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. AreYouSirius?

    What bothers me about all of this is the fact that we were not attacked by a froup of muslims hijacking airplanes. We were attacked by our own Government and Intelligence Community as a "false-flag" operation to justify a war with Afghanistan and Iraq with the purpose of creating astronomical profits for defense contractors, and therefore politicians who receive campaign contributions and kick backs. Look at the facts. Show me one picture of a piece of an aircraft at the Pentagon, show me one single engine part, or piece of luggage in the crater at Shanksville. Look at the pictures people, don't believe the lies.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • AreYouSirius?


      September 4, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Tanner

      very possible...

      September 4, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  2. Tanner


    September 4, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • kimsland

      Hooray, its good to see some intelligence to this.
      There is no debate, religion is just ridiculous.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Tanner

      thank you, someone agrees!

      September 4, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  3. Lawrence E

    There is much evidence for reincarnation. It actually happens. But it is not much of a comfort if you consider that you might be reincarnated into some Islamic hell hole.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • DAN

      would you like to share some of that evidence?

      September 4, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • kimsland

      The only possible reincarnation, is that some of your body (when it decomposes) somehow attaches itself to another life (who knows maybe a worm eating you) and therefore you could (kind of) live on a tiny bit, in another lifeform.

      Reincarnation into a complete person is impossible, because then the world population would be higher than 1 person to every cm of the Earth (ie A LOT of people have died over the years)

      September 4, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • flo

      don't ask people to share bs with you.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  4. Dan

    Any god capable of leaving a debris cross on top of a pile of rubble filled with the dead and dying but so bored or weak he couldn't push an airplane a few hundred yards the right to avoid the towers doesn't deserve anything but contempt and disbelief.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • flo

      Amen to that.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  5. DAN

    To sum up every comment on here: Islam is evil, Christianity is evil, atheism is evil, all other religions are evil, except for the very particular strain of theological philosophy that I choose to follow. The only thing worse than everyone being delusional is being self-righteous to the point of oblivion.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • flo

      and what is that?

      September 4, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • DAN

      what is what?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Modmon

      I think flo was asking about your "very particular strain of theological philosophy that I choose to follow." as you put it.
      At least, that's the only thing I can see that you didn't go into much detail about while referencing it with your sentence structure.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  6. Tony

    9/11 was just a loud reminder that all organized written religions are not only false, but terrible in every way.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • rene

      y agree whit you
      relgion is the escuse to do something in the name of something
      wee must stop using something that died long ago lafting is brain out whaching us do things

      September 4, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  7. TG

    The view of religion has indeed changed in the United States, for atheism is now more prominent than ever before. Even within various "faiths", there is division, with some doubting the Bible. This is to be expected, for the book of Daniel provides insight into these "final part of the days".(Dan 2:28, "latter days", King James Bible)

    Daniel 2:41-43 gives a glimpse of the state of the "seventh" world power of Revelation 17:10, the Anglo-American dual world power. This ' seventh king' is also seen as the "feet and toes....partly of molded clay of a potter and partly of iron".(Dan 2:41)

    Fractures within both government and religion has created a "kingdom itself (that) will prove to be divided, but somewhat of the hardness of iron will prove to be in it...the kingdom will partly prove to be strong and will partly prove to be fragile....they will come to be mixed with the offspring of mankind, but they will not prove to be sticking together, this one to that one, just as iron is not mixing with molded clay."(Dan 2:41-43)

    Fissures will continue to accelerate within the Anglo-American world power, ' proving not to be sticking this one to that one.' However, it will not fail, for it is to be noted that this ' seventh king ' will also play a role in the demise of the world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great.(Rev 17:16; 18:8) Only then, will it's destruction be done, along with all of the other governments of the earth at "the war of the great day of God Almighty", called Harmagedon.(Rev 16:14, 16)

    September 4, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Brent Slensker

      TG-Your verse – spouting illuminates EXACTLY what is wrong with religion and in YOUR case christianity. You can pull "meaning" out of an ancient Bronze Age book written by desert tribesmen that is not only vile at face value but also not true. Daniel is a myth, as is Solomon etc.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • tallulah13

      Or perhaps humanity is stepping away from the mythologies it has created for comfort and is now looking to reality for answers. Perhaps some are just clinging to the bronze age fables of the bible because they are uncomfortable with the thought of death.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Freedom


      You wouldn't buy a used donkey from one of those primitive Hebrew tribesmen if you ran into them today; but you are content to give your whole life over to their supernatural fantasies and supersti.tions.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  8. kimsland



    People have been on Earth for 200,000 years
    Earth has been around for 4 Billion years AND THATS JUST EARTH
    The entire Universe is about 14 Billion years old.
    People are an extremely tiny small part to LIFE everywhere.


