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Banning Crosses, Erasing History ^ | May 16, 2012 | Michael Medved

Posted on 05/16/2012 4:48:41 AM PDT by Kaslin

A simmering controversy surrounding the "Ground Zero Cross" exposes the intolerance and absolutism behind ongoing battles over religious symbols on public property. Contrary to popular belief, it's not Christian conservatives who normally start these bitter disputes. It's more often atheist activists who seek to alter the long-standing status quo by scrubbing the landscape of the most visible signs of the nation's religious heritage.

American Atheists, an organization representing the civil liberties of agnostics, filed suit in 2011 to block display of the Ground Zero Cross anywhere on the grounds of the new memorial museum planned for the World Trade Center site. The artifact in question became the best known piece of debris recovered from the terrorist attacks, when workmen spotted it on Sept. 13, 2001. The huge cross beam, presumably detached from the collapse of the North Tower and hurled down with many tons of rubble onto the stricken eight-story structure to its northeast, somehow survived intact and almost immediately became an informal shrine for the tireless crews who labored to clear Ground Zero.

A Franciscan friar blessed the welded girders as a sign that "God had not abandoned Ground Zero." Later, with the cross installed on a city-approved pedestal, millions of tourists came to pray or leave flowers, but as construction proceeded at the World Trade Center, a crane helped to move the giant welded girders to nearby St. Peter's Church in 2006.

The lawsuit insists the relic must remain where it is, but planners for the new museum, supported by many 9/11 families, want the cross returned to Ground Zero as part of the permanent memorial. The lawsuit cites "mental pain and anguish" suffered by the plaintiffs due to "the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack."

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League, which often takes a dim view of religious symbols in government-owned locations, declared that it "fully supports" the inclusion of the cross in the museum.

On my radio show, Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists, denounced the potential placement of the cross as unfair because there would be no comparable display of atheist or Muslim symbols. But no one happened to recover atheist symbols (whatever they might be) from the rubble. The cross deserves its unique place of honor because of its powerful historic connection to the first dark days after the terrorist attack.

Moreover, America's leading government-funded art museums all boast collections of sacred objects, including icons, crucifixes and altar pieces exhibited for their historical and artistic significance.

Had fate shaped the steel beams into any form other than a Christian cross, American Atheists would never think to object to its museum display. The group's visceral hostility to the cross plays a role in a number of continuing controversies:

•In Woonsocket, R.I., the Freedom From Religion Foundation seeks to remove a World War I memorial topped by a cross that has stood without controversy on city property since 1921.

•In the Mojave National Preserve in California, officials are hoping to settle an 11-year dispute over a "desert cross" first erected on Sunrise Rock in 1934, also to commemorate the sacrifices of those who served in the Great War. In a complicated agreement, private parties have pledged to donate 5 new acres to the 1.6 million-acre federal reserve in return for title to the single acre on which the cross formerly stood before vandals destroyed it. Veterans groups hope to restore the monument, but they must first enclose the area in a chain-link fence with signs explaining that the cross stands on now private property.

In each of these fights, it's the opponents of long-standing religious displays who seek to impose their narrow views on the rest of us. It hardly amounts to an effort to impose theocracy when people of faith defend monuments that have inspired passersby for generations. In the case of the Ground Zero Cross, for religious believers, the artifact they honor played a prominent role in the haunting imagery after the terror attacks.

Meanwhile, secular extremists seek to erase such imagery from the collective consciousness and to purge public places of religious reminders. For skeptics, prominently displayed crosses convey the uncomfortable message that the great majority of Americans still honor a faith that self-proclaimed free-thinkers hold in undisguised contempt.

Beneath all the hypocrisy over constitutional restraints and traditional walls of separation, secular activists and self-styled defenders of "civil liberties" seek to transform American society in a way that our Founders and most subsequent generations would never recognize. They seem eager to defend flag-burning, obscenity and every other form of radical expression, while seeking to suppress emblems of the Christian faith that helped shape the nation since the arrival of earliest colonists.

An experiment in enforced secularism might count as a bold departure from the nation's God-haunted past, but it's hard to believe it would produce a better country than the beloved, multifarious and clashing religious symbols that have always characterized our faith-based pluralism.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: aclu; atheists; cross; groundzerocross; history; lawsuit; medved; purge; september11; waronreligion; worldtradecenter

1 posted on 05/16/2012 4:48:42 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Colonial churches planted the seeds of revolution. Nobody in the new royalty wants to risk another peasant uprising.

