Despite its ongoing efforts to have the display of a cross near the World Trade Center memorial in New York City removed, legal experts strongly doubt the American Atheists organization has any chance of a court agreeing with its claim that the relic discriminates against those who are not Christians.
"It is important that it not be displayed to the exclusion of everyone else," said David Silverman, president of the American Atheists. "This case is about inclusion, it is not about the elimination of religion, it is about the inclusion of everyone."
The organization, which is one of the largest secular groups in America, first filed the lawsuit in July 2011, CNN reported. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, however, is arguing that its intention with displaying the cross is not to offend anyone, but to honor the cross which had "became an icon of hope and comfort throughout the recovery in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks."
The cross in question was found in the rubble of the Twin Towers, where a pair of girders had formed what resembles a cross. It was discovered by Frank Silecchia, a construction worker helping with relief efforts at Ground Zero. It has subsequently been raised up and blessed by clergy men, and has become a symbol of hope for many believers.
The American Atheists, however, argue in a statement: "We honor the dead and respect the families, which is why we will not allow the many Christians who died get preferential representation over the many non-Christians who suffered the same fate. This was an attack against America: not Christianity. Christianity does not deserve special placement just because the girders look like their religious symbol."
The organization also ridicule the cross by saying that it has been presented as a reminder that God "in his infinite power of goodness, who couldn't be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists, or stop the fire, or hold up the buildings to stop 3000 people from being crushed, cared enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. Ridiculous."
A number of organizations, however, like the American Center for Law and Justice, who often represent religious groups and fight for religious freedom, have said that attempts to remove the cross from the 9/11 memorial is further examples of growing anti-Christian sentiment in the country.
"As the National September 11 Memorial & Museum correctly argues in its court filings, 'there is no legal authority for the proposition that a museum is prohibited from displaying an item with historical, cultural or artistic significance merely because that item also has religious significance,' the Center explains in its defense of the cross.
It notes that the Supreme Court has repeatedly maintained that the Constitution does not require the eradication all religious symbols in the public realm in its goal to avoid governmental endorsement.
Many other legal experts have also said that there is nothing un-constitutional with keeping the cross at the memorial to serve as a symbol.
"I think the odds of a court ordering the cross removed are literally zero," said Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst for CNN. "The museum is not building a place for religious worship, they are preserving a historical relic that was meaningful to a great many people and part of the story of 9/11."
"When the government is surveying a historic development, the government does not have to exclude religions images and artifacts from its displays," Toobin added.