9/11 Cross and Misconceptions

This is a guest post by Stef McGraw. Stef is a Junior at the University of Northern Iowa, and is a member of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers (UNIFI) .

After being discussed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show this past Thursday, it’s now more than just the atheist community debating the so-called “9/11 cross.” The controversy, for those who don’t know, is over whether or not two beams that formed a cross in the Ground Zero rubble should be displayed in the 9/11 Memorial Museum. American Atheists, led by Dave Silverman, has filed a lawsuit against the museum on the grounds that the symbol of one specific religion should not be displayed without the inclusion of the symbols of other religions and the nonreligious.

Like buzz around most hot-button issues, there is at least one misconception that is muddying the discussion and keeping it from being productive; in this case, it is the new location of the cross. People keep saying they don’t think it’s right for only a cross to be displayed at the memorial, but the fact of the matter is that it is not the memorial itself, but the memorial museum that will house the beams.

That’s a distinction that, at least for me, “makes or breaks” whether or not I support the cross being displayed. As laid out eloquently in a post by James Croft, the museum does not seek to support a particular viewpoint, but rather to do its best at documenting all that is relevant to the 9/11 attacks; a cross from the rubble that came to symbolize hope and comfort to many citizens is an important piece of history in the reactions to 9/11 and is therefore relevant, regardless of personal feelings about it.

I don’t disagree that if the cross were to be the sole religious symbol at the memorial itself, it would be disrespectful to those of other religions and the nonreligious. But that’s not the reality of the situation, and this fact should be recognized before standing behind the American Atheists in this cause.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://mamamara.wordpress.com/ Mara

    ::nods:: I’m as touchy as the next atheist on the subject of crosses, but I have to agree. The 9/11 cross seems a rather sad place for us to be making a stand.

    I might find Christian cross-worship a little silly, but this fight makes us look like a bunch of meanies without actually tackling any real issues of discrimination against atheists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.friel Aaron Friel

    The American Atheists pride themselves on fighting good fights that can be won, have been won, and have set good precedent.

    I fear this may not be any of those.

  • Treedweller

    Yes, I agree. This item could be displayed as an artifact of the towers. The fact that some people see it as a symbol of their religion is irrelevant.

  • @Tr2v

    I completely disagree. If it had been left as rubble and untouched, it’d be fine to be displayed as a relic. Since it was “blessed” by so-called holy men, it is a now religious and that is unacceptable. Since it is impossible to represent everyone’s religion, none should be represented. I fully support the American Atheists lawsuit.

    • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

      Does the “blessed” status awarded to it change its status as a historic artifact with regards to 9-11? Aren’t you giving the irrelevant ritual more power than its worth in this manner?

      • Anonymous

        I think  that is a really good point, but what if, as I think  Tr2v was getting at, the justification for an artifact’s significance is that “it was blessed.” (or, ok, “it was blessed and worshipped”) What if only 95% of the justification for entry is the blessing? 50%? I’m not trying to make a point, here, I’m curious.No matter about that: what about the inflation of significance itself?It seems to me the people inflating “blessed” significance are those using it to push their own shrine into history.

        • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

          I think this is a much simpler situation. Assume there aren’t people who view this as a step in their ongoing plan towards establishing a theocracy. There are, but lets put them aside for now. Was this artifact a part of the experience of a significant amount of people related to WTC? Then there is no reason it shouldn’t be in a museum relating the history of 9-11. The only way this should be a problem is if the museum is “officially” considered a religious shrine (I stress ‘officially’ because what people do on their own time is irrelevant).

          As long as religious worship is a part of our present, it will be a part of our history. From that angle, this suit could be seen as attempting to change history

          • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

            I agree that the cross was (and still is) important to a lot of people, and don’t doubt that as any historic fact. It is its present significance I find troubling. If you want to call it a “historic” artifact, then shouldn’t its cultural significance have to also be “historic?”

            Is it nothing but a historic artifact now? Is the cross no longer an object of worship? Was it a source of religious inspiration and emotional strength for 10 years, at which point it promptly ran out of spirit juice? We can probably agree our government museum shouldn’t house something actively worshiped by our people.

            This is my concern.

    • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

      That it was “blessed” is completely irrelevant.  Being “blessed” in no way changes anything about the artifact.  What changes it is how they present it.  If they present it as a sacred relic, then the government is promoting one religious relic as “official.”  If they just present it as a historical artifact, then that’s fine.  

