Back in July of 2011, American Atheists filed a lawsuit to prevent a Christian cross from being installed at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York. On Good Friday, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts ruled that the obvious Christian cross was really a secular item. I don’t know who should be more angry with the decision, atheists who don’t have any symbol marking their dead at the site, or Christians who keep having their symbols deemed generic and secular.
Batts wrote that the cross and its accompanying panels of text “helps demonstrate how those at ground zero coped with the devastation they witnessed during the rescue and recovery effort.” She called its purpose “historical and secular” and noted that it will be housed at the museum in the “Finding Meaning at Ground Zero” section with placards explaining its meaning and the reason for its inclusion. It also will be surrounded by secular artifacts.
“No reasonable observer would view the artifact as endorsing Christianity,” the judge said. She added that the museum’s creators “have not advanced religion impermissibly, and the cross does not create excessive entanglement between the state and religion.” She said the plaintiffs also failed to allege any form of intentional discrimination or cite any adverse or unequal treatment on the basis of their religious beliefs.
No reasonable observer would view the steel beams forming a cross and blessed and prayed at every Sunday during the recovery period as endorsing Christianity? Really? What Bizarro world does that happen?
American Atheists’ President Dave Silverman said of the ruling. “This is a place where religion destroyed American lives. This is something all Americans must fight. This is injustice. What could possibly be more religious than a cross? The only thing would be a cross with the name ‘Jesus’ carved in it.”
The plaintiffs also failed to allege any form of intentional discrimination or cite any adverse or unequal treatment on the basis of their religious beliefs?? There are no items representing the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists who died on 9/11. I guess the only people who mattered that day were Christians and Jews. That is intentional discrimination.
Also why steel beams that formed a cross? Why not ones that formed an ‘A’ or and ‘X’? A cross is a Christian symbol and the management of the memorial are choosing one religious symbol at the expense of the other religions and atheists who had victims that day.
“It is our position that the cross is undoubtedly a religious symbol,” said Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director of American Atheists. “It does not belong in a publicly funded memorial unless other groups, including atheists, also have the equal right to display their respective symbols.”
American Atheists plan on appealing the ruling.