Religion Unplugged

At 20th anniversary of 9/11, faith remains a big part of the story

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

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Like everybody alive then, I remember what I was doing the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

At the time, I was religion editor for The Oklahoman, the metro daily in Oklahoma CityI was running a few minutes late that Tuesday because I stopped at Walmart to buy a new pair of cleats for a company softball team starting the fall season that night. As it turned out, we didn’t play.

As I flashed my company ID at the security guard outside the newspaper building, he asked if I’d heard about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York. I had not. Minutes later, after I arrived in the ninth-floor newsroom, my colleagues and I watched on television as a second plane hit the twin towers. Almost immediately, ABC anchor Peter Jennings likened the attack to Pearl Harbor. That’s when I grasped the significance.

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The rest of that day is a blur. Like my reporter colleagues all over the nation, I immediately put aside any personal feelings and operated on journalistic adrenaline. I wrote four bylined stories for the next day’s paper: one on the religious community’s response, one on Muslim fears of a backlash, one on Oklahoma City bombing victims’ reactions and one on an eyewitness account by an Oklahoma professor’s daughter.

Like many (most?) Americans, I tossed and turned that night.

In the days and weeks after 9/11, I recall interviewing religious leaders and ordinary congregants as they looked to God and sought to explain the seemingly unexplainable.

Twenty years later, faith remains a big part of the story.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

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