      That it was “blessed” makes no difference because “blessing” is bullshit.

  • pureone

    Nothing says “Remember” like a instrument of torture.

    • Tom

      Correct. The Christian belief is that God’s Son died for our sins, and the cross reminds us of this. What is your belief?

  • Barb

    I’ve been looking & can’t find any reference online to a separate museum that will house only the beams.

    I did find that pieces of beam have been shipped to lots of cities for them to create their own 9/11 memorials, is that what you mean?

    • Barb

      I’ve just read the overview of the design & it doesn’t mention it either, just mentioning it because you frame this as being “make or break” in regards to your opinion.

      • Anonymous

        If you read my article you will see there is an actual image of the cross in the proposed historical exhibit and a quote from the museum officials saying it is in the museum. There is also a link to a video where the museum director says the same. I also spoke recently to the lawyer who is handling the case for American Atheists, Inc. He confirms that the beams are in the museum. This aspect of the case, at least, is indisputable.

  • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

    The real issue is going to be how it’s going to be displayed.  

    If it’s presented as nothing more than a historical artifact then I wouldn’t have a problem with it because it is a piece of the history of the event.  However, I imagine that the religious would take issue with that considering how it has been venerated.

    If it’s given a place of distinction beyond its historical significance then I would take issue with it.  I get the feeling that those who consider it to be a sign from their god expect that sort of treatment, though.

    To my mind the best option would be to keep the cross itself at the nearby church that has been housing it and allow it to remain a purely religious artifact but to have a recreation at the memorial museum to represent its historical significance.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Caswell/100000705227820 Amy Caswell

      I agree with you Tom. That way the religious can have their relic and the museum can talk about it without it becoming a place of worship.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Caswell/100000705227820 Amy Caswell

      I agree with you Tom. That way the religious can have their relic and the museum can talk about it without it becoming a place of worship.

  • http://www.bornagainyesterday.com Justin McKean

    I do not support American Atheists in this. We have to pick our battles more wisely. All Silverman is doing is making us all look like jerks. There is nothing good that can come of this lawsuit.

    The resources Silverman and AA are using to engage the suit could be being used to help out organizations like Charity: Water or to provide libraries with books or to help food drives or to do any number of other things that would accomplish something great and put the atheist label in a good light. But that’s not going to happen here.

    Instead, Silverman is going to win the suit, of course, but will lose the trust and good will of the population at large, making it that much more unlikely that those who sit on the religious fence will hop on over. Making it that much harder for atheists in places like Tulsa, where I live, to be heard without having to address the actions of AA first. Setting the entire cause back just to make a silly, silly point.

    We’re supposed to be the rational ones. Let’s be the grownups here. Drop the suit. Apologize. Shut up for six months or so and then come out swinging in a huge initiative to do a lot of measurable good in the lives of our neighbors.

    Or are we too emotional to pull that off?

    • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

      I understand what you’re saying, but what if they give the “cross” a position of honor at the memorial?  That is a legitimate issue, even if people don’t want to hear it or think about it.

      • http://www.bornagainyesterday.com Justin McKean

        “Daddy, why is there a big plus sign made of metal on the 9-11 memorial?”
        “Well, son, folks used to believe that there was a God watching over them.”
        “He didn’t do a very good job on 9-11, did he?”
        “No, son. No, he didn’t.”I say let ‘em cover it in neon, shine lights on it from space and erect it on a tower fifteen feet in the air. It doesn’t matter. There are religious symbols all over the most secular nations in the world. They harken back to a darker time, a more ignorant time. They’re not a big deal in the long term.What we have, as atheists, is a PR problem. We’re winning despite that, if you look at the polls. We’re the fastest growing “religious group” in the US! We’d be doing even better if we didn’t have folks like Silverman starting pointless fights.Let the Xians have their plus sign. We’ve got more important things to do. This lawsuit imbues the thing with meaning it simply doesn’t deserve.

        • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

          More important than the government using the cross as a symbol of our national despair when they construct a monument in honor of the most tragic attack on our nation in recent memory?

          I stand by the notion that if it’s presented as a piece of history, it’s fine but if it’s presented as a venerated symbol then it’s not OK.

