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. Johnny 5

    Were Adam and Eve created as adults or infants? did they have belly buttons? If Cain and Abel were their first born sons, then who did they mate with to create more males and females saying that Eve was the only woman? Did they mate with their own mother? After a few generations of inbreeding did recessive negative genes become a factor? Did Adam and Eve exist at all?

    September 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Yaright

      no, see even though we now know the fact that excessive inbreeding leads to birth defects. Back in biblical times, that didn't happen, just like people lived for hundreds of years. God's curse i guess....

      September 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Yes. Don't know. Their sisters. No. No. Yes.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm |

      I believe God exist. Jesus want you back, brothers.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  2. flo

    The question here is whether we are God's creation or God has created us. I am 99.99% sure that we created God.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • kimsland

      That's crazy
      I'm 100% sure we created religion

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

      To think we humans are that arrogant. Sad

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

      I'm 0.999... sure that God created us, and that equals 1.0. I win.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • kimsland

      SciGuy, learn some science guy.
      Geez, 100 percent means we are ALL totally against jesus and allah and any other of the millions of manmade religions out there.
      Religious people always make me laugh. ALL THE TIME.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Kim, I think you missed something. My response was to the original poster, as indicated by me not addressing someone else. Flo stated a 99.99% belief, while mine was 99.999...%, or 0.999... without the % symbol. Since 0.999...=1.0>0.9999 I won.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • kimsland

      Look I love maths SciGuy
      And the math of religion does NOT add up.

      Religion is just dumb (and funny)

      September 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  3. Dude

    Do atheists believe in time? The kind of time that determines the year we live in? Do atheists believe we ACTUALLY live in the year 2011? Why?

    The year 2011 A.D. and all years preceding it are based on Jesus birth. A.D. stands for the Latin "Anno Domini," meaning in the Year of our Lord. B.C. means "Before Christ".

    Then I ask, why do atheists have no argument of the year we use?

    September 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Colin

      For the same reason we do not object to "Saturday" being named after the god " Saturn" or Thursday after the god "Thor". Useful conventions.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • kimsland

      We live in the year 13.7 Billion

      Not your 6,000 year rubbish LOL

      September 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Dude

      Seriously, that's the best you can come up with? What a joke.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • pdou

      @kimsland – Time to adjust the aluminum on your helmut or put down the hash pipe kimsland. I bet your children end up in protective services...LOL!

      September 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • kimsland

      I'm glad you agree DUDe
      Religion IS a joke, please now, bow your head and laugh with me
      Ha Ha HA at religion

      September 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • pdou

      You're smoking ganga again kimsland...you can't stop laughing.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • pdou

      You're smoking again kimsland...you can't stop laughing.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Yaright

      Im assuming you mean the Gregorian calender. Which is now considered out dated and is being considered for replacement.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Dude

      @kimsland–I think it's a joke that YOU can't come up with any good explanations. All you can do is make a fool of yourself to explain yourself. That in itself says a lot.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Spot

      @ kimsland Reminder...Get some exercise, Date for Labor day or if you still live at home move out!

      September 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Dude, someone decided in the year 525 or so to start counting years this way and because much of the western world at that point in time was catholic, and they were converting people by whatever means "necessary", this ideas spread. Now it's in place and it works for this culture. And frankly, it's not worth the fuss to change it.

      You do also realize that other cultures have other calenders? It's the year 4709 by Chinese reckoning. It's hebrew year 5771. The Gregorian calendar is just one of many.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Freedom


      The calendar which we use today was the brainchild of a 6th century monk. The Church was the most powerful social and political ent.ity in those days, but even so, it took hundreds of years for that calendar to be widely accepted.

      Heheheh, I have a wonderful coin with the date 226 A.D. stamped on it... wanna buy it 🙂

      September 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  4. jose

    According to the Center for Security Policy:

    “The primary organizations– what should be called the “Shariah Defense Lobby”– are the Center for American Progress(ThinkProgress), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) with support from a handful of other far-left or Islamist bloggers and Washington lobbyists.

    The “Shariah Defense Lobby” whitewashes and protects political, legal, military and religious doctrines of Shariah law (Islamic law) from scrutiny. One of its major goals is to silence all criticism of Islamist aggression, jihadist violence, or Shariah violations of human rights and civil liberties.”

    Here’s what I see:
    The relentless efforts of millions of people worldwide has forced the Organization of Islamic States and others that are bent on destroying individual liberty via Sharia, Marxism, Socialism and the like are spending billions to hold back the ocean of truth that is sinking their project.

