Editorial: Do not allow a cross to defile Trade Center memorial

The Brooklyn Paper
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Bay Ridge’s Republican Rep. Michael Grimm is fighting a principled battle to allow a religious icon — the so-called “9-11 cross” — to become the centerpiece of the World Trade Center memorial museum.

Trouble is, Grimm is arguing the wrong principles.

The freshman congressman is pitching legislation that would enshrine as a national monument a cross-shaped piece of rubble that was recovered from the wreckage of the Twin Towers.

The legislation is an attempt to subvert a lawsuit by a group of atheists that argues that installing such a cross in a government-funded museum on government property amounts to a government sponsorship of a religion, specifically Christianity.

“This is a country that was founded on a belief in God, period,” Grimm told us this week. “Anyone that wants to dispute that, I wouldn’t waste my time with them.”

Well, we don’t believe it is a “waste” of time to debate our government’s role in religious matters. Indeed, it gets to the very core of our democracy and our adherance to our nation’s highest values.

Our beef, of course, is not with the cross. Christians are — and should be — free to display their religious symbols without government intrusion. But the flip side of that First Amendment protection is that government cannot abuse its power by trumpting one religion over another — or even over the public’s right to not believe in any deity at all.

In the case of the “9-11” cross, there is no argument that the relic has given comfort to thousands of people. As such, Grimm has argued that in the context of the terror attack, these seemingly heaven-sent crossbeams are not a religious symbol, but a symbol of “hope and freedom” to everyone.

On this he is wrong. The relic is, in fact, a Christian cross. As such, it has no business being the centerpiece of a national memorial to the World Trade Center’s thousands of victims — Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, atheists and, yes, Christians among them.

Grimm’s bill is not without irony, of course. The World Trade Center was destroyed by Islamic terrorists in the name of their God. With his bill, Grimm would debase the Trade Center memorial by using “our” God as a counter-argument to that fanaticism.

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Reader Feedback

Christina from Ridgewood says:
"The relic is, in fact, a Christian cross."

The relic is, in fact, a piece of steel from a building.
Sept. 8, 2011, 7:09 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
The Brooklyn Paper would endorse it if it were a Bike Path, they belive in the God of Pedal Power.

In the meantime, they've failed civics, believing that they have Freedom From Religion.

Maybe we can get a huge question mark made of steel, and they can ride their bikes around it and sing!
Sept. 8, 2011, 9:48 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Now - the Brooklyn Paper wants to go to Normandy and remove all the crosses from the graves there - but they had to look up Normandy.
Sept. 8, 2011, 9:49 am
Elmer Gantry from Heaven says:
Of course Americans have Freedom from Religion: that's brought the Pilgrims and so many other countless people here over the past 235 years.

People came to America because they knew they would never be forced to worship someone else's religion -- unlike so many of the lands they hailed from.
Sept. 8, 2011, 10:17 am
Diana from Fort Greene says:
I completely agree with The Brooklyn Paper's opinion.
Sept. 8, 2011, 10:22 am
Frank from Furter says:
the choice of what headstone to place on a military grave, is the individuals, or the family...not the government.

BTW the allowed headstones include Atheist...I am not kidding..
Sept. 8, 2011, 10:30 am
Jonathan J. Judge from Kensington says:
I respectfully disagree with the conclusion of this editorial. I do agree there could be legitimate concern about an official government action protecting the right to include steel beams that, by divine intervention or by chance, took the shape of a cross. At the same time, it has tremendous significance to many victims' families, many New Yorkers, many Americans and many people around the world. It is, in fact, an inextricable part of the somber narrative of 9/11, regardless of any religious connotation that has been attached to it. Because of that, it ought to be included in the memorial, just as much as any other symbol of significance, whether the origin of such symbol be Muslim, Jewish, atheistic, non-religious and so forth. We must demonstrate the strength and success of the American principle of religious freedom--something Islamic fundamentalist terrorists can never accept. But we cannot do that by virtue of excluding all religious references from the site. Indeed, we should boldly flaunt how many more people of different faiths, especially Christians, Muslims, and Jews, stand diametrically opposed to the gross evil, destruction, murder and anguish that these fanatical mass murderers have inflicted on humanity allegedly in the name of their twisted notion of God. If anything, let's show the world exactly how many more of us stand in solidarity with religious freedom, tolerance, and liberty for all, regardless of who they are or what they believe. That, in my opinion, is the best revenge against the puny posses of perverse psychopaths who would endlessly slaughter people different from themselves in the name of religion.
Sept. 8, 2011, 10:42 am
heydg from Brooklyn expat says:
Blah, blah, blah, keep your religion to yourself. Have a nice day.
Sept. 8, 2011, 11:30 am
Mike from Clinton H-Bedford S says:
I too am opposed to the Government imposing religion on the population.

