Not all atheists are alike

A few weeks ago there was quite a brouhaha over an atheist challenge to a street sign honoring 9/11 victims. The name of the street is Richards Street but underneath the sign at one intersection is another street sign saying “Seven In Heaven Way” to honor seven local firefighters who were killed on September 11. And so newspapers and media outlets ran with the story. Most news stories seemed fine. One, I recall included quite a few atheists objecting to the complaint on the grounds it was petty or hurtful.

Well yesterday American Atheists filed suit to prevent cross-shaped steel girders from the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers from being included in the September 11 memorial. American Atheists president Dave Silverman was quoted by Courthouse News:

Mincing no words, Silverman, who is not a named plaintiff, added: “It [the cross] has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. It’s a truly ridiculous assertion.”

ABC wrote up the lawsuit:

Jane Everhart, who is part of the atheist’s suit, derided the cross as nothing more than “ugly piece of wreckage” that “does not represent anything … but horror and death.” …

“The Christian community found a piece of rubble that looked like an icon and they deified it. But really 9/11 had nothing to do with Christianity,” said American Atheists president Dave Silverman. “They want a monopoly and we don’t want that to happen.”

The article talked to the September 11 Memorial folks and they explained that other religious artifacts would also be on display, including a Star of David cut from WTC steel, a Bible fused to a piece of steel that was found during recovery efforts, and a Jewish prayer shawl that was donated by a victim’s family member:

In a statement to ABCNews.com, the memorial foundation identified the cross as a “symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero,” as well as an “authentic physical reminder” that “tell[s] the story of 9/11 in a way nothing else can.”

The article ends with competing quotes. One is from the rescue worker who found the cross after digging three bodies out from the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. He says he was overwhelmed upon its discovery and believes it’s a beautiful symbol of faith and freedom. He argues that it’s a “natural artifact” from Ground Zero. The other quote comes from the communications director for the American Atheists who says she can’t visit the memorial so long as there’s a cross there.

The article is fine but I wonder if it wouldn’t have been improved by including the voices of atheists who are not fans of this lawsuit. Otherwise it gives the impression that all atheists think lawsuits against featuring the remnant beam from the World Trade Center are a good idea.

One other thing. USA Today basically just quoted extensively from the American Atheist press release (which was unwise considering it had some errors of fact). But it mentioned that one of the plaintiffs was a man whose brother had done rescue work at the World Trade Center for two weeks following the attack and died in 2005. We’re told that the man wouldn’t want a cross to honor his brother unless it’s a Lutheran cross.

Now, as you may have picked up from previous blog posts, I am Lutheran. And I have literally no idea what a “Lutheran cross” is. I mean, is it a crucifix? We do like our crucifixes. Is it a plain rustic cross? I guess not, since that’s what the cross in question is. Is it something to do with the Lutheran Rose? What is it? I have no idea.

Image via Wikipedia.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a website for discussion of media treatment of religion news. It is not a place to contribute sub-literate diatribes against Christians, Jews, atheists, etc. Actually, it’s not even a place to contribute literate diatribes against religious folks. I’ve had to delete literally dozens of comments for being so poorly composed and so completely off topic that I am embarrassed for the people who wrote them. If you want to spew, do it elsewhere. Thanks.

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  • Jefferson

    Mollie,

    RE: “Lutheran” crosses, there are a few:

    http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/crosses/lutheran.html

    One can only assume he means the Luther himself designed.

    RE: the American Atheists WTC suit, it sounds like the plaintiff who would only want a “Lutheran” cross is a “cultural” Christian, no?

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for other atheists to oppose this suit, atheists are among the most zealous defenders of the Establishment Clause. A likely atheist objection to the suit would be that it brings undue public ire upon atheists. Plaintiff’s council would, in turn, tell the court that concern certifies the Establishment Clause problem with the cross.

  • Brant

    It’s pretty simple. If you are not christian and died at the wtc, would you want a christian symbol over the memorial? probably not. As an athiest i wouldn’t want a cross put up on my grave, it would be completely offensive, the same is probably true for any jews,muslims etc. the lawsuite asks for the cross to be removed or for equal space be given to other religious symbols. It is a completely fair demand.

