(Photo: REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)
A group of faith leaders and clergy hope to hold public prayer service at ground zero this upcoming Saturday, one day before the 10th anniversary of the worst-ever terror attack on U.S. soil.
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, is awaiting word from New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as to whether organizers of the prayer service will be granted a permit.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has previously decided that there will be no public prayers or expressions of faith at this Sunday’s official 9/11 Memorial Service in lower Manhattan. “Everybody would like to participate,” he explained, “and the bottom line is, everybody cannot participate. There isn’t room. There isn’t time. And, in some cases, it’s just not appropriate.
Like many religious leaders not only in New York City, but throughout the country, Mahoney found Bloomberg’s decision “extremely troubling.” That’s what prompted him and his fellow religious leaders to hold their own prayer vigil the day before Bloomberg’s strictly secular memorial service.
The organizers of what would be the only public prayer service held at ground zero during the 9/11 Memorial Weekend are uncertain if NYPD will grant them the permit they need to assemble. If they are denied, they say, they will file a federal lawsuit.
Meanwhile, a study by the Barna Group suggests that New Yorkers have gotten increasingly religious since 9/11. In 1999 and 2000, according to the study, only 31 percent were weekly churchgoers. Ten years later, that figure has increased to 46 percent.
The ranks of “active-faith adults,” those who pray, read the Bible and attend church in a typical week, has grown from 17 percent to 24 percent since the World Trade Center was reduced to rubble. All told, the Barna survey reveals, 61 percent of New Yorkers say their faith is very important to them.
The organizers of the 9/10 service at ground zero hope to provide an outlet for religious New Yorkers who want to prayerfully remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on 9/11.
“Our intention,” said the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, and another of the organizers of the planned Saturday service, “is to address that need in the hearts and minds of so many affected by the pain of that infamous day.”