July 26th, 2011
04:56 AM ET

Atheist group wants to stop World Trade Center cross

A group of atheists has filed a lawsuit to stop the display of the World Trade Center cross at a memorial of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The "government enshrinement of the cross was an impermissible mingling of church and state," the American Atheists say in a press statement.

The group says it filed the lawsuit this week in state court in New York and posted a copy of the lawsuit on its website.

The lawsuit names many defendants, including the state of New Jersey, the city of New York , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Atheism • New York

soundoff (554 Responses)
  1. ross1954

    I agree with the atheists that no cross should be displayed at the NY trade center. The people that died there were of many religions and not all Christians. I hope the GOP who is surely behind this, realizes that we cannot force others to believe as we do. I am a Catholic, but I believe that there should be freedom to believe what you want or bean atheist if you like that.

    September 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Mario

      There are not enough people like you. From an atheist to a catholic, I hope you have a wonderful life,

      October 25, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  2. Stephen

    I think there should be one Memorial to represent all the Religions that were put into practice by the People that were killed in the World Trade Center terrorist attack of September 11,2,001. It could contain the symbols of there Religions and maby a few statues.Like a Buddha Statue and a Statue of the Divine Lord Krishna. As I can remember,the Hare Krishna movement in the U.S.A. got started in New York City and I'm pretty sure that some of the People that lost there Lives that Day were from the Hare Krishna Religion.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • ross1954

      Hey Stphen, you said that beautifully and could not have said it better. I feel bad for Muslin people since many including FOX News think they are all terrorists. What an ignorant country this is!

      September 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  3. Louie

    I am quite sure our Christian friends will be having one heck of a fit if a twisted beam representing the Star of David was put on site. Just take a look at their outrage of the Muslim rec center a few blocks over that was incorrectly called a mosque. No one had a fit that there were strip clubs in the area, either. This is a memorial and not a place so far right theocratic crazies can wage their pathetic war of ideology. Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of other faith died in WTC and the best way to represent those faiths is to keep any representation of one out of the mix.

    August 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You are absolutely correct.

      August 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • ross1954

      Hi Louie, I am not one of those mentioned in your comment. I would not oppose the Mosque at the world tradecenter. But, have you watched Fox News and those in the GOP? they want to run this country on Christianity even though they are the worst offenders when it comes to Christian values they profess to run on. They are so full of it.
      Thank the Lord that they have no one special to run for 2012 election since I am reelecting Obama.

      September 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  4. CAROL

    It's like anything else. If there's a channel on the TV that offends you, CHANGE THE CHANNEL. If the Cross offends you, DON'T STOP AND SAY A PRAYER. But don't tell me I can't say my prayer.

    August 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Brian

      How much sense does that make? You can't say a prayer unless there is a cross? I can't look without seeing the cross.

      August 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The cross is fine. You can worship as you choose. It's just the size and placement of the cross at this place where people of many faiths died is offensive. One religion should not take center stage when people of many religions lost their lives. This should be about those who died, and those who survived. It should be a place where people can grieve together, not be divided by religion.

      August 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  5. Debbie

    i need to add something to my comment i really feel bad for what happen to all those people who suffered and perished in the twin towers and i hope all of them are in heaven, and i pray for their familes.

    August 13, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  6. Debbie

    To all you atheist who say what about the people in the towers who were not christians, well i bet they believe now just as you will.

    August 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • *frank*


      August 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Louie

      Tell me why you don't believe in the other faiths and you have my answer why I do not believe in yours.

      August 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  7. e

    Oh how much time we spend arguing about Jesus, who never existed, and if he did was just a crackpot looking to get money by preying on others for support. And god who doesn't exist either, if only we turned this passion to science and education and thinking what a great country we would be, oh well humanity has made its choice ignorance and stupidity.

    August 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Fernando

      You don't sound very birth or intelligent, my friend. Guess life hasn't been good to you.

      August 13, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Nice personal attack Fernando. I notice you didn't address the contents of the comment at all.

      August 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  8. Floyd

    Some of the Non-Christian Founding Fathers: George Washington (Founder of Masonry in the US, Masonic rules are that one must believe in a higher power but that's about it for Masonic religion), Jefferson (atheist) Ben Franklin (Rosicrucian), Unitarian (and similar groups). There were other US founders that were not members of any religion, and lots of people with other beliefs.

    August 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • E

      As an American Unitarian, I say Why not include MULTIPLE religious symbols? Islamic crescent and star, Christian cross, etc?

      August 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • ralph

      Thank you.

      August 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  9. C Reason

    I agree the cross shows preference of one religion over others. I think it's an insult to any non-christians that died there. I find Christianity offensive (eating Jesus and drinking his blood?) and the thought of it's symbol of hatred oppression and intolerance standing at a memorial that epitomizes the damage religion does to our society is a disgrace.

    Don't these atheists have anything better to do with their money?

    August 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  10. Mark

    To Darkmatter: You said, "Freedom from religion is what the forefathers professed, not a binding to it." Did they actually say that or did they say something more to like separation of church and state?

