Cross purposes 14

A group called American Atheists have filed a lawsuit in protest against a cross being officially recognized as a 9/11 memorial.

No one deliberately erected the cross. Two iron girders, one vertical with a shorter one attached to it horizontally near the top, were left  standing in the rubble. Some Christians have chosen to treat it as their sacred symbol. A Franciscan monk performed a ceremonial blessing of it when it was moved recently to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Here’s part of a report and commentary on the story:

American Atheists expressed their outrage that, in a memorial partially subsidized by tax dollars, a cross should be the only religious object included.

“We honor the dead and respect the families,” they wrote in a statement on their website, “which is why we will not allow the many Christians who died to get preferential representation over the many non-Christians who suffered the same fate. This was an attack against America, not Christianity, and Christianity’s does not deserve special placement just because THEY think the girders look like their religious symbol.”

In the complaint … American Atheists point out that people of many different faiths died in the attacks. According to the lawsuit, the cross was originally blessed by the priest who ministered to workers clearing the site after the attacks, in response to the workers’ belief that the cross was “a sign that God never abandoned us at Ground Zero.” Naturally, some are asking: whose God are we talking about?

We wonder how Christians reconcile their trust in the beneficence of their all-knowing,  all-powerful god with his permitting those thousands to suffer and die on 9/11. If he didn’t abandon them, what was he doing for them? But that’s an aside. The issue here is whether Christians should be allowed to treat the girders as an officially sanctioned religious memorial.

Although the atheists’ “us vs. them” rhetoric leaves something to be desired, their point is fair. If the creators of the 9/11 Memorial truly want to honor the dead, they can’t include only one religious symbol, even if it was recovered from the wreckage. It might require a little creativity to come up with appropriate tributes to the faith traditions (or lack thereof) of the many people who lost their lives in the attacks – but then again, perhaps it would be best simply not to include the cross at all.

We are entirely tolerant of other people’s choices and behavior if it in no way harms us. We don’t understand why people worship idols and imaginary beings and continue to hope against all experience that, when supplicated, the idol or the unknown god will do something good for them; but we are as unperturbed by their religious foibles as we are by any other kind. A pair of girders are for us simply a pair of girders, and if some choose to hold them sacred and bless them and kneel down before them in prayer, though we may be bemused, we feel no indignation. We cannot live in a state of perpetual emotional turmoil because others (most Americans, in fact) are religious.

Some atheists are arguing that the cross should only be allowed at the Memorial and Museum if other religious – and, presumably, atheist – signs and symbols stand with it.

What signs and symbols? Some religions have them, many do not. Would those that don’t have to devise them specially?

How does anyone know what some three thousand individuals believed?

What sign or symbol would the protesting atheists put up for their supposed like-thinkers who perished on that day?

We would like to know what our readers think about this.

  • Joyce

    If you are against it, ask yourself some questions. Why am I threatened by the cross? What real difference does it make to me, if it has no meaning to me. Why do I have to have my way? What am I really afraid of? The way I see it is a true Christian believes Jesus is the son of God and that Jesus died on that cross and that a believer believes he died too. He now lives with and by the spirit of God. Christians know He died for ALL. We have to choice Him he doesn’t force us to choice Him. He just made away for us. As a christian our job is to love others just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. As a christian we are not free from suffering as a matter of fact we are called into suffering just as Christ suffered. That does mean He doesn’t love us or that we have done anything to deserve suffering. We live in a world full of good and evil. So back to the question What am I really afraid of? Why does the cross really bother me? Think about that for awhile. Seek and you will find. 

    • Frank

      You can’t be serious! I am no more afraid of your god than I am of Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter books. They are both fictional characters. I’ll let George Carlin tell you what I think about religion.

