THE 9-11 TERRORIST ATTACKS
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE
The blame for the terrorist attacks has been variously directed at God, Satan,
the American people generally, certain elements of the American population,
extremist Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists, and all Muslims:
||God engineered it: Jerry Falwell, a Fundamentalist Christian tele-minister, initially
blamed God directly for organizing the attack; he blamed certain American groups as the
indirect cause. Later, he reversed his stance, shifted total blame onto
unknown terrorists, while he criticized the media for taking his words out of
context and distorting his message. Bill Koenig agreed that God sent it as
a message to the American people; but he disagrees with Falwell as to the
||God allowed it to happen: Pat Robertson, another Fundamentalist Christian tele-minister, appears to believe that God was the immediate cause of
the tragedy, because he decided to removed a shield of protection from America. That
allowed radical Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists the freedom to attack.
||Satan did it: Michael Youssef, conservative Christian author and pastor, appears
to hold God innocent of any blame; he accuses a personal evil entity,
Satan, as being ultimately responsible.
||Terrorists did it: The U.S. Government, and many other individuals and organizations, appear to blame the atrocity directly on
a group of radical Middle Eastern terrorists.
||Entire Muslim countries are responsible for it happening: Rabbi
Daniel Lapin, president of the conservative Christian and Jewish group
Toward Tradition feels that whole nations share collective guilt for
the attack of a few terrorists. Thus, entire countries -- men, women,
children, infants -- should be bombed in retaliation for the terrorist
||All Muslims are responsible: A very small number of North Americans seem to blame all
Muslims, including loyal, flag-loving American citizens, as being equally
responsible for the attack.
Jerry Falwell is the Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and the
Chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
On the Pat Robertson's "700 Club" TV program for 2001-SEP-13 (two days after the tragedy),
guest Jerry Falwell said that "God will not be mocked." Falwell
blamed the attack on Pagans (presumably Neopagans like
Wiccans, Druids, followers of
Asatru, etc), those working to maintain he wall
of separation between church and state, abortion
providers, feminists, gays and lesbians.
He concluded that God became
sufficiently angry at these groups in America, that he engineered the terrorist
attack -- presumably to send Americans a message. Full
details of his statement, clarification, & apology and of reactions from the
Robertson's statement is supported by one of the main themes of the Hebrew
Scriptures (Old Testament) --that when the Israelites consistently departed from
the will of Jehovah, then God eventually retaliated with severe punishment. A
few applicable quotations from the King James Bible are:
||Deuteronomy 31:17-18: 'Then my anger shall be kindled
against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face
from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall
befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come
upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face
in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they
are turned unto other gods."
||Proverbs 1:24-28: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I
have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought
all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your
calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as
desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and
anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not
answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."
||Proverbs 21:12-13: "The righteous man wisely considereth the
house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself,
but shall not be heard."
||Isaiah 1:15: "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will
hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear:
your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil
of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well;
seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the
||Jeremiah 1:16: "And I will utter my judgments against them
touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned
incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands."
||Jeremiah 11:14: Therefore pray not thou for this people,
neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the
time that they cry unto me for their trouble.
||Jeremiah 44:23: "Because ye have burned incense, and because
ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the
LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies;
therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day."
||Lamentations 3:6-16: "He hath set me in dark places, as they
that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he
hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my
prayer....He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered
me with ashes."
||Lamentations 3:44-47: "Thou hast covered thyself with a
cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. Thou hast made us as the
offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people. All our enemies have
opened their mouths against us. Fear and a snare is come upon us,
desolation and destruction."
He distributes Koenig's International News to Internet users via
Email. He agrees with Jerry Falwell, that God engineered the tragedy because
he wanted to send a message to the American people. But, according to
Koenig, God's message is different than Falwell's. It is that God had
reserved the land in Palestine for the Jewish people and sealed it with a
covenant during ancient biblical times. According to an article in the
New York Times, In early 2001-SEP, George W Bush had decided to back
statehood for the Palestinian people as part of a comprehensive peace
settlement between the PLO and the government of Israel. By this reasoning,
since God does not use Email, telephone, fax, telex, or a postal
connection, God sent in the terrorists.
There seems to be a slight difference between Pat Robertson's position, and Jerry Falwell's initial statement. Falwell seem to suggest that God directly
inspired the terrorist attack as punishment for the increased secularism
in America. Robertson stated that God had simply removed his protection from
the U.S., thus exposing the country to outside attacks.
Pat Robertson wrote: "We have imagined ourselves invulnerable and have
been consumed by the pursuit of financial gain. The focus of many in America
has been on the pursuit of health, wealth, material pleasures and sexuality.
