New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg refuses to budge. With more than 100,000 petitions delivered to his City Hall offices this past week urging him to allow religious leader to offer a few words of prayer at the 9/11 Memorial Service on Sunday, Bloomberg renewed his vow that the 10th anniversary event would remain strictly secular.
On his weekly radio program Friday, the mayor actually used the example of terrorists to defend his decision to exclude religious leaders from participating in Sunday’s proceedings.
“They (the terrorists) don’t like the fact,” he said, “that you have one religion and I have another. They believe they know what’s right. And it may be right for them. But government shouldn’t be forcing it down people’s throats.”
What the mayor appeared to be saying is that, allowing religious leaders to offer words of comfort on the day marking the 10th anniversary of the worst terror attacks on American soil would be tantamount to stuffing religion down the throats of the American people.
His inference was that those who’ve excoriated him for insisting on a “civil ceremony” rather than a ceremony including religious leaders are hardly different than Islamic jihadists – like those who flew fuel-laden jetliners into the World Trade Center’s twin towers on 9/11, killing nearly 3,000 men, women and children.
New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who also happens to be a pastor, said this week that Bloomberg’s views on religion are out of step with most Americans. “What I think he’s failing to realize,” said Cabrera, “is that religion is part of culture. You cannot separate religion from society.”
Nevertheless, Bloomberg is determined to impose that separation on Sunday, insisting that the memorial to the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, most of whom had religious funeral services, will be “a civil ceremony.” For those seeking spiritual comfort on what amounts to a national day of mourning, New York’s mayor advised, “There are plenty of opportunities for people to have their religious ceremonies.”
But not at Ground Zero. “You can have it in your church or in a field, or whatever,” he suggested.