How is religion the answer to religion? 13 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York a piece of rubble from ground zero is still being debated. The piece in question is a cross beam that has been placed in the 9/11 museum. Recently a federal appeals court tossed out a lawsuit from American Atheists contesting the cross beams entry into the museum unless there was equal representation for Atheists and other non-religious people who died in the attacks on 9/11. The arguments for the cross beam staying in the museum are that it is a historical symbol used by some first responders to increase their faith as they searched for survivors. The court also stated that the cross-beam is a secular piece (even though a cross is the definitive symbol of the Christian faith). The panel also noted, “That the Rev. Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest, welcomed all faiths to a Mass he held regularly at the cross during the rescue effort. Jordan was one of the defendants named in the suit.”
David Silverman, president of America Atheists, had this to say on the matter, “The (appellate) court relied on the words of religious persons, ignoring statements to the contrary from Atheists that a Christian cross is comforting to the non-religious population. The opposite is true.”
The court stated that the “cross”beam is a part of the history of that horrible event. This is true; some first responders may have used this to gain strength during this difficult ordeal. However, it is a ridiculous notion that this “cross” beam is secular. This is clearly a symbol for Christians. It is fine to include this in the memorial as long as there is equal representation. If America is about equality then equal representation needs to be held when government funding is given. A simple plaque in the museum would serve well to represent the non-religious people who lost their lives during the attacks on September 11th. The notion that non-religious people gain strength from this cross beam is insulting. People who are non-religious typically feel this way because they see, rationally, the horrors that happen in the name of religion. How then is someone supposed to gain hope for humanity from a religious symbol during an attack that was religious in nature? Is this case an example of the religious gaining special treatment over the non-religious?
One question that people should ask themselves when thinking about this issue is, “Why would the American government want to stand behind any religion when the attack itself was a religious one?” Yes, the government is standing behind a different religion than the one that claimed responsibility for the attack. Why though would it want to stand behind any religion? Since the birth of Islam in the 700’s, Christians and Muslims have been fighting and murdering each other, for close to 1300 years without an end in sight, to “prove” the strength their of their god–from the Christians trying to retake the “holy lands” with the crusades during the middle ages to Muslims beheading Christians in the Middle East today. The American government is secular in nature and is not suppose to show favor for one religion verse another or over those who are non-religious.
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