Should American Atheists sue to have 'Cross of Ground Zero' removed?

The World Trade Centers contained thousands of steel crossbeams, some of which were left standing after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Construction worker Frank Silecchia located several of them in the rubble and called it a "miracle". He removed one and had it cut to more closely resemble a Latin cross.

Silecchia had the cross blessed by a Catholic priest, who obtained permission from New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to erect the cross on a concrete pedestal as a memorial. The cross was later moved to St. Peter's Church, which faces the future site of the 911 memorial.

It stayed put for ten years, then was moved back to the Ground Zero site as a "permanent" home in 2011, when it was again blessed by a Catholic priest in a brief religious ceremony, with former mayor Giuliani looking on. The cross has been there ever since, serving essentially a religious shrine where people often leave notes and jabber prayers.

Now it seems that American Atheists has had enough. They're suing to stop the 'Cross of Ground Zero' from being included as a permanent part of the National September 11 Memorial, a federally funded museum. Otherwise, they want a separate monument to the atheists who were killed in the attack.

What do you think? Should American Atheists be filing this lawsuit? Do you think it'll work? Why or why not?

Tags: 11, Cross, Ground, Memorial, National, September, Zero, of

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Absolutely. 911 was handled so wrongly that it isn't even funny, with us invading a sovereign, unprovoked nation, essentially to steal their oil. Plus what is a cross but a barbaric, medieval torture and murder device, used to make a martyr of a madman who condemned fig trees to death for not producing fruit.

Anything Atheists can do to bring to light the idiocy of organized religion, the better. I ran across this image earlier today of an atheist winning his rights and making his point at the same time.

Now who will be the first to try this on in America?

It was Eddie Castillo, a college student, Texan and Pastafarian, who struck the blow for the Flying Spaghetti Monster (praise his noodly goodness!) on American soil.

Surely the worst thing one can be, by Pastafarian lights, is an Atkins dieter.

"Otherwise, they want a separate monument to the atheists who were killed in the attack"

Even better, I want to see a Star and Crescent erected in perfect juxtaposition to the cross - not to support Islam but because a Star and Crescent would be more impossible for Christians to accept. They would take down the cross rather than agree to the international sign of Islam being displayed at ground zero.

Even better, I want to see a Star and Crescent erected in perfect juxtaposition to the cross - not to support Islam but because a Star and Crescent would be more impossible for Christians to accept. They would take down the cross rather than agree to the international sign of Islam being displayed at ground zero.

I don't think so. More likely the kangaroo on the New York Supreme Court who decides the case will manufacture some reason to include the Christian cross and exclude other displays. For instance, it has become popular among crackpot judges and legislators to allow Christian shrines on public property because they are "history" and thus secular, and therefore permissible.

On the Oklahoma State Capital's Ten Commandments monument:
“What will disqualify them has really nothing to do with Satan, as such. It’s that it has no historical significance for the State of Oklahoma,” said Rep. Wesselhoft. “The only reason why the Ten Commandments qualified is because at the Capitol, what we do is we make laws. We are lawmakers. Well, one of the earliest laws we have are the Ten Commandments. So therefore, it has historical significance.”

On the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capital:
"The Chief Justice [Roberts], Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Thomas, concluded that the Establishment Clause allows the display of a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the Texas State Capitol grounds. Reconciling the strong role played by religion and religious traditions throughout our Nation's history..."

On the statue of Jesus erected on federal land at Whitefish Mountain:
For many, [Judge] Christensen said, the statue is mostly “a historical reminder of those bygone days of sack lunches, ungroomed runs, rope tows, T-bars, leather ski boots and 210 cm. skis.”

So it goes.

In a perhaps ominous sign, a judge issued a similar ruling on the Cross of Ground Zero:
"Federal Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York ruled Thursday that display of the beams is permissible because they bear historical importance." [This is the ruling that American Atheists has appealed to a higher court.]

So that's how it works. Religious symbols and shrines aren't religious. Fuck no. They're historical. So they can exclude shrines to Islam, Hinduism and Satan, or a monument to the 500 irreligious who died in the 9/11 attacks, because these minority groups aren't part of "our history". The rest is a matter of getting the right crackpot judge to rubber stamp the whitewashing of the Constitution and grant "history" its special, privileged place.

In line with all this, it seems to me that an Islamic cause would be more likely to succeed that an atheist (or Satanist) one.

Interestingly enough, I live in a country where secularism is the norm and religion is of rapidly decreasing importance and the Prime Minister is gay. If a cross were to go up...say where there was a train crash near Brussels (there is a statue now I believe) ... I doubt most would care or even want to care. I wonder if this apathy is due to the minimal impact religious life has in public these days. Is the need to have a separate/equal atheist monument in this case, party motivated by the feeling of marginalisation and alienation that atheists in the US suffer?

Interestingly enough, I live in a country where secularism is the norm and religion is of rapidly decreasing importance and the Prime Minister is gay.

Davis, I so envy the secular norms you have in Belgium.

Is the need to have a separate/equal atheist monument in this case, party motivated by the feeling of marginalisation and alienation that atheists in the US suffer?

I have no doubt. The concern seems to be that the irreligious who lived and died on 9/11 will otherwise be written out of "history" due to that marginalization.

"I so envy the secular norms you have in Belgium."

Yes, the more stories of this ilk I read about American life, the more convinced I become that I need to disavow my American heritage and work harder to advance the existing progressive values and atheist skepticism of my real home - New Zealand.   Unfortunately the current right-of-center government here is rushing madly to become a better little brother to America, so I feel like I should be attacking the source of the poison.

"I live in a country where secularism is the norm and religion is of rapidly decreasing importance and the Prime Minister is gay."

Same except the former PM, Helen Clark (now #3 in the UN) is a declared atheist. I don't think she's gay, but I'm pretty sure her husband is. (Don't ask me how THAT works.)

To me that attitude is more dangerous than militant theism. The whole point is that, in American society the default position is that "this is a Christian country". This needs to change. Faced with the "oh-well" acceptance that that's the way it's always been, any substantive change will be impossible.

I completely agree.  If this is allowed to go on unchallenged, then what next?  It's the principle of separation of church and state that is being willfully ignored here - and that is the point. I say a federal case should be made out of it.

Mind you, when someone put up an article about this that showed up on my Facebook page, I didn't say anything.  People will not be able to separate their emotions from the law.  It should be fought in court where, at least in theory, all parties HAVE to consider the constitutionality of it, whether they like it or not.

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