Later today, lawyers for American Atheists will appear before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to make one last bid to stop the National September 11 Memorial & Museum from including a Christian cross display.
Their main argument is that the cross isn’t part of 9/11 history. Rather, it was “created” after the fact (not hard to believe, since falling steel beams often form cross shapes) and it’s an example of Christian privilege at the exclusion of symbols from all other faiths.
AA President Dave Silverman explained their reasoning in an email:
As far as we know, there isn’t a single piece of artifact or art in any museum that sits on consecrated ground, was installed by a priest, or is overtly meant to represent “all people of faith.” This is neither artifact nor art — it is a Christian shrine, made to service Christians and place Christianity above others at the memorial. Assertions to the contrary are simply dishonest — this is a Christian cross on public land, paid for with public money, and that means we are entitled to equal representation — they can take the cross out or include atheists. We are open to compromise — we are not open to exclusion.
It’s obviously a sensitive subject and AA doesn’t have public support on their side, but they’ve always fought on their principles regardless of popularity. This case has been in works since July of 2011. United States District Court Judge Deborah Batts ruled against AA last March and an appeal was filed last August. AA has offered to pay for the inclusion of their own display honoring all atheists who died in the 9/11 attacks.
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