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Atheists cross over World Trade Center cross




Workers prepare the World Trade Center cross to be moved into its permanent home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum after a blessing ceremony on July 23, 2011 in New York City.
Workers prepare the World Trade Center cross to be moved into its permanent home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum after a blessing ceremony on July 23, 2011 in New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

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The 9/11 attack in New York City left behind a terrible disaster area – forever known as Ground Zero. Among the wreckage, two intersecting steel beams remained standing after the towers collapsed. The accidental artifact easily resembles the Christian cross one would find in a church. It has become an iconic symbol for many affected by the tragedy. Last weekend, it was enshrined at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Days later, an atheist group filed a lawsuit to stop the display. The American Atheist's suit names the city of New York, the state of New Jersey, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie among others. It says the "government enshrinement of the cross was an impermissible mingling of church and state." Joe Daniels, 9/11 Memorial president, has said that displaying the cross is "an important part of our commitment to bring back physical reminders that tell the history of 9/11 in a way nothing else could." What do you think of this lawsuit? Does it have any merit? Is there a place for religious symbols in civil life? Is the accidental cross simply an interpretation that people should be free to make – an artifact of an historic tragedy?

Guests:

Dave Silverman, President of American Atheists

Father Brian Jordan, Performed ceremonial blessing of the cross during last weekend’s ceremony; ministered workers at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11