NYC mayor will not reconsider ban on clergy at 9/11 ceremony

NYC mayor will not reconsider ban on clergy at 9/11 ceremony August 28, 2011

His spokesman said so on Friday:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will not reconsider his decision to exclude clergy from the ceremony marking 10 years since the Sept. 11 attacks, a spokesman said Friday.

The statement comes despite increased pressure from religious and conservative leaders who say that even though the mayor has not allowed clergy at other services, he should make an exception this time.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Americans “turned to God for solace” after the 2001 attacks, and clergy were intimately involved in helping the nation heal.

“Unfortunately, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would have us look the other way,” Perkins said in a statement. “At a Ground Zero commemoration for the families of victims, Mayor Bloomberg is allowing the presence of politicians and presidents, but no pastors or prayer. The mayor of course will be there, but politicians weren’t then — and are not now — nearly enough.”

Perkins is gathering signatures for a petition in opposition to the decision.

City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who is a pastor in the Bronx, has also launched a petition on his website urging Bloomberg to “allow prayer to be included in the 9/11 ceremony.”

But Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna told the mayor is not reconsidering. LaVorgna noted none of the other nine services included clergy. Bloomberg’s office has argued the service should stay focused on the families of the victims.

“There’s an awful lot of people who would like to participate and you just can’t do that … so the argument here is elected officials and those who were there at the time,” Bloomberg said in a radio interview late last month. 

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26 responses to “NYC mayor will not reconsider ban on clergy at 9/11 ceremony”

  1. I heard a commentary reminding us that this was an extremist religious attack against the US. to take the religios aspect out of the event changes the aspect of the commemoration.
    BTW stay safe.

  2. I think people of faith should boycott the ‘offical 911’ event and have their own religous memorial. Bloomberg can’t stop THAT!

    I hope at least the Catholics step up, ring the church bells all over the city, and have a huge mass at St. Pat’s, hopefully on TV, where the entire nation can reflect in prayer. And of course, invite ALL of the families.

    Let’s see who gets the crowd. My bet is the pathetic polilticans will be for the most part, chocking on their own rhetoric, alone!

    At least for now, we still have freedom of religion in this country. Why on earth would we let some heartless politically driven bought with with his money mayor dictate to this country how we honor our dead?

  3. Bully for Bloomberg for holding fast on this. The fact that people like Perkins are coming to the fore on this shows what I had suspected earlier – dominionists staking their claim on what they see as an ownership interest in all public events and spaces. If they don’t get to dominate and have the first and last word in all civic functions, then you’re “oppressing” them.

    They are already resorting to their tired, but admittedly effective, posture of victimization, casting themselves as a persecuted “minority” suffering at the hands of an evil, atheist dictator who’s bent on erasing our “true heritage.” Bloomberg, for his many faults, is smart enough not to play that rope-a-dope game. He’s saying to these hustlers that for these few minutes, on this one day, the only 10th anniversary there will ever be, it’s not about you. It’s about the memories of the fallen.

    The religious people who do truly care about involving their gods in a memorial will do so, either silently at the official memorial, or at dedicated services in their own churches or temples (or both). Those who have decided to dig in and fight their culture war battles over the space and time of the memorial service are just basically using the memories of the real victims to advance their own agenda for secular power.

  4. One positive in all this is that Mayor Bloomberg insists that we should Focus on the Family.


  5. Kenneth says…

    “The religious people who do truly care about involving their gods in a memorial will do so, either silently at the official memorial, or at dedicated services in their own churches or temples”

    No, the left and religion haters are not trying to oppress anyone…just as long as they do whatever they are doing in silence or at dedicated services in their own place…not out in public as if this sort of thing is protected by the Constitution.

    Again, simple suggestion which I think would have high poll numbers…Anyone now or over holding public office be eliminated from the program..only the first responders, victims families, and those religious leaders who are invited by the families directly. Bloomberg can stay away to have proper seperation from the religious folks that so seem to bother him.

  6. Greta:

    I am getting the impression that you are not too fond of Mayor Bloomberg. Surely, you can give him some credit for his handling of the Hurricane Irene threat (even though, some New Yorkers will probably complain for the inconveniences.)

    P.S. I live in Florida. I don’t take hurricane threats lightly.

  7. How about banning politicians from the event. After all, according to some people’s mentality the pro-Israel stand of our politicians was and is a big factor on terrorism, including the 9-11 attacks. Ridiculous, well as ridiculous as banning clergy in a supposedly free country. Bloomberg has acted disgracefully.

  8. HMS you might want to rethink the hurricane hype. I don’t disccount that the potential was there for a lot more than it was, but I also don’t get my weather info from cable news, the go to place for weather hype, car chases, and the exploitation of missing people, especially white blonds!

    In any case, “mandatory” evacuation was about as over the top as Obama at the “command station.”

