Will American Atheists win its appeal to remove Ground Zero Cross?

911 crossxHere is a court case worth watching — an example of “tyranny of the minority” brought by American Atheists who comprise only 1.6 percent of the population.

Remember those two intersecting steel beams that formed a cross at the World Trade Center wreckage? Upon discovery, the beams immediately became an emotional symbol of the 9/11 attacks.

However, American Atheists are fighting their second court battle to have the Ground Zero Cross removed from the World Trade Center Memorial Museum.

After losing their first lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the United States District Court on March 28, 2013 — American Atheists filed an appeal on August 9, 2013.

That case is now winding its way through the Court of Appeals.

Here is the official filing brief. Please note that the filing address of American Atheists on the front page is P.O. Box 666, the numbers associated with Satan. (This is not a joke.)

The Atheist arguments from the court documents are as follows:

The essential problem with the Cross is that it alienates non-Christians seeking to commemorate the dead, wounded and other affected persons. The Cross also alienates those who wish to learn about events at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The 17-foot tall Christian Cross is one of the largest objects in the Memorial. It dominates all other religious objects. The inclusion of information to accompany the Cross does not change the essential facts that in the present case the government is sponsoring and erecting an indisputably religious symbol which advances one religion above all other religions and non-religion as well.

Fortunately, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is taking the Atheist’s appeal very seriously and will soon be filing a “friend of the court” brief.

The ACLJ and its leader, Jay Sekulow, have been in the news recently because they are representing a majority of Tea Party groups against the IRS. The ACLJ is the conservative counterpart to the ACLU and worthy of your support.

The Director and Senior Counsel of the ACLJ’s Washington office is Colby M. May. He is a friend, so I asked Colby for an exclusive comment about how the ACLJ will frame their arguments in their upcoming brief.

Here is his response:

Regarding the relentless attack on the Ground Zero Cross by American Atheists, and its demand that it be torn down, the simple reality is that the Cross is a historic artifact – an actual piece of 9/11 history.

The two intersecting steel beams found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center became (and remains) a symbol of hope and healing for first responders on the ground in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and for thousands of Americans across the nation. It really means something to those affected.

Despite the unmitigated rage of American Atheists, placing this Cross in a museum does not violate the Constitution.  As the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, the Constitution’s “goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.”  Simply put, the Constitution is not an atheist manifesto.

This is what ACLJ will present to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

It would be a travesty of justice if the American Atheists were to prevail and the Ground Zero Cross removed from its rightful place along side other artifacts from a day that changed America forever.


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