  • marcus lake

    I have been an atheist my whole life, 36 years. This lawsuit is absurd. I fear someone didn’t get the pony she wanted and desperately need attention. The only way I’d be offended by that cross is if it fell over on me.

    Cheers.

  • Cosmo

    I’m not in favor of any lawsuit that bogs down our legal system with whining complaints about how things are done. If anything, we should sue the government for taking so long to recover from 9/11 and for punishing all of us for it’s inability to deal with this crisis or any other.

    The cross is just a cross. It has no significance to me but seems to give others peace. Religion means nothing to me except that so many can find power in it to do what they need to do, hopefully not to send their children to crusade against their religious enemies, and to better themselves. Religion helps people recover from addiction, illness and depression. Again, I don’t desire it or need it. The greatest power is around us, in the sun and in ourselves. Life is amazing.

    A few superstitious trinkets aren’t going to change anything and if I were to visit this site, I would smile thinking that this form of art seems to help somebody. I’d also look around and see the big picture. If I’m happy, amidst stress and crisis, why can’t others find peace?

  • Mark

    Mollie when you figure out what a Lutheran Cross is please let me know. As far as I know, there is not an official cross for most denominations in the Christian Faith. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will place one cross on the communion table, but also have a Celtic Cross on the building.

  • bk

    I am a Jew, and I lost Jewish friends when the WTC fell. I call the “Ground Zero Rabbi” a peer I look up to, and like him, though I don’t want to speak for him on this matter (I know him well enough to stand up for Christians in other regards), I assure you that as Jews, we don’t take any more umbrage at a cross than we do any other religious symbol at the site. The bottom line is that yes, Jews, Muslims, everything else died that day, but so, too, did Christians, and if the cross doesn’t honor my friends’ memories, it honors theirs. Unbunch your panties and stop attacking Christians. It’s foolish and petty, and someday it’s going to backfire on all of you.

  • Patrick ONeill

    Here you go:

    http://www.seiyaku.com/images/cross/lutheran-large.png

    (Not surprising that an atheist would know)

    If you think that atheists who didn’t support the lawsuit should have been included, do you also think that christians who didn’t support putting up crosses should have been included too ?

    I hear all christians are not alike.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Friends,

    Please keep comments focused on journalism, not your passionate feelings about atheism.

    I’ve already had to delete a dozen comments and the remaining ones aren’t terribly on topic as it is.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Patrick O’Neill,
    I saw that Japanese ad-site and its link to a “Lutheran cross.” It looks like a cross with a Luther’s Rose on it (which already has a cross inside it, as you might have noted).

    I have only been Lutheran for 35 years but I’ve never seen that cross, and am a tad suspicious that “Seiyaku” would know more about what a Lutheran cross is than I do.

    But who knows.

    For what it’s worth, that’s what USA Today linked to when it referenced this mysterious “Lutheran cross.”

  • Victor Williams

    I would also like to see the opinions of religious people who support the lawsuit. Non-atheists aren’t all the same either.

    On a private site, with private money, a religious symbol is appropriate. With public money, and/or public land, it must be open to everyone or no religious symbols whatsoever. And that includes the star-and-crescent, or have people forgotten that Muslims died there too?

  • Stephen

    “… the impression that all atheists think lawsuits against … are a good idea.”

    Only simple-minded fundamentalists think that “all (fill in the blank)’s think alike.” And in their mind’s, that’s a good thing! Of course all atheists don’t think alike, about this issue or any other. Atheists are also human beings, after all.

  • AGreenhill

    News flash: “Not all Christians are alike”… seriously, are we still so backward in 2011 that we haven’t yet figured out that religion, race, political affiliation etc are each insufficient to describe an individual?

  • ruben

    Wow Mollie- In this article you recap the CONTENT of a bunch of news stories published by media outlets and lend this single observation that had anything to do with media coverage:

    “The article is fine but I wonder if it wouldn’t have been improved by including the voices of atheists who are not fans of this lawsuit. Otherwise it gives the impression that all atheists think lawsuits against featuring the remnant beam from the World Trade Center are a good idea.”

