American Atheists risks bad PR to challenge World Trade Center “cross”

Two beams from World Trade Center that formed a cross

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.

‘WTC Cross’ is Installed in 9/11 Memorial Museum (Updated)

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.

On the Cross case

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.

Bloomberg Defends Atheists In 9/11 Cross Spat

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.


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  1. sbj1964
    July 31, 2011

    Thanks Doug another excellent Post ! All the people who died at the hands of religious fanatics on 911 should be honored with they're own symbol; that being a new age of reason free from the hatred of the faithful, be they Muslim ,Christian ,Jew,or any of a million other ancient gods of hate.Time for Mankind to leave behind us the silliness of our ignorant bronze age past,and become what we were meant to be . Men & Women lifted from bended knee arise ,and declare your Freedom from Ignorance ,Superstition,and Fear !

    • August 1, 2011

      While I support the lawsuit I am also a "all or none" supporter when it comes to these symbol fights. Either allow them all or ban them all.

      Comedian Bill Hicks had a great bit where he compared people wearing crosses to people wearing rifles as a symbol of remembering JFK

  2. sbj1964
    August 1, 2011

    I love Bill Hicks he was so talented,a shame he is gone .

  3. fester60613
    August 3, 2011

    It's very bad PR to sue over this issue that is so fraught with horror and loss. But that's what many have come to expect from AA. They're languishing in the era of O'Hair – and make the rest of us look foolish. If anything, we should encourage symbols of ALL FAITHS and NON-Faiths. Why can't the big red "A" of Atheism be present also?

    • August 3, 2011

      Bad PR? When have atheists ever enjoyed good public relations in Christian privileged America? In the words of Bob Dylan, "when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose".

  4. sbj1964
    August 7, 2011

    Well Doug you called it right on the money ! Bad PR for Atheist challenging the world trade center cross. Came in the satirical humor of John Stewart's The daily show last week ! He was quite effective at making Atheist look like dick's. For the law suit filed . Good call ! Any stock tips ? Come on it's like you know the future ! That's right people Dougstradomus ! Seer of the Atheist . No really good call ! " No need to say you heard it here first ." Damn your good !

    • August 7, 2011

      I love Jon Stewart but he was wrong on this one even if it was funny joke wise. He asked why atheists would care and he made David Silverman's factual comments look bad.

      Stewart missed and ignored the facts of the lawsuit that AA wants all people represented and not just Christians and Jews.

  5. sbj1964
    August 7, 2011

    Still it stung coming form him. You called it he like Domino's delivered . Have a great week Doug ! Cant wait to read your next Quatrain I mean post ! LOL

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