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. alma1313

    And you don't have any statistics to back up your view either. I believe when humans are terrified they scream OMG, God help me instinctively!

    September 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Yaright

      like the old saying 'you might be a atheist until your in a foxhole', then you will stick you head between your legs and pray...

      September 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Real Deal

      alma: "they scream OMG, God help me instinctively!"

      Calling for help may be instinctive, but calling for "God" is a learned behavior.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Yaright

      So is OMG. When then that come out? during the internet age? What i mean is that i know what OMG is does a none internet person know?

      September 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I think you're starting to get the point here, Alma. When you don't have any statistics to back up your point, then ALL you're ent-itled to say is "I don't know." But religionists seldom do that. They're so insecure that they HAVE to have an answer, so they grab whichever one they like best and insist that it MUST be true. We atheists are perfectly willing to settle for "nobody knows for sure".
      Is there life after death? Doesn't seem even remotely likely, but I can't say absolutely not. Nobody knows for sure. But all sorts of charlatans and hucksters and con men (AKA priests, ministers, and rabbis) will assure you that THEY know for sure, cash and checks accepted, Visa and MasterCard only.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • alma1313

      yaright: I know the whole world use OMG and we know what that stands for: wonderful

      September 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Khal82

      Plenty of atheists have served our country without calling out for god, including Pat Tillman – it's ridiculous that they still have to fight the stereotypes. Look up Atheists in Foxholes and you will find some. I do not call out to god any more than I would call out to Santa Clause or Mother Theresa – it doesn't enter my mind. My strength and resilience have gotten me through many difficult and painful life situations, probably ones that others have prayed their way through – I see no difference in results.

      September 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • alma1313

      No Richard your getting the point. Im the one who brought up the statistics. You don't have statistics on your side and I don't have them on mine. Because they haven't been done. If you let your mind wander it kinda leans to when people are terrified for their life they call on a higher power!

      September 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Alma, you're just digging yourself in deeper by revealing the depth of your ignorance. Not even the whole ENGLISH-SPEAKING world uses "OMG" (which is, after all, an abbreviation of an English-language phrase). And even among English speakers it most certainly does NOT have the universally understood meaning of "wonderful". Far more often it means "that's terrible" or "that's surprising".

      September 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Alma, all YOUR wandering mind has come up with is a HYPOTHESIS. By your own admission, you have done absolutely nothing to TEST that hypothesis. Nor can you quote any systematic studies that have been done by anyone ELSE to test that hypothesis. Yet you continue to assert that most atheists WOULD pray on their deathbeds, completely without any evidence for that position or any reasoning to support it, BY YOUR OWN ADMISSION! And THAT, my friends, is how faith works: It leads you to say stupid things for no reason whatsoever.

      September 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Fred1

      I only say OMG when I see something really disgusting

      September 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • LinCA

      I prefer "Jesus H. Fucking Christ!" when something is really fucked up.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  2. Yaright

    To all the religious folk... Is god forgiving? Does he/she believe that any of his children can be forgiving?

    September 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Yaright

      umm, no replies?

      September 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  3. alma1313

    Some are enlighten an some are not. Atheist time is cradle to grave. For a short time they only believe in themselves. It is kinda of funny they have steeped themselves in the quotes from the bible just so they can blog about religion!

    September 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • FifthApe

      "For a short time they only believe in themselves."

      What garbage.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Canadain

      Yet you will live for eternity in the clouds? I think your head is already there.

      (Alma being one of the ignorant minority here actually gives me a glimmer of hope)

      September 4, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      In point of fact, since American culture is drenched in religion, it's kind of hard to avoid being exposed to lots of it. And, to some extent, that's a GOOD thing, as the Bible (in particular the King James Version) has contributed many wonderful similes, metaphors, and tropes to the English language. We are richer for that part of it.
      But a lot of atheists were brot up in religious homes and started questioning what they were told they needed to blindly obey. (This seems to have happened most often during the teenage years. Who woulda guessed?) So they started reading more widely, trying to find the answers. That's why independent surveys all confirm that the typical American atheist not only knows the BIBLE better than the the typical Christian, they know WAY more about other religions than Christians. Not all that surprising about the "other religions" part, but wouldn't you guess that Christians, exposed to Bible readings on a weekly basis in church, would be more up on their OWN holy book? What you overlook is that priests and ministers totally cherry-pick the readings to avoid the stories of the massacres, child ra ping, arrogance, cruelty, slavery, misogyny, scientific illiteracy, etc.
      Also, given that atheists are among the most reviled minorities in this country, there's another basic wisdom at work here: Know your enemy.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Real Deal


      ... and from cradle to grave (all the time we have) we are bombarded with your fantasy horror stories and threats. We just want you to knock it off or keep them to yourself. If debunking your myths is what it takes, so be it. Maybe we are looking out for our descendants in future generations so they won't have to put up with it so much.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  4. lola

    And then after the attack in Norway...it changed back lol

    September 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • harmonynoyes

      what are you talking about?

