Actually, it’s a crass attack.

The small and fringe American Atheists group has filed a lawsuit against public display of the cross-beams made of steel found by a rescuer searching for survivors at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. It had formed part of the foundation of one of the towers, and has become a symbol of hope for countless individuals. But it’s making the American Atheists sick.

The plaintiffs, and each of them, have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer damages, both physical and emotional, from the existence of the challenged cross. Named plaintiffs have suffered, inter alia, dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish from the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack and the lack of acknowledgement of the more than 1,000 non- Christian individuals who were killed at the World Trade Center.

Seriously. This is their legal complaint. Just like the American Center for Law and Justice, the Alliance Defense Fund is getting used to this.

An atheist group’s lawsuit that seeks to tear down the World Trade Center cross at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City is completely out of step with the Constitution, according to attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund. ADF is currently fighting a different lawsuit filed by the same group that seeks to tear down roadside crosses honoring fallen state troopers in the state of Utah. That case is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court…

In April 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that a veterans’ memorial in the form of a cross in the Mojave Desert of California did not have to be removed. In that ruling, the court wrote, “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm….  The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”“Crosses have been used to honor fallen heroes in this country since its founding,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tom Marcelle, based in Albany. “ADF stands ready to defend the World Trade Center Cross in any way that it can, just as we have defended many other cross memorials throughout the country.”

They each have a rightful place, it should go without saying.  But some things must be said.

I wanted to write about seeing Father Brian Jordan bless the cross, like he had in October of 2001. The fact is this piece of steel brought comfort to many who worked “The Pile.” That’s what they called the debris left after the towers collapsed. Perhaps they were Christians, I don’t know. All I know is that they said it gave them comfort.

I didn’t ask about their religion. I just wanted to know what the cross meant to them.

I wanted to write about the men and women building the new World Trade Center. They work on weekends, and this Saturday many stopped to witness a part of the blessing.

They weren’t alone. Tourists from Italy, Germany and Japan wandered upon this blessing. They stopped and took pictures of this moment in time.

I hoped to write about the care taken with this piece of steel as it was driven off and then lifted and lowered into the National 9/11 Museum. I thought it might be good to note that the museum will open next year and that other artifacts will include a fire truck destroyed on 9/11, a piece of steel with a bible fused to it, a part of the antenna from the North Tower and Stars of David cut from World Trade Center Steel.

And, God willing, that will all happen as planned. Including the Cross at Ground Zero, once this diversion has been laid to rest.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....