David Silverman’s article, “Of Course the 9/11 Cross Is a Religious Symbol,” discusses American Atheists‘ case “for the removal of the cross as a religious symbol or for the WTC board to approve an atheist memorial alongside to remember the nonbelievers who died on 9/11.”
The 9/11 cross is one of the many steel crossbeams used in the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the crossbeams were found in the rubble. All of them would have remained rubble if Frank Silecchia, a rescue worker, hadn’t allowed his exhaustion to convince him that he was seeing crosses, not cross beams, in “a sort of grotto. Illuminated by the pale light of dawn.” Silecchia felt “a strange sense of peace and stillness” and “could almost hear God saying, ‘The terrible thing done at this site was meant for evil. But I will turn it to good. Have faith. I am here.’” Silecchia “almost” heard God, but his friend Father Brian Jordan definitely saw a pefect opportunity to push Christianity by saving the cross from ending up in a scrap yard.
As Silverman points out, there were atheists among the 3,000 people killed on September 11, 2001. However. thanks to Silecchia and Jordan,
The cross was installed in the World Trade Center (WTC) Memorial in a religious ceremony in 2011 led by Father Jordan. . . . That same year, American Atheists sued for the removal of the cross as a religious symbol or for the WTC board to approve an atheist memorial alongside to remember the nonbelievers who died on 9/11.
On March 29, 2013, Judge Deborah Batts ruled that the cross is a secular “artifact,” not an unconstitutional religious symbol.
Siverman is right, Judge Batts’ decision “is an unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity.” However, even if the cross were not unconstitutional, it is ridiculous that a product of Silecchia’s overheated imagination could become a symbol of the Christian God’s promise to turn evil into good. Moreover, what is the the Christian God waiting for? It’s 2013 already; where’s the good he promised?
The cross is a symbol all right, a symbol of Father Jordan’s quick response to ensure that the 9/11 cross asserts the primacy of Catholic Christianity. The Catholic Church and its representatives have no shame.
As Silverman says, “9/11 was an American tragedy, not an opportunity for preachers to capitalize on catastrophe,” However, the Sept. 11 attacks killed 26 Canadians; I strongly object to the cross as a Catholic/Christian symbol of a promise that an imaginary
God being will make something good out of their death.
“Of course American Atheists has appealed.” Thank you, American Atheists.
h/t: Ophelia Benson