Every now and then, I read a story that just makes me shake my head in disgust.
The group American Atheists is suing the 9/11 Memorial Museum, asking the Federal Court to remove a cross made out of steel beams that was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
The group is arguing that since the private museum is leasing the land from the Federal government, it should be barred from displaying religious imagery. The Atheist group claims now that the first amendment applies not only to the government, but also to private organizations!
This couldn't be farther from the truth!
The first amendment reads that Congress (or more loosely, the government) shall make no law that establishes a State religion. The American Atheists argue that displaying an artifact found in the rubble of the World Trade Center that resembles a cross is unconstitutional because it gives preferential treatment to one religion.
Instead of standing behind the museum and protecting the monument that brought solace to so many first responders, the American Atheists are trying to tear it down!
The more you dive into the Atheists' lawsuit, the more ridiculous it becomes. In addition to arguing that the cross violates their first amendment rights, the American Atheists also argue that the mere sight of a cross is making their plaintiffs physically sick.
“The plaintiffs, and each of them, are suffering, and will continue to suffer damages, both physical and emotional, from the existence of the challenged cross,” the lawsuit American Atheists v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey explains. “Named plaintiffs have suffered …. dyspepsia [aka indigestion], 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."
Let me get this straight... The group of people that deny God, religion, or the religious significance of the Cross have suddenly fallen ill simply from looking at the monument? That sounds pretty ironic, doesn't it?
The truth is that this actually represents a recent development in the way first amendment cases are fought. Instead of arguing that they were "offended" by the cross, which they certainly were, the American Atheists are claiming to have suffered mental and bodily injury as well.
The American Atheists, like so many liberal groups around the country, are trying to fundamentally redefine the first amendment. Instead of offering the people the freedom of religion, the American Atheists argue that the constitution should provide people with freedom from religion.
For some reason, many Americans have been conditioned to believe that they have a right to go through life without ever being offended. At the center of this movement is the push to ban all religious symbolism on the basis that it "offends" non-believers. Well, actually, the American Atheists contend that an inanimate object is causing them physical pain and mental anguish as well...
When will this stop? Do the American Atheists realize what they are protesting? Do they realize that they are suing the memorial museum that honors the sacrifice of the 9/11 victims and first responders?
When Frank Silecchian found the 20-foot tall piece of steel in the rubble of the World Trade Center, he didn't find a religious shrine. He found a symbol of hope amidst hopelessness and a symbol of life surrounded by death and seemingly endless suffering. Not only is the cross a physical piece of the World Trade Center, which alone warrants its inclusion in the museum and should put a stop to this frivolous lawsuit, but it is a memorial to the resolve and the determination of all of the first responders who worked day after day at Ground Zero.
The Ground Zero Cross is a piece of history. It tells the story of the response to the worst terrorist attack in world history. The fact that the American Atheists and other non-Christian religious organizations are actively fighting to have the cross removed is an abomination.
Last year, a Federal District judge found in favor of the museum, ruling that the cross "demonstrates how those at Ground Zero coped with the devastation they witnessed and did not constitute a government endorsement of one particular religion."
The American Atheists appealed the ruling and now the case is before the Liberal 2nd Circuit Court in New York. I would like to believe that the 2nd Circuit would respect the rights of the victims' families and understand the true meaning of the bill of rights, but this is the same court that ruled it was constitutional for New York City to charge residents $340 just to be able to purchase a pistol...
We cannot afford to hope that the Courts realize the historical significance of this 9/11 relic. If people are allowed to claim to receive headaches and indigestion from "offensive" religious images, when will the lawsuits stop?
It is long overdue for Congress to affirm that the First Amendment does not provide a freedom from religion. Otherwise, we will continue to see these frivolous attacks that attempt to redefine our history and our culture!
I am tired of walking on egg shells, afraid to offend the delicate sensibilities of people who disagree with us! I am tired of worrying about any liability for voicing my belief and practicing my faith. Congress must pass legislation to protect Americans from these frivolous lawsuits trying to silence speech and prevent the free practice of religion!