    September 4, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Colin

      Religion is the belief that an infinitely-old, immortal, all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, has a personal interest in my $ex life.

      Atheism is the belief that the above belief is preposterous.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • raymon

      Isn't it funny how people always make it about religion vs. atheists... both are often focus on HATE...Anger...Bitterness... Greed.. Self Absorption... everything that Jesus stood against... He stood for Love..Joy, Peace, Patience , Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Goodness and "SELF CONTROL"... and was Crucified by the "religious" people of His day... Christianity in the world for the most part is a Fraud... Christian used to mean being like Christ... in which I have never heard anyone say His morals were wrong... Now at best especially in America it means "Oh Yeah I like christ" (small c)... I even use it as a cuss word... If the world would just live like Jesus said to, everyone would get along... no one would do without... there wouldn't be all the lies of what the world calls christianity or muslim or atheists... True Christianity is about being Honest with yourself... without pride or ego... about putting "EVERYONE ELSE" before your"SELF"... making sure that no one does without... giving all you have expecting nothing in return... but this World doesn't like TRUTH... most care of no one but themselves... A False sort of Freedom that is destroying mankind... Jesus is about TRUTH... about TRUE LOVE... about a RELATIONSHIP not religion (of any kind)... but that is not what the world wants... they like Hate, Evil, Violence, War...just look at the Movies that make the most money... the violence of kids video games... and especially the BLAME GAME... "It's His/Her Fault"... if people had to be Honest they would be lost... Most every religion on this planet claims Jesus as someone of importance... even science acknowledges Him... So why are people so afraid of what He really stands for... because they do want to face the Truth that He said would set them free... yet isn't that what we all are looking for ?

      September 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Brent Slensker

      "Christianity in the world for the most part is a Fraud"... Do you get to define what a christian is now? No, I don't think so... Why would anyone care anyway? Would it really make them MORE christian just because you say so?

      "If the world would just live like Jesus said to, everyone would get along"... I don't now what bible you read, or what parts you decided to skip, but the one I read the Jesus guy was schizophrenic, violent, and wildly contradictory! To think you could read the SAME book I did and discern such an unwarranted, twisted, invalid view of it scares me to NO end!
      Did you know there were several other older ancient gods with the same parameters as Jesus?? i.e. virgin birth, born under a star Dec 25th, sought by wise men, crucified and resurrected 3 days later? Did you KNOW that? What do you think about it?

      September 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  9. Rich

    "Criticism of all religion, not just fanatical cults"...Sorry, they are all fanatical cults.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  10. Look at the facts

    The Koran is based on Muslims Verses Non-Muslims
    “Fight them, until there is no more dissent and religion is that of Allah” (Koran 2:193)
    “Slay the unbelievers wherever you catch them.” (Koran 2:191)
    “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them” (Koran 8:12)
    “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their numbers. Allah does not guide the wrong-doers.” (Koran 5:51)

    September 4, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • matt

      I bet you have never looked at anyother book or the bible for similar verses. if you were to write down verses of the same kind from the bible, this space wouldn't be enough. plus you are using the technique of the critics of islam, who usually go look through the book and pick verses entirely out of context to present a bad image.....your choice of verses about quran are similar to some military critic who would get military statements from the time of the vietnam war, of a US commander saying kill every vienamese where ever you find them....and then give the statements a parmenant look...it's always easy to missguide an average person with such critics...

      September 4, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      Try looking at ALL the facts.


      September 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rich

      Who care which is more violent; it's all BS and they are fighting over who's invisible sky daddy is better. It's time for the world to grow up and stop with the childish fairy tails. Today is real...live for it.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  11. BL

    9/11 had nothing to do with religion. It had to do with the insanity of the human ego that will find any justification to commit horrific acts and inflict suffering on ourselves and others. "Religion" is the easiest way to accomplish this by ascribing our ego driven delusional goals to a "higher" source. This has happened throughout history (Crusades, Inquisition, etc.) with millions of humans dead. Most people use religion to justify some behavior every day; it's just not usually lethal.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • tarura

      9-11 had everything to do with religion – these were 19 mus-lims who ki-lled 3000 people mostly of other faith while shouting
      allallalla whatever

      September 4, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  12. Cheeseburger

    A result of 9/11 is a deep disdain for Islam. Many may be "reading books" and learning about Islam, but it is mostly to learn about our new enemy. The "religion of peace" is really a theo-political system espoused Allah inspired hate, intolerance, and violence and not really a religion at all.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  13. tarura

    In picture, workers are removing the symbolic cross from 9-11 site while making room for a new mosque to be build as the whole Nation is turning to I-slam to follow their beloved POTUS in the only true faith of peas

    September 4, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • DAN


      September 4, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • tallulah13

      Awww. I'm sorry you didn't get your way.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  14. Robbie

