Court Asks Atheist Group to Explain Why Ground Zero Cross Is ‘Offensive’

The World Trade Center Cross waits to be blessed by a Franciscan priest, New York, N.Y. (REUTERS)
The World Trade Center Cross waits to be blessed by a Franciscan priest, New York, N.Y. (REUTERS)

A federal appeals court said this week that an atheist group trying to keep the so-called Ground Zero Cross out of the National September 11 Memorial Museum must better explain how displaying the artifact is “offensive” and violates members’ constitutional rights.

The 17-foot-tall, steel beam “cross” was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York that fell during the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The cross became a sort of shrine or place of comfort for first responders who often prayed there and left messages or flowers. It was moved away from the debris a few weeks later and became a tourist attraction through several years of reconstruction.

American Atheists filed the suit in 2011, which was thrown out last year by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York.

The appeals court ruling Thursday cites an amicus brief filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in church-state law and protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.

“We’re thrilled that the court picked up on this issue,” said group lawyer Eric Baxter, whose brief argued that American Atheists had no right to bring a lawsuit in the first place. “Courts should not allow people to sue just because they claim to get ‘dyspepsia’ over a historical artifact displayed in a museum.”

The museum officially opened on May 21.

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SOURCE: FOX News

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