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Are American Muslims a threat to us?

Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the United States, located in Dearborn Michigan (Credit: Dane Hillard via Flickr)As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near, more and more people are asking if American Muslims are a threat to our nation.  According to a new study, 30% of Americans believe that Muslims in our country ultimately want to establish Shari'a (Islamic holy law) as the law of the land.  The number agreeing with this statement has grown by a third over the last eight months.  And we are evenly divided over whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and our way of life (47% agree; 48% disagree, including nearly 60% of white evangelical Protestants).

Since the release of my latest book, Radical Islam: What You Need to Know, I have been interviewed by 17 radio stations on the subject.  Every one, without fail, has asked me if the 9/11 terrorists were following the true tenets of Islam.

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Texas wildfires and the compassion of God

The chimney of a house remains standing as the rest of the building burns to the ground near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Mike Stone)When are wildfires spread by a flood?  When they are stoked by the gale force winds of a tropical storm, as is the case in Texas this morning.

Our state is grappling with wildfires that have already destroyed more than a thousand homes and killed two people.  More than 3.6 million acres of land have been scorched since the worst drought in a generation became even more severe last November.  Over the weekend, fire officials responded to 63 new fires, the worst of which is burning just east of Austin.

At the same time, much of the nation has been deluged by water.  Vermont and upstate New York are facing more flash floods caused by Hurricane Irene.  Earlier this year, farmers in the upper Midwest fought crop-destroying floods.  With less than four months to go, 2011 is becoming one of the most expensive years for natural disasters in U.S. history.  Prior to Irene, disasters have caused our country $35 billion and killed at least 589 people.

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9-11 without religion: a call to action

The cross installed on a pedestal at Ground Zero (Credit: Samuel Li via en.wikipedia.org)No religious elements will be included in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 9/11 commemoration service this Sunday.  Quotations and poems will be read by a variety of leaders, and the list of 9/11 victims will be read in its entirety.  Unfortunately, not a single prayer will be offered for the survivors of this tragedy, for our leaders, or for our nation.  Nor will a single religious leader be included in the event.

The mayor's decision is surprising, given his support for including the so-called Ground Zero Cross in the 9/11 Memorial and his defense of those who want to build a mosque and Muslim community center nearby.  It might be difficult to decide who should be included, as is the case for most public events.  But it is a mistake to allow no one to offer prayers or represent faith traditions at a ceremony for so many grieving families.

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Winning the war on terror

Gold Star Mothers hug on the five-year anniversary of the death of Justin Davis at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, June 25, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing).Nearly ten years after 9/11, the worst act of terrorism in American history continues to victimize our nation.  Researchers now say that male firefighters who were exposed to toxic dust and smoke from the World Trade Center attacks have a 19 percent higher risk of getting cancer.  Prior studies have also shown increased rates of post traumatic stress disorder, asthma, and respiratory illnesses among rescue workers.

How do we win the longest war America has ever fought?  Sun Tzu taught, "If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles."  What do we need to know about radical Muslims, and about ourselves?

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Paying $50,000 to tell the truth

Nate Smith (second from left) and his dad Pat Smith (second from right) after his amazing 89-foot hockey shot. (Credit: Brendan Burnett-Kurie / AP)
Honesty just cost a family $50,000.  Eleven-year-old Nate Smith shot a hockey puck 89 feet into a 3.5-inch hole in a board laid over the mouth of the goal.  For this remarkable feat, he won $50,000 from contest organizers.  However, his twin brother Nick was supposed to take the shot; his name was on the ticket that Nate used.

No one but the family knew.  They could have pocketed their money and kept their secret.  But their father, Pat Smith, chose instead to notify contest organizers.  The promoters then decided not to give the money to the Smith family, donating $40,000 instead to youth hockey leagues in Minnesota.

What was Pat's motivation?  He wanted to teach a lesson to his sons: "They learned that honesty is always the best policy, and you can never go wrong telling the truth."  His strategy apparently worked, as Nate responded, "Some people wouldn't tell the truth, so it's cool that we did."

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