American Atheists have filed a lawsuit challenging a recent addition to the 9/11 memorial in New York. A piece of rubble from the World Trade Center terrorist attack that is in the shape of a cross. The suit has generated a lot of “bad” press from the media, death threats, and other nasty messages from the “peace and love” Christians. Some freethinkers and seculars might be complaining about picking this fight but I admire American Atheist for standing up for what they believe. I think they have a good case and so do the directors of the memorial.
The “cross” was found in the debris and then worshiped in the following days by believers working the site of the tragedy.
Prior to installation in the Museum, Father Brian Jordan blessed the cross during a ceremony this morning at Zuccotti Park, near the World Trade Center site, where hundreds of recovery workers and their families gathered. Father Jordan, a Franciscan priest who had been ministering to workers and blessing human remains recovered at the site, comforted rescue and recovery workers after the 9/11 attacks. Throughout the recovery period, Jordan spent Sunday after Sunday holding mass and offering communion at the base of the cross.
After the blessing at Zuccotti Park, the cross was transported onto the WTC site and lowered into its permanent setting inside the Museum, which will open to the public in 2012.
We’ve seen this before such in the Mt. Soledad lawsuit and the court case over the crosses used in Utah to memorialize fallen state troopers, believers try to cast the symbol as only generic – that it represents everyone.
The “cross” is not a generic symbol and the action before the WTC “cross” was moved to the memorial proves that it isn’t generic or just a symbol of faith and hope.
The reason American Atheists filed suit is because the land it sits on is owned by the Port Authority (a city/state agency) and some of the funding for the memorial is from tax dollars. Having the “cross” as the only symbol representing the people affected by the 9/11 attack is both establishing a state religion and is arrogant.
As American Atheists state:
However, according to our calculations, between 15 and 33% of the people who died in 9/11 were atheists. That’s far more than those who were Jewish and Muslim, combined, so they’ve just strengthened our case….
Equality doesn’t mean bringing in one other religion and calling it over. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists died on 9/11, and bringing in just Christians and Jews to have prominent symbols is just adding insult to injury. We demand recognition of those atheists who died, if the Christians and Jews get such recognition as well. Otherwise, it all has to go, and we will have a dignified religion-neutral memorial.
The memorial directors saw they had a problem and “allowed” the addition of a Jewish symbol, but that doesn’t solve their legal problem.
The lawsuit has also generated an up tick in nasty e-mails and death threats on Facebook.
Seems like Christian Privilege is more like the demon in the movie “The Exorcist”.
Not every believer hates the lawsuit:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the right of a group of atheists to file a lawsuit to block the return of a cross made of steel beams to the World Trade Center memorial, the New York Post reported Saturday.
Bloomberg said that nonbelievers have rights, too. “You’ve got to be careful in criticizing people. Number one, they have a right to sue, and we’ll see what the judge says.”
“This group of atheists, they’re free in our country to not believe and not practice, and we should defend their right to do that, just as we should defend individuals’ rights to practice and to believe,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show Friday.
Unlike some others who otherwise support church/state separation, I welcome the lawsuit. We need to challenge any attempt to ignore the wall between church and state.