    Doing things right is expensive, but doing them wrong is unsustainable. George Soros is 81 years old he will be dead soon and his perverse passion for all that is evil will die with him. The millions that are criticizing Mohamedism, Sharia, Marxism, Socialism, Communism and every other elitist attempt to control us will continue to grow and the cost of combating the truth will continue to escalate until the proponents of evil are overwhelmed.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  5. Timbrandt

    God did not create man, it's the other way around!

    September 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm |

      Timbrandt, Jesus love you, He want you to love others too.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Man has been creating gods for as long as humanity has existed. It's how they dealt with the unknowns of the world around them. It cracks me up when believers think that somehow their particular god is real, but the others are false.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  6. Robert

    The most violent religion of all is atheism. Atheist tyrants (Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin, ect) have been responsible for the deaths of over 250 million people in the past 100 years. Far, far more than all other religions combined for all of recorded history.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Colin

      I see you intentionally left Hitler off, seeing as how he was a Christian.

      Now, a bit of truth. Stalin was educated as an Orthodox monk, Mao confessed many Buddhist beliefs and Pol Pot went to a Ctholic school.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Robert

      Hitler was not a Christian though publicly he claimed to be for political reasons. Privately he expressed his hatred of Christianity, and called it a disease, like Dawkins does.

      Hitler clearly did not follow the teachings of Christ. Jesus said to love, pray for, and do good to even your enemies, not to kill them. The New Testament says anyone who hates or murders does not know God. Hitler was an atheist who believed in the occult. The NAZI party (National Socialist Party) was officially atheist.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Robert

      There is no reason to be dishonest. Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin are well known atheists. Stalin and the "League of Militant Atheistts" in the USSR killed many many people simply for believing in God.

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


      How many times must it be said that those brutal dictators did not kill in the name of atheism. The church and religious adherents had great power that stood in the way of their political and social control. They killed other atheists too, you know - anyone who was a threat to their power.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Eric Collazo

      Your assertion is ridiculous. Atheism is not a religion, it is a lack of faith in god(s). The despots you listed did not kill people because they were atheist, the 9/11 terrorist killed people in direct connection with their religious beliefs.

      "Those that can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

      September 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Yaright

      The worst of the worst... The whole Catholic religion..... If there was 6 billion people on the earth when they dominated the world, the numbers of deaths would of been in the billions....

      September 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

      In Christ, we love atheist, we hope atheist walking in the way of love and peace.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

      Even they are atheist, Jesus love them. Jesus care for them.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Yaright

      @christ templar, who is christ? Do you mean Jesus?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • ben

      atheism is not a religion. By definition it is a LACK of religious belief. Your ignorance of a basic definition is no excuse. FUrthermore, the people you named? Thae nations you named that are "evil" had nothing to do with atheism. I believe you are confusing atheism with communism and fascism. THAT is why all those people died. Not believing in god...is simply not believing in god. That is all it is. Atheism is just a lack of belief, not a belief in evil. It is a shame that so many people, are so ignorant.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm |

    In Christ we love Muslim. We believe that Islam is kind religions. We know that 9/11 was driven by terrorist.
    As like Jesus told us, we must care and love Muslim. Jesus taught us to love and care for others.
    Peace be with you. Shallom.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  8. Peri Browner

    All religion breeds hatred of those who don't share the same beliefs. It was that way when the Romans (remember them, they're the ones who put Jesus on that cross) fed the early Christians to the lions, and it is still that way today when the extreme right wing evangelical religions knock on your door and tell you that your belief system sucks and that you are going to hell or when the Mormons posthumously baptize my Jewish relatives who died in the Nazi death camps because of the religion they were born into and CHOSE to practice.

    September 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Feeding someone to lions is in a completely different category than telling them that the Bible teaches they are going to hell if they reject Jesus.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  9. Monbois


    September 4, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Yaright

      Ya and well put by GW, buy telling the world that this is a "crusade" against terrorism. Great Bush:( nice way to start a holywar..... idiot

      September 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • GAW

      Speak louder please I cant see you.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Monbois

    Interesting that atheists are given an "afterthough" mention at the end of the article and then the topic abruptly changes to give a Catholic historian the last word.

    Talk about a biased article. Well, the fact that CNN.com even has a "Belief" section shows how biased it is.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Yaright

      As a conservative republican and also an agnostic, i understand the simple fact that certain news affiliates side with either the left or the right. I personally find myself on websites like CNN, because of the leftist views and articles. Without extremes, we wouldn't know what the middle is....

