Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Atheists Sue to Remove Christ from 9/11 Memorial

Atheists have sued to prevent cross-shaped steel girders from the destroyed World Trade Center towers from being included in the official Sept. 11 memorial, saying the religious symbol is unconstitutional because its gives "preferential representation" to Christians who died in the 2001 terror attacks.

UPDATE 9/7/11: 9/11 Cross Proposed as National Monument

UPDATE 8/26/11: Clergy & Prayer Banned From 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Memorial

-- From "Atheist group sues over cross at Sept. 11 museum" by Colleen Long, Associated Press 7/27/11

The American Atheists filed the suit in Manhattan State Supreme Court on Wednesday. The group says the museum is a public institution and should not reflect a specific religion. It asks for a judge to either order the cross removed or order that other religions be represented equally.

Memorial President Joe Daniels says the museum's mission is to tell the history of Sept. 11 through artifacts like the cross.

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From "Atheists sue to block 'WTC cross' from 9/11 memorial" by Michael Winter, USA TODAY 7/27/11

Workers found the broken, 17-foot-tall cross-shaped beams two days after the attacks, and they became known as the "World Trade Center cross." Saturday, the rusted cross was moved from its temporary home near St. Peter's Church and lowered into its permanent place inside the museum, which is under construction. A Catholic priest gave it a ceremonial blessing.

According to the lawsuit, among the 2,792 people killed in the twin towers, 31 were Muslim Americans, approximately 400 to 500 were Jewish Americans, approximately 500 were non-religious Americans, and an unknown number were Americans of other faiths.

In a statement to ABCNews, the memorial foundation identified the cross as a "symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero," as well as an "authentic physical reminder" that "tell[s] the story of 9/11 in a way nothing else can."

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From "Atheist Group's Case Against 9/11 Cross 'Sad and Misguided'" by Nicola Menzie, Christian Post Contributor 7/27/11

“The attempt to remove the cross is another sad and misguided example of incessant efforts to remove all religious symbols from public life,” [Congressman J. Randy Forbes, representing Virginia’s Fourth District and also co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus] said. “To remove this cross, a physical part of the history of that tragic day, would be an insult to the many who found solace in its symbolism.”

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) also insist that the cross’s placement in the museum is legally sound, and claim that the American Atheists’ lawsuit “is completely out of step with the Constitution.”

“One atheist group’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifice made by the heroes of 9/11,” said ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione in a statement on the group’s website. “A cross like this one simply does not amount to a government establishment of religion under either the U.S. Constitution or the New York Constitution.”

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