          • http://www.bornagainyesterday.com Justin McKean

            Yes. Pretty much everything is more important than that.

            AA could donate the money used in the lawsuit to Doctors Without Borders on 9/11/11 in recognition of those who died and in hope for a more peaceful tomorrow. That would be way, way, way more important. Also, it’s far more effective at eroding the drive to revere religious symbols than deliberately making a martyr of one such symbol, which is exactly what Silverman is doing.

            • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

              Silverman is jumping the gun, but the fact remains that if they place that cross in a venerated position in a government memorial to 9/11 then they are not only violating the establishment cause, but they’re also pissing over the beliefs and non-beliefs of many people who were directly affected by the attacks on that day.

              Of course they could use the money for other things – but you could always say that.  How is that a valid argument?

              If they place the cross in a position of historical significance  that’s fine because it is historically significant.  But if it’s given a place of honor due to its religious symbolism, then that is crap and, quite honestly, I would be personally offended by it for a number of personal reasons.

            • Thesaintsrevenge

               It is not the mission of American Athiest, Inc. to be a charity organization. AAI is an organization fighting for Separation of Church and State. Once you recognize how organizations are filed under IRS Laws you will then realize why an organization must stay to its mission statement.

  • Dark Star

    Often not reported in these accounts, but according to Silverman they will drop the suit if equal access is given:

    “It’s an all or nothing deal. They can remove the cross, or they can let everybody else in. Either way is legal and we would drop the case,” Silverman said.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/atheists-sue-cross-world-trade-center-museum/story?id=14169830&page=2

    New York Civil Rights Act states: All persons within the jurisdiction of this state shall be entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any places of public accommodations, resort or amusement.

    The memorial did say they would include a Star of David and there is a Jewish prayer shawl (I don’t know the timing of those):

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/29/wtc-cross-9-11-atheist

    I agree the suit is a bit of a stretch and could have more negative consequences than positive for non-belief.  However, the Steward bit was pretty hilarious :)

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

    David Silverman is bringing back the ghost of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and that is fine by me. Atheists need more hate. We need this hatred to be seen in the open and not on a private basis.

  • Tracy Chu

    I agree with Justin McKean. We need to pick our battles, and suing 911 over some beams blessed by a holy man is not going to win us any friends. Enough people think we’re assholes as is. This is not really one of those fights I’d like to support to become a bigger asshole.

    Sure some idiot went and blessed the beams, but the reality is their blessing does not make the beams holy. They’re still just beams. 

  • Paul

    @ Justin and Tracy: I support the suit.  There may be nothing good that can come of this lawsuit in the short term, but in the long term, it’s one more opportunity to get people to understand what separation of church and state actually means.  If our position against these beams is right, then that must count for something.

    Putting atheists in a good light is a Good Thing to do.  So is this suit, for the long term.

    We should not evaluate every action we contemplate as to whether it will make us friends.  Making friends is a Good Thing, but it’s not the Only Thing.

    Can we support actions that have different goals, or must every action only serve one goal?

    • http://www.bornagainyesterday.com Justin McKean

      In the light of history, psychology, anthropology, sales, marketing and PR the lawsuit is ultimately a destructive act. It solves nothing. Folks will still want to do things like this. The solution is to remove the desire, not to attempt to legislate ethicality.

      Actions like this make conversations with those who disagree with us harder. We feel better but ultimately shot ourselves in the foot.

      Slavery wasn’t abolished until social pressures had made it unpopular to support it. Civil rights weren’t protected until social pressures made it unpopular to oppose civil rights. Unions were legally easy to start (to use a reverse example) until social pressures made them unpopular.

      Atheism will continue to grow more and more quickly in this nation when and only when social pressures grow that make it acceptable to be an atheist and unacceptable to be a believer. Lawsuits like this set back our efforts.

      • Paul

        Your are ignoring the effect of water dripping on a rock.  One drop does nothing as far as we can see, but the cumulative effect, over time, can be impressive.

        For instance, I’ve talked to and read about many atheists who have de-converted, and they said that, while no one argument with an atheist was decisive, over time all of them put together was crucial for their de-conversion.

        We may shoot ourselves in the foot in the short term, but in the long term its an investment.

        Can’t you imagine that the social pressures concerning slavery, civil rights, suffrage, etc., were themselves affected by just the sort of action as this lawsuit.  Some people will be hardened, but it also got others to start thinking, hearing our arguments, etc.

