Summer fades into autumn, and with it the seasonal focus on ancient faith. Muslims fast for Ramadan, seeking mercy and forgiveness, closing the last day of the observance with prayer and celebration on Eid al-Fitr. Jews blow the shofar, with its piercing cry ringing in the New Year, first with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, when we nibble apples dipped in honey hoping for sweetness in the days ahead, and then the solemn fasting on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Glenn Beck leads an enormous rally on the Mall that resembles a revival meeting without the sawdust, with a political message appealing to religious diversity. He exhorts each man and woman in the crowd to meditate on the message of their religious leaders: "If it's Buddha, it's Buddha. If it's Moses, it's Moses. Jesus, he's my guy. Your guy might be different." Indeed.
We're coming up to the ninth anniversary of 9/11, a good time for reflection and remembrance of those slain in a terrorist assault against America. Terrorists show no regard for others and usually take a perverse pride in acting out of what they call faith.
They are not the first, nor will they be the last, to do evil in the name of religious zeal. The Islamists say they draw on Islam as their inspiration for killing, and spread fear and loathing of Muslims. A Gallup poll finds that 43 percent of Americans say they are prejudiced at least "a little" against Muslims.
Sometimes the fear becomes ugly. A Florida congregation of only 50 announces it will burn copies of the Koran to commemorate 9/11 and sets off riots in Islamic lands halfway around the world.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. forces trying to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan, correctly points out that burning a Koran "could endanger troops, and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan." Christian clerics have reminded the Florida pastor that such a stunt is hardly Christ-like and is not likely to lead anyone to the teachings of the man called the Prince of Peace.
Islam has become the religion of one-fifth of the world's population, and Muslims, with a high birthrate, may one day surpass Christianity, now the faith of a third of the world's population, as the dominant global faith. What kind of governments these Muslims create is crucial to the stability of the world, particularly as Muslim fanatics, a considerable part of the Islamic faith, have targeted the West as their mortal enemy.