Austin Hill

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York may think himself high-minded and practical. But he has acquiesced to some of the most unfortunate and destructive forces in our country.

As I write this, nobody has any idea, really, how the ten year anniversary of “9-11” will transpire. Hopefully the day will come, and go, without any civil unrest or – God forbid – terrorism.

Hopefully Americans will remember, and reflect. No doubt millions of us will pray, both within houses of worship and privately within our own minds.

But this we do know: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made it clear that clergy have been forbidden from participating in the city’s official 9-11 commemorative ceremony. The city that was ten years ago and is still today regarded as the epicenter of a huge American tragedy, will commemorate the event with a purely secular, irreligious ceremony, devoid of any official representations of any particular religious traditions.

From a historical standpoint, a secularized commemoration would seem to miss some of the essence of what happened on September 11, 2001 and in the days and weeks that followed. It is, after all, a matter of record that many houses of worship provided safe harbor to displaced victims of the tragedy, and that clergy men and women rushed to provide counsel and sustenance.

Bloomberg’s ban also seems to ignore the reality that the first certified fatality in the 9-11 disaster was, in fact, a clergyman. After learning of the attacks, Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic Priest and beloved Chaplain to the Fire Department of New York rushed to the scene to meet then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

At Mayor Giuliani’s request, Father Mychal began praying aloud for the city and the victims. At the moment that he was struck in the head with debris and killed, eyewitnesses noted that Father Mychal had cried out repeatedly "Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!"

But that was ten years ago. Today there’s a new Mayor in town, and he has taken a decidedly different approach. And Mayor Bloomberg’s clergy ban is unfortunate, for at least a few different reasons.

For one, Bloomberg’s ban exemplifies a flawed conceptualization of “tolerance,” and “diversity.” While his motivations have not been made clear, presumably Mayor Bloomberg’s ban is intended to protect certain religious groups that might not participate in the ceremony, from being “infringed upon” by those other religious groups that might otherwise be represented by clergy at the event. It is a logic that says “for the sake of diversity of religious traditions, we won’t acknowledge any religious traditions at all.”


Austin Hill

Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.