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Should A Cross Be On Display At Ground Zero?



It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the dark and horrid day that was 9/11. I’ll bet each and every one of us remembers where he or she was. I’ll never forget the words of the principal at my kids’ school as he ran out to the parking lot, hair disheveled and jacket flapping behind him. “We’re under attack! Our nation is under attack!” And like that, he was off, no doubt, like the rest of us, trying to wrap his head around what was happening.

One of the iconic images to emerge from those early days was a two-ton section of cross beams that looked like a rugged cross. It was moved to Saint Patrick’s church, blessed and a plaque was placed on it that read:

“The Cross at Ground Zero – Founded September 13, 2001; Blessed October 4, 2001; Temporarily Relocated October 15, 2006. Will return to WTC Museum, a sign of comfort for all.”

Now the group, American Atheists,  claiming a violation of church and state, have sued in an effort to block the cross from being included at the World trade Center Memorial and Museum.  So should a symbol of Christianity be on display there?

Truth be told, I’m really torn on this one. I was raised in a Christian home and am a believer, albeit a tolerant one. And I admit, I, like so many others, I leaned on my faith as I struggled to grasp the horror of 9/11. I am also fully aware that this country was founded on Christian beliefs and principals.

But we are truly a melting pot now and not everyone who calls this country home is a Christian. There were also many people, who professed many faiths who died that day. Should their beliefs also be recognized? And what will this do to help do away with the stigma so many Muslims say they still face ?

As torn as I am on this, I do think the cross belongs there. People are going to see what they want to see, believe what they want to believe when they look at that piece of metal. For Christians, it’s a source of comfort during an awful time; it obviously won’t carry the same weight for those who are not.  But that section of beam was a part of history, a reminder of that day and should be have a home there.

Okay, so let’s debate. Do you think a symbol of Christianity should be displayed at the World Trade Center Site and Museum? Do you think American Atheists are right in claiming it is a violation of church and state? Do you think other faiths should be included? Let me hear ya!


  1. Smarty P. Jones

    September 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Good post, GEM. I, too, am a tolerant Christian. I am also a journalist which by default makes my favorite amendment the first one that guarantees five freedoms- religion, speech, press, the right to assemble peacefully and the right to petition the government.

    Given that, if this is a government supported memorial then that cross has no right to be there. I love me some Jesus, but unless we intend to erect symbols that recognize other faiths and those who have no faith, how dare we force our Christian symbols on anyone else?

    Yes, we were founded upon Christian principles, but let’s not forget that our forefathers fled their home countries because they could not freely practice their religion and built it into the constitution that the leaders of this country won’t be able to impose their beliefs on others.

    Placing the cross at a site that has become a symbol of American perseverance would be an imposition. If the site is privately owned, the owner can do whatever he likes.

    Just my $.02.

  2. DawnKA

    September 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I think the reason for the cross being there was that it was a piece of the structure that stood out in the debris. However, I do not think is a matter of church and state more than it is an attempt to make it an issue that the atheists have a problem with anything that may seem to be about Christianity. No other religious group has made any objections, it is a matter of respect for the symbol and what it means to those who have a connection to it. I have seen many religious structures and symbols and as a Christian, I think it is a wonderful thing for us all to have our own beliefs and disbelief.

  3. Kathy

    September 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Sorry, GEM, disagree on this one. I agree with Dawn, this is just not any cross; it was a structure that stood out in the debris and gave people hope. It touched many lives, similarly to the three firefighters raising the American flag. How can it be left out?

  4. Kathy

    September 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Oops.. need to delete that! I DO agree with you, GEM! Don’t agree with Smarty. I clearly need to tune out my kids and wear my glasses when I read!

  5. Joy Haddocks James

    September 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Why do the symbol of the cross mean so much to people who profess to be Christians? True Christians worship God in SPIRIT AND TRUTH. There is no Biblical support for the use of the cross or any symbol of veneration in true worship.

    This Country (USA) has thousands of Churches and places of Worship. However this Country is secular. It’s Dominant Characteristic is Greed. (Jehovah God’s Primary Attribute is LOVE).

    The Pilgrims came to America for Freedom of Worship which is still one of the conerstones of American democracy. Respect for All People is professed but Not Practiced in this Country.

    This Country suffered a great tradgedy on Sept 11 (can’t remember year). However I for one am sick of this Country’s Foolishness. I Do Not Understand How A Country Who Claims To Be the Leader of the World — Is So Ignorant About Everything. You quarrel about every little nothing, You have no respect for God.

    Most people are caught up in the anxieties of life and really Do Not Care about this issue.