      September 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  11. GrownUp

    @ Corse – check your history. Hitler and the Nazis believed in the occult far removed from Christianity. When you look deeply at Hitler, his true belief was that he was god – similar to the way some (not all) atheists think about themselves. Also remember that the word "nazi" was a play on the 2 German words for "National Socialism." Socialism comes from Carl Marx and Carl Marx was an atheist. Thus a strong argument could be made that nazism stems from atheism.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Yaright

      Kinda like the Pope....

      September 4, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Ryan

      are you retarded?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • RSNE

      GrownUp? Your brain never developed, though... you are the most idiotic person I've ever encounter...

      September 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  12. wakeup333

    It's not just conservative Christians who studied Islam after 9-11. Lots of people did. Atheists are best qualified to discuss it. More qualified than Muslims. Muslims believe the fairy tale, damage-control revisionist history painting Muhammad as a kind, peaceful, perfect being. Atheists dismiss that. Looking at the Quran and Hadith, it's clear Muhammad was a delusional egomaniac, confusing epileptic fits with "divine" inspiration, claiming invisible beings spoke to him, demanding all call him messenger of god. When sane people rejected him, he spent the rest of his life warring against them. Islam was spread by robbers and murderers, who arrogantly spoke of "peace," meaning peace after Islam's conquest. Hitler's kind of peace.

    The Meccans who rejected Muhammad knew him better than brainwashed Muslims today. They knew him to be a dangerous, delusional egomaniac. They had good reason to reject him. We should learn from their first-hand experience. Every cult has believers: convict Charles Manson has followers. Convict pedophile Warren Jeffs has a faithful flock. Never ask believers for truth. Look only at provable, historical fact.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  13. does it matter

    Does it matter, in a few short minutes lives were lost, tragedy befalls millions each day and the real question is " Is their really any reason for it, religious or not?" What is the worth of a human life, is one life more valuable then another, who has the right to decide? No matter what your vew point do you think it really matters to the loved ones left behind on that day? Too much energy and emotion is spent on worrying who or what the cause is, if it was all directed to the betterment of community and others- well who knows.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • kimsland

      Because we need to learn from history.
      Religion is WRONG

      September 4, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  14. flo

    I think the 19th century government was the smartest ones.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  15. SciGuy

    Does CNN have a keyword checker that disallows some post right from the start? I do not use vulgar language, but occasionally a post just doesn't show???

    September 4, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Colin

      There is a list of words that will get your post blocked – even if they are in the middle of another word. E.g. consti.tution would have got this post by me blocked because of the word "t.it" . Same applies to c.um and a whole list of others. Just use a period like I just did.

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

      Sciguy – this might help.

      c-um.........as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, etc.
      sp-ic........as in disp-icable (look out Sylvester the cat!)
      ho-mo...whether ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, etc.
      t-it.........const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, (an unexpected one)
      va-g....as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant
      ar-se....yet "ass" is not filtered!
      jacka-ss...but ass is fine lol
      p-is.....as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, etc.
      o ficti-tious, repeti-tion, competi-tion.
      There are more, so do not assume that this is complete.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • SciGuy

      Colin, if, as you post shows, it is that easy to fool them, one has to wonder why they bother.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I have issues with that, as well. It's not just the language; I believe that there is a glitch in the system.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  16. Jake

    I can only hope for the day religion is absent from America – only then will we finally be rid of the violent, bigoted religious-fuelled hatred so commonly seen today.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • SciGuy

      If God ever removes his restraining spirit from this world, you will not be happy.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Joe Shmid

      It'll just be replaced by the same. Those are human traits you speak of and they were not born of religion. People will still hate, people will still seek power over others. If it wasn't for Christianity in particular your right to get your view across publicly would like not exist.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Yaright

      What i always find interesting, is the fact that through out written history, you see that most wars have been fought because of some religious ideology.... But religious people do not or will not accept that, they always believe that they are righteous and doing gods work. I would like a time machine to go back in time and ask all the people that were killed in the name of god and that today religious people find to be wrong. Example would be the religious persecution of the protestants in England. That should hit home to most Americans.

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

      @Jake – yeah, the vacuum only to be replaced only by your Marxist social utopianism. Worked really well for Cambodians under Pol Pot and the Nazi's under Hitler.