      September 5, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  5. Dennis

    All due respect in whatever you believe, most atheist would likely pray on their deathbed, just in case they were wrong. I think deep down we all know and need something bigger then ourselves. Faith in itself can do no harm. I prefer to remain agnostic and not spend my life trying to answer what I feel is unknowable until I die. I which case I would rather someone else die first and come back and tell me the real truth.

    September 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      The idea that "most atheists would pray on their deathbed" is exactly the sort of comment I'd expect from someone who uses faith as a basis of decision-making. No experiments, no surveys, no historical review, no attempt to relate to the way the real world really works, not even asking the question of the atheists on this forum — just a blind statement, devoid of reflection, of what you think SHOULD be true.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Wrong, if only because atheists know that there have been thousands upon thousands of gods prayed to in times of need and no way to decide which ONE to stake eternity on.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "All due respect in whatever you believe, most atheist would likely pray on their deathbed, just in case they were wrong."
      Which god would I pray to? Zeus, Ra, Thor? I'm not sure any one looks kindly upon those that are merely trying to hedge their bets.

      You said, "I think deep down we all know and need something bigger then ourselves."
      I know you are wrong.

      You said, "Faith in itself can do no harm."
      Since faith requires the suspension of rational thought, it can most certainly cause real harm. Believing that your imaginary friend will take care of your sick child, for instance may cause great harm to the child.

      You said, "I prefer to remain agnostic and not spend my life trying to answer what I feel is unknowable until I die. I which case I would rather someone else die first and come back and tell me the real truth."
      Good luck with that.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      Here's my gist Dennis, This world not being the KIngdom of God leads one to ponder where it then is. Christ told his followers to 1stly seek the Kingdom of God and in searching the KJVB, one can find a verse where Christ spoke out declaring that "The Kingdom of God is INSIDE You." This KIngdom of God starts out as an even smaller than a "mustard seed" and in its' growth becomes either a man or a woman as it, the Kingdom of God progresses to live out their "spirited" livelihoods until being pulled back into our templed body to face the judgment throne which exists inside our body/temple. Once judgment is passed one goes to their duly appointed heaven of immeasurable heavens in this worldly Heaven upon the many plains of earth's manifest heavens. TOO much to understand? Well I try I do but there is more,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 🙁

      September 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • FifthApe

      "most atheist would likely pray on their deathbed,"

      Not this atheist – or my father who is dying.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • What If

      @Dennis... "I would rather someone else die first and come back and tell me the real truth."

      Someone possibly did. She told me, "It is *nothing* like the religionists say. They are *all* wrong. Enjoy your life and don't worry."

      What I wanted to hear? Perhaps, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • *frank*

      My friend died and came back. He said in the afterlife everybody has green hair and drives vespas.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Fred1

      I think I can safely say that most Christians pray on their death bed, but they die anyway

      September 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  6. Yaright

    what i cannot fathom is the close-mindedness, there is no understanding. It "if you refute my GOD then i have a problem". And bang, either they will walk out or shun you if their family. Like your some sort of serial killer or a Catholic priest... Horrible:( They preach love, not war, love they neighbor "god does". But then they kill if you dont believe them... Hypo-What

    September 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • mikede

      That is the weirdest thing I have heard in a while. None of the Jesus followers I know are murderers because someone else doesn't believe.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      To MikeDE: Key words "I know". I'm guessing you didn't know Torquemada, Richard Lionheart, Arnaud Amalric, or Adolf Eichmann. But you could google them.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Fred1

      I’ve never known a Christian to murder someone because they didn’t believe , but I’ve known many that would like to and they have said as much

      September 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  7. Khal82

    I am surprised that the author states that U.S. citizens had never seen such random, "unfair" examples of deaths of innocents and were then "humbled" by 9/11 Granted, everyone felt the shock and fear of its magnitude, but atheists in particular have always understood that life is and will always be peppered with terrible and/or surprising coincidences; the religious always choose to say "it was his/her time" or "God took him/her home," and "God has a plan for all of us," and when survival comes out of what seemed like certain death, it is a "miracle." This disassociation from how the world works and our tiny place in the universe only exposes the contradictions in what they know are supposed to believe, and the rationalizations they need to make to keep it all within their religious worldview. Such childish, mental gymnastics avoids accountability and stunts self-reliance and inner strength. We atheists know we have to get it together and keep it together because no great deity in the sky will do it for us.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      Khal82 wrote on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 stating, "We atheists know we have to get it together and keep it together because no great deity in the sky will do it for us."