    Now you’re deleting people’s comments because they’re more interested in the articles you quoted than your one short paragraph? So much for open discourse in the online media. Hope you don’t delete my comment for not being EXACTLY what you want to have talked about.

  • Patrick ONeill

    Mollie – I have.

    If you have ever hung around a military cemetary you would notice the different kinds of crosses and religious symbols the government uses on headstones:

    Here, the Lutheran Cross is number 6:

    http://www.cem.va.gov/hm/hmemb.asp

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Good work, Ruben! You figured out what we do here at GetReligion. We look at the content of a bunch of news stories and then make observations about the journalism contained therein.

    And you can learn more about what we do by looking around the site. Comments are for continued discussion of journalism, not doctrine or screeds.

    If you want to discuss anything beyond that scope, you are welcome to do so. Just not here. That’s the beauty of the internet.

  • Kris

    I was raised Lutheran, and while the Lutheran cross at that website was not the one displayed in the chapel, it was definitely present in much of our literature.
    I am also an atheist. I have been an atheist for over 20 years at this point, and I honestly do not care one way or the other about the cross at ground zero. I don’t understand why anyone would want to fight over one being erected, nor do I understand why anyone would want to fight to keep one there. I do wonder, however, how much stink would be raised if someone were to try to include a Muslim holy symbol. Hypocrisy is so rampant nowadays, and people simply do not think before they act…or rant.

  • Jamie

    Thank you for this. As an Atheist, I find the lawsuit less about the rights of non believers and more about fear, grief and pain. Atheists do often have to contend with infringement upon our personal beliefs and to fight for our rights to be allowed the same freedoms as religious people, but without the prejudices we face. However, I don’t see the cross being an infringement or prejudice. I just think it helps a lot of people cope with their grief and I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t put others down for their beliefs, especially when I know sometimes that is all someone has, and all I want is the same respect. I don’t think they should be attacking people who believe. It is a poor way to try to earn respect for themselves and the Atheist community. I’m against such a lawsuit.

  • Tomas

    “it gives the impression that all atheists think lawsuits against featuring the remnant beam from the World Trade Center are a good idea”

    Who is objecting to remnant beams? The objection is cutting a remnant into a cross, or selecting one shaped like a cross. If it were just a beam, or a prayer shawl found in the rubble, then it would not be a deliberate attempt to foster Christianity.

    You religious types wear your ignorance as a badge of honor. God may not agree!

  • Elijah

    I do think the article would be improved if they quoted (a) atheists who want no part of the lawsuit, (b) believers of whatever stamp who want no part of the display, and possibly (c) Americans who generally hate frivolous lawsuits clogging up our judicial system.

    Also note that some coverage suggests the plaintiffs have suffered “direct physical injury” as a result of looking upon the cross. Folks need to toughen up – I wonder how the court will view that claim?

  • Bob Sommers

    Thanks for explaining your site Molly.
    I’ll be disappearing now, never to return.

  • Patrick ONeill

    I’m an atheist who supports the lawsuit, and I’d like to point out a fact that isn’t mentioned here about the lawsuit.

    The lawsuit objects to the fact that christian symbols are being prominently displayed but others – in particular atheists – are not.

    It would be a happy resolution if other groups were also represented, but the authorities have refused to include an atheist symbol – thus the lawsuit.

  • kent

    looks like unless your views agree with Mollie they get deleated

    goodby

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    kent,
    No, obviously that’s not true. However, you do have to follow our commenting code.
    All comments dealing with how the media should cover this topic are welcome.
    No comments about how awesome/awful atheism is or this lawsuit is are welcome. You should take those comments elsewhere.
    And thanks for visiting.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    And what is an “atheist symbol”?
    The “Darwin fish”? That is not a symbol of someone’s beliefs, but an effort to mock other peoples’.
    A hammer and sickle? Too absurd to need discussion?
    A microscope, as P.Z. Myers seems to have suggested some time or other?
    A “atom symbol”? Yes, I see something like that on the VA page, but what makes it “atheist”, and how many people would know that? Especially as it apparently needs additional labeling. (Not to mention what Doctor Manhattan would think).
    A “Bad Religion” logo? That requires a nonexistent generic “Religion” symbol to cross out, unless it admits to really only targeting Christianity.

