good and they are living scared. I'm so thankful for knowing Him personally and nothing or no person can change that!!! Heaven and earth will and is right before our very eyes, pass away but God's words stand FOREVER!!!

    September 4, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Matt

      Aren't you a bit old for fairy tales?

      September 4, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • give your head a shake

      You can make up all the analogies and excuses you want about Santa Claus and faith, as it pertains to America, but let me remind you that Santa Claus is not an American Santa Claus, but He is Santa Claus of all creation and not matter what mankind thinks about Him, He Santa Claus and will never change!!! Look at America right now, for most if they would be honest its not good and they are living scared. I'm so thankful for knowing Him personally and nothing or no person can change that!!! The north pole and earth will and is right before our very eyes, pass away but Santa Claus's words stand FOREVER!!!

      September 4, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Sigh

      You don't know him. You only think you do. Difference. Furthermore, we can more than explain through modern psychology why you think you do. I hope one day people will understand the difference between perceived reality and actual reality.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • give your head a shake

      And some religious "scholar" is going to teach me something about reality. Thanks but no thanks, I'll just drop some acid instead.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  10. CNNcluuuelesss....

    This author forgot the most IMPORTANT way that 9/11 changed our view on religion.. The 3000 heros who died during 9/11 have changed the course of history! Islam is now EXPOSED for its sickness. People had no clue about Islam prior to 9/11. Islam has been able to murder and hide because the critics were silenced. Now that it has impacted a free speaking society, people have been able to discuss it and tell the TRUTH! Islams days are numbered..

    September 4, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • RonFromNM

      The only one clueless is you. Some of the 3000 you mentioned practiced the m u s l i m religion. Most are peaceful. Timothy McVeigh was a christian. Did that expose christianity?

      September 4, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Bibletruth

      "Islams days are numbered"
      So true. One of the severe weaknesses of Islam, as well as Catholicism, is that their adherents believe a miracle is of God. They will all be decieved in the end. Jesus warns emphatically about miracles. How do you know it is of God or Satan? Be keen to discern what the miracle supports. If your not into the bible, you will be decieved in the latter days as you will have no basis to discern such things. Islam will turn exactly the wrong direction with the miracles as will amost everybody. The atheist will be most easily deceived, then the agnostic, as when they see what is 100% obviously miracles and have believed against such things, they will turn on a dime and follow that "miracle" path. Immerse yorself in the scriptures.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  11. E0F0G0

    Either Jesus discounted Himself with the words, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

    Or else, He was telling the truth.

    Down with many paths, same message!

    September 4, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • E0F0G0

      And having said that, neither did He advocate the sword against unbelievers. I present you with the Word of God. Either you accept it or you do not, but the choice is yours, and I send you on your way in peace.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • John Richardson

      There may have been a man named Yeshua who lived in early first century Palestine who actually said that. Of so, he was wrong.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • RonFromNM

      It's called protecting your power base. If you want to believe that, fine. But Americans are free to choose their beliefs w/o coercion.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Mott the Hoople

      Actually, that quote from Jesus is from the Gospel of John. The authorship of that book is not clear. Most Biblical scholars do not believe the apostle John wrote this gospel. As such, it is an anonymous work.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • herbert juarez

      @mott the hoople
      the rental car is long overdue
      Exchange "most "as in" most Biblical scholars "with "some", one,or even a few odd balls seeking to be noticed by taking a radical position does not create fact,to any but the weak minded.As such it is at best theory and at worst blasphemy.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  12. JennyTX

    "The term "American" even reflects a certain arrogance. It casually discounts millions of people living in Central and Latin America."


