Pastor: 9/11 Ceremony a 'Prayer' Event Despite Absence of Religious Leaders

NEW YORK – Despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s firm decision to not allow religious leaders to offer words of prayer at the 9/11 Memorial Service Sunday, one pastor believes the event will still be about God and prayer.

Steve Stone, founding pastor of the Tennessee-based Heartsong Church, which lets Muslims borrow its sanctuary for worship when the Memphis Islamic Center was under construction last year, commented on the exclusion of religion from the 9/11 service when he was in New York City on Friday to participate in an evangelical press conference about the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

While many religious leaders, including Christians, have protested Bloomberg’s decision to keep religion out of the civil ceremony, Stone told The Christian Post he is actually glad that no religious speakers were invited to speak at the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attack.

“We’ll be one people and there’s no way to cut God and prayer out,” said Stone. “The whole event will be a prayer.”

On Friday, Bloomberg took to the radio airwaves to defend his move to keep the 9/11 memorial service prayer-free, saying to allow religious leaders to speak at the event would be tantamount to government forcing religion “down people’s throats.”

He added that “there are plenty of opportunities for people to have their religious ceremonies” outside of the Sept. 11 service to be held at the 9/11 new memorial and museum Sunday.

Stone also weighed in on the controversy surrounding the World Trade Center Cross, saying that he believes some are being too sensitive about the usage of the symbol in the museum.

The cross made up of two-steel beams found amid the rubble of the World Trade Center was recently put on display at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum after spending five years outside a Catholic church near ground zero. The New Jersey-based American Atheists has filed a lawsuit demanding the WTC cross’ removal from the museum.

“I think the cross was already there, not anything anyone made,” Stone told CP. “For some it’s a cross; for others it’s not. People see Jesus in toast. I think everybody needs to get over being hypersensitive about religious matters.”

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