  9. A few quick thoughts:

    1) I wonder if a misplaced sense of prudence is behind this decision? What would really have been nice would have been to have an inter-religious prayer service that involved a Muslim cleric offering a sign of peace alongside his Jewish, Christian, and other counterparts; but given the reaction of so many people to the Ground Zero mosque project, I’d say that could have sparked some bitter controversy (unfortunately). On the other hand, it would look churlish to invite Judaeo-Christian clergy and not Muslims. So maybe Bloomberg just decided to stay out of religious politics altogether.

    2) Kenneth is probably correct to bring up culture wars as an historical context for the mayor’s decision to keep this high-profile event secular, although I disagree with Kenneth that these wars are fought only by Christians: we recall not just the state’s recent gay marriage debate, but also some disgruntled atheists’ exasperating attempt to remove the naturally formed and totally iconic “WTC cross.”

    3) What I found most offensive about the mayor’s statement – or have I misunderstood it? – was his comment about those who were “there at the time.” Religious leaders *were* among the first respondents on Ground Zero. Father Mychal Judge is the obvious reference point….also, for those who mourn the exclusion of clergy from the ceremony, may I recommend this heartfelt and touching first-person account from Jesuit Father James Martin, which speaks eloquent volumes:


  10. @ Greta – One problem is that he has also excluded the first responders from this “program”. Bloomberg should remember that the first people to show up 10 years ago were first responders (firefighters, police, and EMS) plus the clergy. Remember FDNY Fire Chaplain Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, who showed up to assist and is the FIRST recorded fatally at Ground Zero. They were there then & should be there now!

    This is wrong on so many different levels. It does appear to be motivated by self-interests.

  11. As I said on Anchoress’s blog on this subject, this is the final straw on Bloomberg. This was completely uncalled for. No one would have objected if an Iman was also called to speak. If any event called for a religious statement or set of statements, it was the anniversery of 9/11. By purging religion from the event, he has desacarialized one of the most spiritually profound moment in American history. This should be a disgrace to Bloomberg’s legacy. I can’t wait until he leaves.

  12. Klaire:

    I must disagree. Hurricane hype? No way!

    I watched every resource I could get (Internet, Cable, Facebook, email) about Hurricane Irene, 24/7, for the past three days, since I have relatives in Philadelphia, Cape May, NJ and New York City.

    I have lived in Florida for 20 years and I know that hurricanes are unpredictable and it is best to be safe than sorry.

    Believe me, there was no hype, but exceptionally good predictions as to the targets by the meteorologists as well as excellent leadership by those elected officials responsible for the lives and safety of thousands of people.

    On a personal level:
    My son lives in Lower Manhattan and I say: “Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for being proactive about my son’s safety.”

    My queries:

    “Why are you even mentioning president Obama in this exchange?”

    Why is your source a UK-US Editor and Blogger?

  13. Question: How many elected courageous politicians were in the Towers when it collapsed? And now they are going to be front and center.They should be ashamed.
    And who is listed as the first victim. A first responder– and a Catholic religious order priest-chaplin at that. Well, such a priests’s family is the members of his order–Are they going to be barred too???
    Mayor Bloomberg may have more money than God (enough to buy an election he was expected to lose.)But that hasn’t given him the ability to be any kind of a leader. There have been more intelligent suggestions on how to handle the situation on this religious site than Bloomberg seems able to come up with.
    As pagan sister suggested–specific words a problem–then insist there be a moment of silence so that all can pray in their hearts as they see fit. But secularists of the narrow-minded Bloomberg type have even opposed moments of silence in the schools–Can’t take a chance a kid might slip in a prayer to pass a big test or to get a date with the blonde in the next desk. And yet it is secularists who are always blathering about religious people being narrow-minded. However, they regularly set records for narrow-mindedness when the issue of prayer comes up.

  14. HMS. Since this post has nothing to do with the hurricane, not sure what it has to do with anything here.

    Ever since Katrina and all the lies told about the murders and rapes and everything else that proved not to be true, I have little respect for how the media covers events like this. On the run up, did anyone else get the feeling they were all kind of cheering for a massive explosion of disaster and that in the actual coverage they were stretching everything to make it worse than it was? I saw a picture of a downed tree on a house (house not damaged much) and on a pull back, there were about 50 different media types reporting on this same tree. I suspect they want to show how effective Obama was in this “massive overreach of a story” to try to diminish the polling numbers coming in at around 38%.

    HMS, you praise bloomberg, but not all the other mayors and governors from all the impacted states. It appears to me that NYC was the least hit in this very minor hurricane. The problem with blowing things out of proportion is that it is like calling wolf. In the midwest where I live, they use to set off the warning sirens for everything from a storm to a cat 5 tornado until you simply ignored them. Recently they made the decisions for massive cut back or the people will no longer listen. Same was true of the various color warnings for possible terrorist attack threats. It might be as bad to over emphasize a threat than it is to remain silent.