      You Khal like many Christians fail to understand is that Christ btold his brethren that "This world is NOT the Kingdom of GOD".

      September 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Charlene Osmun

      Well said!

      September 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Khal82

      Lambly, your particular deity is quoted as saying many things in the Bible. I am very familiar with it. You make the laughable, common assertion that an atheist needs to hear a particular Bible quote and -SNAP- oh, I see, I should look forward to a magical place this book talks about, I must follow, follow, follow. It's no different than the Iand of Oz. There is no evidence it exists; I know this world exists inasmuch as my senses allow me to comprehend it. I want to live it well, treat others well, and make it worth the ride.

      September 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  8. FifthApe

    Definition of Christianity: the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

    Yup – that makes sense!

    September 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • likewhoa

      can you imagine the smell after three days in that tomb. holy moly. zombie jesus haha

      September 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Mick

      FifthApe, they don't SYMBOLICALLY eat the body of Christ...as a child growing up in Catholic school it was stressed to me that the host, once consecrated, LITERALLY becomes his body.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Dreamer

      Of course what you said doesn't make sense, because no Christian anywhere actually believes that, even without the ridiculous hyperbole.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  9. likewhoa

    If god is better than we are, how come we can think up unicorns but he can’t make them?

    September 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • likewhoa

      same for mermaids. I would really like a mermaid for my fish tank god. please

      September 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Free

      More to the point, we can dream up a perfect God, but we can't actually produce him, can we?

      September 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • likewhoa

      but i really want a mermaid!!!!

      September 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Free

      Wouldn't that depend on which end is a fish?

      September 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  10. FifthApe

    More bible morality:

    21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;

    21:12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;

    21:13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.

    21:14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

    Can ANYONE read the bible and think its inspired by a god that could create the universe as we know now it.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • likewhoa

      i like the part about Lot letting the sodomites gang bang his daughters instead of his guy friend.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Yaright

      no no no FilthyApe, The bible is now, forever and eternal.... What was written shall be again.. God commands it... I know being sarcastic, but really this is what people of faith believe in.... Come on, use your brain

      September 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • likewhoa

      he did use is brain. he's making a point about the lack of morals that the bible perpetuates but at the same time says that it is the one and only truth which is hogwash.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Fred1

      My favorite part is what Lot and his Daughters get up to after god destroys Sodom for being naughty

      September 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  11. Yaright

    @ Jeff, my point is that if your certain religion denies the use of birth control, then by all means deny it. But, do not expect me to pay for it or any other American. Does churches help out the needy? yes they do, so have i by volunteering at shelters. Kinda of like the panhandler on the side of the road, do you give them money or go to a store and buy a loaf of bread and some peanut butter? Secondly, if your belief is that this world sucks and that a afterlife awaits you that is infinitely better than this world we live in. Then by all means jump in front of a bus, what are you waiting for????

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

    Everyone is right... This debate can go on and on and on... I have already told everyone that i am a republican agnostic. do i believe in god? kinda, not because the biggest bureaucracy on earth tells me so. But because as most religious people believe I hope that there is something more. But i will not support any religion that is not just and to date, I haven't found a just religion. furthermore, the human mind that I have found that I cannot open up is the fundamentalist religious person. Which to me is anyone that believe with undying faith that they are right. Well, two words come to mind, dogmatic and intolerant. I will not use the word bigot, because that word has been unjustly used too much of late, as has religion.

    It is time to move past a dying ideology and focus the betterment of human kind...

    September 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  13. RichardSRussell

    The thing that's dangerous is not so much religion but its underpinning: faith.
    Faith is the process by which you arrive at conclusions for which there is absolutely no evidence, and frequently in the face of evidence to the contrary. It's the root process behind not only religion (which even I, an atheist, admit is generally benign, if foolish) but also other fanaticisms and delusions (objectivism, personality cults, jingoism, imperialism, racism, quackery, conspiracy theories, etc.).
    Faith is the real culprit here. Religion is just one of its many unfortunate consequences. The sooner we all recognize faith for the awful, horrible, misbegotten thing it is, instead of blindly singing its praises, the sooner we will have taken the next stage of our journey to becoming a sane society.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Yaright

      gotta have faith, i'm sure that's a song, What i love is megalithic churches, you know the ones you see one tv. You preach about Jesus but you were a 2,000 dollar suit. Hypo- what. I think thats a song too....

      September 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Free




      September 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  14. likewhoa

    When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    September 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • NJBob


      September 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Chris

      Ha! I read that article. It's less funny when someone quotes it and doesn't credit the author for his awesomeness... it has also, sadly, been taken out of context here.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • likewhoa

      i liked the article too. James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia PS (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian)

      September 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  15. Canadain

    Atheism is not a movement.. its the neutral ground that lays beneath the insanity of religion.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • alma1313

      atheism is the movement of man worshiping man.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • likewhoa

      Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies only to mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

      September 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Alma, I assure you, we atheists are not into worshipping ANYTHING.
      (Well, that's actually a little white lie. I personally still worship Brett Favre.)