        • Anonymous

          The main problem here, though, is not that this is bad strategy (although it is). It is that the suit itself is wrong – there is no infringement on the separation between church and state when a religious artifact is placed in a historical exhibit in a museum.

          This is quite a different point to “pick your battles”.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QWQPKEAP3GDQ5TUFTRTRPHSC2U Paul Rinzler

            I agree, if there is no church/state issue.  I haven’t yet researched that, but I know where to start.

  • Sara

    If it weren’t a piece of the WTC, then I’d be against putting the cross up. But it is in fact a structure from there that has not been physically altered in any way. I still don’t see why they can’t put a different piece up, but the beam-cross doesn’t bother me that much.

  • Stephanie

    I disagree with protesting any artifacts being shown in a museum. If it’s historical in context, then it belongs whether or not there are religious overtones. By that logic, we should also get rid of all those Greek and Egyptian artifacts that relate to their mythologies, too.

    • Anonymous

      Those Greek and Egyptian artifacts were celebrated by their people without the support of a museum.

      Is this the WTC Museum, or the Whatever Christians Want to Define History As Museum? There are already plenty of those, but they’re called “churches.”

  • randall.morrison90

    Why is this blog still called, the “Friendly” Atheist.

    Mehta admitted to me some time ago that the name is not appropriate.

    • http://twitter.com/gordongoblin Gordon

      Hemant is still very friendly! The name “Doormat Atheist” would not be appropriate, but Friendly still is.

    • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

      Would you prefer “Somewhat Jaded by Christian Fascists But Still Mostly Friendly” Atheist?

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I’m not at all surprised by AA’s lawsuit. I was at a Skeptic’s conference today and a girl in the audience pointed out the possibility of extremist atheism after seeing David Silverman talk at the SSA conference and call activists soldiers in a war. Not sure of the validity of that, I can’t seem to find any info online of what David Silverman actually said at the SSA conference, but it sounds like something he’d say.

  • AtheistConnect

    You’re right, Hemant. I’ve been kind of torn on my own views about it, but I think this is a very valid point. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Apparently Neil DeGrasse Tyson is also on board with having the cross in the memorial/museum, as he explained very clearly on Real Time w/Bill Maher Overtime (this overtime segment is guest hosted by Seth McFarlin, making it absolutely awesome and hilarious)

    • Annie

      Great clip, Larry.  I was under the impression that the cross beam was found in the rubble, but if Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s account is correct, it was actually built from two beams by rescue workers.  I’m not sure if this has any effect on my position on this issue… still chewing on that…

    • http://atheistdad.wordpress.com/ Kevin Zimmerman

      Well if Neil DeGrasse Tyson is okay with it… I guess I don’t care so much if there’s a cross in the museum, and a lawsuit does seem frivolous. Thanks for posting the video. I liked how he said it’s a footnote symbol (officially called a “dagger” in typography). That’s a nice interpretation.

    • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

      Thank you so much for posting that clip. I get it now. It’s art made during the rescue. I’m with Dr. Tyson, then.  But it would help if it was publicized that way, rather than as a Jesus-on-the-toast miracle, which is how it initially sounded to me.

  • Dark Jaguar

    I posted about the street sign and not thinking that was too big a deal.  I compared it to museum exhibits.  Well, you can imagine my opinion on this then.

    It depends entirely on context.  In the same way creationism is acceptable to be taught as a mythology in a class on religions of the world in a public school, this cross seems acceptable as a historical item in a museum.  If creationism were taught as science, or this was presented as a sacred item valuable because it is religious, THAT would be crossing the line.

    This resonates with me far more than the street sign issue.  That was “mostly harmless” to me.  This however is a matter of historical information.  The FULL history should be  provided, at least as many important things as can fit in the space of the museum (there’s your window for a complaint I’ll consider by the way).  To put this up at the memorial itself would certainly be promoting a religion.  Even sticking a bunch of symbols from other religions would come across as half-hearted, since they would only be created in response to this cross.  No, the museum is not only an excellent compromise, it will inform future generations about how our generation chose to respond to this moment.  It should go no further, not describing the Jesus or proselytizing, but it SHOULD do that.  It’s an important part of history, a negative part if you ask me, but those are just as important, perhaps more so.  Future generations, assuming a purely factual description of what the cross was by the museum, will likely interpret it with a sense of irony.  This has been there a long time and was built rather quickly after the attack, thus earning it historical relevance (but not reverence).

