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Atheists Object to Cross Displayed at World Trade Center

Atheists Object to Cross Displayed at World Trade Center

In the latest protest by atheists against what they see as the unconstitutional encroachment of religious doctrine into the secular public sphere, the group American Atheists filed a lawsuit protesting the inclusion of a large cross at the memorial to the attacks on the World Trade Center.  The cross, made from two iron girders found in the rubble after 9/11, was moved last weekend to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  As it was moved, a Franciscan monk performed a ceremonial blessing of the cross.

American Atheists expressed their outrage that, in a memorial partially subsidized by tax dollars, a cross should be the only religious object included.

“We honor the dead and respect the families,” they wrote in a statement on their website, “which is why we will not allow the many Christians who died to get preferential representation over the many non-Christians who suffered the same fate. This was an attack against America, not Christianity, and Christianity’s does not deserve special placement just because THEY think the girders look like their religious symbol.”

In the complaint, which names, among others, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the priest who blessed the cross, American Atheists point out that people of many different faiths died in the attacks.  According to the lawsuit, the cross was originally blessed by the priest, who ministered to workers clearing the site after the attacks, in response to the workers’ belief that the cross was “a sign that God never abandoned us at Ground Zero.”  Naturally, some are asking: whose God are we talking about?

Although the atheists’ “us vs. them” rhetoric leaves something to be desired, their point is fair.  If the creators of the 9/11 Memorial truly want to honor the dead, they can’t include only one religious symbol, even if it was recovered from the wreckage.  It might require a little creativity to come up with appropriate tributes to the faith traditions (or lack thereof) of the many people who lost their lives in the attacks – but then again, perhaps it would be best simply not to include the cross at all.

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Photo from Ross2085 via flickr.

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1:19PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

How stupid is that? So now we should ban all the churches or cathedrals or cemeteries for displaying the cross, just because the atheists don't like it?

4:36PM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Lisa M, are you unable to "believe" unless you have a cross in front of you? If your answer is "no", then your argument is moot. Not having a cross at the memorial site won't affect your right to believe.

4:32PM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Lisa, you do NOT have the right to use government funds, even in part, to erect a religious symbol of ANY type.

Sorry, your love of your fictional Lord doesn't give you a free pass around the LAW of the country you live in. Render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser's and all that.

4:18PM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

I love the Lord and I say if you don't like the cross and what it stands for then do not look. You have your right not to believe, and we have our right to believe. God bless

12:30PM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

Religion was THE leading cause of the 9/11 tragedy. It should NOT have any place in a memorial to its victims.

11:41AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

Obviously, if you choose religious symbolism, you should be as inclusive as possible. Several hundred Moslems died in the attack, as did a number of Jews and, no doubt, a number of athiests and agnostics. It is extremely important to help people see that America is not (I hope) engaged in a crusade against Islam.

6:51AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

Judy, only you can shut your god out of your life. The actions of others should be immaterial in that respect.

6:25AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011


6:24AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011


1:17PM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

Good heavens, fellow atheists/agnostics. Jo C is showing her respect and pride for faiths. Arrest her! Since we can't allow that.

Bull. No one is saying that any individual shouldn't be able to show "respect" and "pride" for their faith. Just don't ask the taxpayer to pay for whatever you use to show that "respect" and "pride".

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