Nearly a quarter of a million Americans are on record in support of the presence of the Ground Zero Cross in a museum marking that terrible terror attack by Islamists on Sept. 11, 2001.
They have signed onto a brief being submitted by the American Center for Law and Justice in an attempt in court by a coalition of atheists who want the cross removed from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.
The cross is the result of the collapse of the Twin Towers. It is made up of steel beams twisted, sheered and re-formed by the incredible forces in the collapse of the buildings.
It was found by rescue workers in the aftermath of the terror attack and served as an inspiration for them and others.
The brief is being submitted to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals where American Atheists Inc., Dennis Horvitz and others are appealing to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of their demands.
The defendants are the Port Authority of New York and others.
At the district court, it was decided that the museum had the right to decide to display the cross, and that’s exactly where the arguments should conclude, the brief suggests.
“This flawed legal challenge represents a dangerous and unprecedented attempt to literally rewrite history and cleanse the record of a historically significant artifact,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “As the district court correctly held, it is entirely appropriate and lawful for the curators of a museum to acknowledge the cross’s actual, historic role by placing it in the September 11 Memorial Museum. A museum has the freedom to display religiously themed artifacts of historical or artistic significance without running afoul of the Constitution. We urge the appeals court to affirm the decision of the district court which rejected this bizarre legal challenge.”
The atheists sued in 2012 claiming that the cross is unconstitutional. They claim they suffer emotionally and physically from its mere presence. In court papers, they allege they get headaches, indigestion, and even “mental pain” from it.
But the brief points out that the U.S. Supreme Court has held “that such exhibits like the cross are constitutionally permissible and do not violate the Establishment Clause.”
“In the days and weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the challenged World Trade Center Cross (the ‘Cross’) had a widely documented and positive effect on the First Responders at the Ground Zero site,” the brief explains.
It is an artifact of the attacks and “historical artifacts – even religious artifacts – have long been placed in America’s public museums without doing violence to the Constitution. Any ruling to the contrary would lead to absurd results.”
Those who object to the cross, even if they claim they get physically ill because of it, “cannot be permitted to rewrite history or constitutional precedent,” the brief argues.
The ACLJ represents itself and more than 231,000 Americans to signed onto the project.
“The museum has the liberty to select exhibits that advance its educational mission, and that liberty includes selecting even historical exhibits with religious significance,” the filing says. “The district court agreed, holding, ‘The museum’s purpose to tell the history surrounding September 11, and the cross … helps tell part of that history.’”
Continuing, it explained, “While a religious object may hold undeniable religious meaning to a patron or donor, the museum can display that object for markedly different reasons – including its artistic or historic significance. For example, the Library of Congress can display the Lincoln Bible for its historic significance even if some visitors may be religiously inspired by the continued present of the Holy Bible in America’s quadrennial transitions of power.”