    Protest how it is displayed if it comes across as promoting religion.  Protest using space for this instead of some other relic from the site you believe is more important.  However, do not by fiat protest this being in a museum at all just because it is religious.  That borders on censoring history, even whitewashing if you, like me, view this cross as ironic.

    • Annie

      Dark Jaguar-  your comment summed up my thoughts on this issue too.  For whatever reason, many people placed a value on this piece of rubble in the wake of a disaster.  To not include it would be censorship.  Our museums are full of idols and trinkets with religious significance.  I don’t see this as any different.

  • Sailor

    Suing is completely dumb. The cross is part of the history of 9/11 and so it should go in. Putting in other religious symbols is irrelevant unless they too were part of the history. If there were such symbols, and they were excluded, then there would be a case.

  • Spanish Inquisitor

    Display it as a piece of debris. Maybe upside down, or on its side or an a less than perpendicular angle. Do not identify it as a cross, but rather a jagged remnant of the supporting girders, and add some other surrounding debris (perhaps a dead body, or multiple pieces thereof?). THEN it would be an accurate representation of what was found after the building came down.

    Displaying it as a cross simply projects the wishful thinking of one, particular, coddled religion, and is offensive to those who are excluded. If it is a private museum built and maintained with private funds, display it with a huge halo over it, for all I care. But if my taxpayer funds are there, then it’s offensive to me to think that we should memorialize how the Christian god failed us on 9/11/2001.

    • Eperce

      “If you stand behind a lawsuit only because it is the popular view, I must question your devotion to The United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all. We must uphold our Constitution whenever it is violated. If this makes us unpopular, so be it and come what may, be it a flood of anger, hate and dislike from my own. That the future generations are secure is of far more concern than ever-changing likes that are here today and gone tomorrow.”

       

      - Ernest Perce V, Pennsylvania State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, interestingly, it IS being displayed among other debris. Look at the photo in my article – it’s pretty much as you describe (although it’s standing up as it was found).

  • TychaBrahe

    The people who attacked the WTC used their religion as an excuse on which to hang their hatreds and fears of a different culture.  By displaying a religious icon of a religion that has in the past been at odds against the terrorist’s religion, I think it creates the impression that this is a holy war, Muslims against Christians.

  • Andrew Somerville

    Great article. I’m an atheist, and I honestly don’t care if someone wants to put a cross in a museum or even on a memorial. Yes, I understand why “new” atheists don’t like it: because they want to live in a completely non-religious society. But if you ask me, going around suing people because they choose to display a religious symbol on a memorial is a huge step backwards. It reflects badly on all atheists, because to ordinary people it looks exactly like religious intolerance. That’s something most people, regardless of their religion, strongly believe is immoral. And I would agree with them. 

    In my opinion if atheists are ever going to gain widespread support, we’re going to have to stop acting like ass holes in the eyes of the public. This is exactly why I try not to associate myself with the new atheist movement anymore.  Atheism is a personal choice, and if we feel the need to sue the 9/11 memorial, I think we’re almost certainly barking up the wrong tree. 

  • Randall Morrison90

    I love the smell of atheists bashing each other in the morning

  • Anonymous

    As I’ve kept up on this story, I’ve kept in mind my ultra-religious, Bible-believing Christian parents – would I be able to convince THEM that this memorial is wrong? Or would I just offend them right off the bat and destroy any hope for future discourse?

    I realize that my parents are only one breed of Christians, but I think they’d fall in the latter category. I think religion is doing significantly more harm via advocating creationism in schools, which is a MUCH less emotional and more cut-and-dried issue than the 9-11 memorial.

    In addition, Silverman has kind of made an ass of himself with some of the comments he’s made; they make sense to us atheists, but to Christians/the general public they come off as sounding incredibly judgmental. 

    We don’t need major, national recognition that is going to pigeonhole us as angry, unreasonable people. I agree with the lawsuit in theory, but I object to the methods in practice.

