In an effort to gain consideration for other religious sects, the American Atheists have demanded that a cross-like beam from the World Trade Center be removed from its intended spot in the new September 11 Museum.
The Museum, still under construction, will not open until next year. Already displayed on the site is a 17-foot-tall beam in the shape of a cross that fell to the ground in the aftermath of that devastating day.
Christians and non-Christians alike have taken that beam to be a symbol of hope and renewal. It had resided at St. Peter’s Church until just recently, when, after being blessed by a Catholic priest, it was transported this week to its new home in the 9/11 Museum at the World Trade Center site.
The atheist group, along with four individuals, are now suing the states of New York and New Jersey, in an effort to gain some sympathy for their cause. They believe that the cross pays homage solely to the Christians who were murdered on September 11, 2001, and are seeking recognition for other faiths that were affected by the attacks.
The suit argues that because the museum is partly government-funded (millions of dollars in federal loans have gone into the site), the inclusion of the metal cross is a clear violation of church and state.
President of the American Atheists David Silverman is quoted as caustically saying:
“The WTC cross has become a Christian icon. 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.”
Joe Daniels, President of the 9/11 Museum, retaliated earlier today, stating in an interview with Fox News:
“It provides comfort and its an important artifact that we need to have… It’s [Silverman’s words are] offensive…The people that died on that day were of all faiths. The people that helped in the recovery effort were of all faiths. And this cross provided comfort to everyone regardless of their religion… We feel so confident that this artifact tells such an important part of what happened.”
A poll by the Daily News, open on their website, notes that 80% of readers are ok with the fact that the cross is visible in the museum, noting it as an important artifact essential to to the memory of that day. As of 8:30pm on Friday night, only 17% of readers felt the cross should be removed from the site.
The 9/11 Memorial is set to open ten years to the day, this year. The Museum will open the following year. Much controversy has surrounded the construction of the memorial site over the years, this being just one of many arguments.
What do you think? Are you offended by the “cross” on such a historic site? Or are you comforted by it? Do you see this as a solely Christian symbol? Should there be another form of recognition for other faiths, despite the fact that every single person killed in the attacks will have a personal history displayed on the walls, and hundreds of other debris and artifacts from the site will be shown? Let us know by commenting in the space below.