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9/11 Ceremony won't include clergy or formal prayers
Visitors look over Ground Zero. Some religious leaders are upset there will be no formal prayers during the 10th anniversary ceremony.
August 25th, 2011
07:48 PM ET

9/11 Ceremony won't include clergy or formal prayers

By, Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– As the city of New York prepares to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11, religious leaders are raising concerns over the lack of clergy participating in the anniversary events.

"Utterly disappointed and surprised," Fernado Cabrera a New York City councilman and the pastor of New Life Outreach International church in the Bronx, said over the decision not to include any clergy in the ceremony.

"There's certain things that government cannot do, and answering questions of meaning of 'Why are we going through this?' and 'Where am I going to get strength from?' - those are existential questions that can only be answered from a spiritual aspect," Cabrera said.

"I'm telling you I saw it first hand, the power of prayer," he added of his time at ground zero on September 11, 2001.

Cabrera said he reached out to the mayor's office and was told there would be no prayer in this year's ceremony.

He has started a petition on Facebook to change that.

"The ceremony was designed in coordination with 9/11 families with a mixture of readings that are spiritual, historical and personal in nature," Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said in an e-mail to CNN.

"It has been widely supported for the past 10 years and rather than have disagreements over which religious leaders participate we would like to keep the focus of our commemoration ceremony on the family members of those who died."

The exclusion of clergy was first widely reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League rejected the mayor's office explanation of potential religious infighting over who would get to pray, saying the issue is sorted out all the time for presidential inaugurations and other major events.

"What [the mayor] did is what he often does, which is to make autocratic decisions," Donahue said. "I don't think this is something that will sit well with New Yorkers and the biggest mistake Bloomberg has made is he's given us three weeks."

On July 29 Bloomberg spoke about the ceremony during his weekly radio show. He announced that President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush would both be attending and participating, as well as other politicians and elected officials.

"This cannot be political," Bloomberg told the radio audience. "That's why there's a poem or a quote or something that each one of the readers will read." He added there would be "no speeches whatsoever."

While he was talking about which officials would attend, he noted, "There's an awful lot of people that would like to participate but you just can't do that, once you open it up. So the argument here is it's elected officials and those who were there at the time and had some influence."

There have been 10 ceremonies at ground zero in New York to pause and remember the events of 9/11, one six months after the attack and on September 11 each following year.

Spirituality and religion have been reserved for the moments of silence in those events.

In past ceremonies, four moments of silence were observed to mark when each tower was struck and when each tower fell.

For this year's ceremony, organizers added two additional moments of silence to recognize the strike on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"This year's six moments of silence allow every individual a time for personal and religious introspection," Erskine said.

Throughout the city there will be other prayer events leading up to September 11.

In particular, the New York Police Department will be hosting its own ceremony, which will include prayers, at Lincoln Center on September 8.

The event is scheduled to include Rabbi Alvin Kass, the chief of chaplains for the NYPD; Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop emeritus of New York; and the mayor.

But Donahue and Cabrera said because this is the 10th anniversary, there should be clergy and prayer in the 9/11 ceremony to reflect the contribution faith, religion, and spirituality played in the recovery.

"This is not a message of unity when you begin to exclude people who were crucial in the turnaround moment that we needed," Cabrera said.

Donahue said he hoped the mayor would reconsider and invite clergy to participate.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief

soundoff (1,461 Responses)
  1. GG Liddie

    The whole event is over-stated and hyped to begin with. Americans should consider putting forth an effort to understand what actually happened rather than drivilling on & on about a few thousand dead people. There are worse things happening throughout the World ... every single hour of every single day.
    Get over yourself Amerca ... I've seen tougher pre-schoolers than half the whiners that'll be working themselves up ... AGAIN.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Martin T

      @ GG So enlighten us WHAT really did happen, then??

      August 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Dave

      Politics. Period. Our system is broken.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Gizmologist

      With any luck, you and your family will be the next ones to experience this type of mindless violence.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  2. Dave

    If there is a God, it sucks. Why pray to it at the scene of ANOTHER tragedy.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Dave

      Guess our universe got the stupid God.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Don't do meth

      Your cynicism is pathetic.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • logikflux

      @don't do meth, your mystacism is pathetic.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Don't do meth

      Spell mysticism right and I'll consider you at least a little brighter for the effort. Are you both really so arrogant that you consider other's beliefs entirely foolish? Who said I believe in anything mystic or beyond the natural universe anyway? It's no wonder religious people think Atheists are angry know-it-alls. Idiots like you keep spewing aggressive nonsense instead of actively partaking in an open discussion.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Dave

      You can live any way you like. Ignorant of science. Ignorant of your own faith. Whatever. But atheists and agnostics and people who just don't really give a cr_p know far more about religion than you. You are a pathetic frightened bunny afraid of death and worshiping a dead guy. Whatever.

      P.S. Watch out for "Heaven Sent". Have Bible, will quote it (but with no actual knowledge).

