A group of Atheists operating under the moniker “American Atheist” have filed suit to prevent cross-shaped steel girders from the World Trade Center towers from being incorporated in the official Sept. 11 memorial, saying the religious symbol is unconstitutional because it gives “preferential representation” to Christians who died in the 2001 terror attacks.
The 17-foot-tall cross-shaped beams were discovered 2 days after the attacks of 9-11, and were dubbed the “World Trade Center cross.” This past week the rusted cross was moved from its temporary home and placed in its final home inside the 9-11museum, currently under construction. The cross was blessed by a Catholic priest in October of 2001.
The American Atheists argue that use of the cross at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum breaches the 1st and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the New York State Constitution.
The lawsuit states, “Many of American Atheists’ members have seen the cross, either in person or on television, and are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not their own imposed upon them through the power of the state.” The group also stated that should the cross remain, a non-religious exhibit must be included.
2,792 people were killed in the twin towers, 31 were Muslim Americans, 400 to 500 were Jewish, approximately 500 were non-religious Americans, and an unknown number were Americans of other faiths.
The memorial foundation told ABC News that the cross is 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.”
American Atheists stated that “No other religions or philosophies will be honored.”
Had the suit been filed by Muslim Americans, or Jewish Americans, perhaps some credence to the suit might be warranted; yet a group that has avowed their objection to any symbol of religion noting the status of other religions is beyond a stretch. Had a Jewish been included in the museum the Atheists would be just as opposed. The truth that the American Atheists won’t admit is that any symbol of any religion is repulsive to them; taking on the argument that including a Christian symbol somehow shows a preference to a particular religion a preposterous.
The National September 11th Memorial and Museum will be filled with exhibits that have nothing to do with religion and the American Atheists are quite aware of this. The inclusion of a single symbol that meant so much to those that had to face the aftermath of the most devastating attack on the U.S. homeland is neither an offense against other religions nor those who choose to believe in nothing.
The 1st amendment to the constitution prohibits the making of any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” and the 14th amendment, specifically the “equal protections” clause, directs that all laws shall be applied equally to all people.
Placing a cross found at Ground Zero into a museum cannot be seen as establishing a religion. Simply displaying a religious symbol neither promotes nor attempts to create a state-sanctioned religion. There is no law directing the inclusion or exclusion of any religious symbol in the museum, including the cross. So why are our courts being polluted by this group? The short answer is anything that even remotely could be seen as religious in nature gives the American Atheists an opportunity to grab a few headlines. Their group is so inconsequential that most Americans don’t even realize they exist.
I dare say that the families of those who lost their lives at the Twin Towers who are not Christian aren’t the least offended by the addition of the cross in the museum and frankly their opinion and that of their Christian neighbors are much more important than that of some fringe group that chooses to live their lives without the benefit of faith. If there’s any justice in this world the court will fine the group for filing a frivolous lawsuit.