9/11 Survivor, Head of Atheist Group on Why a Steel Cross Should Stay Put in the Memorial Museum, and Why It Should Go
The people behind the September 11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero are defending a display featuring a cross made out of scrap metal that was found in the rubble after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. After a national atheist group called the display unconstitutional and sued to have it removed, the museum is asking the judge to toss out the lawsuit.
Today on America Live, President of American Atheists David Silverman says it's their job at the museum to chronicle history, but that this crosses the line in chronicling the event as something solely affecting Christians.
"When we look at the 9/11 event, we
find an event that captured the hearts and minds of all Americans equally. It wasn't a Christian event," Silverman said.
He continued, saying that in reality, it's a public museum funded by public money in which a cross was instituted and consecrated by a priest on public grounds.
Some would argue that the cross is being included in the museum simply because it was found, and no symbol of atheism was found ... perhaps because the group doesn't have a symbol associated with their beliefs, or lack thereof. "We find the assertion that it's not religious to be insulting to our intelligence," he said.
Joe Conner, however, is one man and September 11 survivor who says that prayer was a part of the events that happened that day, regardless of religion. Conner himself survived, but lost a cousin who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald.
"I'm angry that we are being forced to defend this," he told Megyn Kelly, saying that the presence of the cross gave people inspiration in the midst of the tragedy. "It was part of the tradition of what happened that day ... it was very important to the people who were down there at the time."
Conner recounted his own morning, detailing how when he and his brother fled, they ran into a colleague of his on a side street -- she happened to be Jewish. "We went into [a] cathedral, and we prayed. There was prayer that day. That's what we did."
Conner also invoked the words of George Washington, quoting: "Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."
"They're trying to [take away these supports] a little at a time with these frivolous lawsuits. [...] Our country needs to stand tall. It's so much easier to destroy than to create things," he said.