    September 4, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • John Richardson

      C'mon. Be reasonable. We all know that Canada doesn't matter. Just think of Canada as a sort of suburb of Detroit and you too can then just forget about Canada and live in peace.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  13. SCAtheist

    Franklin is nothing like his father. He turned wacko.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • John Richardson

      His dad was never all that stable himself. But he was more diplomatic.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  14. Loss4words

    Fanaticism from any religious group can be a dangerous! What we have today from many religions is a more aggressive approach to recruiting believers and using strong-arm tactics in maintaining the size of the "flock". Additionally, radical sects of any religion will erode the image and the public perception of the parent religion (See LDS / FLDS confusion) regardless of how far apart the two may be in beliefs.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  15. Rivera

    There is one true God "normand du canada"; religion is how one chooses to worship Him. God is all knowing & He knew His creation would have different approaches to His worship & He provided the same message to different prominent figures to help us all choose the best way to worship Him. The point is, there are many paths to God. Your choice doesn't interfere with mine & again, that is the beauty of truly loving God & truly being His servant....you look at all His creation & are happy that they found their best way to love Him. Who could be angry with that? claims of exclusive religious truth should be looked at with caution. Were you there when God gave the Word to His messengers? Then you have no idea if what you read & believe hasn't been tampered with by people trying to claim exclusivity on the "right way" to worship the Lord. May the peace & blessings of God be upon you all.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • malmn

      FYI; God doesn't exist.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • SciGuy

      Rivera, some folks best way of loving God includes murdering those who follow a different path. But your post would support them.

      The word of God says there is one way and only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ. You are free to follow any path you like, I will not try physically to stop you. But I am compelled to tell that unless you are coming to God through his Son Jesus, you are not making it.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • JBH

      Rivera, you state "claims of exclusive religious truth should be looked at with caution" but earlier said "The point is, there are many paths to God." Isn't that also an exclusive religious truth statement that should be looked at with caution? The "many paths lead to God" argument is blanketed under being "tolerant" to many religious faiths, but is so dogmatic that no one can disagree with you because you've claimed the biggest "I"m right and you're wrong" statement. You are right when you say that "my choice doesn't interfere with your choice", but your choice can interfere with your relationship with God.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • flfx

      malmn Yes He does.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Dobro

      Correction–the only god that exists is the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

      September 4, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • RonFromNM

      Dobro, pasta be unto you. Has he touched you with his noodly appendage today?

      September 4, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  16. lonemountain

    Charles Kammer, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio is another bigot. Kammer says Graham and Robertson helped fuel the rise of "Christo-Americanism," a distorted form of Christianity that blends nationalism, conservative paranoia and Christian rhetoric.
    "Distorted" form of Christianity? Kammer represents those who criticize and demean Christians because they don’t think as he does and holds himself aloof as all knowing. What a “distorted and paranoid” mind he has…..what a jerk!!! I wouldn’t expect anything different from a CNN article.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • malmn

      You're obviously one of the brainwashed.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Walter

      He is a jerk and that is what CNN is. They do this to make people mad and to make news. Its all lies and Islam is EVIL.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Mohammad

      The hijackers of 9/11, Robertson and Graham are on the side and they don't know it. The 9/11 hijackers not only hijacked planes and slammed them into buildings but also hijacked Islam. Not if we help it. Islam is a great religion, and the Koran is the final testament. Make no mistake about it, all negativities you hear about them in the media are narrow and wrong interpretations. The 72 virgins don't exist in Koran period, there are "hoor Ein" in Hadeeth (what Mohammad spoke of) but those are Godly creatures in heaven and no one really know much about. Sharia Law is not there to punish people but to ensure the well being of the society. When poverty spread back at the second Kalifate time of Omar ben Khattab, the punishment was stopped. Ironic how in Somalia the poorest nation on earth the first thing Al-Shabab did was to shop hands of those who steal. Islam has text for the handicapped, animals, and you can find even the atomic weight and mass of Iron in a 1400 old book. It corrected some of the stories that are mentioned in the bible like use of 'King' vs. 'Pharoah in Joseph story and science proved that at Joseph time there was a king not a pharaoh unlike at Moses time. Certainly Islam ensures woman and minorities rights, etc.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  17. SCAtheist