      September 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • likewhoa

      i worship myself every night! i think thats what they call it nowadays!

      September 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You worship Brett Favre?????? This could lead to holy war .... 😀

      September 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      One cannot forget women worshipping women now can we?

      September 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Free

      If anything, it's the philosophy that we do not have gods to rely upon, so it's best to be self-reliant. That's not worshipping yourself, that's just knowing that you're all that you have to count on.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Jim

      Believing in God is like believing in Superman, and then stepping off the ledge thinking that he will save you.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Real Deal

      I just don't get this whole 'worship' penchant. One can respect, admire, enjoy, express appreciation, learn from, or otherwise be inspired by people or things, but only an egotistical tyrant demands 'worship'... what does that say about the people who practice it?

      September 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • PNW

      Considering US debt vs. Canadian oil, lumber, and grain assets, Canadians have a a better chance of owning US slaves than vice versa.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • harmonynoyes

      I used to believe oh, it's just me, I can do it without a God concept or belief. Then, overwhelming horror and indecision entered my life, uninvited of course. I alone was no longer enough. And I did pray to Jesus. And to my profound surprise, I heard an answer. Not the kind you make up in your own mind, it was a very peaceful voice that seemed to answer directly and specifically to my prayer, and seemed to be ouside myself,two days after I presented the prayer in church. I have never had an audio hallucination in my life, before or after. I'm inclined to believe now that it's not just me. That as humans we have access to a spiritual realm, which can be good and helpful, as this was. Thank God.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • harmonynoyes

      not drug induced either, just very mysterious

      September 5, 2011 at 1:58 am |
  16. Ruskinrules

    The worst post-911 consequence (and an extension of the "Re-emergence of "Christo-Americanism") has been the political landscape. Bush II and his corporate handlers (and the evil genius Karl Rove) knew and cynically exploited this human flaw - and that its ridiculous notions of "faith." Unfortunately, to be "Christ-like" in conservatives eyes is FAR FROM what the real teachings of Christ are. If Jesus were a political candidate today he'd be pilloried on Fox News and assassinated if [by a long shot] was elected president. But that would never happen.
    And whereas previously any presidential candidate spouting "Christian" values (which, in politi-speak is Follow the Money) was considered border lunacy; now it's perfectly acceptable to blatantly advocate the merger of church and state.

    It is a sad time for this country.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • NJBob

      Christianity is, according to its adherents, the "one true religion", yet no one can agree on anything!!! And if anyone plays the "Follow the Money" game, it's the clergy!! Churches are constantly begging for money, and many of them are evidently doing very well indeed. You too can become wealthy. Simply start your own church - preferably a mega-church - and keep your message simple. Now, tell me it's not a racket set up to fleece the gullible.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Dennis

      The GOP campaign looks like a religious revival. Scares the crap out of me, because there are so many zealots out there.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      Just let the Globalists of Secularism's stewardships alone. They are gonna do just fine in reshuffling the deck of stardom's abatements while hopefully downsizing the ever increasing populations worldwide. Gotta lower the breeders of disscontentments before the bottom falls out and everyone starves to death! 🙁

      September 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  17. alma1313

    Believing is a fantastic experience wouldn't trade it! Secular humanism is so limiting.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You don't even know what secular humanism is.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • alma1313

      Its "godless" and its limits the mind

      September 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Free

      If you call not believing everything that can possibly be imagined is actually real 'limiting' the mind, then sure.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • PNW

      alma1313, replace "believing" with "narcotic-induced hallucination". Same effect, possibly less harmful impact on the rest of humanity.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • david be

      Certainly thats one of the very bases of religious control. Ultimately they want you to be happy regardless of your situation, nd without cost to the organization. They want you to give your wealth to them. Finally they want you to follow their edicts. Just because you find happiness in it doesn't make it real happiness, otherwise crackheads would have it right.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one." —George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish writer

      September 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Fred1

      Yes, fantasy can be very rewarding

      September 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  18. nogods

    It should be very obvious to all that religion caused 9-11. We need to stop this dangerous, divisive beleif in non-existant gods. The world will be much better off when religion no longer exists.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  19. alma1313

    You have a crystal ball and know when religious faith began? No one knows the answer to that we are in our infancy on knowledge.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  20. NJBob

    Arguing about religion is like arguing about how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin. It's useless, it's not productive,and it's a complete waste of time. Do something for your fellow humans. Dump your religious mythology and embrace secular humanism.

    September 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Platypus

      NJBob: Agree with you 200%!

      September 5, 2011 at 12:44 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.