    • George

      Joyce , who do you think you’re fooling with your nonsense proselytizing ? First of all , if there was a guy named Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago , anyone with common sense knows that such an individual is long dead and is nothing but dried bones or ashes.  No man can die for the “sins” of other people —-how absurd.     You go to your churches and allow preachers to brainwash you with this rubbish and then you want to push it on everyone else.  Most religions teach that THEIR religious belief is the true belief system and that all others are false beliefs . What makes yours any different ?  You don’t believe in the old religious icons and gods  such as Zeus , Apollo, Thor, Poiseidon, Mithra and others do you ? Of  course not. That means that you are therefore ATHEISTIC towards every one else’s religion and religious belief. I simply have taken it one step further than you and reject one more religion than YOU do —-YOURS !!!!!    Your claiming to believe in some invisible, formless , indescribable   Space Ghost up in the sky or in outer space is the epitome of fantasy, mythology and superstition.   We’ve heard it all before and your diatribe is no different and makes no sense whatsoever.  
                          A Christian friend of mine asked me why don’t I believe in God . I told him I don’t believe in God for the same reason he doesn’t believe in the Tooth Fairey.  He said , but that’s superstition ( unprovable ). I said ———————BINGO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Exactly my point.   You are no different than the child who believes in Santa Claus , Mother Goose,  The Tooth Fairey , Mother Goose  and The  Easter Bunny or Tinker Bell.  However some of us  have  grown up and face reality—-  You need to try it yourself and wake up from your FANTASY  WORLD  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     

  • George

                                             You’re not going to believe this .   I was reading the article regarding  ” Cross purposes ” on this site and then moments later I read the local paper with an article by the  notorious atheist basher Ann Coulter who is at it again –with another diatribe of anti-atheist drivel and hypocrisy as usual.   Today ( July 30, 2011 – Saturday ) I am reading the newspaper and here is an article by Ann Coulter titled—–   ” New york Times bashes Christians again ” .     She goes on to say that Timothy McVeigh was   ” a pot smoking atheist”  and other nonsense BS.  She is quoting an alleged statement asserting that McVeigh made the statement — ” Science is my religion” .  Coulter goes out of  her way to defend Christianity at any cost and makes  excuses for Christian zealot hate-mongers IMHO but she has no qualms whatsoever about those who routinely bash  atheists perpetually.  Ann Coulter is totally silent on the routine atheist  bashing by conservative radio talk show hosts.   
                          If you  ever get a chance  , check out these two  websites —–   The first is a website titled– ” Was Timothy McVeigh A Christian Terrorist ? ” — by Siarlys  Jenkins.   The second website is  from   and is titled– ” An Accurate Look At Timothy McVeigh’s  Beliefs  ”  — by Bruce Prescott ( dated Jan. 26, 2010 ).   It is clearly evident that McVeigh was a god believer and embraced the Christian identity movement .
                    Ann Coulter makes a singular alleged quote from McVeigh yet claims that Christians who make various religious quotes are just uttering a “moniker”. I find this to be IMHO a bunch of hypocrisy, double-standard and intentional misleading deceit.
                          It’s amazing how people like Ann  Coulter can write a book titled  “Godless” which is repleat with atheist  bashing and repleat with falsehoods and anti-secular propagandist rhetoric and yet she has the unmitigated gall to accuse others of bashing Christianity. What a freakin’ hypocrite.  If McVeigh used the statement –” Science is my religion” as a handy moniker , then so what ?  This was never verified or substantiated but made as a heresay claim.   Here we have  Ann Coulter jumping to conclusions while at the same time accusing others of doing such.   I don’t know of any atheist who has a regular syndicated column in any major mainstream media source .  Ann Coulter goes on to talk about that nut-case Muslim —–Major Hasan  ( the terrorist who shot military personel at Ft. Hood )  but she failed to mention that he was a RELIGIOUS ZEALOT FANATIC  and it had NOTHING to do with atheism.   Coulter goes on to mention names like Christopher Hitchens and Madalyn Murray O’Hair   ( neither who ever engaged in any form of terrorism or violence whatsoever ).  
                          The mainstream media will always give credence to the likes of Ann Coulter who  routinely attack  atheists while screaming “foul” about anyone who makes criticism of   Christianity.   In the mind of Ann Coulter , it’s OPEN SEASON always on atheists but Christians are always regarded as the UNTOUCHABLES and above criticism or scrutiny .
                                        Ground Zero is a result of Muslim zealots engaging in a terrorist attack upon America.    Who got blamed for such ?  ATHEISTS !    What did atheists have to do with it ?  NOTHING !!!   Now the Christian zealots ( not all Christians )  want to put a cross at the scene as a monument as if ALL  Americans are  Christians ( while totally ignoring the diverse beliefs of American citizens as a whole ). As long as we have an overwhelmingly biased media that panders to the religious Christian society while ignoring the beliefs of others, these bigoted Christian zealots like  Ann  Coulter can get away with it . 
                             Personally , I don’t find the Christian symbol of the CROSS as a model symbol for society to cherish.     I find nothing moralistic by  cherishing a gory symbol representing  a bloody man impaled on two pieces of wood wearing thorns on his head and a mere loin cloth covering his crotch during an  ancient society of 2,000 years ago when the society where this allegedly occurred  (if it did)  was a barbaric culture with barbaric and superstitious beliefs.   We’re now living in the era of the Space Age  and not the era where people believed in a flat earth,  sticks turning into serpents, burning bushes talking to people , and people rising magically up into the sky to meet an invisible supernatural Sky Daddy.    I would rather  cherish and respect a symbol representing logic, reason, rational thinking and/or science than some  barbaric symbol of an ancient time and superstitious culture . I’ll bet if an atheist group wanted to put up a secular symbol at Ground  Zero, then the likes of Ann Coulter and the rest of Christianized America would be going “ballistic” and foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs.   Amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Andrew M