  15. Greta:

    For the record, I was simpley responding to Klaire, who brought up the issue.

    As I said, I have relatives in NJ and PA and, I am also grateful to the Governor of NJ and the Mayor of Philadelphia.

    As to your comment:

    “I suspect they want to show how effective Obama was in this “massive overreach of a story” to try to diminish the polling numbers coming in at around 38%.”

    I would like to request that you do not use this opportunity and forum to vent your obvious disdain for this president.

  16. Kids:

    All of you: Cut the crap. Stick to the topic.

    This has nothing to do with the hurricane. Stop dragging in your agendas just to score points and express your hate. It won’t be tolerated.

    Dcn. G.

  17. HMS I suggest you reread #6. You wrote it! And it IS relevent owing to the fact that this 911 “Let’s exclude religion on the 10th anniversay, even so much as a prayer”, is all about politics and agendas. Obama is relevent too, as he sets the tone for the charades and the Godless politics.

    Greta brings up a good point and that is the fact, that when wolf is cried too often, no longer are the wolf cries heard. I was in DC yesterday, and I can tell you from diving in “the big one” that it was not worse than any other bad rain storm. That discount the lives that were lost, as is usually the case in any bad rainstorm. But for heaven’s sakes, to shut down half the country, was IMO, a bit over the top.

    I plan to boycott all things 911 with the exception of going to mass and praying for the lost souls and families. Let them have their meaningless ‘memorial’, it doens’t mean any of us have to watch it.

    Where is Guliani in all of this? Why isn’t he rounding up the people who matter, as a Catholic and the man who was mayor at the time. I’m suprised that he hasn’t spoken out on this.

    FWIW HMA, I too am glad that your son and other New Yorkers are safe. I just loathe hype, especially the self-serving kind.

    As to why I picked that author; easy, I agree with him! I don’t care where he’s from, he’s right.

  18. The good Mayor is probably doing what every politician has been doing since the invention of politics – pumping himself up, supporting other politicians who will in turn support him, and kowtowing to the growing anti-religious freedom cartel in the US. Not to worry though, this country still has the best politicians money can buy.

  19. How about this… The ‘religious’ keep their religion to themselves, where it belongs. If the religious want to “pray” they can do that ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.

    And how about this… The ‘religious’ stop presuming to push themselves down everyone’s throat.

    Mayor Bloomberg is correct in not allowing this memorial service to become a pulpit for religious preaching.

    Does it just never occur to the religious that their religion does not hold a patent on morality? Does it escape them that it was ‘religion’ that fostered the the 9/11 attacks? Will they never ‘get it’ that religion is a PERSONAL thing and not a PUBLIC thing? Have they read Matthew?

    Matthew 6:1-34 ESV

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. …

  20. To Laura
    Please explain to me where your morality comes from, if not from the Bible? If you have no scriptural background, do you just pull it from thin air? And what if your friend’s morals don’t match your own? Who is right? Is no one right? Everyone? That doesn’t work, I’m afraid. The end result is anarchy and the moral decay and mess we live with now in this country. Morals come from the Ten Commandments which God gave Moses. That’s why they were put on so many courthouses across this country, back when people still knew where their morals came from, and, which the ACLU is so strenuously trying to remove from those courthouses.

    Also, obviously, religion is a public AND a personal thing. And I, for one, am sick to death of “non-religious” people doing all they can to remove any trace of religion from public places. (By the way, cut the “religious” crap; Christianity is what you’re really saying here). Please read the post above from Nicholas above and watch his link from Father James Martin. Clergy were among the first responders, along with the firemen, EMS, and policemen. In fact, the first recorded fatality was that of a priest. While I fully support the memorial being about the victims of the crashes and the first responders who were there on 9/11, the clergy were first responders as well. Their contributions should not be forgotten/ignored/swept away like so much concrete rubble.

  21. The Bible told us persecution would come, but who is Mayor Bloomberg or anyone for that matter compared to God?

    Any Christian able should simply show-up in NYC on that day and at the time and pray.

  22. “Any Christian able should simply show-up in NYC on that day and at the time and pray.”

    No one said they can’t. The criticisms here are hyperbolic and silly.

  23. Kenneth is a perfect example of how any form of oppression can be justified using just the tongue, when the heart should also play a role. Freedom is not just a word. Our core freedoms as Americans include freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. See –

    The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

    Kenneth – Beyond the above factual statements, I would say that neither you nor His Excellency Lord Bloomberg comprehend the depth of feeling that many Americans (and New Yorkers in particular) have surrounding the 9/11 attacks. If you are an American, you should be ashamed of your stance on this issue. If you are not an American, you should not be commenting at all, as your perspective is that of an outsider. In other words, we are not interested in your opinion.

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