I have never been accused of being anything other than a proponent of the First Amendment protections for Freedom of Religious expression, even if some people do not agree with my interpretation of the same. However, the very item that is at the heart of the recent lawsuit filed by the American Atheists along with “four New York City” residents ‘” a “cross” resembling a Christian cross ‘” Is not to my way of thinking a violation of those protections. I myself AM not Christian, this is NOT “my” religious symbol, and I have publicly made statements on the internet in opposition to what I perceive to be threats posed by Dominionist Christian groups on my First Amendment rights that I hold as a Pagan citizen of the United States.
That being said however, the reason that I do not see the inclusion of the “cross” at the World Trade Center Memorial as being a problem is that it was NOT made with the intent of being a religious icon. It was originally welded together as part of the original SUPPORT structure of the Twin Towers and was discovered in the wreckage by recovery workers in the wake of the attack becoming a symbol of hope.
“This steel remnant became a symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero, as well as for people around the world,” said 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels. “In the historical exhibition, the cross is part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the story of 9/11 in a way nothing else can.”
Also, as part of the exhibit, there will be articles from other faith groups such as a Jewish prayer shawl. This is NOT an indication of favoritism but rather an authentic piece of the event being memorialized. If the American Atheists object to this, why are they also not making fusses about the emphasis on Jewish cultural experience at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC as members of other faith and ethnic groups were also victims of the Nazi death camps?
The whole point of having the “cross” as part of the exhibit is to remind people of the horror of that day as well as the coming together of United States citizens of ALL types of religious persuasions. It does not matter if you have a belief in one God, many Gods or no God at all. All of us were affected that day. This “cross” is not a symbol of Christianity; it is a symbol of unity in the face of adversity. The lawsuit forgets that and shouldn’t.