World Trade Center cross can stay in 9/11 museum

NEW YORK. — A New York judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a group of atheists, ruling that a pair of World Trade Center beams in the shape of a cross can be included in a memorial museum of the 9/11 terror attacks.

A group called American Atheists filed the lawsuit in July, arguing that the “government enshrinement of the cross” was an impermissible mingling of church and state.

The World Trade Center cross, two intersecting steel beams that held up when the twin towers collapsed on September 11, 2001, is seen as iconic to some.
In 2011: Cross moved to permanent 9/11 Memorial site

The cross was moved in July from near a church to its new home at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, located at ground zero in Lower Manhattan.

Father Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest who ministered to workers clearing the area after the attacks, led a ceremonial blessing of the cross.

Federal Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York ruled Thursday that display of the beams is permissible because they bear historical importance.

Named defendants included the museum, New Jersey, the city of New York, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“The museum is gratified by the decision,” Mark Alcott, the lawyer for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, told CNN on Friday.

“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.

“For some of these people, [the cross] had symbolic significance,” he continued, referring to first responders. “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.”

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, told CNN, “We are angry that we have to have this fight.”

Silverman said it was clear that the cross was regarded as sacred, noting that it “was installed in a religious service on consecrated ground by a priest. How anyone could say that is secular is beyond me.”

September 11 “affected all Americans, not just Christians,” Silverman continued. “We will not sit and let the 500 atheists who died on 9/11 go unnoticed.”

Silverman said his group plans to appeal the decision.

“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,” he said.

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5 comments

    • papo81585

      As they have every right to be. As do every other religion that does not have a cross to represent them. If you follow a Christian god you don’t have the right to impose your will on people who make there own choice to believe what they want to believe. When will people wake up and see that this isn’t just a christian world. There are Atheist, Agnostics, Theist, Deists, Jewish, Muslin, Buddhist, Hindi, Wicca, Satanist, and on and on. The founders saw that any public domain or government should never represent religion for the very purpose not alienate or oppress ones believe among many other resons. That’s the why Atheist are mad not because they want to oppress religion its because they feel oppressed by religion.

      • boomemphis

        How is having this in the museum oppressive? Does it forbid you from believing in what you want to believe in? No. Does this cross section of beams (one of thousands in the WTC structure, btw) create laws, impose regulations, or otherwise prevent you from participating in your chosen religion, choice to have no religion? No. How is it oppressive? Nothing is being forced here. All this is is an artifact that was deemed significantly important at the time by some in our grieving nation and to some of those working on the recovery of victims. I fully support the separation of church and state. I don’t think crosses or any other religious symbols should be at courthouses or government buildings where they serve the public. But this a museum, where most of the items would be completely worthless if they were not tied to one significant event in history. Some in our nation felt a strong tie to what they viewed as a symbol. Others feel it was nothing. Neither are right, neither are wrong. People like you need to learn how to differentiate between something that is truly oppressive and something that they personally find offensive due to their own personal qualms.

  • Carol Hoopes

    Anyone who objects to the artifact has a constitutional right to not visit that section of the museum. Oppression is forced-viewing that particular artifact is not compulsory, therefore ‘you don’t have the right to impose your will on other people’ is more reflective of the American Atheist’s position of banning an article from the museum altogether.

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