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

      What is the difference between Chinese communist party and religion? One is in absolute power and one is always desperately seeking for it.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What exactly does god's restraining spirit do? As far as I can see, faith has very little to do with good behavior, and in fact has been used as an excuse for some pretty awful actions. If you need the fear of hell or the bribe of heaven to be a good person, your parents didn't raise you right.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • GAW

      The obsession to establish a utopia often leads to bloodshed. Let's keep Religion and Atheism in check to prevent this from happening.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  17. Colin

    Unless one still subscribes to the " talking snake" Adam and Eve nonsense about the origin of the World (and believe me, a frightening number still do) here is the basic Jewish/Islam/Christian view of the Universe.

    There is an all powerful creator god who created the entire Universe and its 200,000,000,000 galaxies, EACH with about 100,000,000,000 stars and planetary systems. This creator god then waits about 10,000,000,000 (10 billion) years and creates the Earth. He then waits another 4.5 billion years for life to slowly evolve into ho.mo sapiens and then gives this one species a soul and a promise of everlasting life, provided they obey some rules laid down in a book that was compiled before the Dark Ages.

    How we, in the 21st Century, can still subscribe to this Bronze Age nonsense is totally beyond me. I guess, if you give a person a reason to believe they will never die, they will accept anything to hold on to such hope.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Yaright

      Well, this is coming from a Republican Agnostic.... I believe it all has to do with faith.. Yes, in my personal opinion it is blind faith. But nevertheless its faith and to those believers "the bible" is not old, but in fact talking about what has happened in the past and what is happen now and what is going to happen in the future.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • kimsland

      More people like you and others here, need to inform the world, that we will NOT stand for this religious nonsense for much longer.
      They should be banned, especially banned from teaching innocent children.

      ps I have found out that the best argument is not (obvious) fact, but to just ridicule them about this absurdity they call religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • pdou

      @Kimsland – the IQ of this blog just dropped a few points with your posts. So here folks, we have the true face of liberalism. Instead of being the face of tolerance, we have the left using ridicule on others that have a belief system different than theirs. Instead of encouraging the freedom of expression and of religion beliefs (at the core of the founding spirit of our nation), we have the left advocating the restriction of these things. Thanks for showing everyone your ignorance Kim...you've made the case against the left better than I could have ever done. By the way, your kids are sure to grow up real healthy and have a sense of humility in service of others, since they don't believe in a Power bigger than themselves to whom they are ultimately accountable for their actions. God help us all.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • kimsland

      Religion is PATHETIC and WRONG
      And anyone who wants to believe in this rubbish should be LAUGHED at.
      So Ha HA HA to you.

      Here's a good statement to remember. Religious FOOLS

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

      Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

      Sorry, I'm still laughing, Some people are actually religious LOL What a JOKE Haaaaa

      September 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • pdou

      @Kimsland – I will pray that God delivers your from ignorance and that he won't smite you for your pride. Kimsland = 1, maybe 2 IQ. If you weren't such an angry left wing nut, I'd laugh at you in turn.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • kimsland

      Ha Ha Ha Ha
      You're actually religious??? Ha Ha Ha
      All the evidence.., but nope you have faith
      What a living joke. Please, please stay away from children, unless they laugh at you, I know mine would.

      September 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Spot

      @ kimsland Instead of wasting your time here in CNN embarrassing atheists try getting some exercise or maybe getting a date for Labor Day. Obsess much?

      September 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • kimsland

      Spot the religious fool.

      Oh well, thankfully religion is on the way out, but the silly ones left trying to have blind faith are STILL funny.
      Every sunday we drive past the churches and point and laugh. I notice others are doing the same too.
      Religious people are really sad, they just don't know.
      Oh sad in a funny way. Ha Ha Ha

      September 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  18. Yaright

    Question? What does religious people believe about the prospect of there being Life outside of Earth. Also, if we ever have contact with another species or even find micro organisms say on Mars, What would you believe about that?

    September 4, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • kimsland

      They have just recently stated that life 'could' exist on other planets, but this would be like animal life without souls etc.
      Ha Ha Ha Ha
      Seriously I have informed my children from a very young age, that all religions are pathetic, thankfully we all agree.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  19. TrueWiseOne

    All religions have absurdities and dogmas, but Islam is the worst of them all – its violent, oppressive and just pure evil.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Yaright

      right, every religion is dogmatic, which in it self is what is wrong....

      September 4, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  20. Tanner

    " Thou Shall Not Listen To God For He Does Not Exist "

    September 4, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • kimsland

      Well said 🙂

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

      haha, I was proud of myself for coming up with my own original quote

      September 4, 2011 at 11:47 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.