      In the immortal words of Bill Hicks, “You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a fucking cross?”

      I caught that Coulter article as well, and it made me cringe. Not only is she completely deluded into Christianizing every piece of history which actually went against the ruling church, but she managed to snipe at Tim McVeigh because of his drug use and lack of religion INSTEAD OF his extremely warped and wicked mind. Pot-smoking atheists who are probably more productive than Coulter everywhere, smeared in a single sentence. She, like plenty of others, is a disgrace to the conservative movement – and I know because I saw her at CPAC too. “I am a Christian, I am a sinner” – fairy tales have no place in politics! “Go sinning!” (That was my quote in response. True story.)

      The saddest thing is that she and the rest of the Christianistas are correct on the Islamic question – this makes us awkward political bedfellows. Whatever, I’ve clenched my teeth much harder in the past, it’s not like we have a nation to save… oh, wait…

  • Ralph

    Our efforts should be directed toward the classroom; not toward coins, memorials or cemeteries.

    • Frank

      Ralph,I agree it is very important to keep religious nonsense out of the classroom. But Christians became emboldened to demand all that now because we acquiesced to the other seemingly minor demands. It is the perfect example of the camel’s nose metaphor – “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.”

      • George

        Hey Frank, check out the New York  Times article today ( July 31, 2011 -Sunday ) titled— ” Behind an anti-Sharia Push ”    :  Orchestrating A Grass-roots Campaign   by Andrea Elliot.      Some states in the USA have already put in place state law amendments to outlaw any recognition to Sharia law or its tennants in the USA .  More states are following suit.  It should be national federal law that prevails nation wide. 
                             Yes, the  Christian zealots are trying to promote their Christianista agenda to turn the USA into a Christian theocracy but Islam is a million times worse. I fear the Muslim radicals a zillion times moreso than the pain in the butt Christian nut-cases. If I had to chose between the Christian Bible-humpers or the murderous jihadist radical Muslims , I  would prefer dealing with the pesky Christians if I had a choice . This is the delema we find ourselves in today.  One group will annoy or antagonize the crap out of you while the other will threaten or kill you. That’s our choice unfortunately.

        • Frank

          I agree George we need to fight both groups. Here’s a short video about what is currently happening in Australia. The same thing can happen here.Muslim Sharia Law in Australia

  • Frank

    It is because of apathy like that displayed in the article that we now have “In God We Trust” as our national motto instead of “E Pluribus Unum” and the phrase “under god” in the Pledge of Allegiance. I agree with the law suit and the position stated on the AA website.
    “This was an attack against America, not Christianity, and Christianity’s does not deserve special placement just because THEY think the girders look like their religious symbol.”
    It is time to take a stand against the religious nut-jobs who are trying to take control of this country and turn it into a theocracy.