    Its shameful how religion still plays such an important part in peoples lives. Religion/god have been denounced scientifcally time after time but still manage to control the weaker people in society. In america's case they control the bible belt who unfortunatley is going to play a huge role in the next presidential election. Atheism is just as bad if not worst that the mainstream religions... it its self is some sort of religion and all they need is more followers to be able to cause some serious issues.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • lilyq

      And you are arrogant.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • RC1987

      Funny...Hitler said that.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • RD

      I hate to tell you this, but you are just like the religious and non-religious you criticize. You are sure you are right and you look down on anyone who doesn't agree with you. Your position is no stronger than anyone else's.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • tallulah13

      RC, please substantiate that statement about Hitler. It is easy enough to find quotes on the internet that show that Hitler was not against religion, in fact he used it quite efficiently to promote his personal agendas.


      September 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  15. TrueWiseOne

    9/11 was the beginning of the end of Islam as well as the some conservative parts of religions like Chrisianity ... Chrstianity has reformd itself in the last few centuries so much so that it is acceptable in the context of modern times, but Islam cannot be reformed, it being the "direct message of Allah" (as muslims blieve) , even though it is full of violnce, barbarism and absurdities ... hence it will be lost in the annals of history..

    What allowed such a religion to carry on was lack of critique... with Islam and its Prophet's character coming under scrutiny, it will not be long when Islam will have the same fate as somking – once accepted universally and even a source of pride, but now socially unacceptable, even disdained.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  16. scott

    All out-spoken, control freak, religious fanatics are bad. Including the out-spoken, control freak, fanatic atheists. Your faith, and I believe atheism takes faith, should have nothing to do with another's faith. It's all about coming to terms with death. That great unknown that we all must enter without any knowledge, outside of faith, of what happens after that long awaited moment. Never should anyone call out for violence in support of their faith.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Brent Slensker

      I have "faith" in EXACTLY nothing...Faith is a chump word for believing something without grounds... Atheism has PLENTY of grounds to inform the rest of the world of their delusions...God has been busy sowing discontent and hate between religions and creeds forever...Oh! Wait a minute... PEOPLE MAKE all that crap up!

      September 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  17. John

    Religion is man made, God has nothing to do with religion. By believing in yourself and living life from the heart, all your questions will be answered. But, by respecting each and everyone's life and how they live it...then and only then will we as a human family learn to live life from the spiritual place of equality and stop the hatrid, pain, sadness we chose to place on eachother and on ourselves. We are all on this wonderful journey of life, why do we continue to push all this negative behavior on everyone, when we could be opening ourselves to a world of love.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  18. R

    USA is a christian country. Other religions have no space in USA. It gave illusion of secularism. Try to project non christian as president and you will know the fact.
    Religion is problem, not solution. Specifically Islam, Christianity and Judaism. That is why I always say, Jesus and Mohammad deserved pain what they got during their lifetime.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • TrueWiseOne

      Sorry to disagree here, but please do not compare Jesus with Mohammad. Jesus was a man of peace, who taugh love and tolerance and healed and uplifted people. Mahammad on the other hand was an evil and degenerae man who practiced violence and manipulation and taugh hatred and evil.. He did no healing or miracles in his life.

      I am a Hindu, but have utmost respect for Jesus. Chrsianity is not a direct derivative of Jesus's teachings. If it were, it would be a fantasic religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • tarura

      Who are you to pass a judgment on what pain who deserved ?

      As to POTUS – are you sure you have a christian in the WH now?

      September 4, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • harmonynoyes

      gritty griddy

      When I saw them take down the cross from the 9/11 site I said no, don't do it and I had a sinking feeling
      Do not build a mosque on that site
      If you do not want to give up American ideals, and freedom, don't build a mosque on that site

      September 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  19. Reality

    For those who are "reading challenged" skip to the last part:

    A post 9/11 review of the major religions using over 100 references and summarized below:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current crises:

    The caste system and cow worship/reverence.

    6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    Bottom line:

    • There probably was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There probably was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas/Buddhists everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  20. spottedsharks

    I was an atheist before and after 9/11. The event made it clear to me that the concept of faith is a dangerous thing; faith is no virtue. The highjackers had faith that their actions would glorify Allah and get them to Paradise. Faith lets the believer conjure a justification for any atrocity.

    Some critics of atheism use the argument that without God all things are permitted. They have it exactly backwards: with God everything is is permitted - just invoke your faith!

    Humans need to grow up. Your intellect and your ability to think critically are the only real advantages we have on this planet. Either we use them or we let religion destroy us all.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • John

      So true...with God, Love, Compassion, Respect...anything is possible, believing in yourself and your beliefs anything is possible, we need to stop pushing, instead we need to start opening ourselves to the life we were intended to live, by the choices we make, and learning from the mistakes we all make.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:22 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.