After the 9/11 attacks many were confronted with their faith and beliefs. Some ran towards their faith by practicing religious beliefs, while others were turned away.
What causes someone to lose their religion? In the Huffington Post article, “After 9/11, Some Run Toward Faith, Some Run The Other Way”, survivors and family members recalled what it was like to experience this firsthand. Their faith was questioned in the aftermath. Asking profound questions like why would God allow this?
For some, turning inward in grief caused them to lose their religion. One woman who lost her son on that day recalls, “My faith is shaken? Earthquake is a better word,” she said. “In the end, I found myself saying, ‘What kind of God would allow this?’”
Many like Ruth Green searched to find answers but could not find any. Losing one’s religion or faith in God after such terrible tragedies is not uncommon.
Lisa Miller, a scholar of religion and mental health at Columbia University, said losing faith is an understandable and normal reaction to tragedy, especially after the loss of a child.
“There is nothing more devastating than losing a child,” Miller said. “It’s the most devastating psychological pain we can imagine. It’s a violation against creation, a violation against life itself.”
Another survivor, Susan Kim was in her office near Ground Zero on 9/11. She saw the fireball of the second plane hit the South Tower. She remembers thinking she’d never see her children again. In the moments of the 9/11 heartbreak, an evil deck was dealt.
The article states how Kim, who once practiced Judaism, lost her faith. Going to synagogue she recalls drove her to tears, and the ritual Passover meals that she had once so eagerly prepared became a burden.
In post-traumatic stress after such tragedy it’s difficult to move on. By the suggestion of a therapist, Kim is talking to a rabbi and slowly reclaiming her religious self.
These were the victims of 9/11. The ones left behind to suffer in their loss and grief. For those families that lost so much, ten years hasn’t changed much. For others, their faiths have been transformed.
There’s the story of U.S. Army Col. Franklin Childress, a survivor of the Pentagon tragedy. Childress recalls he was supposed to be at his desk on that fateful day, but instead was at home dealing with a mix-up from movers.
“Everyone who was around my desk perished,” Childress said.
A devout Christian, he felt the survivor’s guilt that so many feel. Along with other Pentagon employees, he joined a Bible study group. Looking back he recalls God must have wanted him to survive. Now he’s spending more time with his family and helping others deepen their faith.
The days following September 11 caused resurgence in the churches. Many called it a revival.
For the many who struggle in the crisis of faith they make a choice. They have the freedom to walk away, or to find a way. For the ones who reclaimed their faith, it’s been a long struggling journey. Faith played a significant role in trying to rebuild their lives and many will never be the same again.