I Have a Gripe

September 8, 2011

American Atheists and the World Trade Center Cross

As we move closer to the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history, the organization American Atheists have filed a lawsuit to exclude what has become known as the “World Trade Center Cross” from the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, claiming separation of church and state.

I had an opportunity to review the American Atheists’ website and they are what I call an “equal opportunity offender.” They have quite a high opinion of themselves and belittle those of any faith – Christian, Judaism, Muslims (or as they refer to Muslims as “Mohammedans”), Mormonism – the list goes on and on.

According to an article about the lawsuit on their site, the buildings of the World Trade Center were made of steel girders, so it would make sense that “in the rubble some Christians found a pair of girders still welded that closely (not exactly, but closely enough) resemble a Christian Roman Cross.”

They continue to say that this Cross had been blessed several times by “so-called Holy Men” and “presented as a reminder that God, in his infinite power of goodness, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists, or stop the fire, or hold up the buildings to stop 3000 people from being crushed, cared enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. Ridiculous.”

Now, I don’t begrudge anyone who has a belief in anything – Jew, Pagan, Christian, or Muslim. As long as your belief is pure and not “warped” (a.k.a. terrorists), that is fine with me. But for these people to not only belittle someone else’s belief system, but claim separation of church and state on this issue is shameful and plain wrong.

Over time, the concept of separation of church and state has been molded into whatever a specific group is trying to push; when in reality, it is not what our founding fathers had intended. The original plan of separation of church and state was based on a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist organization in Danbury, CT in 1802 (from which the First Amendment was based). The letter notes the government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In the instance of the World Trade Center Cross, the government is not creating a law or prohibiting the exercise of religion. Therefore, their lawsuit is unfounded.

Ultimately, the World Trade Center Cross is more than a cross; it is a symbol – an artifact from a horrible day that brought comfort to many who toiled on that pile of rubble for months on end to try and bring some closure to the families that lost a loved on that day we will never forget. It is that reason alone why it should be included. It is more about  hope than a specific faith.

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