However, in this particular case, if the steel beams that were destroyed into the shape of a Christian Cross is able in any way to offer comfort and closure to not only a vast number of the victims families, but also the Many Millions of Americans who were profoundly affected by what happened on 9/11, then I say let them have their Cross.

This is not the place for that fight.
Sept. 8, 2011, 1:42 pm
The better looking Gersh Kuntzman from Carroll Gardens says:
Why doesn't someone suggest a row of different religious symbols? We can have a symbol from each religion, no symbol of religion should be better than the other. In all honesty, all those people died, who were from all backgrounds, died together. Not because of their faith, but because someone wanted to make those people perish for a reason. let's remember them for who they were here on earth. Not for the religious background they had. Also if you want to start a better topic, why don't we talk about making 9/11 a national holiday. I think that would be more beneficial for the people of not only NY and the US of now, but the children of our future. An lets remember it as a day that brought harm to our country. Not as a day of having off work, but as a day that thousands of lives were lost.
Sept. 8, 2011, 5:15 pm
jake from bay ridge says:
I am not a religious man. Leave in the cross. It can't hurt.
Sept. 8, 2011, 11:26 pm
S. White from Park Slope says:
As such, we recommend the abolition of the transition "as such."
Sept. 9, 2011, 12:46 am
anaabdul23 from cobble hill says:
The 9/11 terrorists attacked the US because we attack, destroy and manipulate their countries. We won't be secure until we stop.
Mubarak was supported for 40 years by the US and Ghadafi for 30 years. We occupied and destroyed Iraq. We created a horrible war in Viet Nam. The US used Afghani soldiers to fight against the Russians.The Afghanis were left (by the US) with millitary training, technology and weapons. Bin Laden used those tools against us. Military intelligence? I think not.
Sept. 9, 2011, 7:01 am
stewart from Brooklyn Heights says:
One way that Humankind has survived is our ability to quickly see unrelated shapes and colors and convert them into recognized patterns. That is exactly what has happened with the intersecting pieces of metal found at Ground Zero. Who is to say that the two pieces of metal formed a cross before the crash? Couldn't the long side have been parallel with the ground, or sticking straight up in the air before the attack? These two connected pieces of metal are being seen through the eyes of religion and being reshaped into a recognizable pattern -- the cross. There is no doubt in my mind that in the years to come, instead of people coming to Ground Zero to see and feel the magnitude of the horror –each in their own private way- the "Cross" will instead become the public focal point and the site of Christian pilgrimages. No longer will “X” mark the spot.
Sept. 9, 2011, 10:49 am
nancy from coney says:
hey maybe its a sign telling everyone something im not all t hat religious but hey go figure whats the problem with putting a symbol from the actual trade center that was t here t hat day and comforts so many why because its christian get over yourseves people i wouldnt have a problem with anything put there as long as it doesnt pay tribute 2 those fools that cause this horror,mayb we should focus on protecting our country and bringing the soldiers home and getting out of iraq and letting them take care of themselves how maymore people must die b4 they figure out in dc that this is a loosing battle bring our soldiers home worry about all the problems we have here and thats it we worry about poverty and finacial ruin everywhere else and issues like that but we dont care about america and our issues im tired of dc worrying about other countries no one worries about us let them take care of their own mayb we wouldnt b in the trouble we are if we stop putting our noses in other peoples business
Sept. 10, 2011, 1:42 pm
Bernard from Windsor Terrace says:
I would want to leave the artifact where it was next to the Church on Church Street. I think it was put there because some felt it was a message from God (who ever he or she is).

How would you feel if it was put in the museum upside down, side ways or any way it didn't resemble a cross. Put symbols on it of all the religions of those who died as well as a symbol for all the atheists on the artifact. Better, cut is up in pieces and make a pile of metal.
Sept. 11, 2011, 1:15 pm
Ken in Florida from Park Slope says:
It is in fact a cross! If people want it, put it somewhere on the side. It's unfortunately not a symbol for everyone who was lost there. How about the non-Christians who lost their lives? The cross is only a symbol to the Christians, not to anybody else. Theres a reason there aren't crosses on our money, or anything else made or built by the government. There never was!
Sept. 18, 2011, 1:34 pm
C. Alexander Brown from Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA says:
The people who died on 9/11 we members of all religious faiths and several, we can be sure, were non-believers. So it would be illogical to erect the symbol of one particular religion on the site as a memorial.
March 18, 2012, 6:56 pm

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