Atheist Lawsuit Against World Trade Center Cross Makes Me Want to Scream
One side claims a violation of the separation of church and state. The other believes the cross is an artifact and not a religious symbol. The fight rages on this September 11th.
September 10, 2012 - 9:00 am
Two days after September 11, 2001, a construction worker discovered amidst the rubble of one of the collapsed World Trade Center towers two intersecting steel beams that became known as the World Trade Center cross.
The cross immediately became a symbol of faith, comfort, and hope to the rescuers who presided over the massive recovery and to the nation at large.
The WTC cross is now considered an icon and currently stands as the emotional centerpiece of the National September 11 Memorial.
Until I started researching this piece, I was unaware that there was a movie produced in 2007 about the miraculous WTC cross. Here is the trailer of The Cross and the Towers by John Schneider.
Apparently those two offensive steel beams — which happened to collapse in the shape of a cross — are, according to Edwin Kagin, the group’s legal director, “a violation of both federal and New York law in that public funds will be used to establish the Christian religion on public land.”
Adding to that argument is the organization’s president, David Silverman, who describes the cross as “a clear instance of a violation of the separation of church and state in its extreme.”
If you visit the American Atheists web site, be sure to read their account of the legal fight. What I found especially exasperating is that the WTC cross is repeatedly referred to as “the girder set.”
Fortunately, this past August, officials at the 9/11 memorial museum started to fight back by taking the necessary legal steps to have the lawsuit thrown out of court. The museum’s argument is that it is an independent non-profit organization and not a government agency. But more importantly, “the cross is an artifact and not a religious symbol.”
Actually, one could argue that is it both and that that is precisely what makes the WTC cross so significant.
For this “girder set” became the national symbol of American patriotism, hope, and courage. The cross was the source of strength for millions around the nation (especially those on the ground). It helped them overcome adversity while representing the faith of our Founding Fathers.
Some would say it was pure coincidence that the “girder set” fell to the ground in the shape of the symbol that represents Christ’s suffering.
But many believe that the WTC cross was and still is a divine symbol sent to remind us that HE was in the rubble too, suffering and comforting us as only HE is capable of doing.
Regardless of what you think it meant then or means today, the WTC cross is under attack and must be defended.
While reading about the lawsuit, I was pleased to learn that the conservative American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), where a friend of mine is counsel, had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the WTC cross.
Colby M. May is director and senior counsel of the Washington office of the ACLJ, so I sent him an email asking for a quote about the lawsuit.
The following is Colby’s response. He clearly spells out the case and puts the American Atheists in their proper place. We can only hope that the presiding judge agrees that this case needs to be shredded and trashed.
On September 13, 2001, two days after the worst terrorist attacks in American history, New York City firefighter Frank Silecchia discovered two steel beams in the shape of a cross just after recovering three bodies from the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center. Silecchia told ABC News of his immediate reaction: “I was overwhelmed with the image of my faith… it brought me to tears and to my knees.” Silecchia was not alone in his reaction. Contemporaneous reports are unanimous in recording the immediate and profound effect that the cross had on first responders and rescue workers. This is why the cross is at the “historical exhibition” of the September 11 Memorial museum, where it chronicles not only the recovery and rescue efforts but how we understand “collective grief.” In short, Plaintiffs [American Atheists, Inc.] cannot dispute that the cross is an historical artifact of the September 11 attacks, they cannot dispute that it had significance to many first responders and others at Ground Zero, and they cannot dispute that historical artifacts – even religious artifacts – have long been placed in America’s public museums. Inclusion of the cross is constitutionally appropriate, and by no measure does it establish a state religion.
This September 11, the WTC cross is scheduled to be officially “presented” at the 9/11 memorial museum.
Of course, the American Atheists group is trying to block the presentation. So watch carefully how the mainstream media covers this controversy. Will the same media organizations, usually hostile to overt Christian symbols, now turn into defenders of the WTC cross?
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