    August 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  11. Darkmatter

    I am an Atheist and I too think that there should be no display of religion at this site, unless you include ALL religions of the people who died. There's no arguing that the vast majority of Americans are Christian, or that the vast majority of those who died were Christians, but that has no bearing or reason behind the placement of this cross.

    IMO the cross was simply proposed by a group of Christians that have the power to make it happen, and there are more sympathizers than there are dissenters. So, because this is such an emotionally charged issue, you're not going to hear a very loud voice of Americans against it, even though if the government has a hand in it, it is technically against the law. Separation of Church and State is at the very core of this country, to allow all the right to worship, or not, as they see fit. But the later should not and does not apply to government sponsored sites or practices. Freedom from religion is what the forefathers professed, not a binding to it.

    If Christians/Muslims/Hindus/Jews/et al want to erect a monument in memory of the tragedy, they are in their right to do so, but not here, not where the government has more than a hand in it. This site should remain open and neutral to all. You never saw crosses displayed on the towers right?

    August 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  12. True Blue

    Jonathan, I like you already. Thanks for a great comment.

    August 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  13. Alpha

    Ok here we go again, we have to change what everyone does for a few people, seriously this is absurd. If the atheists do not want to say the phrase "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance, then by all means they dont have to. And if schools want to have prayer in class, then the atheists can take that time to go do something else while that prayer is taking place. If the majority want this steel cross in the memorial, that is fine as well, if you atheists want something to represent yourselves aside from the cross, gather funds and have that something added to the memorial. We should not all cower at the small group of atheists and remove a historical item like this just because of a few people who are offended. I am certain some of the American muslims are not going to be happy about the cross, but if they want to add something to represent those they lost, that would be their right. Funny thing though, I dont see the other non-christian religions trying to ban this cross, just the atheists....

    If it offends you, dont look at it, or listen to it, or take part in it.
    Others have the right to have that cross there to represent what it meant to them.

    Our nation would be a lot better if people would keep to their own, deal with the fact that everyone in society should be able to see, or express things in public, while living their own lives in private. If you atheists do not want a cross in your home, then dont put one there. If you dont want to pray or say grace, or say the pledge of allegiance at home, so be it. But in public, you cannot eliminate every little thing to please a small group of people. Here is a suggestion to the atheists, come up with an alternative, have it added to the memorial in honor of the Atheists who were killed (making sure to note who they were on a plaque), and move on with life. You dont have to stop at the cross in the museum, or even look at it, you are free to just walk past it. *sigh* Where is the common sense these days?

    August 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Do you think it appropriate to put the symbol of one faith above all other in this place where people of many faiths were killed? It's not about atheism. It's about common decency and respect for all the victims, not just the ones who went to the same church as you. As long as this is a memorial for the victims of 9/11, it should not hold one religion over others. That's what killed those people in the first place.

      August 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Darkmatter

      Very well said tallulah13!

      August 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • ralph

      A FEW people? Do some checking. Even if only 5% of the population CLAIM to be atheist, plenty of others are but wont' say because this country is so obsessed with Christianity. The people that died are of MANY religions so there should be no religious symbol. Put a memorial on there and then people can worship at home in privacy.

      August 13, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  14. J.R.

    I am Agnostic who believes in God but not organized religion or even the Bible for that matter. But that day, horrific as it was, effected all of us, regardless of faith. Though I may not be a Christian or believe in Jesus, I see nothing wrong with the cross staying and think this lawsuit is silly and should be dropped. What attacked us that day was a perversion of a religion and that perversion is seen in many other faiths and not just Islam.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  15. Seg Weg

    People need to stop complaining about the most ridiculous things. To Atheists and people of other religions. It is unfortunate for you folks but this country has always been based in the Christian belief. The belief is seen in our dollar bills, public telephones and other places where 'in God We Trust' is engraved. As a result of that belief America had always been a blessed country , until......the war on eliminating our religious belief resulted in not allowing displays of such belief and which has resulted in the demise of our country.

    August 13, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • J

      Because the only God that exists is the Christian one, right? I would suggest you open a history book if you truly believe this country is based on the Christian faith. John Adams (our second President and one of the Founding Fathers for you historically illiterate) stated it best in article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli: "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

      August 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • John H.

      In case you missed it, all references to god were added LATER! Our currency did not officially carry the 'in god we trust' motto until 1956 and was not added to the pledge until 1952. Sounds more like Christians were trying to push THEIR values onto the country as a whole in the 50's, yet that's acceptable? I say restore everything to the way the founding fathers wanted, without god!

      August 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Paul


      Although the phrase appeared on a few coins in the late 1800's the phrase hasn't "always" been there. It was enacted as a response to the "heathen" communists.

      "On July 11, 1954, just one month after the phrase "under God" was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance,[7] the U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 84-140, which required the motto on all coins and currency. The law was approved by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966"

      Get your history right, it hasn't "always" been there. Look at the founding fathers who weren't practicing christians. Jefferson, Washington and Franklin were well know deists NOT Christians as we Americans would like to think.

