Atheists: 9/11 not a Christian tragedy

Father Brian Jordan leads a procession following the cross to its temporary home, St. Peter's Church, in 2006.

The National September 11 Museum has its cross to bear.

A national atheist group filed a suit Monday over the decision to place the “Ground Zero Cross” inside the hallowed halls of the museum.

“The WTC cross has become a Christian icon,” said Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists.
“As a public accommodation, the memorial must allow us [and all other religious philosophies] to include our own display of equal size inside the museum, or not include the cross.”

“Equality is an all-or-nothing deal,” he added. Silverman says the cross placement violates the U.S. Constitution, specifically the separation of church and state.

Earlier this month, a group called New York City Atheists was similarly outraged when a street in Red Hook was named “Seven in Heaven Way” for the members of Engine Co. 202 who died responding to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

“It endorses an idea of the afterlife, which is a part of the Christian religion,” said Jane Everhart, an Upper East Side resident and member of the group.

NYC Atheists agree that the Ground Zero cross should either be removed or all religions need to be represented at the museum.

But a spokesman for the museum argued that the cross was not “chosen” based on its religious affiliation, but that it was taken from the site and the memorial is simply returning it.

A Bible fused to a steel beam and a Star of David molded from the rubble of the fallen towers are also slated to appear in the museum.

“Christianity has deified this piece of rubble,” Silverman retorted.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro


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