    Thank You,

    Ms Joy H James

  6. Nana

    September 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    How can it be a “church and state” violation when the memorial is not government owned? The money was raised with contributions, just like the new King memorial. And yes, the cross was pulled from the wreckage. For those who needed to see it at that horrible time, the beams were a comfort and is as much a part of the memorial as the “falling man” picture. We can’t exclude one religion for the sake of not offending others. Tolerance makes us all equal. That’s why the uproar about the cultural center (nowhere near Ground Zero) was wrongheaded. That’s not who we are as Americans.

  7. Barb Bach

    September 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    No cross. Ground Zero should be a place of reflection. If something is to be made from a piece of one of the buildings let it be non religious. If you start with a cross then what about a Star of David, and other religious symbols.

  8. Joy Haddocks James

    September 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    could you post my comment, I’ll Iike to read what I said.

    Thank You,

    Ms Joy H James

  9. Joy Haddocks James

    September 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Renae, what happen to comment I made over 30 minutes ago regarding the above article.

  10. Kathy

    September 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Joy, I wonder if it went through. That has happened to me before. Happens quite often on my mobile devices. I would try to resend it.

  11. Joy Haddocks James

    September 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Renae, Why is my comment awaiting moderation? Is there something wrong? Please send me an E-mail if there is a problem.
    I don’t want any changes made to my comment other than spelling. After All a comment is just one person’s opinion.

    Thank You,

    Ms Joy H James

  12. Kathy

    September 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Ms. James, many of us were directly impacted by September 11, 2001 and remember it like it was yesterday. This happened in our cities and to our families. I was fortunate to have my husband come home that day. Many of my neighbors and friends were not as fortunate. I believe that many people were touched by the cross that was found in the debris. (Barb, it was not created; it was found in the shape of a cross) I personally did. As I said earlier, it was a sign of hope like the fire fighters raising our flag and fighter jets flying over our heads at night to protect us. If they found a star of David, I may have converted that day. I am being respectful of your opinion and I would appreciate your respecting that this is indeed important to many people. In other words, kindly practice what you preach. Thank you.

  13. Rene Syler

    September 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Joy: As you know (because I sent an email to you) I was in a meeting in Manhattan and then making my way home when you left your comment. Sometimes, the site (not me) shuffles comments to the spam file, which is where I found yours, once I got in my car and stopped shivering from walking 28 blocks in a driving rainstorm. I hope you and everyone who comments here understands I do not “edit” comments. THX (though I might change your note to correct the spelling of my name!)

  14. Rene Syler

    September 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm


  15. Rene Syler

    September 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    @Joy: Oh boy….

  16. Rene Syler

    September 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    @Joy: You can’t remember the year? I said in the post it was the 10 year anniversary. And I have to say I do take exception to your “True Christians” and people who “profess to be Christians” statements. Sadly, this is terribly close to the “holier-than-thou” approach that turns so many people off. I respect your opinion and give you the right to say what you believe, but deciding who the “True Christians” are is a big job. Might want to let the Big Man himself do that. Thx

  17. Cody Williams

    September 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    What Nana said.

  18. pattyrowland

    September 7, 2011 at 8:18 am

    how can anyone who has lived in this country since september of 2001 not know the anniversary year of the 9/11 attacks?!!?!!!?!?!?!?! please go back under the rock you apparently crawled out from under…just my 2 cents!

  19. Cody Williams

    September 7, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Joy apparently must have been frozen in an Ice Age glacier and was recent thawed out. Somebody please give him/her a brief history of the world.

  20. m.e. johnson

    September 7, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Joy says, “… so I can read what I wrote.” Well Joy, now that you’ve read it, may I presume you have banished yourself to a dark corner of a closet for the rest of the day?

    I think professed atheism is a religion. To not be tolerant of other religions isn’t very religious, is it?

  21. Elizabeth Betrand

    September 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I think all faiths should be included, not just Christianity, as all faiths were affected by 9/11.


    September 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm


    This is such a difficult topic, but I am glad that you brought it up for discussion. As a Christian, I often find it disheartening that so much of the separation of church and state rhetoric finds that restrictions are so heavily weighed on the side of limiting the movements of those of us who are Christians. Webster’s dictionary defines as one of its definitions of religion “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” With this in mind, could not the believes and tenants by which those who identify as “atheist” constitute a religious belief? And if this is so, would their request to remove the cross also constitute as a religious belief or request that would then full under a violation of separation of church and state? I am not against inclusion but I am also not in favor of specified exclusion; particularly when the exclusionary clauses only pertain to Christianity and its principles.

  23. Carrie

    September 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I do not beleive that the cross should be there – all kinds of people lost there lives that day, and its the people we need to remember – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, friends and lovers.

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