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Atheists sue over World Trade Center cross

Religion

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, construction worker Frank Silecchia discovered a 17-foot-tall cross, made up of intersecting steel beams, standing amidst the rubble. It became an icon for many, a reminder of God's presence even in the face of tragedy.

During the site's cleanup, the cross was temporarily erected on the grounds of a nearby church in lower Manhattan.

Last Saturday, the cross was moved into the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Memorial president Joe Daniels explained that the cross is "an important part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the history of 9/11 in a way nothing else could."

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On Monday, American Atheists filed a lawsuit claiming that installing the steel beam cross in a government-funded museum is unconstitutional because it creates a "mingling of church and state."

According to a report in The Christian Post, Dave Silverman, president of the atheist organization, is demanding that if a Christian symbol is included in the museum, others must be represented. "As a public accommodation, the memorial must allow us (and all other religious philosophies) to include our own display of equal size inside the museum, or not include the cross. Equality is an all-or-nothing deal," he said in a statement.

First of all, no one is requiring Silverman, or other atheists, or those of other religions to walk into the museum and see those intersecting steel beams as a Christian cross. But those beams, in the shape of a cross, were the only things left standing at Ground Zero on that awful day. To exclude them from the museum would be wrong. And to include symbols of atheism and other religions-items that weren't at Ground Zero-would also be wrong.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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