    Thank you Rick and Michele. Our numbers are growing every day.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Timothy Bopp

      Tbis artcile is a lot of liberal rubbish. The attack on the country should have been avenged with all the might at our disposal the moment it happened. The people who attacked us were wrong. The itiot who wrote this, like so many other "modern", has no sense of morality or justice. Instead of being outraged, he suggests we be more humbled. What a joke. Humility has its place but not when the greatest nation on earth is attacked by a pack of towelheads running around in caves. The real problem in this country is people like the author who haven't a clue what the meaning of that attack really was. Go get an honest job instead of penning this drivel, boob head.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  18. Zaman

    Muslims were happily living in US for long till 9/11. So what caused them to carry out this worst disaster. Many muslims out of total 1.2 billion and in 52 countries have one common belief. It is that American policy in the ME is wrong and that US will never support a Palestine land, Just for Israel. Look Palestine is putting a proposal in the UN for their statehood and guess which will be the only country to veto it-US. The strong Jews in US are always working for Israel and this is mainly creating all the hates among muslims for the US. For Israel, we are in war in Iraq, Afganistan and soon will be in Iran.
    Wake up Americans!

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

      Well, you are right, but good luck convincing those 'educated' americans....probably the most ignorant (collectively) nation in the west or...should I say advanced world?

      September 4, 2011 at 9:05 am |

      The Problem with Arab countries and Israel is that the only solution is to destroy Israel. Oh, also the whole take over the world and make it Muslim issue. The other problem is that moderate and liberal Muslims don't say much about terror and hateful acts caused by Muslims. If they do say anything, it's usually "Yes, that was wrong, but ....." They feel there is a justifiable reason why terrorists did what they did. They wouldn't do it and it was wrong, but..... That's why people feel so negative about Islam. Oh, lets not forger that rules apply to everyone but them. I should wear my headpiece and cover my face on a driver license, even though that's the main way you can be identified is by your face. Or let me wear my head covering on a ride that says "NO HEADGEAR". Well that should apply to everyone but them. I could keep going on, but why bother. Most average Americans know that we have a massive problem with Islam. We just don't like the fact that this issue will have to be dealt with some day. We hope that the children and grand children of Muslims can become regular Americans, but we also worry that they will not.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  19. ja

    One believes in God and one does not. Neither convincing the other to change their mind. Just seems like a fruitless conversation that just travels in circles. At some point people have to stop arguing about who is more right and just agree to disagree...just saying.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • lotus_65

      the existence of God is not the question for me, the real question is: based on a fear of islam, should america be converted to a non-secular judeo-christian country, and apply many of it's tenets of the theology into our daily lives in order to separate out the "evil" in order to combat it. of course americans would be asked to make choices citizens of a "free country" don't normally have to make... can we have THAT conversation sometime, CNN?!

      September 4, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • lotus_65

      that was easy, i just turned the page!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Bibletruth

      The article had one say the following: "How Americans cope with their loss of power is ultimately a theological question, Long says. It's the same question the ancient Hebrews confronted in the Old and New Testaments when they faced national calamities. The chosen people had to learn how to be humble people, Long says. Americans face the same test today."

      Wow, what a call to religious domination in America. The Jews only had problems when they turned away from God. The national calamities were God's way to wake them up and put Him and His laws first. These calamities often were the result of Israel/Judah going off into idolatry (bowing/kneeling before statues – a thing that God considers a high insult), also profaning the seventh day sabbath; despising the poor; etc., led by her leaders. America does not operate under a theocracy. It would be wonderful if she did- a true theocracy with God directing. But to have a theocracy or any step toward theocracy type of government run by persons "who think they are doing God's will " is the worst calamity that can befall a nation, and unfortuneately that is what is coming to the U.S.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  20. Mike

    There can be only a singular truth. Knowing it makes all others obsolete, and it makes the violence, war, bigotry and bullying promoted by these belief systems obsolete as well.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:56 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.