BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: The Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan were U.S. responses to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on 9/11/01 -- two years ago. All that has had a major impact on U.S. opinion. A new report from the Pew Research Center asks if the world is more dangerous than it was ten years ago. Seventy-five percent say yes. This is up from 53 percent who said it was more dangerous just before September of 2001. Also, asked whether occasional terrorism will be part of life in the future, 74 percent now say yes. This week, Kim Lawton went to New York to prepare a special report on the lingering effects of 9/11: the feelings of vulnerability and the grieving that will not -- perhaps should not -- go away.
KIM LAWTON: There's not much to see at ground zero these days -- a gaping construction site that locals call "the pit." Still, thousands of tourists visit the site every day. In the surrounding neighborhoods, many New Yorkers say they're tired of dwelling on the events of 9/11. But religious leaders here say the lingering impact is inescapable.
Rev. DANIEL PAUL MATTHEWS (Trinity Church Wall Street): Superficially, yes, it looks like New York is doing pretty well. And it is -- on one level. But not in the depth of our soul. We still grieve deeply.
LAWTON: Religion professor Edward Linenthal has studied the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. He says New York -- and the entire nation -- should not too quickly dismiss 9/11's continuing spiritual effects.
EDWARD LINENTHAL (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh): September 11 will be unfinished for so many people. And we delude ourselves and try and create, I think, a dishonest and disrespectful narrative when we try and use these quasi-religious, pop psychology terms like "closure" and "healing process." I think the corrosive effects of these events -- I think that the toxic impact of these events are enduring.
LAWTON: Many New Yorkers say the recent blackout brought home all too clearly how raw those issues are.
Rev. MATTHEWS: For me, the blackout was terrifying. More than I would like to acknowledge. Running down those steps, telling everybody to get out of the building. It's still right on the surface with those of us who live in New York. And spiritually, we're still working through the fear.
LAWTON: The Reverend Daniel Paul Matthews is rector of the Episcopal Trinity Church Wall Street and its St. Paul's Chapel. St. Paul's is literally across the street from ground zero.
On September 11, the 300-year-old church and its cemetery were deluged by World Trade Center debris -- but they were unharmed. The front of St. Paul's became a spontaneous shrine, where people remembered the lost with pictures, prayers, and mementos. Inside, the chapel was a place of refuge, where rescue workers could take a nap, get some food or spiritual sustenance. Reverend Matthews says 9/11 has had a decisive spiritual impact, for good and for ill.
Rev. MATTHEWS: I think people have absolutely lost their faith over this issue -- "Where could God have been on September 11? Forget, forget, I'm out of here. My faith has gone." And there are plenty of people like that. On the other hand, faith was regained and recaptured and rekindled by an experience of self-giving that is what the authentic reality of religion is all about.
LAWTON: Alessandra Pena was one of the church volunteers. She says her faith grew dramatically because of her experience on what she calls the "pile of rubble."
ALESSANDRA PENA (Church Volunteer): You smelled, you saw, you walked through; it was palpable, the extraordinary and completely senseless destruction that you saw. But in that same place, you also saw extraordinary, senseless acts of faith. People say, you know, "Didn't you wonder where God was?" And you know, I know exactly where he was. He was in that chapel and he was out there on the pile.
LAWTON: Across the river in Brooklyn Heights, Gail Singer says she still wrestles with the implications of 9/11. But practicing her Jewish faith has sustained her.
GAIL SINGER: I did question God. But I came to services. And I remember talking to the rabbi about it. And I said, "How can we be here? How do you go on?" And you do. And I think coming together as a people really helped us go on. I don't know that there's an answer. Life won't be the same. But we'll be together.