On Friday, a judge sided with New Yorkers and others around the country who believe that a steel cross that was formed when World Trade Center buildings collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001 should be included in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
American Atheists (AA), a secular group committed to church-state separatism, has long fought the presence of the symbol that is being included in an effort that remembers the lives lost during the nation’s most horrific terror attack.
Just days ago, a New York judge threw out the atheist group’s complaint, which argued that the cross was a violation of their rights and that it should not be present in the museum.
In an attempt to have it nixed from the exhibition, they waged the lawsuit last July against New Jersey, New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, CNN reports.
For now, they’ve lost, with a lawyer for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum calling the judge’s decision to throw out the complaint one that was gratifying to the museum.
“The plan has been to display this as one of hundreds and hundreds of artifacts … because it is part of the history of the recovery efforts after the 911 attacks,” explained attorney Mark Alcott. “For some of these people, [the cross] had symbolic significance. They treated it as a religious object and it gave them a great deal of comfort at a difficult time. The 9/11 museum is simply depicting what happened.”
AA President David Silverman is obviously less-than-content with the decision, vowing to fight on against the cross’ presence.
“We are angry that we have to have this fight,” he told CNN, arguing that the cross was installed for religious purposes and that it shouldn’t be considered a secular inclusion. “We are confident that we will eventually win this case and that cross will be removed, or atheists will be allowed to have our own symbol in there.”
In the official complaint, atheists argued that the 9/11 cross caused them physical and emotional pain.