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American Atheists sue over cross at 9-11 MemorialPosted Monday, August 1, 2011, at 4:01 PM
As we draw closer to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, many ways of remembering this tragic day are popping up. We in Le Mars were able to see the humongous flag on its way to 9/11, next week Cherokee is having a Veteran's celebration honoring 9-11 and probably the most prominent of all is the creation and opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.
According to the Memorial & Museum president, Joe Daniels, his mission is twofold to create a Memorial at the very site of the attacks, where people will come to honor those who died on September 11 and reflect on the compassion and humanity evidenced in the aftermath of the attack, and to create a Memorial Museum where people will not only examine "what happened" on 9/11, but also the questions of "why" and "what does this mean for our future?" Collectively, the Memorial & Museum will remind us of the powerful and binding connection we share with one another. A connection that eclipses politics, race, economic class, and geography."
However, even though Mr. Daniels believes this memorial will provide a connection "that exclipses politics, race, economic class, and geograhy," it seems like the odds are already against him. A group identified as American Atheists have filed a lawsuit claiming the inclusion of the cross-shaped steel beams promotes Christianity over all other religions on public property and diminishes the civil rights of non-Christians.
I will insert my disclaimer into this article right now saying that yes, I am a Christian and yes, I am affronted by this lawsuit. The piece of wreckage in question is a T-joint that was found by Frank Silecchia, who said he came across it on the morning of Sept. 13, 2011, after digging three bodies out from the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. "I was overwhelmed with the image of my faith... It brought me to tears and to my knees," said Silecchia, who was working with the New York City Fire Department that day.
Silecchia believes that the World Trade Center cross is "not just a symbol of faith, but also a symbol of our freedom." He also views the cross as a natural artifact from the Ground Zero site. But Jane Everhart, who is part of the atheist's suit, called the cross an "ugly piece of wreckage" that "does not represent anything ... but horror and death."
First of all, in technicality, the cross in Christianity is a representation of horror and death also. The horror that the "mob" killed Jesus in such a horrific way and of course the death is of Jesus. But the cross is also enlightening, because us Christians know that Jesus died to free us from our sins so that we may go to heaven and be with him some day. In a place where there was so much destruction and death, that anybody could find hope is amazing in itself.
Secondly, yes, the cross is made out of a t-joint of which the World Trade Center buildings were full of. However it was this particular joint that Frank Silecchia was inspired by after finding three dead bodies and it is this joint that has been sitting near St. Peter's Church in New York City until its inclusion inside the museum.
Dave Silverman, American Atheists president, says that if the 9/11 Memorial foundation allows all other religious memorials of equal size and prominence to be displayed in the museum, the group would "happily, happily, drop the case." However the 9/11 Memorial foundation has listed other artifacts such as a Star of David and a Jewish prayer shawl will also be displayed. And what do you use to display a religion that in its very definition, is not a religion? Mr. Silverman suggested at atom or an American flag, which, as far as the flag is concerned, I'm sure will already have a place in this museum.
And for all those people who claim it is against their constitutional right to have this cross in this museum, I have the following to say: First of all the consitution does not guarantee you separation of church and state. What it does say is that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. What does this mean? It means there will be now law for or against which religion you can be part of, so yes you are more than free to be aethist. However they can make now law excluding or including any part of your religion in a museum or otherwise.
Next is the fact that as far as I could find, even though the museum is called the "National" 9-11 Memorial and Museum, it looks like its money so far has been from donations. Therefore it can be argued that the memorial is not a place of government and would not fall under any separation of church and state, even if there were any such constitutional right. It is the right of the board to see how this museum should take shape. Maybe if the atheists donated some money or bought a brick they could just as easily get their message across.
In summary, I don't have a problem with people being atheists, they are free to do as they wish and provide diversity in our nation. I do have a problem with them not letting other religions practice as they wish, and the t-joint cross is just an extension of this. It's their way to get national attention an assert their authority. I mean, honestly, what's next, they sue the holocaust museum because not everybody that died in the holocaust was Jewish?
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I started blogging about my fun experiencing parenthood and have found it has evolved into more than just parenting - its an observation of life as we know it. I'm a bystander in this country just as we all are, and sometimes, opinions just need to be said without fear of being burnt at the stake.