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Land sees new spiritual tone at Sept. 11’s one-month mark

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–As the United States marks the one-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks on its shore, it’s clear Americans are re-examining their priorities in life, Richard Land said Oct. 8.

They appear to be looking beyond themselves and to their faith for strength, the president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said on the ERLC’s “For Faith & Family” radio program.

Many are turning to God, evidenced by soaring Bible sales and a noticeable bump in seminary applications, Land continued. Americans are realizing it is only God who can bless and protect America, he said.

Land said the new tone is being reflected in all spectrums of society — from the White House where President Bush’s pronouncements on the war against terrorism are sprinkled with references to God to neighborhood streets across America that are adorned with the red, white and blue of U.S. flags.

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“We have once again turned to our deep resources of spiritual faith,” Land said. “Our country has changed. We live in a different America.”

The Kansas City Star reported Christian leaders are viewing the attacks “as an unprecedented opportunity to bring Americans to God,” noting the American Tract Society released a new tract, designed with photos of the burning World Trade Center Towers, within one week of the terrorist assaults.

“As long as people continue to think [this is a struggle between good and evil], that will have some religious manifestations,” Randall Balmer, a Barnard College religion professor, told the paper.

“This is an extraordinary moment for Christians, people of faith, to come forward and say God has the answer,” Land said.

Yet groups such as the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are calling some of these apparently spontaneous outpourings of faith illegal and unconstitutional. “The constitutional rights of the religious minority cannot be shoved aside in a time of national crisis,” Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, told the Associated Press. “I hope these efforts to cross constitutional boundaries stop,” Lynn added.

Americans are realizing these kinds of claims are just “secularist nonsense,” Land reacted. “Americans are not going to put up with this anymore.”

This tragic turn of events has altered the spiritual temperature of the nation, he said. An Oct. 4 USA Today report listed American workers’ top priorities before the attacks as career and wealth. In a poll after the attacks, the paper said that the order shifted dramatically, with family and God on top.

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“That’s not a perfect ordering of our priorities; God should be first,” Land said, admitting though, “It is a whole lot better than it was.”

People are talking about God and praying to God in places not imagined four week ago, Land continued. He noted that during a recent secular retreat for leaders from all segments of the community he attended a significant amount of time was spent discussing why God let the terrorist attacks happen, in spite of the secular context of the event.

“It is my impression that prior to Sept. 11 and the terrible events of that day, perhaps a majority of the people in the room would have thought that religious discussion was inappropriate,” Land said. “In the post-Sept. 11 environment, it would have been virtually impossible to keep these community leaders from discussing these ‘religious’ issues.”

As Americans struggle to regain a sense of normalcy in their lives, it is clear that proclamations of God’s power are in vogue, Land said. “It is my prayer that this new interest in matters of faith will lead our country to a full-fledged spiritual awakening in the not-too-distant future.”
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Terrell is an ERLC staff member. For Faith & Family, a 30-minute radio program on issues of importance to families, can be heard live as well as archived on the Internet at www.faithandfamily.com [4].