Atheists vs. the 9/11 Cross


National Review

Go to this article

Want to understand the Catholic faith?

ABSTRACTAtheists vs. the 9/11 Cross - Nathaniel Botwinick - National Review Online Get FREE NRO Newsletters   Log In   |   Register Follow Us     September 10 Issue  Subscribe to NR  Renew  September 10 Issue   |   Subscribe   |   Renew Home The Corner The Agenda Campaign Spot The Home Front Right Field Bench Memos The Feed The Tyranny Blog Media Blog Audio & Video The Latest Three Martini Lunch Uncommon Knowledge Between the Covers Ricochet Kudlow’s Money Politic$ David Calling Exchequer Phi Beta Cons Planet Gore Critical Condition Tweet Tracker NR / Digital Subscribe: NR Subscribe: NR / Digital Give: NR / Digital NR Renewals & Changes Shop! Donate Media Kit Contact Editors: Chi-Town Shakedown Botwinick: Atheists vs. the 9/11 Cross White: The Decline and Fall of Catholic Democrats? Editors: Fear Not the Bounce Rosett: The Real Rules of the U.N. Human Rights Council Pipes: Democrats Fib Again about Israel Charen: Why Bill Clinton Is All Wet Sowell: Democrats, God, and Jerusalem Prager: ‘God,’ ‘Jerusalem,’ and the DNC Lowry: The Lost Ethic of Fraser Robinson Capretta: The Medicare Distortions Editors: The Democrats’ GM Fiction Beauprez: Obama Doubled the Jobs Deficit Barone: The Magic of 2008 Eludes Obama Fund: ‘None of the Above’ Should Be on the Ballot Lopez: Let Dems Lie? McCarthy: Double-Minded Republicans Steyn: A Nation of Sandra Flukes Kudlow: Obama’s Same Old, Same Old Symposium: Assessing the Conventions New on NRO . . . Close To: Your Email: Your Name: Subject: September 11, 2012 4:00 A.M. Atheists vs. the 9/11 Cross They would like to rewrite American history without religion in it. By Nathaniel Botwinick Archive Latest RSS Send Follow •   followers The ‘9/11 cross’ Print Text   Comments 11 T he American Atheists organization has sued the National September 11 Memorial and Museum over the installation of the “9/11 cross” in the museum. The organization’s president, David Silverman, insists that it will not “allow this travesty to occur in our country.” The 20-foot cross — two steel beams that had held together as the building collapsed — was discovered in the rubble of Ground Zero on September 13, 2001, by construction worker Frank Silecchia. The 9/11 cross became a venerated object, and many of those who were searching for survivors and clearing debris from the “pit” took solace from its existence. On October 4, 2001, it was moved to a pedestal on Church Street, where it was treated as a shrine by visitors to Ground Zero for the next five years. In October 2006 it was removed to storage, and in July 2011 it was returned to the site for installation in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Advertisement The cross will not be displayed in the memorial; it will be included in a section of the museum featuring ways workers sought to “[find] meaning at Ground Zero.” Its inclusion is for historical purposes, and not as a religious memorial. Yet the American Atheists decided that this was offensive and filed a lawsuit alleging that the display of the cross violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, equal-protection laws, and civil-rights statutes. Unfortunately for the American Atheists, the law is clearly on the side of the September 11 Museum. The Establishment Clause is the centerpiece of the American Atheists’ case. They argue that “the challenged cross constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land.” This argument is specious in two separate ways. First, the museum is not a government organization; it is run by a private foundation, and thus its actions should be construed as private speech. Second, the display of the 9/11 cross in the museum falls well within the guidelines for displays of religious objects that the Supreme Court has upheld time and time again. In one of the landmark cases on the Establishment Clause, Lynch v. Donnelly , the Court held that religious displays on government property were acceptable because “in the line-drawing process called for in each case, it has often been found useful to inquire whether the challenged law or conduct has a secular purpose,.......