  • Anonymous

    I have quite a few issues with the 9/11 Cross. I wrote two articles on why I oppose it:
    9/11 Cross: In opposition – http://exm.nr/pTMmGE
    ’9/11 Cross’ turns museum into church – http://exm.nr/nOxe4Z

    • Anonymous Atheist

      Great articles. A lot (just about all, really) of reporting about this has not been getting the full story out. Everyone should watch this video from the American Atheists TV show, posted a couple days ago, to get a better understanding of their motivations: http://vimeo.com/27347757

      • Anonymous

        I’m afraid this video is filled with many unevidenced claims, appalling misinformation and what I consider to be an unfortunate diatribe about Jewish people and their willingness to be seen as a “token”.

        Silverman consistently refers to the “Memorial” as the site of the cross, which at the very least is misleading, when it is in fact being housed in the “Memorial Museum” (which, as I’ve argued, makes a big difference).

        Silverman claims ground at the Museum was sanctified to house the cross. I can find no evidence to support this (although a blessing ceremony was conducted on public ground BEFORE the cross entered the site). 

        Silverman claims the option to donate stuff to the museum is a recent invention in response to the lawsuit. The Museum has in fact solicited donations through its website for some time. Link:http://www.911memorial.org/help-build-collection

        Silverman claims the inclusion of a Star of David in the exhibit was a knee-jerk response to the lawsuit. I cannot substantiate this claim and he provides no evidence for it.

        I am now very skeptical of claims made by AA regarding this issue.

    • http://twitter.com/JFLCroft James Croft

      I’ve read both your articles. All the arguments you present are answered comprehensively in my two pieces in the topic. The oft-heard refrain from this opposing the cross – “The only reason this cross beam is being pushed into this museum is because it is an object of worship” – is worth countering again:

      It doesn’t matter.

      The fact that the cross has religious significance for some means that it has cultural significance. It doesn’t matter that the only reason it has historical and cultural significance is because of its religious character – religious artifacts are very frequently displayed in museums. Artifacts which are aretifacts only because if their religious significance.

      Just because the reason for an object’s veneration is religious doesn’t mean it can’t have historical and cultural value beyond its religious value.

      • Anonymous

        I think I addressed that in the second article. The sheer size of this artifact and the exclusion of artifacts from other traditions cements the impression of a religious endorsement. This artifact cannot be displayed neutrally unless other similarly sized artifacts from other traditions are included. That was part of the stipulation in the American Atheists lawsuit. 

        • http://twitter.com/JFLCroft James Croft

          But it’s simply false! First, other traditions ARE represented. Second, a museum has no responsibility to ensure “equal representation” of all viewpoints and life stances. Rather, it must honestly tell the history of the attacks. The cross is part of that history.

          Were a huge A-shaped thing to have been considered by atheists an important artifact it should go in the exhibit. But it wasn’t. We mustn’t either deny or invent history, or we risk the 9/11 Museum becoming like the Creation Museum.

          Th idea the housing of the cross represents an endorsement of a religious view is equally whacky. Did Boston’s Museum of Science “endorse” ancient Egyptian religious myth when it displayed HUGE sarcophagi and other large artifacts?

          • Anonymous

            I think you are making a false equivalency here and I explained why that is the case.  The fact is that Christian fundamentalist have already turned the 9/11 Memorial Museum into the Creationist Museum and you don’t seem to have a problem with that. I do. The 9/11 Cross had nothing to do with the attack and was created to push religion. There is no way that it can be presented in a secular and neutral manner given the emotion and devotion surrounding it. That obviously is not the case with ancient Egyptian artifacts in any museum in the nation. The Cross does not belong in the museum and it’s inclusion would turn the museum into a church.

            • Anonymous

              When you say “The 9/11 Cross had nothing to do with the attack and was created to push religion”, it’s hard for me not to see one falsehood and one prejudice. The falsehood is that the cross had nothing to do with the attack. In a broad sociological and historical sense it does – it was found days after and featured in the news at the time; it has been repeatedly used in public ceremonies related to the attacks; it has been inscribed with hundreds of messages; it has become a symbol to thousands of New Yorkers. This is enough to substantiate its position as an artifact that “has something to do with the attack”.

              The prejudice is your (unevidenced) assumption that the cross was manufactured simply to “push religion”. As far as I can tell the individual who found it was already devout, and it has never, that I’ve been able to find, been used as a tool to proselytize. So you have to either back up your arguments or withdraw them.

