- (Photo: Reuters /Peter Morgan)
Christians are being blamed after viewers of a Fox News program logged onto the news network's Facebook page and left violent and threatening comments for a representative of an atheist group suing over the placement of a cross at the 9/11 site.
The comments threatening and wishing rape and murder upon atheists were sparked by an interview Fox News did with Blair Scott, the Communications Director for American Atheists; a group that describes its mission as protecting civil rights for non-believers.
Scott appeared on the network's "America Live" program on July 28, 2011, to explain his group's position against the enshrinement of a cross at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.
After Scott's appearance, viewers turned to Fox News' Facebook page to post their reactions.
Bloggers captured some of the images of the comments and published them online, with the general assumption being that Christians were the ones to blame for the comments threatening death against Scott.
One blogger even went so far as to title his August 6 post on the incident: “Christians Openly Advocate Killing Athiests (sic) on Fox News Facebook Page."
Out of the dozen or so comments captured before Fox News apparently deleted the posting (it no longer shows in the news network’s Facebook timeline), only one bears any hint of having been possibly written by a Christian.
That particular comment suggests that experiencing Christ’s crucifixion could help atheists understand the meaning of the cross.
The non-theist group behind Rock Beyond Belief, which recently won approval to hold an anti-religion concert at Fort Bragg, also published an article on the controversy.
The author of that post also assumes, based on one questionable Facebook user account, that Christians are to blame.
The story also made its way onto Twitter, with many tweets reflecting the assumption that Christians were involved in the Fox News Facebook story.
In the lawsuit filed by American Atheists, the group claims that enshrinement of a steel cross found amid the rubble of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a violation of separation of state.
The terrorist attacks were not against Christianity, but against America, the group argues. So its members are calling for the cross to be removed or be accompanied by other symbols valued by a wide spectrum of Americans.
The court case has sparked heated reactions from both religious and non-theist Americans.
Many have expressed disdain for the lawsuit and support for the cross, seeing it as a symbol of hope and not simply as a religious icon.
According to a recent poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports, 7 in 10 Americans support the inclusion of the cross at the 9/11 Museum and Memorial at the World Trade Center.
Despite the outcry against its lawsuit, American Atheists seems to have no intention of withdrawing its claim.
In a recent appeal on its website for supporters to double their contributions to the American Atheists' legal defense fund, the group vows to fight against having "a Christian icon, in the middle of OUR museum."