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Judge Rules 9/11 Memorial Cross ‘Non-Religious’—Atheist Group Will Appeal Judgment

Austin, TX—In the matter of American Atheists’ lawsuit against the taxpayer-funded 9/11 Memorial Cross, a judge found no state action endorsing religion and found that the symbol itself is not religious but instead an artifact.

 The ruling states, “Since the decision to include the artifact in the Museum’s Historical Exhibit has a secular purpose, Defendants have not advanced religion impermissibly, and the cross does not create excessive entanglement between the state and religion. Thus, Plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause claim fails.”

 “We will appeal. We’re fighting it. This is not dead,” American Atheists’ President Dave Silverman said of the ruling. “This is a place where religion destroyed American lives. This is something all Americans must fight. This is injustice. What could possibly be more religious than a cross? The only thing would be a cross with the name ‘Jesus’ carved in it.”

The World Trade Center Cross, also known as the Ground Zero Cross, is a cross-shaped pair of steel beams found in the ruins of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Many Americans see the steel beams as a Christian cross and believe its survival was symbolic. A Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, Father Brian Jordan, spoke over the cross and declared it to be “a symbol of hope … [a] symbol of faith … [a] symbol of healing.”

“It is our position that the cross is undoubtedly a religious symbol,” said Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director of American Atheists. “It does not belong in a publicly funded memorial unless other groups, including atheists, also have the equal right to display their respective symbols.”

American Atheists is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Cranford, New Jersey, that advocates for the complete separation of religion and government, defends the civil rights of atheists, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend with its annual National Convention in Austin, Texas. The convention features more than fifty speakers including former California Congressman Pete Stark, Twisted Sister lead guitarist Jay Jay French, authors A.C. Grayling and Katherine Stewart, popular debater Matt Dillahunty, former pastors-turned-atheists Teresa MacBain and Jerry DeWitt, and American Atheists President David Silverman. The convention also features a costume dinner, free concerts, a comedy show, an art show and silent auction, more than 30 national and local vendors and exhibitors, and childcare options for attending families.


American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016

Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

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