NEW YORK (AFP) – U.S. atheists are suing to try to block a cross-shaped steel girder once part of the destroyed World Trade Center from being displayed in an upcoming 9/11 museum.
The American Atheists group filed the lawsuit on Tuesday against the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and other bodies linked to the museum, which is due to open next year.
At issue is a piece of wreckage that happens to form a cross shape and which became a symbol of faith for many of those involved in the clean-up and reconstruction after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died.
The cross was moved over the weekend to the still incomplete museum at Ground Zero as part of feverish preparations ahead of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this September.
According to the complaint filed in New York state court, the presence of the cross in a government-financed museum violates the country’s constitution by promoting Christianity, without mention of other religions.
The plaintiffs write that they have been “injured in consequence of having, a religious tradition that is not their own imposed upon them through the power of the state.”
In a statement Friday, Memorial president Joe Daniels said the artifact was relevant because it helped “tell the history of 9/11.”
“This steel remnant became a symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero, as well as for people around the world,” he said.
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