      Good ole revisionist history to help support biggotry now. Ya gotta love it!

      August 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • e

      And for atheists walking around and being bombarded by images of deity worship is very offensive, our country is good (not great, we have many problems, another topic.) because of the hard work of people and our liberties. Not because Americans and 99% of the rest of the world still believe in made up stories designed to control the stupid masses and make them more obedient. I will have to live my whole life surrounded by a world filled with mental midgets who have fooled themselves that faith and belief in deities is the answer instead of using their minds to work out problems, study science and figure out how we leave this planet when it becomes inhabitable in 4 billion years. So as a member of the most oppressed minority group in the history of time, religion is the cause of 95% of the evil in this world and I don't need it in my government.

      August 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  16. Paul in VA

    I am an Atheist and I think this lawsuit is silly. Just another useless lawsuit in our overburdened legal system.

    August 13, 2011 at 5:59 am |
  17. Troy Boyle - President, National Atheist Party

    The National Atheist Party has considered the controversy surrounding the "cross" as a part of the 9/11 memorial, especially in regards to the comments made by Dave Silverman, the President of American Atheists.

    It is expected that people should want to solemnize the site of this tragedy with some sort of memorial. Ceremony and ritual are important to people of all faiths, even none at all.

    We at the National Atheist Party believe that religious icons presented at such a memorial should represent the faiths of all of the victims of this heinous tragedy. While all of the victims assuredly were not Christians, it is certain that many of them were.

    Recognizing this fact, the National Atheist Party has no quarrel with those that would like to see the "cross" as a part of such a memorial, with the caveat that other faiths, including none at all, should also be represented. Personally, I don't think that the atom symbol, suggested by Mr. Silverman, would be appropriate for atheist Americans. I'd like to suggest another symbol: life. What would be most appropriate for the U.S.'s estimated 30 million atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and secularists would be a living garden, symbolizing renewal, and that life continues even in the midst of tragedy.

    Thanks for your time,
    Troy Boyle President, National Atheist Party

    August 7, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  18. Grace

    Alright, here's why we should not have the cross displayed.

    1] What about victims of the attack who were not Christian? New York? I'm sure we had several.
    2] Christians did not found this country. If the Founding fathers saw us now, I think thay'd be dissapointed. This country was founded to escape religous persecution... but look at what the Christians are doing! They may be the majority, but that dosen't exclude the rest of us.
    3] This country is secular. We are not a theocracy. Several of the founding fathers were atheists- it's freedom of religon, but we seem to be reading that as, "Freedom of Chrisatian religon."
    4] The cross was part of the building's framework, or something, yes? Well, that makes the bars quite likley to end up up perpendicular to one another. This like Pizza Hut taking a the pizza that had Jesus on it and mounting it for display.
    5] Do you like lightbulbs? I do. But, be careful, they were invented by an Atheist!- put that light out, or you might go to Hell! And is that a windows compter you're using! Turn it off, toss it out of a window! An Atheist invented it!

    August 2, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      1. The cross is the place where some Christians who were in the recovery and rescue prayed for peace, comfort and strength. No more to claim all victims were Christians than the Ladder 7 truck is to claim all victims were firemen or first responders.

      2. Well that is just a statement and I wish to know what it has to do with the Cross Beams.

      3. Which Founding Fathers were Atheist, but again you are just stating Atheist dictates. Can you relate them to this issue.

      4.Statement of how the Cross Beams ended up cut and standing when most of the structure failed, to many, they felt it was a miracle. It still does not take away how it got there but that folks displayed the positive and peaceful side of Faith and Religion and a connect to a higher power.

      5.….. because the inventor of the light-bulb was an atheist you feel that is good enough reason to exclude it? Wow, …. I think I will leave the simple minds to themselves.... and pray for a return of pfeffernusse to debate with.

      Sorry pfeffernusse. I didn't know how good I had it debating with you until I met this nut. 🙁

      August 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Um...... what does this whole line of conversation have to do with the story? So an Atheist invented the light bulb, that's pretty cool. A Mormon invented the odometer, that's also pretty cool.
      How does it apply to the fact that there are people that would like to have a monument of some kind remembering what happened 10 years ago, and that there are those who are offended by the current monument. Personally since there are people who are offended by the current monument, what do you think would be an appropriate monument for the World Trade Center?

      August 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • J.W

      Make some sort of memorial of the people who died.

      August 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • True Blue

      Pop Quiz for you, Mark from Middle River. WHo invented the light bulb? If you know who, then you MUST prove that he was Atheist.

      August 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Stephen

      And Robert Ettinger,who started the Cryonics movement with His 1964 book" Prospects Of Immortality"was Jewish.He was placed under Cryonic Suspension Himself on July 23rd,2011 by the way. But what does the Religion of People that invented stuff and started radical new" movements"have to do with what Were supposed to be discussing here?

      August 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6
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.