      August 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Don't do meth

      Dave, quit making a fool of yourself! Not once have I said anything about what I believe! YOU assume that I believe in a god because I've decided to point out your simple-mindedness. Stop taking this me vs. the world mentality, you seriously are losing ground every time you start throwing out generalizations about whole groups of people. If you really want people to see the world the way you do, defensiveness and aggression are not the way to go about it. Have an open ear, even if you've decided not to have an open mind.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  3. Colin

    As an atheist, it is funny to watch the various sky-fairy believers jockey for position at events like this. It's like watching your children wrestle and play in the backyard. Sorry, my superst.itious friends, but the adults have real work to do now, so toddle off and cuddle your Bibles, Torahs and Qu'rans, they will keep you safe from reality.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • logikflux

      They also make great hats to keep the government from reading your thoughts.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Pam

      But that's why we were attacked, Colin. Extreme fundamentalist Muslim beliefs. It's not like Christians are initiating the religious aspect – it came to us.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Colin

      Agreed Pam. I just don't see a big difference between any religious fanatics.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Denise

      The pages make great toilet paper in case you run out. So soft!

      August 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Maty

      You are truly a bigoted fool, Colin. Do you feel better now, with all the bile up?

      August 25, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  4. The Pope

    We don't need no stinking clergy. What have they and there weird, twisted, made up beliefs have to do with ANYTHING?

    Or, maybe they could pass out drinks. That would work.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  5. Free Thinker Seeking Reason

    Religion and its corrosive divisiveness caused 9/11. No need to commemorate it any further, thank you. The mayor's office and the victims' families should be applauded for finally taking a stand on this issue.

    America needs to take a long hard look at itself and determine whether it wants to morph further into a theocracy or solidify its founding as a secular nation. The Christian right is quickly becoming the American Taliban. The people have had enough suffering from extremists of any "faith". It's high time to reject this nonsensical woo and return to a world leadership position in science education and research, while there's still a country worth saving.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Pam

      Whether or not we like it, the US was founded on Christian beliefs. More than 80% of our population still claim Christianity as their religion of choice. It's not "becoming" religious. It's actually becoming quite secular! Neither here nor there...the attacks happened whether or not we believe in it.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Martin T

      @ Pam... how many times must we say this.. the US was NOT founded on any Christian principles at ALL! NONE!!! Read your history, dear... take the time to do some research into the writings of our so called forefathers and you will find that MOST if not all of them were Theists, NOT Christians...

      August 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • Martin T

      Also at Pam, where did you get the 80% number? Just curious.... I believe that the last numbers I say were not nearly at 80 percent. Heck, Atheists now make up nearly 20 percent of the population...

      August 25, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • God's God!

      Pam,
      Do your self a huge favor and stop letting other people think for you. Your post should be a great example of this.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Denise

      Hey Pam, you are full of poop. You're just repeating talking points from FOX news. They lie, didn't you hear they are owned by the famous liar, Rupert Murdoch? Do yourself a favor and try to use the brain god gave you to evolve your thinking.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  6. Trent

    Keep thine religion to thyself. Don't force it upon the people who can think clearly.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  7. George Washington Carver

    None of this would have happened if they'd just listened to me about the humble yet mighty peanut!

    August 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  8. sharky

    I say this since Bloomberg is saying this is for the families, IF the families what clergy or prayers THEY should have it. I leave it up to them.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Martin T

      I say if the families want their ministers there or want to pray they should do it in private, they should have them there for support only, but NOT be a part of the event. Why must I and others like me, be subjected to someone's sky god prayer?

      August 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Denise

      What about all the families who DON'T want them there? Shouldn't they count?

      August 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  9. Kingofthenet

    This decision makes Baby Jeebus cry, and ANGRY!!! Yahwey is not pleased either...

    August 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • inthespirit

      Your response was not worth the time it took to type. I feel sorry for your lack of faith but you, and many others posting here, will feel truly sorry when you meet Jesus face to face.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  10. Norm - not that one

    Once again, religious maniacs are bellowing about religious beliefs, and a god, they have no facts to support.
    Demanding (or even "co0mmonly assuming" religion MUST be there is nothing more than arrogance and ignorance – AND it tramples ALL of the people who believe religion should NOT be presented at a government run function.

    You prove "god" – then I'll change to your side!
    Norm – an AMERICAN atheist!

    August 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Martin T

      @ Norm – HIGH FIVE Dude! I am proof that there are atheists in foxholes and I love my country as much as anyone, and I am darn proud to be both an American and an Atheist!!!

      August 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  11. Colin

    I am elated to hear this. A major step to divorce ourselves from our silly belief in Bronze Age sky-gods. This may actually prove to be a bellwether moment in the atheist movement. The ten year anniversary of the biggest religious attack in USA history and no religious leaders are allowed to speak.

    I am a very, very happy person. There is hope for our species yet!!

    August 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  12. mydogsays

    Home
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    23
    Aug

    This Former CIA Asset Turned Whistle Blower (Susan Lindauer) Blows The Lid Off the 9/11 Lies
    Post by Cincy911-Karl. Filed under Activism Programs, Evidence (Historical), Evidence (Physical), Guest Speakers. Comments Off.

