Friday, July 11, 2014

9-11 'cross'

This is one story that I had planned not to write about. But after seeing story after story about it, I guess I'll bite the bullet and share my thoughts. As many are aware, the group American Atheists has taken the display of the 9-11 'cross' in the National September 11 Memorial Museum to court. A case, I might add, that I don't agree with.

But one thing that baffles me is the headlines I've been seeing. "Court presses atheist group to explain why artifact is offensive." Um... why? That isn't the point. The law does not guarantee protection from offense. So proving that they are offended by something (that they probably aren't offended by) would be a meaningless exercise. Especially since the lawsuit isn't asking for the crosses removal because of 'offense', but establishment clause concerns.

American Atheists claims that it is a religious symbol and has no place in a government funded museum because it establishes preferential treatment for one faith above others. This is where I disagree. When it comes to purpose built monuments that are explicitly intended to be a crucifix or the ten commandments, I would agree that these displays shouldn't be tax funded and posted on government property.

This is where I believe the 9-11 'cross' is different. It was not created to be a cross. Rather, is is an artifact that was pulled from the wreckage on the twin towers. Just one of many perpendicularly intersecting steel beams that make up such structures. Yes, Christians will look at it's shape and take away a bit different impression from seeing the 'cross'. But it was never made to be a cross.

Furthermore, I have not been to the memorial, but I have read of how the 9-11 'cross' is displayed. One non-believer blogger noted that it is displayed amongst other large artifacts and isn't really displayed in a way to draw any special attention to it. The museum doesn't make the absurd claim of it being a 'miracle cross' as some do, but instead mentions on the description card that it gave some workers in the aftermath 'spiritual solace'. And you know what... that much is true. Religious workers might have been inspired by the 'cross'. And others may have found a flag, photos, fire helmet, or some other object that touched then emotionally as well.

It is part of the 9-11 story, and I don't feel it is in violation of the establishment clause at all. It is one of many artifacts from that dark day. Yes, it looks a lot like a cross, and believers will likely take different meaning from it, but it's an object that was almost inevitable due to the construction methods used. It looks like a cross, but it's not really a cross any more than a rock formation that looks like a face is actually a face.

So that's my take. The 9-11 'cross' is but an artifact that has become the victim of intense distortion from both sides. It is not a miracle in the slightest, but in my opinion, it also isn't an establishment clause concern.


-Brain Hulk

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