September 11 museum allowed to display Ground Zero cross-shaped beam

NEW YORK Mon Jul 28, 2014 2:17pm EDT

Father Brian Jordan (L), a Franciscan Priest, blesses The World Trade Center Cross, made of intersecting steel beams found in the rubble of buildings destroyed in the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, before it is transported and lowered by a crane into an opening in the World Trade Center site below ground level where it will become part of the permanent installation exhibit in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, in New York, July 23, 2011.  REUTERS/Chip East

Father Brian Jordan (L), a Franciscan Priest, blesses The World Trade Center Cross, made of intersecting steel beams found in the rubble of buildings destroyed in the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, before it is transported and lowered by a crane into an opening in the World Trade Center site below ground level where it will become part of the permanent installation exhibit in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, in New York, July 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Chip East

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A cross-shaped steel beam pulled from the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center in New York days after the September 11, 2001, attacks can be displayed in the national memorial museum at the site, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Monday.

An atheist group in 2011 sued the museum and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seeking to block the display as unconstitutional, arguing that the cross was a religious symbol that had no place in a government-sponsored institution.

In 2013, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts dismissed the lawsuit, and a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld her ruling in a unanimous decision on Monday.

“As a matter of law, the record compels the conclusion that appellees’ actual purpose in displaying The Cross at Ground Zero has always been secular: to recount the history of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath,” Circuit Judge Reena Raggi wrote for the court.

Rescue workers unearthed the crossed set of girders two days after the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people when al Qaeda members deliberately flew two hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center’s twin towers.

The cross quickly became a symbol to hundreds of people, some of whom attended religious services held in front of it. It now stands in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which opened to the public in May.

A lawyer for the nonprofit group American Atheists, which filed the lawsuit, did not immediately return a call for comment. The group had argued on appeal for a plaque next to the cross commemorating the atheists who died in the attacks.

Mark Alcott, a lawyer for the museum, said his client was pleased the court had found the “actions of the museum’s curators in depicting the historical events surrounding 9/11 ... to be secular in purpose and intent.”

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Comments (4)
REnninga1 wrote:
“As a matter of law, the record compels the conclusion that appellees’ actual purpose in displaying The Cross at Ground Zero has always been secular: to recount the history of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath,” Circuit Judge Reena Raggi wrote for the court.”

RESPONSE:
Secular?
Of the millions of tons of steel removed from the piles, the museum just happened to choose to display a piece in the shape of a cross?
And this has nothing to do with the religious bent of those in charge of the museum?
Yeah, right (wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)

If Americans are expected to respect the decisions of Federal Courts, we should at least be able to read their written decisions with a straight face.

Jul 28, 2014 1:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
REnninga wrote:
“As a matter of law, the record compels the conclusion that appellees’ actual purpose in displaying The Cross at Ground Zero has always been secular…,” Circuit Judge Reena Raggi wrote for the court.”

RESPONSE: Secular? Really? Of the millions of tons of steel removed from the piles, the museum just happened to choose to display a piece in the shape of a cross? And this has nothing to do with the religious bent of those in charge of the museum? Yeah, right (wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)
Good grief. If Americans are expected to respect the decisions of Federal Courts, we should at least be able to read their written decisions with a straight face.

Jul 28, 2014 1:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
REnninga wrote:
“…I wish the atheists would just shut up and go away.”

RESPONSE:
I know this may come as a surprise to you, but Non-Christian does not mean “atheist.”

“…Why should their rights trump the rights of many millions more people who are not atheists?”

RESPONSE:
Your argument suggests that a majority should rule, as regards the display of religious symbols on public property, although the US Constitution explicitly says otherwise.
The rights of a majority do not trump the rights of a minority, rather their rights are “equal”, as are their protections.

Jul 28, 2014 8:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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