              • Anonymous

                Again, I covered that in the articles. There were many cross beams found in the wreckage and this one was chosen to be the object of devotion presumably because it was the largest. Still, it amounts to a giant billboard for a particular religion with no secular value. Also, had a 17 foot tall symbol of Islam been found in the wreckage you would no doubt be on the other side of this issue. This cross represents the Christian need to link patriotism with their religion. It is an attempt to use this tragedy to endorse their beliefs. It is not only a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, but also a shameful display of arrogance. I will not stand by while Christians try to hijack the emotion caused by this tragedy so that they can energize their flock. I will again point to my articles.

                • Anonymous

                  I have extensively outlined the secular value of the cross in my piece. You cannot simply assert that I am wrong – you have to give an actual argument as to why the forms of value I argue inhere in the cross do not actually inhere in it.

                  You say:” This cross represents the Christian need to link patriotism with their religion. It is an attempt to use this tragedy to endorse their beliefs…I will not stand by while Christians try to hijack the emotion caused by this tragedy so that they can energize their flock.  ”

                  This is bald assertion. Substantiate your claim! It sounds a lot like anti-Christian prejudice to me: “They could only be doing this for nefarious and underhand purposes, not out of genuine spiritual commitment!”, you seem to say. I think that’s an ugly way of thinking about our fellow citizens.

                  Your articles are simply a series of assertions without evidence or reasons. They are no better than your comments here.

                • Anonymous

                  I just refuted your comment and you have ignored what I said and restated your position. Then you have made accusations against me as a person in order to hide the weakness of your argument. I have no doubt that the Cross represents a sincere spiritual element and that is part of the point. It doesn’t belong in this museum, it belongs in a church. Putting it into a museum turns that museum into a church. I made this case very clear in my second article. Should I accuse you of being anti-American or anti-Secular or something to make my point? That is how you like to argue isn’t it?
                   

                • Anonymous

                  You didn’t “refute” my point. You only stated a counter opinion. You said the cross has “no secular value” but provide no reason as to why the secular values I outline in my article are not valid. That is not an argument.

                  Further, I am happy to call out forms of prejudice when I see them. The evidence I am using here is your own assignation of negative motive behind the actions of a large and diverse group of people when you present (and probably cannot have) any evidence whatsoever to substantiate your aspersions regarding motive. If you think my writing is prejudicial in some way I would expect you to call it out.

                • Anonymous

                  Well, I think I made my case so I don’t know what to tell you. I also am happy to call out logical fallacies like ad hominem attacks and strawman argument when I see them. If you can’t make your point by sticking to the actual subject then I don’t know what to tell you. I made my case. I am open to changing my opinion if you can present something new, but you haven’t.

                • Anonymous

                  This is getting to be a very narrow thread! If you can point to where you have responded in full to the arguments in my article (or if you want to post them as a comment on the State of Formation site) I am happy to think about them But all you have done in this thread is state your opinion with no accompanying evidence while casting aspersions on the motives of Christian Americans.My accurate appraisal of your “argument” is neither ad hominem (I have presented a strong case in my two articles) nor a “straw man” (I am responding directly to your own words).

          • Anonymous

            I think you are making a false equivalency here and I explained why that is the case.  The fact is that Christian fundamentalist have already turned the 9/11 Memorial Museum into the Creationist Museum and you don’t seem to have a problem with that. I do. The 9/11 Cross had nothing to do with the attack and was created to push religion. There is no way that it can be presented in a secular and neutral manner given the emotion and devotion surrounding it. That obviously is not the case with ancient Egyptian artifacts in any museum in the nation. The Cross does not belong in the museum and it’s inclusion would turn the museum into a church.

      • Anonymous

        “Cultural significance” is a worthlessly trivial qualification.

        It is not impressive that you found people to quote who agree there is a cultural significance to the cross.

        Yes, museums frequently display religious artifacts. What they don’t
        frequently display are “young” artifacts like this cross. The cross is supposed to be a contemporary idol, with real meaning to citizens of our country? They why does it seem to need a museum to validate its significance? If it is so important, why isn’t there a more natural environment demanding this “significance?”

  • TheSaintsRevenge

    If you are torn on the views including The Friendly Atheist may I suggest a study in the 1st and 14th amendment? Once you understand the Establishment Clause and the Discrimination of the 14th Amendment this ceases to be a “I DON’T LIKE THE SUIT, IT HURTS US…” It becomes a violation of our Constitution without Argument!

