The Associated Press (AP) is reporting an American atheist group has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order the removal of a cross-shaped steel beam at the 9/11 memorial in New York or request that other religions and nonreligious views be equally represented.
The controversial cross was found amid the wreckage by a construction worker who said he stumbled onto a miracle. It was last weekend moved to the Ground Zero memorial – due to open on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in September – after a blessing by a Catholic priest. It’s to become part of the permanent collection of a 9/11 museum opening next year.
Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, the group filing the lawsuit, said its main concern was equality. He said 9/11 was an American tragedy, “but the Christian community has secured sole representation in the memorial for itself at the exclusion of other religions and philosophies.”
He added: “What we’re looking for is a remedy that honors everyone equally, with a religion-neutral display, or display of equal size and prominence.” Silverman said American Atheists has offered to pay for such a display and has several ideas to represent all religions – such as a firefighter carrying out a victim.
Would that be an atheist fire fighter carrying out an atheist victim? How would we know if either was atheist? Do we know if there were atheists killed during the attack on 9-11? Do we know if any firefighters responding were atheist? Will such a statue have anywhere on its person the Maltese cross – symbol firefighters were wearing on 9-11 – which is a Christian symbol?
Museum officials said the cross was being displayed not because of its religious value but the role it played in the aftermath of the attacks.
“The mission of the National September 11 Memorial Museum is to tell the history of 9/11 through historic artifacts like the World Trade Center cross. This steel remnant became a symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero, as well as for people around the world,” museum president Joe Daniels said in a statement.
So, then the cross “being a symbol of spiritual comfort” makes it being displayed “not because of its religious value” how? That’s being rather anserous. Of course it’s being displayed for its religious significance, and oh by the way Joe, there’s nothing wrong with that. The cross was a symbol of comfort to those working at Ground Zero in the days, weeks and months following 9-11, and it should be part of any permanent memorial. Atheists get no comfort from it? Fine, but don’t deny others the right to do so.
OK, I guess my main question would be, why do we always have to have atheists protesting any time someone puts a cross up? If the American Atheists want a special spot at Ground Zero free from religious symbolism I’m sure an appropriately empty piece of ground can be given to them where nothing is placed; it can just be left empty. They can go and stare at it anytime they like. But please, they’re insistence that everything needs to “God free” and of not having a cross there – one that was found in the wreckage, and that brought hope and comfort – is as ludicrous as right wing uber-conservative Christians insisting Ground Zero is “holy ground” and has to be “Islamic free”. Both are wrong. Both need to be more tolerant.