American Atheists presented their case before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals today. They argued that the WTC cross does not belong in a museum on government leased property.
The WTC cross, however, is considered an artifact of important significance. Two days after the terrorist attack on 9/11, construction workers found the 17-feet tall, 4,000 lbs cross-beam, standing tall among the destruction of the Twin Towers. The piece of debris became known as the World Trade Center Cross, and for many years, became a symbol representing hope amid despair. When the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation completed their 9/11 Memorial and Museum back in 2011, the WTC cross was one of the artifacts displayed.
However, atheists are trying to remove the WTC cross from the museum because it is an endorsement for Christianity. In a report on NBC New York, Edwin F. Kagin, a lawyer for the atheists group, said this about the cross:
[The cross] violates the First Amendment because atheists are not represented equally.
On the other hand, Joe Daniels, 9/11 memorial and museum president and CEO, said in a statement that the cross is historically significant and meaningful to the story of 9/11. He then would enforce this claim:
It belongs at this site, in the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and nowhere else. The cross embodies the story of the herculean efforts of the men and women who were on the front lines during the nine-month recovery effort after the 9/11 attacks on this country.
The argument is still going on as atheists continue to battle to remove the WTC cross from the museum. In general, the museum doesn’t need any more issues. Just recently, students threw trash inside the museum and said, “It was the right thing to do”, as initially reported here on The Inquisitr.
The support in this battle isn’t one sided though. According to the The Christian Post, the suit garnered much attention from various individuals and groups, including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of the museum.
“Though the museum is a private foundation making a private decision, the American Atheists alleged that no religious symbol should ever be allowed on property leased by the government.”
“Over and over again, groups like the American Atheists have tried removing all traces of religion from the public square. Now they want to go so far as scrubbing it from our nation’s history.”
Last March, federal Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the WTC cross. She said the the cross, and its accompanying panels of text, helps demonstrate how those at ground zero coped with the devastation they witnessed during the rescue and recovery effort. She continued on to say its purpose is both “historical and secular” and noted the cross is located in the “Finding Meaning at Ground Zero” section. There will be placards explaining its meaning and the reason for its inclusion. It will also will be surrounded by secular artifacts. Batts even had this to say as well:
No reasonable observer would view the artifact as endorsing Christianity. The museum’s creators have not advanced religion impermissibly, and the cross does not create excessive entanglement between the state and religion.
Finally, Batts included the plaintiffs failed to allege any form of intentional discrimination or cite any adverse or unequal treatment on the basis of the atheist’s religious beliefs.
[Images via 911encyclopedia.com and thisisrich.blogspot.com]