    Are neo-pagans complaining about the lack of pentagrams (if there is one)?

  • Bill

    honestly Molly, I posted a reasonable, on topic post and it was deleted. You’re obviously getting some traffic on this story and it’s inspiring people to participate in your website, but you’re effectively throwing potential regular readers like myself away by deleting our comments. You won’t succeed in building an active community this way. You should reconsider your commenting policy. Goodbye!

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Bill,
    Your comment was reasonable and I actually didn’t want to delete it but I’m trying to be consistent in how I apply the rules.
    We have a wide variety of participants here from all across the religious and irreligious spectrum. And the way it works, basically, is that we don’t get into doctrinal specifics unless it relates to improving the media coverage.
    We’re united by our interest in seeing religion — and lack of belief — covered fairly by the mainstream media.
    So sometimes we have to enforce that rather rigorously.
    But I do apologize as your comment was clearly well intended and all that.
    In fact, if you want to just tie it back into the media coverage a bit more — and how the media should cover this topic in light of what you’d mentioned, that would be great.

  • Kate

    Patrick -

    Out of sheer curiousity, what is an athiest symbol?
    It sounds like the objects included were chosen because of their organic connection to the experiences of people at and affected by the site – things recovered from the rubble, gifts from survivors families. If I were a journalist covering this story I would want to know what criteria were used in the selection process. And possibly whether any attempts were made to donate relevant symbols from other groups.

  • Christine Robinson

    The media might also quite religious voices who are uneasy with having only Christian and Jewish symbols at the 9-11 site. After all, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, Hindus and agnostics died there, too.

  • Chris

    @molly. There are lots of comments against the cross that don’t fit the standards you seem to have set for comments supporting the cross.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Out of sheer curiousity, what is an athiest symbol?

    One that is athier than thou.

  • Lisa cost

    What was wrong with my post

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Lisa,
    Comments should be focused on journalism and not personal views about atheism or belief.

  • Patrick ONeill

    Kate:
    Athiest symbol # 16

    http://www.cem.va.gov/hm/hmemb.asp

    Will:
    Pentagram #37 (and Yes, they did have to sue to get it)

  • Grumpy

    For what it’s worth, the Atheist symbol is generally a stylized letter “A” with, again, generally, some sort of circle around it. There are, of course, several variations on this central theme, as Atheists are by definition freethinkers.

    Not to be inflammatory here, but I for one think religious symbols are highly appropriate, if ironic, on the site.

  • Mark Baddeley

    Mollie, I’ve been wondering, and this post crystalized it a bit, if GetReligion is going to say, “good article but could be improved by more x”, isn’t it useful to offer the area that you think could afford to have been cut to make room for that?

    I agree with your analysis, but I wonder what you think should have got the cut to make room for the addition/s.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    What I think should be covered with greater clarity is who gets to decide this and why. Is this public space and a governmental decision? Or is the memorial owned by a private entity?

    If it is a governmental decision, there are few good ways to go about deciding this. They can try to make a case that satisfies a majority, but that won’t likely satisfy everybody, and it won’t really be principled, either. The most fair treatment would be to have no symbol.

    If it were privately owned, then there would be no monopoly. Any group, Atheist, Sikh, Hindu, Christian, etc., could build their own memorial.

    But without knowing who gets to make the decision and why, this ends up being difficult to argue well. I would tend to think that if someone is talking to a judge, this is probably public land. I would be happy to visit the private memorial that owned the girder cross, if there was one.

    The problem when the government makes these decisions is that everyone thinks they have a right to have a say. Which is understandable. But it makes for no good solution.

  • Maureen

    I would have thought a circled A meant “Anarchy”, or possibly “the Alpha and the Omega”. Learn something every day.

