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Spiritual Wisdom in the Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks

Churches, mosques and synagogues across the USA opened their doors for prayer on Tuesday (September 11, 2001), the day USA was attacked by terrorists, calling for calm and peace in the face of the most horrific terrorist attack in the nation's history.

Religious leaders urged their members to respond with love and nonviolence. Here is a sample of what some of those leaders have said:

"Do you know why America has chosen the eagle as its national bird? It is the only bird that is not afraid of flying in the storm."

Anonymous, Dianne Sawyer, ABC-TV.

"We will not become victims of hate and hostility even in the face of hate and hostility. Bombs cannot break our purpose, our spirit. We must announce in the midst of the fire, smoke and burning that we are an overcoming people because we serve an overcoming God." 

Rev. Otis Moss Jr., Pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio.

"This is a time to turn to God. So many questions with no answers. So much anxiety. We must pray to God to tell us how to proceed in the best way, how to respond in a peaceful and just way."

Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

"This is a time to get down on our knees and pray and cry."

Rev. Timothy Sawchak, president of the Greater Cleveland Council of Orthodox Clergy.

"We have to resist the nature of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We have to be peacemakers. We cannot continue to succumb to the violence."

Bishop J. Clark Grew, Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

"People of faith need to gather and pray for the victims. As all Americans, we are horrified. We are sad. We are deeply disappointed over this kind of attack. Words are not enough to describe our grief over this. We strongly condemn this action."

Imam Fawaz Damra, Islamic Center of Greater Cleveland

"Our focus is to bring people together in a spirit of peace, tolerance and mourning."

Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, Hillel metro director

"The poor mothers, the poor fathers, the children - I don't know the answer."

Molly Carreon, Cleveland, Ohio

"This is a time of prayer. This is a time we need to come together, regardless of our religious background or race."

Rev. Mylion Waite, Antioch Baptists Church, Cleveland, Ohio

"The killing of innocent people is a despicable and heinous act that is accepted by neither religion nor human sensibility."

Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Al-Azhar, 
Oldest and most prominent Islamic institution in Cairo, Egypt.

It was a sad day in the history of US. This is not the time to curse; this is the time to pray. We are safe only in the hands of Jesus. Let us join with the family of all who lost their beloved. Our prayer and heart felt condolence to all. From my experience, USA is a blessed country, more blessed than any other country in the world. Disaster may come in any form like earthquake or terrorism. It is the time to build the country. Our duty is to pray for all in the US, especially the lost, missing or the wounded. I express my prayer and heart felt condolence to all the people in US.

Suffering is not a punishment but it is for our discipline.

Rev. Fr. Dr. M.C Cherian, Indian Orthodox Church, India

" As clergy , we too struggle with how to balance mercy and grace and the whole idea of justice. We have to look at our definition of justice because too often we define it as getting even. To lead people in the right direction, we must continually go back to God and ask for guidance. This situation has reminded us of that and the fact that we need God because that is where strength and hope are."

Rev. Jim Colledge, Hudson Community Chapel, Hudson, Ohio.

Our brothers and sisters are in great pain and especially in need for us. The desperate need of blood is a calling out to us Christians, us people, us humans to give something and to help out our fellow people. Just as Christ shed His blood for the whole World to save us, we can shed a little blood for our people as well and donate it to save lives. You are doing a "great act of the lord & a Christ-like act" if you do so.

May He have mercy on the Souls of the victims and the terrorists who have attacked.


"This situation has brought upon shock and a whole range of emotions - pain and hurt for the families, anger at how evil the hearts and minds of people can be - and yet as spiritual leaders, we must point America back to God. We must be able to go back to our churches filled with people asking questions, and tell them there is hope in what appears to be a very hopeless situation."

Rev. Dennis Butts, Sr., Staff Pastor, House of the Lord, Akron, Ohio

Also See:

What to Tell Your Children at Times of Traumatic Events

What are People Saying?

Resources - How Can You Help?

Special Prayers at Times of Trouble

  1. Prayer for the USA at the Time of Tragedy

  2. Prayer In Time Of Suffering

  3. Alcuin of York: Prayer at Time of War and Catastrophe

  4. Henry Suso: Unbearable Suffering

  5. Henry Suso: Suffering As Discipline

  6. David Cohen: God Bless America - prayer to cope with terrorist attack

  7. Psalm 46: Prayer at Time of Trouble

  8. Prayer When You Are Depressed - Dr. Walter L. Weston

  9. Prayer for Peace

  10. American Indian Prayer for Peace - Cheyenne

  11. Jainism - Prayer for Peace

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