    • George

      Today , radical Islam is the biggest global threat on the planet , followed up by the Jesus Freak zealots . One is simply currently more dangerous than the other.   Both want to convert everyone to their theological beliefs. If a religion were truly good as proclaimed , then the religionists could simply present their beliefs to the public and let the public decide if it’s for them voluntarily, but  oh no—not them .  If a religion were good then it can stand on it’s own merits and certainly would not require force and fear tactics to gain adherents. It’s because these indoctrinated zealots actually believe they know what’s best for all of us according to their belief-system.   Currently it’s  either convert or die  by the Muslims or convert or go to hell by the Christians.  There is no such thing as freedom to chose and/or reject at one’s will according to these zealots . 

    • George

      You’re so right Frank , but unfortunately the vast majority of people don’t want to do anything but sit around and whine about the problem ( both the religious and the secular ).   I ‘m  composing a letter today even though I get so frustrated on a regular basis feeling as if  I’m the “lone wolf” speaking up in my geographical area.  I often feel like just  “throwing in the towel ” and just saying  ” f*** it ! ”  .    I realize this is out of my perpetual frustration.    I wonder how many atheists in America will write a rebuttal letter regarding the recent Ann Coulter article.   Probably none or a select handfull nationwide if any.   I see bigoted Christian letters and IMO biased and bigoted articles in USA TODAY and other print media sources  regularly but no rebuttal letters from ANY atheists.   Often times I write letters to various news sources and they do not get printed ( a few do ). If we as atheists would ‘flood” the newspapers with letters to the editor and complain about the biased articles , then they will sit up and take notice that we are fed up with the anti-secular bigotry and biased reporting.
                      Atheists need to speak up at community events on a professional civil presentation and also at city council meetings, and media interviews as well. Atheists need to engage in helpful and useful deeds in the various communities on a friendly basis and let people see that we are charitable and caring.
                           Various groups who have been discriminated in America have taken their complaints public ( but not atheists ).   We have had the womens liberation movement (aka-feminist movement ) , the GLBT movement who go public , the black Civil Rights Movement, and various others who marched, demonstrated, spoke out publicly and insisted upon being treated as equal human beings ( but not secular freethinkers ) .  It appears to me that we (atheists) are the only group in America who believe that we are going to make tremendous gains in society by simply chit-chatting to one another and  complaining about this and that within our own ranks . 
                   There is an old saying— ” Insanity is expecting to get different results by doing the same old thing” . There is another saying—– ” If you keep on doing what you’re doing , then you will continue to get the same old outcome “.   Back in 1990 , I called Madalyn Murray O’Hair long distance and told her how frustrated I was by the refusal of fellow atheists to speak out publicly and write rebuttal letters and let our voices be heard in the mainstream public and to stand up to the religious zealot nut-cases.  I asked Madalyn, why was this the case .   I told Madalyn that I tried everything imaginable to motivate atheists to stand up publicly to no avail.  Madalyn said to me very bluntly—  :     ” George,  that’s because they are COWARDS ” .  I will never forget that statement and it still rings true today even though atheists are in denial . Atheists need to grow a spine in order to save our freedoms and our future.  I’ve had a few people  tell me I  have an uphill battle in my effort  and that is certainly an understatement. I’ve had a few others say that  they attempted the same for a long time and it was to no avail and they eventually said —” What’s the use ”  and gave up.
                             I love the idea of atheists having various forums to discuss issues among one another , but if we continue to refuse or be afraid to take our voices public, then we will continue to be walked over like a doormat and they ( religious zealots ) will win. It’s that simple. If atheists can’t understand this , then atheists are not rational in the true sense. Atheists may be rational in the sense that we do not embrace a belief in the supernatural but we are totally irrational by not putting our rational thinking into pragmatic use .
                        Pardon my using a Biblical verse —-but it is written  : ” A tree is known by the fruit it bears and a man is known by his works” .    The key word here is “WORKS” , not lip-service.  I’ve been trying to organize atheists /secular humanists / freethinkers for about 3 decades now in practical good will projects and public exposure for us to gain  recognition publicly to NO avail. The atheists overwhelmingly don’t want to get involved or do anything. They ALL felt totally content in just coming together once a month in a gathering and listening to some freakin’ speaker exalt secular freethought and badmouth  theology behind closed doors and then they would leave feeling as though they had accomplished something. It’s mind boggling. If the religious zealots win , it will be because we let them by our failure to stand up and fight back. And  people wonder why I remain so frustrated. You see Frank , we are basically the problem for our failure to do what is necessary to take our voices to the public forum on a broader scale and speak up and get involved.   Since we overwhelmingly remain publicly silent because of being intimidated  and fearful , ( and   I perfectly understand the fear factor ) , considering what I have had to put up with.   Collectively as a large scale vocal group , we can make a difference in the public  sphere. It’s time we as secular freethinkers  everywhere come out of the closet and be heard for our future and for our very freedom and survival.

