The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the 17-foot cross beam salvaged from the wreckage of Twin Towers will remain in the National 9/11 Museum, despite the very best efforts of American Atheists Inc.
In “American Atheists v. Port Authority of New Jersey and New York” the group asserted that the artifact's positioning in the museum towered "over any other symbols in the vicinity, expressing Christian primacy." It charged that the Latin cross's dominance violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
The judges found, however, that the "Ground Zero Cross" is a constitutional and an important symbolic artifact from the terrorist attack. According to the ruling:
"The stated purpose of displaying The Cross at Ground Zero to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular...there is no evidence that the static display of this genuine historic artifact excessively entangles the government with religion."
This common sense ruling still comes as a major legal victory. Eric Baxter, Counsel for the Beckett Fund, noted that the court made a very key distinction:
“Even though the Ground Zero Cross is unquestionably a religious symbol, and holds deep religious meaning for many people—particularly those who found hope and inspiration in its discovery—the government does not violate the Establishment Clause by recognizing and educating others about the actual role played by religion in our history and culture.”
This historic relic will now continue to show the importance of religion in the United States for years to come.
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