    Susan Lindauer was a CIA/DIA asset and worked as a liason between the CIA and Iraq during the 1990′s up until after 9/11/2001. She talks about the Bush administration wanting to go to war with Iraq right after they took office. Then she talks about prior knowledge of plans of terrorists flying planes into the World Trade Center. She contacted Senators John McCain and Trent Lott with her knowledge of the attacks and prior knowledge. Within 30 days of doing that she was arrested by the FBI and charged with many felonies under the Patriot Act. She served one year in prison and the government tried very hard to force medicate her but some doctors kept saying she was completely sane/fine. She was released after a year in prison and under indictment for 5 years. She tried to present her story to major news outlets and none of them would touch it. Most of the information she discusses has been confirmed by several other sources including the World Trade Center being rigged with thermate explosives.

    Susan Lindauer discusses the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center, the hijackers, lies leading up to the Iraq war etc. VERY EXPLOSIVE FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE!

    Google the video "This Former CIA Asset Turned Whistle Blower Blows The Lid Off The 9/11 Lies"

    August 25, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Don't do meth

      Quit smoking that pipe, it's making you paranoid.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Greg

      Haha, you are such an idiot.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  13. Keith

    I think Bloomberg should be the mayor...of Cairo. He'd fit in better with his Muslim Botherhood pals.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • logikflux

      I think you're an 1diot. There, know we all know what everyone thinks!

      August 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Martin T

      I find it funny how man Christians want to send anyone who isn't Just like them, over to some Muslim nation. Get over yourself people, we NON believers are here to stay and rationalism will win out in the end...

      August 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      logikflux, you and the Mayor are on the wrong path.

      Jesus warned,

      Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

      Matthew 7:13

      Amen.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Keith

      rationalism will win out in the end? oh really? Man's feeble attempts at self-government are about to come to a close. I'm curious. What have we had thoughout history to this point? Irrationalism?

      August 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • logikflux

      HeavenSent, you can't use the Bible to prove/justify the Bible. If we could all do that I would write a series of books, slap them together and give you a new "truth" justified by my collection of books.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Martin T

      Ah Keith, what we have had, unfortunately, is a series of societies that have mostly been ruled by and eventually destroyed by, religious fanatics. Read up on the history of nearly ever great society, from Egypt to the Incas, and look for the common ground – religion. The same might be said for this country, as well. If we elect a evangelical president, what will become of us? I agree that as a nation we are falling, and a LOT of it is because of idiots like those Tea Baggers in congress right now. Wait and see, wait and see.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Keith

      The only form of gov't that will work is going to be a monarchy-with Christ ruling from Jerusalem. Yes, we will see won't we?

      August 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • logikflux

      Keith, you're dedicating your life to a lie.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Dave

      HeavenSent,
      That one is getting old. I can't afford any more gates.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Keith

      You're one who's believing the lie. Your eyes have been blinded.

      August 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  14. open eyes

    pardon, my previous message included an error. I meant to say do not share their beliefs. Oooops

    August 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  15. logikflux

    A single pair of hands at work......is worth more than a billion clasped in prayer. What the difference between Zeus and God,... all of Zeus' followers are dead... they are both just as unacceptably imaginary.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Logicfailure, this one’s for you and the Mayor…

      How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.

      Proverbs 1:22

      Amen.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Martin T

      Wow, Heavensent, that was well, simply uninspiring.... quoting the bible is like having to ask the village idiot for the answers to your driving test... both are about as effective....

      August 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • All Powerful Wizard of Odd

      Your "logik" must me "fluxing" on the downturn at the moment. You sound as bigoted as the loonies from Westboro Baptist.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • logikflux

      All Powerful Wizard of Odd, Oh I see what you did there, with the word play, how very clever you must think you are.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • All Powerful Wizard of Odd

      Nice shift of attention, but we both still recognize that you sounded like a pathological bigot in your original post. Why the hate?

      August 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  16. Rex Craigo

    Good call Mayor Bloomberg. As has been said, the idocy of religion is what led to the murder of the people in those towers and removing religion from any ceremony is correct.

    If religion would completely disappear and people would live be the principals of decency the world would be a better place.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  17. Yoda

    They may not have a person of a formal religious situation there, .... but the Force is always with you!

    August 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  18. Observer

    President Bush insists that he talks to God all the time. Apparently, God didn't clue Bush that fanatics were coming to kill Americans. Sure doesn't look like God helped anyone in 9/11 and some top religious leaders claim God caused 9/11 for revenge. So why should God be represented there now?

    August 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • logikflux

      God told Bush where the WMDs were. God=Halliburton

      August 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  19. logikflux

    Imagine if they gave the prayer ceremony to a Muslim from the mosque they are trying to build down the street.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
  20. open eyes

    Here we go again. Christians full of hate bashing those that do not share there beliefs. The only ones spitting in Gods face is your sad lot. Using his name and message of love and turning into rage and hate. I am glad that no clergy will be there. All they would want to do is use into another marketing opportunity. Besides where was the "power of prayer" on September 11? I remember everyone within listening range saying "please God no!" He must have been at Notre Dame Football practice.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • logikflux

      The Hijackers must have prayed to Allah harder.

      August 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.