  • Andrew M

    I think the girders should stay. But then that means there can be Star of David girders and girders bent into crescents, and I know for sure that someone will have a problem with that last one (me notwithstanding).

    The First Amendment clearly states that the free exercise of religion may not be infringed, which is why I tolerate any symbol of madness on the turf of destruction. Then again, it also stipulates that the government cannot be partial to any particular denomination of idolatry, so don’t come asking for my tax dollars when your cross gets rusty. Also, the freedom of religion is logically impossible to grant unless the practitioner has the freedom from all other beliefs, whatever they may be.

    Personally speaking, I find the glorification of these criss-crossed girders somewhat demeaning to the nature of the attack. It was carried out by nineteen Muslims who attacked 3,000 individuals guilty of the oh-so-heinous crime of ignoring Islam and enjoying the fruits of the Devil’s Empire. And honestly, the only symbol which I would like gracing the rotten fruits of their jihad is that beautiful flag of the Devil’s Empire, because it is the only device which makes us forget our petty religious differences and remind us that we are one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    It doesn’t mean we always have to like each other, but we must always defend each other against those who hate us.

    • George

      The Christian people who are “pushing” this are the zealots who actually believe that only Christianity is the established true-American belief ( or should be the belief ) of ALL  Americans.  It doesn’t matter how much you present facts to these closed-minded zealots , they are convinced in their own mind that they are right and we are without any doubt—-completely WRONG !!!   Their minds are totallly “saturated”  with their life-long indoctrination and they are convinced that they are doing the right thing.  They actually believe that rational and logical thinking people are the ones who are  brainwashed. They actually believe that only their beliefs matter and none other should. They actually believe that it’s their way or the highway.  They actually believe that they are so enlightened and knowledgeable and we freethinkers are so misguided and lost. Organized religion has been proven for ages to be the most effective tool for controlling, oppressing, exploiting ,enslaving , and vanquishing massive large scale numbers of people.  It’s not going away anytime soon.  Their heels are dug in .  In their minds, as long as people everywhere see a Christian  CROSS , it will remain imprinted in their mind the Christian notion and their claim  that we are a Christian society. The CROSS is the synbol of their belief-system and they want it displayed everywhere as a psychological mental proselytizing symbol.    I have a prediction that the radical Muslims are going to engage in so much terror and violence around the world that they (radical Muslims )  just may be the “catalyst” social magnet  to bring other religious groups and secularists together for our very survival. I predict it will be a case of unite together for our very survival or die and put aside our petty differences and join hands to stand up and fight these nut-case terrosists who want to anihilate us.  I predict that things are going to come to a boiling point and people worldwide are going to say——ENOUGH !     Maybe it’s just me, but it appears to me that the various atheists groups are ranting more about the  CROSS  than the Ground Zero Mosque.  I wish the atheist groups will make a fuss about speaking out against the Muslim terrorist cells and the  Muslim training camps in  America and the so-called “honor killings” and sharia law as much as they are so quick to get furious  about a CROSS.  I agree that the cross should not be there. Now is the time that we must fight back for our survival against terrorism.  They ( and we ) won’t have any choice. Hopefully it won’t be too late. I believe it will be the evangelical Christians that will be the ones who will initiate standing up and fighting the zealot Muslims . Officials arrested another Muslim military nut-case who was going to go on a shooting rampage at Ft. Hood. I wonder IMHO if  American Atheists will make as much noise about this wacko as they do about the darn cross.  Just wondering.