Just shy of the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, an atheist organization is once again warning against using a steel-beam cross at the site of the World Trade Center disaster from being used in a permanent memorial to the victims who died there.

“Many people who died on Sept. 11 weren’t Christian. There were Jews, Muslims and atheists who died,” Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, told the Trentonian newspaper. “This is a Christian religious advertisement, and allowing it to stay there is an insult to everyone who doesn’t believe in that particular religion.”

As WorldNetDaily reported, last year, the organization first spoke out about the issue after Ed Malloy, a board member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, asked that the cross be made a permanent part of any future memorial.



The WTC cross on the cover of the December 2001 issue of Whistleblower magazine.

The atheists said use of the cross in a government-funded monument “would violate the separation of church and state, be insensitive to those victims who had no religious beliefs and would incredibly pay homage to religion – the prime motivating factor in the faith-based attack of Sept. 11.”

The Associated Press reports Johnson and her group, founded by the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, is considering a lawsuit to prevent the cross from becoming part of any permanent memorial.

Construction worker Frank Silecchia happened upon the perfectly symmetrical cross in the midst of the WTC wreckage just a few days after the attacks. It was standing straight, 20-feet high, surrounded by many smaller crosses.

“When I first saw it, it took my heart,” Silecchia said. “It helped me heal the burden of my despair, and gave me closure on the whole catastrophe.”

After the cross was discovered, construction workers, firefighters, police officers and family members began holding weekly Sunday services at the site.

The names of fallen police officers and firefighters were also scribbled on the cross, along with the message “May God forgive their evil,” reported AP.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the agency overseeing the rebuilding of the area, has made no decisions on what a Ground Zero memorial would include.


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