    Re: coverage, I wonder why the reporter didn’t ask if national military cemeteries like Arlington were horribly offensive to this particular atheist lawsuit group. I mean, they’re full of crosses. (Is this guy seriously saying he can’t go to Flanders Fields where poppies grow as long as there’s crosses row on row? Sounds like he’s a vampire, not an atheist.)

  • Indian Jones

    The ABC article is, of course, a limited venue for the proper presentation of the appropriateness of sacred symbols used to memorialize a disaster. The article did cap it’s rather fuzzy and drawn-out address of the legal issue with “balanced” testimonials. If one wishes the format to be amped up by including dissent among atheists, a very intriguing portal would open if one were to then include dissent among Christians, specifically those who feel the cross should not be so used….

    The article does not end on the more important issue of whether icons are appropriate on a mass casualty site. That is minefield which ABC and the like know too well about. It may even have been possible to find a Christian who would say it is not appropriate to have any icons on such a site. ABC only likes it’s conflict in small doses.

  • Martha

    Grumpy, I would automatically associate an “A” within a circle as signifyng “Anarchy” (due to its widespread use in the U.K. back when Punk was happening).

    If atheists want an atheist symbol included to represent non-atheists, fine.

    But (1) although I acknowledge that this is just one particular group which is not representative of all atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and non-organised religion types, nevertheless it would represent itself as representing the views of a particular number of “American Atheists” and could, in the wider public view, be mistaken to be taking or stating some kind of ‘official’ stance on behalf of atheism and (2) the kind of wording used is unfortunate and does tend to help the image of atheists as coming from the planet Zog when dealing with symbols. People are not reacting to this merely on the grounds that it is a religious symbol; there are elements of grief, memorials and all the nebulous associations with loss, death and remembrance that cluster around such symbols, and although the plaintiffs may (or may not, I have no legal notion either way) have grounds for their case on strict and plain letter of the law interpretation, that’s not how the matter feels to the families and friends of those who found some kind of comfort or support from this symbol.

    Mollie, sympathies on the comments!

  • Brennen

    The strangest thing in the article to me was the Lutheran cross thing too. Apparently the government has assigned one (no doubt created in the heady days of inter-denominational conflict) but, as can be seen from the comments, it doesn’t carry much weight with most Lutherans. Anyone who knew anything about modern American Christianity would have dug a little farther into that plaintiffs story.

  • Mike O.

    If the article were to include voices of atheists against the 9/11 perpindicular beams lawsuit, what do we think the objections might be? In the first article regarding the street sign, the objection is basically to religious references. But in the second article, the lawsuit isn’t fighting against religious references but against the site using some references but not others (specifically a lack of mention of non-belief vs. a direct mention of the belief of others).

    In the street sign article there is no mention that any of the seven firefighters being honored was an atheist. Surely, the organization that entered the lawsuit would have mentioned it in their statements in the article. In the perpindicular beams article, David Silverman specifically says there were (according to him at least) 500 non-believers who died at WTC. The lawsuits are not the same. The latter is more about getting proper and equal recognition for the victims. The former is about religious expressions in public, something I can personally say is much more controversial among atheists than recognizing victims each to their beliefs.

    So what would atheist objections have looked like in the second article, especially as compared to the first article? I have to think very few, if any, would object to the goal of the second lawsuit, unlike the first where there were some atheists against the merits of the suit itself. In my estimation the objections would be more about the negative attention the lawsuit brings than the worthiness of the cause. It’s for this reason that I’m ok with the first article mentioning atheist objections while the second article doesn’t.

  • Jerry

    My thanks to Patrick ONeill who beat me to posting that link. It’s obvious that some have not scanned the entire list since there is also a humanist (American Humanist Association) symbol as well. The AHA is non-theistic rather than being atheistic, but they should be included in the spectrum of weak->strong atheism.

    As a side note, I think this topic has the most votes on posts that I’ve ever seen.

    I’d also like to echo Mollie’s comment about wanting more voices in a story rather than two competing sides, but the media does sadly delight in publishing extreme voices.

    And that web site of symbols has both a “Lutheran” and “Lutheran Church Missouri Synod” symbols!