    • http://twitter.com/JFLCroft James Croft

      The problem is that this is more than a case of “this hurts us” (although it does). The suit is wrong in principle, seeing an attack on the separation between church and state when there is none. Further it has been framed in the most incendiary way imaginable. There is no honor in this suit!

  • Ernest Perce V

    “If you stand behind a lawsuit only because it is the popular view, I must question your devotion to The United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all. We must uphold our Constitution whenever it is violated. If this makes us unpopular, so be it and come what may, be it a flood of anger, hate and dislike even from my own. That the future generations are secure is of far more concern than ever-changing likes that are here today and gone tomorrow.”

     

    - Ernest Perce, Pennsylvania State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

    • http://twitter.com/JFLCroft James Croft

      Is it better to stand behind a lawsuit that is founded on false premises, a waste of precious resources, and wrong in principle, or to take a stand against the errors of one’s own community and speak truth to power? I’ll seek always to do the second. You may not like the conclusion I have drawn, but you must accept that it is based on sound reasoning and plenty of evidence. Where is the evidence to substantiate your case?

  • Dastardly_Doug

    The only reason this particular debris was chosen over the millions of other bits, was because it did look like a religious symbol. If they claim no religious intent then display it upside down and see how quickly it becomes religious. I support anything that will restrict the display of one single type of religion. And while you are at it, get all the highway workers to remove all those illegal crosses erected as monuments along our roadsides. If you want to put up a cross where someone died, try the front lawn of your local hospital.

  • Marnie MacLean

    So if someone found a burn mark on a wall that looked like what people think the virgin mary looks like (like the holy grilled cheese) would we still take this seriously as an historic artifact or would we recognize pareidolia for what it is? 

    As I’ve said to other friends, it shows how great the christian privilege is that so many non-christians are prepared to support this tay-payer funded display of a bit of scrap metal that looks like a christian symbol. 

    Let’s keep in mine a few things:

    1. The statistical likelihood that a collapsed building made up of cross beams would produce a piece of scrap that looks like a cross is exponentially high. The fact that one was found is not significant. If you turn it upside down, it looks like an inverted cross. Maybe it’s satanic! OMG, everyone panic. 

    2. If someone found, say, a koran in the rubble and the muslim community took this as a sign of hope, would the individuals supporting this cross display be as quick to support a display of the koran? It’s not enough to be willing to bend the rules for the majority, we have to be sure we’d apply that same standard to those who are marginalized. I just don’t see any politician in the US trying to justify, say, displaying a pagan symbol found in the rubble. Yes, I know this is hypothetical, they found what looks like a cross, but that’s irrelevant. The rules should be fairly applied and making special allotments for the majority, no matter how good intentioned, is still unconstitutional and unethical. 

    If we all get our undies in a ruffle about school sanctioned prayer at high school graduations (and I have some pretty bunchy undies over that) we should hold the same standards to other aspects of life. The cross might be meaningful to the christian community and that’s totally fine. Let’s find a private christian group willing to display and manage the upkeep of this cross. If citizens want to pay towards it’s continued maintenance and display, they may make private donations. 

  • 4Christfreedom

    As an atheist, then you wouldn’t believe in a “blessing by so called holy men”.  So, it is simple, you don’t believe in a “blessing”, then the cross is a found artifact in WTC based on your beliefs.  If other people have other opinions on what two cross-beams mean to them, it is not your business.  Freedom of religion does not mean Freedom FROM religion.  It means to believe in what you want to believe.  It allows you to believe there is no God.  It allows me to believe there is a God.  It allows Muslims to believe in Mohammed.  It allows Buddhist to believe in Buddha.  As you don’t want religion imposed on you, I as a christian don’t want your belief to be imposed on me.

    • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

      While I find myself disagreeing with this lawsuit, your rationale  here is lacking. There is nothing about this lawsuit or this cross either way that imposes any belief on you. No one is suing for you to stop believing in a god, or to stop believing that a cross-beam is really a sign from your god. As American citizens however, atheists have a sufficient reason to care about how their government treats religion. While I think this lawsuit won’t accomplish much, it is not an attack on your beliefs or an infringement of your rights.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X