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?

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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.

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.

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?

"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.

Exactly. Let them have their torture symbol. It's a total nonsense piece of litigation and a complete waste of money that could be spent furthering atheists' causes (which this is not).

Even so, I suggest it is also a reminder of the absurd thinking that can come from religion - in the aftermath of an attack in which faith was involves, some people seemed to think that God had somehow arranged for there to be a piece of rubble in the shape of a cross as some sort of indication that everything was really alright. This cross should inspire pity and astonishment at the delusional state of such people.


Again I want to mention the base line. Currently it's not whether or not they can get away with oppressing non-Christians - it's HOW MUCH they're allowed to get away with. There is only one acceptable level of oppression - ZERO. They KNOW they're breaking the law. There are any number of subjects for a monument they could choose to honor the dead. Think about it. Why choose a cross? They continue pushing because it affects YOU. YOU get sick of it. YOU start opining that those atheists are continually picking on those poor Christians with all these petty suits. It's the Christians who are pressing forward with these "petty" infringements - NOT the atheists.

How about allowing a school to deny entrance to someone because he is black. Just ONE. Hell, the civil rights movement has done so much for the fight against racism. Why make a fuss about JUST ONE KID.

We should aim for a baseline, a default society wherein NO ONE is oppressed. More importantly we need to change societal norms so that those infringing the constitutional rights of others are spurned - not those defending them.

We have a problem in this country with a lot of long-established Christian symbology in this country.  Gallup pointed out that their strategy nowadays is to claim some infringement (e.g., Iin God We Trust on coins, or Under God in the pledge of allegience) is now of "historical significance."  Those arguments are far stronger (but still fundamentally immaterial) the longer the practice or symbol remains up. 

Xians howl louder the more well-established and traditional the infringement is, because trying to put things right--and return to a position of neutrality, where it should have been all along, looks like an actual attack, because we are perceived as taking away something that's been there all along.  Fence sitters will tend to object to the change too because it looks to them like the atheist is being aggressive in trying to fix a long-standing wrong.  It is the same psychology as is behind the fact that law says if someone trespasses on your property, cutting across it on the same path every day for years, you are not allowed to suddenly stop them from doing so--they now, believe it or not, have the right to continue to do so.  They will be butt hurt if after infringing on your rights for years and years, you say "fuck you, no more!!"  And the courts will back them up. (Adverse possession.)

The way to avoid this in the future is to nip this sort of shit in the bud, before it becomes a "oh, it's always been that way, why are you slapping us across the face like this" type of situation.


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