A group of atheists is up in arms over the display of a cross at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The World Trade Center memorial, which is intended to serve as a reminder of the tragic terror attack that occurred nearly 10 years ago, is scheduled to open on the event's 10th anniversary.
(Read what Meredith Jessup has to say about this legal challenge over on the blog.)
When the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001, two beams perfectly formed the cross, which many view as both symbolic and iconic. It is this object -- a steel cross -- that is perfect fodder for atheists and non-believers who do not wish to see any religious items included in the memorial.
According to American Atheists (the same organization that coordinated July 4 plane banners in cities across the nation), the cross' inclusion constitutes an "impermissible mingling of church and state." Despite some opposition, over the weekend, the controversial object was blessed and moved to its new location within the memorial. CNN has more:
The cross was moved Saturday from near a church to its new home at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. There was also ceremonial blessing of the cross in a service led by Father Brian Jordan, a Franciscan monk who ministered to workers clearing the area after the 9/11 attacks.
You can watch the blessing, below:
Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, believes that the cross has evolved beyond a mere symbol and that it has become a "Christian icon." He says:
"It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn't be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. It's a truly ridiculous assertion."
Of course, Joe Daniels, president of the 9/11 Memorial, doesn't agree. Rather than worrying about the religious connotations associated with the cross, he says that it is "an important part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the history of 9/11 in a way nothing else could."
Silverman's group, which filed the lawsuit this week in state court in New York, posted a copy of the legal document on its web site. Among those named in the complaint are the state of New Jersey, New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. On the organization's web site, the following is written:
We love this country, and our constitution. We honor the dead and respect the families, which is why we will not allow the many Christians who died get preferential representation over the many non-Christians who suffered the same fate. This was an attack against America, not Christianity, and Christianity...does not deserve special placement just because the girders look like their religious symbol.
With the memorial opening in a month and a half, the cross will surely be on display. The legal battle surrounding it, though, is far from over. American Atheists seem bent on pushing forward until the group's goal of a commemorative museum without the cross is recognized.