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Martha: “Zog? What do you mean zog? Zog what? Zog yes, zog no?” [pop culture reference]

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Mike O. – If you look at, say, Cosmo’s comment (#3 above) you might not need to make “estimation[s]” of what some “objections would be”.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Patrick: Yes, I remember when that suit was discussed here. I wish to know, are the neon-pagans involved in THIS one? Jason? Anybody?

  • Mike O.

    Ray Ingles, Cosmo’s argument doesn’t match with what I wrote nor does it show that he read the second article. The lawsuit is asking to honor the estimated 500 atheist victims of the World Trade Center in a manner similar to those of religious believers.

    The atheist group said that they have contacted the 9/11 Memorial and Museum requesting to display their own atheistic memorial next to the steel-shaped cross, possibly in the form of an atom or an American flag, to represent the “500 non-religious Americans” who were “among the victims of the 9/11 attack.”

    They are saying all groups should have a symbol or none. Cosmo’s post was acting as if all the lawsuit was about was removing the cross.

  • Julia

    Jerry:

    1) One of the recent posts on the Norwegian mass murderer had in excess of 100 comments.

    2) I looked at the VA symbols and note that the only one – at the very end – labelled Catholic is for a Celtic (Irish) cross. What about us Germans? Or others?

    Don’t most Christians just op for the generic cross, anyway?

  • Julia

    I note that the cross symbol pictured at the top of this post has something hanging on the left side of the cross bar. I just saw photos on cable TV and there was no such object. Was that added to be in sinc with the crosses seen around town every Easter? If so, as a Catholic Christian, I’m not for that. It goes too far. Has any media commented on that feature of the memorial?

  • Dave G.

    From what I’ve seen and read, the coverage has appeared to be pretty fair. I’ve heard Christians saying they weren’t bothered or supported it, atheists saying they weren’t bothered and didn’t think it should be banned, and atheists who supported the ban. I don’t know that I’ve read or heard from folks from other religious backgrounds, nor can I think if I’ve heard too much from Christians who might support banning the cross. I don’t know how important that would be, but can’t help but think it would add something to the debate (maybe it has been there and I’ve just missed it).

    As for Brant’s 200 response question (wow, 200 responses!), my answer would be yes, I’d be fine with that. Because as a former agnostic, I would have had no problem with it. Back then, it didn’t dawn on me to be offended by other people’s beliefs to that degree. And as a Christian today, if atheists want to put up something for themselves, they’ll get no problems from me. I took it seriously growing up in the 70s and 80s when folks said the proper response to the first half of the 20th century was a society of diversity, pluralism, tolerance, open-mindedness, and celebration of various beliefs and opinions. Maybe they were just joking. But I’d like to think they were’t.

  • Jerry

    Julie, my comment was specifically addressed to votes on posts not posts themselves but maybe the earlier topic had over 200 votes on one post.

    Zog yes or zog no: Babylon 5 reference http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Ivanova-Quotes-54856.html

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com GCT

    The articles should come with a tutorial as to why the suits are being brought, because it seems that most people don’t get it. It’s not about offense, it’s about following the law and living in a secular society with the right to freedom of and from religion.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    We are setting a record for spiked comments that have nothing to do with journalism.

    Please, folks, take your non-journalistic opinions elsewhere. I hear CNN really is hip.

  • Gail Finke

    One issue that is not discussed in the coverage is that the cross is not a fabricated memorial to anyone, it was discovered in the wreckage by people who spontaneously raised it up as a sign that God was with them. Now, I can understand people not agreeing with that conclusion. But “finding the cross” actually happened, and photos of it being sent and used and made into posters and book covers etc. actually happened. So I don’t see why this artifact from the site does not belong in a museum about the site — it is part of the story of that event, and one that was a big deal at the time.

    And yes, as a Christian I would argue the same thing if what had been found and treasured was the symbol of some other faith. I don’t see how something that actually happened should be ignored just because the event involved some people’s religion.

  • Gail Finke

    To clarify: My point is that the stories and the lawsuit are treating this cross as a Christian memorial. But what it is, is an actual piece of history — and this is a history museum. The fact that many people still consider the cross to be a memorial is really beside the point. No one is including a Christian memorial in the museum just to include a Christian memorial. Stories should cover this.