Sadly, those in the churches have been as self-indulgent as those in the
"We have allowed rampant pornography on the Internet, and rampant
secularism and the occult, etc. to be broadcast on television. We have
permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-40 million unborn babies to be
slaughtered by our society."
"We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye
and said, 'We are going to legislate You out of the schools and take Your
commandments from the courthouses in various states. We are not going to let
little children read the commandments of God. We are not going to allow the
Bible or prayer in our schools.' "
"We have insulted God at the highest level of our government. Then, we
say, 'Why does this happen?' It is happening because God Almighty is lifting
His protection from us. Once that protection is gone, we are vulnerable
because we are a free society." 7
His essay contains some amazing estimates: He predicts that the total
number of deaths is three or four times higher than the current official figures.
His estimate of the number of active terrorists roaming around America is incredibly high compared
to the FBI estimate of about 34.
[Editor's note: We do not include Pat Robertson's
figures here because they are so inflammatory. If people seriously believe
him, they might well panic, and attack a lot of innocent people.]
Michael Youssef is the founding pastor of the 2000-member Church of
the Apostles in Atlanta, GA. He hosts both a radio and television
program. He is probably best known for his 13 books, including "If God is in Control,
Why is my Life Such a Mess?" 3
He was invited to participate in the Focus on the Family radio
broadcast for Friday, 2001-SEP-14, three days after the tragedy, in order to
discuss the "Biblical
implications of Tuesday's attacks." 4 When the host,
Dr. James Dobson, asked who was to blame for the tragedy, Youssef replied: "...I
think [that] one of the most important things for us -- especially those of
us in the media -- is to begin to educate Christians to the fact that God
did not do this. Satan would love to pin this on God. They need to
understand that there is a personal devil, a personal Satan in the world.
God is not the author of evil. Our God is a god of mercy and a god of love.
But he, in his sovereignty, is able to take these shreds that we see on TV
and these rubbles, and he turns them around. He brings good out of them,
especially for those who love him."
According to AANEWS, Rev. James Merritt of the Southern Baptist
Convention agreed. He called the destruction "Satan's handiwork" and
urged prayer for the victims. 5
The majority position: total blame rests with a currently unknown group of extreme Fundamentalist,
This is perhaps the simplest and most obvious assignment of responsibility
for the tragedy. Many government, religious and media representatives have delivered eloquent
speeches justifying this position. Fundamentalist
Christian R. Albert Mohler', Jr.'s response is particularly notable. He is president of the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is considered by many to be a main
spiritual leader of the Southern Baptists. In an address on 2001-SEP-13, two days after
the tragedy, he gave an address at the Seminary's Alumni Memorial Chapel.
He said: "We dare not lack the moral courage to call
these acts what they areómurderous acts of mass terror. We dare not dignify the
murderers by explaining their cause. No cause, however righteous, can justify
such acts. And, no righteous cause could produce such acts."
He admits that humans cannot know the full truth: "We dare not speak
on Godís behalf to explain why He allowed these particular acts of evil to
happen at this time to these persons and in this manner."
Response of Toward Tradition: Entire Muslim countries are
Toward Tradition is a national coalition of very conservative Jews and
Christians. They oppose secular institutions which they believe "foster
anti-religious bigotry, harm families, and jeopardize the future of America."
On 2001-SEP-28, they issued a press release calling on President Bush "to
draw strength from the words of the Bible." Their president, Rabbi Daniel
Lapin, commented: "It is the season of war. I am concerned about the doubts
felt by many good Christians and Jews who worry about the morality of
retribution. They worry about the deaths of noncombatants. They ask: 'Would it
not be more in keeping with religious tradition to counter hate with
forgiveness, rather than with violence?' "
Rabbi Lapin believes in the concept of collective responsibility. His is
feels that the responsibility for the terrorist strike extends beyond those who
plotted and carried out the attack to include entire Muslim nations. Thus whole
nations -- men, women and children -- must be punished because of the actions of
"Some of us allow, 'Let us punish the few hundred attackers'; but they
feel unease at inflicting agony on whole countries." He concludes by reading
the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes that "These Americans should understand
that nations are organic entities; in unity a nation enjoys benevolence and
triumph, but in unity it must also endure retribution and destruction."
Response of religious bigots: all Muslims are responsible for the acts of a
few terrorists who happen to be Muslim:
There have been many attacks by a scattering of American and
Canadian citizens attempting to terrorize Muslims in the U.S. and Canada.
Individual Muslims, their places of businesses, and mosques have been attacked
in the few days following the terrorist attack on New York City and the
Pentagon. There have been two attempted murders, and a number of fire-bombings. Some youths in Chicago IL
organized a march on a local mosque.