2 posted on 05/16/2012 4:52:25 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: Kaslin
A theocracy is still a theocracy even if run by atheists.

I demand a separation of church and state!

3 posted on 05/16/2012 5:02:12 AM PDT by rawcatslyentist ("Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one," Jeremiah 50:31)
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To: Kaslin

A little remember: public property given over to the display of Judeo-Christian symbols today can become public property given over to the display of some other religion’s symbols tomorrow. I’m just sayin.

4 posted on 05/16/2012 5:08:06 AM PDT by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
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To: Kaslin

At least a church is taking good care of that special cross.

5 posted on 05/16/2012 5:21:23 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: cripplecreek

It will come, one way or another.

6 posted on 05/16/2012 5:21:54 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Kaslin

The Government is Us. If We want a cross, We should have one.

Let’s say we have a group of 100 people. 75 want the cross. 24 are indifferent. And 1 doesn’t want it. If the 75 get their way, the 24 don’t care, but the 1 is oppressed. Not great but livable. If the 1 gets his way, the 24 don’t care and the 75 are oppressed. If oppression of 1 by 75 is wrong, how much more wrong is the oppression of 75 by 1?

In cases where no compromise is possible — you can’t have the cross and not have the cross — majority rules. It’s the Benthamite Calculus: the greatest good for the greatest number.

7 posted on 05/16/2012 5:28:33 AM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: Kaslin

No cross, but a mosque is okay.

8 posted on 05/16/2012 5:31:33 AM PDT by popdonnelly (Socialism isn't going to work this time, either.)
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To: Kaslin

I read a political science textbook that emphasized the significance of symbols in a nation. It stated, “A nation’s symbols define the nation.”

Thus the removal of crosses in America. If America no longer has Christian symbols on its public properties, it can said there is no longer physical evidence it is a Christian nation.

9 posted on 05/16/2012 5:42:52 AM PDT by stars & stripes forever (Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!)
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To: Kaslin
I was there the day the cross was uncovered. It was a source of inspiration, for those of us toiling there day after day, without finding survivors. I can also state from personal witness, that it wasn't just Christians finding comfort in the cross being there. One of my coworkers, an Orthodox Jew, often commented on feeling safer, working in its shadow.
10 posted on 05/16/2012 5:57:41 AM PDT by ConservativeNewYorker (FDNY 343 NYPD 23 PAPD 37)
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To: rawcatslyentist
A theocracy is still a theocracy even if run by atheists. I demand a separation of church and state!

You nailed it! Your tag line made the /s unnecessary...

11 posted on 05/16/2012 5:58:19 AM PDT by trebb ("If a man will not work, he should not eat" From 2 Thes 3)
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To: Kaslin

The first symbol erected by Europeans on American soil was the
Christian Cross’s erected by the crews led by the Light Bearer Christopher Columbus. 1492 —. The first acts by these
forefathers to our Nation were the prayer services in the shadow of the Cross. When the Brits finally got here in 1607
they too erected the Christian Cross. In Sept.1774 the Continental Congress acted to invite Rev. J.Duche to open Congress with prayers. He performed a sectarian service -and was then penalized by an act of Congress thanking him for the “excellent prayer” .Later Congress prepared a commemorative brass plate to remember the first prayer.In the Mid 1800’s Congress commissioned Art to remember the First Prayer in Congress. Justice Joseph Story,remembered in the permanent display of the US supreme Court building. ... Joseph Story in his Commentaries on our Constitution said When the Constitution and Bill of Rights were adopted the general if not universal sentiment in America was that Christianity ought be encouraged by the State... This animus toward Religion and especially Christianity not only is unreasoned— but unconstitutional. The Free exercise of
religion was the part of our First Amendment defended by the Courts and by Congress in that time after it was adopted. The Progressives in their appeasement of the enemy are leading us in the decline of America.

12 posted on 05/16/2012 6:17:21 AM PDT by StonyBurk (ring)
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To: Kaslin
Now you know why the Taliban shot out the Buddhas of Bamyan.

Intolerant folks who can't embrace and celebrate diversity.

13 posted on 05/16/2012 6:20:24 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: trebb
It wasn't sarcasm.

The church of nothing, has become entrenched in our govt. We need to throw them out.

They have no right Constitutionally to force their belief in unbelief upon US.

14 posted on 05/16/2012 3:06:10 PM PDT by rawcatslyentist ("Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one," Jeremiah 50:31)
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