  • Mike O.

    Gail, in the second article David Silverman talks about how people are finding signifacance at finding a t-beam in the wreckage because their religious symbol is shaped like a t-beam.

    Is there any other piece of 9/11 wreckage that has been put on a pedastal, been treated as a shrine, or has its own Wikipedia page? There are literally hundreds of tons of debris from that tragedy available for the museum. So I have to disagree with you in that people considering the cross to be a memorial is very much the point. We can’t ignore that, and neither side of the argument is choosing to do so.

    The thrust of the lawsuit, as mentioned in the article, is that this relic has since 9/11 been a focal point of mourning and remembrance for Christians. They ask that a similar memorial be in place for non-believers too and that they shouldn’t be denied simply because they didn’t build the World Trade Center out of “atom a” symbol shaped beams.

  • Dave G.

    The more I look into this, the more I see that the lawsuit about the cross appears to be about giving non-believers their fair share. Shouldn’t it be OK? I’m still missing the part as to why that is an issue. Perhaps if we knew about just what the non-believer symbol is. I mean, if it’s something like ‘Our faith is in reason and through that we will find a humankind from which will flow the milk of human kindness’ or something, no problem. Now if it is like some of those yuletide alternatives I’ve seen that are less ‘what we believe’ but more ‘aren’t they dumb for what they believe’ then yeah, I can see why that could be a problem. Not that it is. But more information would be nice. I admit, I haven’t clicked on every link in this rather lengthy comments box, so some may have pointed to what they want. But I’d be curious.

  • http://fkclinic.blogspot.com tioedong

    the missing part of the story is obvious: That many of the rescuers, including many of the police and firemen killed trying to rescue survivors, were Christian (Catholic Christian, but saying that is taboo).

    And the reason that many of the workers in the rubble found the cross a comfort is that they too were Christian(again, many were Catholic Christians, but don’t mention that either). The priest who blessed the cross worked as a chaplain to provide spiritual and psychological comfort for the rescuers, and of course one of the first casualties was a priest who worked with the fire department.

    Yes, people of all faith and no faith lost their lives, but removing memorials that have a grass roots origin is censorship and rewriting history.

    Finally, all these atheist complaints ignore that even if Jesus is only a myth, the cross is a secular symbol of sacrificing one’s life for one’s brother. As a symbol, it is no more “religious” than the staff of Mercury that symbolizes the medical profession….

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Still spiking about half the comments or more.

    Take your arguments about Christianity and atheism elsewhere.

    Got journalism? Bring it on.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    The server is REPEATING the comments it mails to me. Am I in Purgatory?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Will,

    I edited a few ad hominem attacks and the like out of some comments that were otherwise worthwhile. They might have gotten remailed as a result?

    Mollie

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Julia, the “draping” was there every time I saw it…. I mean, with my eyes, without any media intermediaries. So any connection with Easter is not supported by facts.

    (Or are the cable chappies going to say “Who do you believe, Us or your lying eyes?”)

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com GCT

    It’s not ad hominem to point out your obvious biases.

  • Bern

    Off the specific topic of this post: I did not realize that the blog posters @ GetReligion can edit replies/comments (#61). I was under the impression it was leave them up or take them down.

    However, if replies/comments are going to be edited, I strongly recommend for the sake of transparency that GR “flag” when this is done. Otherwise you are putting words (or taking them out) of other people’s mouths.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Bern,

    I leave an ellipses when I edit, which is sort of the house style. But I think it might be good to put [edited for code of conduct] or something like that in the future.

    And to be clear, we would never ADD words, just delete ad hominems or otherwise rude or out of bounds discussion to an otherwise worthy comment. Sometimes I’m tempted to fix typos but I don’t unless asked.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com GCT

    Apparently, the indicator is a “…” at the end of the post (at least in my case @ #51). The rest of my post there indicated that the OP author has an obvious bias in supporting Xian viewpoints, which was subsequently edited out. This isn’t about journalistic integrity so much as journalistic bias in favor of Xians and their specific bigotries – all others need not apply.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Another thing to keep in mind. Sometimes people visit GetReligion for the first time and they think it’s going to be like other sites where you write the most sub-literate diatribe you can think of and then hit “submit.”

