September 11 memorial cross
A group of atheists is suing to have a memorial cross removed from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A group of atheists have filed a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds over a cross installed at the World Trade Center museum site in New York City. The group contends that a cross is a Christian symbol and installing one at a public memorial is alienating to people of other religions or no religion.

Religious symbol makes atheist groups cross

The American Atheists group is suing to have a cross removed from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, according to ABC. The group contends that the presence of the cross is inappropriate because it promotes Christianity over other religions on public property, which is a violation of the separation of church and state and disrespectful of the civil rights of people of other faiths or no faith at all.

The cross, which stands 17 feet tall, was found in the rubble at Ground Zero in its present form. It is composed of two steel I-beams joined in a “T” junction, made to resemble a Christian cross. The group said in a statement, according to USA Today, that the attacks were “against America, not Christianity.”

Museum balked at other monuments

The president of American Atheists, Dave Silverman, said the group contacted the museum and asked about putting a secular memorial and memorials for people of other faiths, alongside the cross. The request was not approved. Silverman was quoted as saying that he would “happily” withdraw the suit if the museum removed the cross or put up displays for people of other faiths or no faith in similar prominence. The museum is reportedly having a Star of David fashioned from steel found at Ground Zero that will be put on display, along with a Bible found in the wreckage that is to be fused to a piece of steel found in the rubble. The suit is seeking to have the cross removed or to compel the museum to place a secular or multi-faith memorial next to the cross that is displayed in the 9/11 museum.

Slate of litigation

Many polls indicate atheists in America are a minority, but the presence of people who don’t believe in a deity is controversial to some people. Thus, if any group of them sues to keep religion out of the public sphere, it garners attention. For instance, a lawsuit is being filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation against Texas governor Rick Perry for promoting a prayer rally. The organization contends that a governor promoting a religious event is a violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state, according to All Headline News. NYC Atheists, according to PIX 11, an independent television station in New York, are suing the city to get a street sign removed that says “Seven in Heaven Way.” The sign was placed on a city street to honor seven New York City firefighters that had been killed in the 9/11 attacks.



USA Today:

All Headline News:

PIX 11:,0,4370466.story

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