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Atheists lose court battle in attempt to remove World Trade Center cross


NEW YORK – A famous Christian cross erected at the site of the 2001 terrorist attack in New York and then placed in a museum will not be taken down, an appeals court ruled Monday, after an Atheist group sued to have it removed.

American Atheists, Inc. had sued the New york and New Jersey Port Authority in 2011. The group challenged the display in the National September 11 Museum of an artifact denominated as “The Cross at Ground Zero,” a 17‐foot high column and cross‐beam retrieved from World Trade Center debris that gave many the impression of a Latin cross, a symbol associated with Christianity. The plaintiffs asserted that display of this artifact, particularly without any accompanying plaque or similar item acknowledging that atheists were among those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, or who participated in ensuing rescue efforts, violates the Constitution’s Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses, as well as parallel protections of New York and New Jersey state law.

Upholding an earlier district court ruling from 2013 – which threw the case out entirely – the the three-judge panel of the appeals court concluded that American Atheists’ challenge fails on the merits and does not violate the constitution.

After the ruling, an atheist tweeted “If a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission.”

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened in 2014 and displays artifacts associated with the events of 9/11, while presenting stories of loss and recovery. Children can enter the museum with a ticket that costs $15 and adults for $24.

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