    That’s not really our style. Our style is to engage in discussion and to treat each other as if we’re actually in the same room having a chat. Can we disagree? Vehemently. But we should not be like those parts of the internet where there is only heat and not light.

    Another part, of course, is that we do not engage doctrinal debate. We discuss journalism. And it’s actually quite fun. It is very distinct, again, from other sites. But it’s also why we’re one of the few sites where everyone can and should participate, regardless of their political or religious views. We’re all interested in journalism. That’s what binds us.

    So my recommendation to some of the more upset folks here is to just take a minute to look around and get a feel for the mood and the object of the site. Maybe wait to comment, even. And if it’s something you’d like to participate in, participate and take part in the conversation. And if you’re not interested in the discussion of journalism as it relates to religion news, that’s ok, too. There are plenty of other sites on the internet.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com GCT

    “Another part, of course, is that we do not engage doctrinal debate. We discuss journalism.”

    That’s all well and good, but it’s simply not true when it comes to your moderation policy. You tolerate non-journalism related comments when you agree with them and delete others that you don’t agree with.

    Don’t worry, I won’t stick around too long, as I tire of this type of moderation and I tire of having my comments deleted simply because I don’t kowtow to your Xian/bigoted views.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    GCT,

    I’ll just leave your preceding comment up for the lesson. You see how you made unsubstantiated claims about what I’m doing and then also judged my motivation for it? That’s really not OK according to our comment policy.

    I get that this is difficult for some folks on the internet, but it shouldn’t be.

    Just engage the journalism in question, refrain from calling people bigots or other slurs, and substantiate your claims.

    And if that’s too much for you, you’re welcome to find another venue for your comments.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    GCT,

    I had to delete your last comment for the derogatory statements and the like. If you’d like to give it one more try and keep focused without insults, you’re welcome to do so. After that, I’m just going to put you in moderation.

    Best,

    Mollie

  • Henry

    @Indian Jones

    … How dangerous would you describe yesterday’s prison hospice article and GR review (linked below), in which the nonreligious author got religion? On what basis would you defend your view?

    http://www.getreligion.org/2011/07/seeing-the-ghosts-in-a-prison-hospice/

  • str

    If reports included other opinions on either side, this of course would be fine but space is limited and hence I think merely noting that not all X agree with X that think Y is also enough. IMO it would be best not to quote voices diverging from the (supposed) default position of their group but to state objections e.g. with the lawsuit and note that they are raised by groups A, B and C.

    Re the cross: yes, it was put up there by Christians to whom it means something but, as others have already pointed out, it is also a “relic” of the WTC. It is not “a religious symbold found in the rubble”, as some suppose, but it is a piece of rubble in which some according to their beliefs have found meaning. And given that the cross is about suffering and dealing with it, it is not alien to the context of 9/11.

    It is also a monument to how some people dealt with the situation. Another reason for it to stay. Any push for its removal (by atheists or non-atheists) is nothing more than culture-less vandalism.

    Of course, there should be no administrative restrictions against other groups doing similar things (with the possible exception of Muslims – not because they had no victums but because the perpetrators were Muslims). But such groups must be defined by something positive, not simply by their disbelief. So, atheists, saying “no” simply is not enough.

  • Indian Jones

    Ah. I get it. This blog is for those who got religion. Carry on.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Indian:

    Nope. It’s for discussions of journalism issues, not shouting matches about opinions on religion — pro or con.

    There are thousands of blogs for that. Happy hunting.

  • Eric

    Mollie,

    Perhaps you have seen this, but I thought I’d post it here. An atheist has chimed in with her dissenting opinion of this lawsuit.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/spirited-atheist/post/atheist-groups-frivolous-lawsuit-aims-to-bar-cross-from-911-museum/2011/08/01/gIQAgvATnI_blog.html?wprss=spirited-atheist


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