Perpetrators appear to believe in the
concept of collective responsibility: that because a few members of a very large
group committed an atrocity, that all members of the same group are equally
responsible for the crime. This is analogous to blaming all Christians for the
bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, by two
terrorist militia members who happened to be Christian.
What is overlooked in the rush for revenge is that:
||The alleged perpetrators are not simply Muslims. They are very small
minority within Islam: radical, Fundamentalist, Muslim terrorists. They form a miniscule
percentage of all Muslims. Moderate Muslims claim that In no way do the
terrorists reflect the historical teachings
of Islam. They are viewed as having twisted and inverted the meaning of their holy book, the Qur'an.
As historian Karen Armstrong has written: "It
would be as grave a mistake to see Osama bin Laden as an authentic
representative of Islam as to consider James Kopp, the alleged killer of
an abortion provider in Buffalo, N.Y., a typical Christian or Baruch
Goldstein, who shot 29 worshipers in the Hebron mosque in 1994 and died in
the attack, a true martyr of Israel."
In her book, "Islam: A Short History," Karen Armstrong explains
that terrorism and other forms of religiously motivated violence are
political tactics used only by the most desperate and extreme religious
fundamentalists. 9,10 She wrote: "As they struggle to
rectify what they see as the damaging effects of modern secular culture,
fundamentalists fight back. In the process, they depart from the core
values of compassion, justice and benevolence that characterizes all the
world faiths, including Islam."
||Muslim countries in the world are themselves terrified of these same
||Dozens of Muslim organizations in Canada and the U.S. have sincerely
condemned the terrorist attacks.
||Christian leaders -- from the conservative, mainline and liberal wings of
the religion -- have issued statements asking for unity and peace. They have specifically asked
that individuals not terrorize innocent persons. For example, the National
Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. issued a statement saying
that: "We especially urge churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of
worship to join in prayer and practical help. We must stand united against the
temptation to retaliate against innocent persons."
The two attempted murders, multiple fire-bombings and shootings at
mosques, and countless instances of harassment are quite troubling. However,
the backlash against Muslim and Arab-Americans might have been much worse if
it hadn't been for a concerted attempt by religious, government and media
leaders to plea for unity and avoidance of stereotyping.
Response of Evangelical Christians in America:
Christianity Today conducted an online pole of the visitors to its web
site. Since the magazine is the leading Evangelical periodical, it is probably
safe to assume that most of the responders to the poll are Evangelical
Christians. The webmaster asked "What best explains the events of September
11." They gave 13 possible responses. Results by 2001-OCT-4, sorted in
decreasing order of popularity, were:
||21% We won't know why until we get to Heaven.
||12% Evil and tragedy are the price of [humans'] free will.
||12% National security measures were too lax.
||8% Demonic forces were at work.
||7% The terrorists handed themselves over to evil.
||7% Global terrorism had to eventually hit the U.S.
||6% End-times prophecies are being fulfilled.
||5% God removed his hand of protection from the U.S.
||5% Personal freedoms have overruled public safety.
||4% America was targeted for its Christian character.
||4% There is no reason for such senseless actions.
||3% God judged America for its sins.
||1% Even to ask this question is insensitive.
Related essay on this web site:
"PFAW President, Ralph G. Neas, addresses divisive comments by
religious right leaders," People for the American Way, 2001-SEP-13, at:
"Statement by Jerry Falwell on 700 Club comments,"
2001-SEP-14, at: http://www.falwell.com/
This is a temporary posting.
Youssef, "If God is in Control,
Why is my Life Such a Mess?," Thomas Nelson (1998).
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
"Recent Broadcasts," Focus on the Family radio program, at:
http://www.family.org/fmedia/bcpast.html This is a temporary
posting. However, a audio tape of the program can be ordered from the Focus on
the Family web site at http://www.family.org
Look for "Prayer in the Wake I-III" broadcast on 2001-SEP-12 to 14.
"Evangelists blame Americans, demand prayer and revival." AANEWS
R.A. Mohler, Jr., "Truth-telling in a time of tragedy: What words dare
we speak, when we dare not be silent?," Southern Baptist Theological
"Pat Robertson's statement regarding terrorist attack," Christian
Broadcasting Network, 2001-SEP-14, at:
"Ecclesiastes and the Season of War: Comments from 'Toward Tradition',"
David Waters, "Ban use of 'Islamic' before 'terrorist',"
Karen Armstrong, "Islam: A Short History,"
Read reviews or order this book
Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-SEP-14
Latest update: 2001-OCT-5
Author: B.A. Robinson