Atheists Are Getting Headaches, Depression, and Anxiety from the Cross |:| Want to be Included Too

I suppose on some level I try not to take sides on this blog. Where that “some level” actually resides, however, is very much open to debate. But in this case, the case of American Atheists wanting “equal representation” in the soon-to-be National September 11 Memorial and Museum, I am just so itchy with irksomeness.

Here’s the skinny:

In the aftermath of the World Trade Center imploding in on itself and crumbling to the ground steel workers on the scene erected a cross made of the steel from the wreckage. This cross was said to be in honor of those that died in the destruction, but also nodded to the “crosses” that appeared in the rubble on their own (see picture above).

Here’s the steel workers cross:

Very cross-like

Now, a new museum and memorial is about to open and Joe Daniels, president and chief executive of said museum and memorial, is planning on having the 17-foot steel “911 cross” on display. He says it’s a major piece of history. Atheists say…well…here’s what The Atlantic Wire is reporting David Silverman, president of American Atheists, as saying:

“They can allow every religious position to put in a symbol of equal size and stature, or they can take it all out, but they don’t get to pick and choose.”

  • (Me) But, I don’t think every religious symbol made it’s way into the burning molten pit of carnage that took the place of where the buildings were….

“The Christian community found a piece of rubble that looked like an icon and they deified it. But really 9/11 had nothing to do with Christianity.”

  • (Me) Well, 9/11 means different things to different people. I suppose if 9/11 means, that is, represents a Godless world, and atheists had gathered early on to represent that world with a piece of rubble, and it had become a semiotic emotion-fest similar in effect to that of the cross, than I suppose it too would be put in the museum. Unfortunately, the atheists were a little Johnny-come-lately on this one.

The obvious rebuttal to all this is that having the cross on exhibit shows an accurate representation of people’s responses to the events, religiously inspired or otherwise.

But, that doesn’t take into account the emotional anguish atheists experience over feeling underrepresented. From Gothamist:

“according to a lawsuit filed by American Atheists, the cross’s side effects include “dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish from the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack.”

mid-15c., “slops fed to pigs,” from hog (n.) + wash. Extended to “cheap liquor” (1712) then to “inferior writing” (1773).

This isn’t the first time American Atheists have fought to keep our city streets clean of religious anything. A few weeks back they began working to get the “Seven in Heaven” street sign removed in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

In the end, I feel like the atheists will defs be well represented at the museum. There will be flooring material for people to walk on. There will probably be a good amount of sheetrock and plaster. Then, of course, there will be all the money collected at the door. And let’s not forget the people walking through the museum themselves. That’s living, breathing, humanism at work!

You see, you can’t beat ’em. Atheists always win in the end.

8 replies

  1. The world is filled with symbols. Some excite to action and others assure and comfort. This one comforts. Athiest or not, one is wise to embrace compassion for those who long for comfort in their grief. Thusly, in this case the cross transcends religion. It crosses my heart and urges me to keep it open.

  2. when i saw that cross get erected after 911 my gut knew a religous war was coming. We had an evangelical texan in the whitehouse and a war against muslim extremists. Today soldiers are trained with bible passages, rifles have scripture printed on them and jerry falwells crew holds sermons on bases across the country. No wonder the entire right wing believe this to be a religious war. And where does this leave the rest of us who are still reeling from an act of terror? Shaking our heads at yet another self righteous religious symbol.

  3. Joe: I suppose I have a similar feeling about it. I see the cross as one section of the greater NYC community’s expression of overcoming intense intense intense grief. Doesn’t have to be my symbol (though I do appreciate a good “cross” [vertical/horizontal axes abound!]).

    Krissy: I also can see some of the other darker sides to the cross, especially the us -vs- them BS that many might attribute to the cross. But, the symbol really does, by its very nature, exist as an open-source graphic. I can recognize the ignorance that might come with it, but find myself responding more to its cathartic qualities, it’s how-else-to-express-our-grief qualities.

    I honestly think the American Atheists are simply playing juridical games with this. I get it, and can appreciate it, but don’t really take it too seriously. I mean, the dude suggests putting in the symbol of an atom in the museum to represent the atheistic emotional response to the carnage. Defs kinda cool, but doesn’t really fulfill the museum’s criteria it seems.

    Like I said, there will be many many many a-religious symbols throughout the museum. Do they each have to be intentionally placed with a prescribed atheist agenda attached to them?

  4. To me this feels like something that really requires you to respect the conditions under which this form was erected. I can’t comprehend the feeling of being surrounded by dead bodies—being literally in the center of such an intense event—and having no way to express what you’re feeling in a way that anyone might hear. To see this form, find meaning in it (whether religious or not) and then erect it as a means of self expression is a viable way to work through the circumstances. In some ways this is more a piece of art than anything. And as art, it has numerous interpretations and is highly controversial. The second erecting of this as a memorial, may have unknown/questionable intentions. This is where it gets messy. The original was extremely expressive in just its angle. For instance, was it rising or falling? As art it left much to the imagination. The new vertical positioning and overall clean presentation seems to try to betray the original and attempts to be an answer and thus put an end to the original dialogue. It is no longer a culturally valued piece of civilian art encouraging a heated/ healthy public dialogue, but an economically valuable piece of corporate art diminished by a political board room dialogue.

  5. Unfortunately, we live in an extreme Godless society! We have become a nation that has forgotten the founding principles of our nation. We let other countries religious beliefs dictate our government response because we are scared to stand our ground. There should be No muslin Islamic schools teaching death to all Americans, yet we have one in Virginia, we háček masques being built all over. We have illegal immigrants thinking they have rights to take everything from America. If you feel all these should have rights the. Go live in their con tries for a year or so. I can guarantee when you return to America, you will kiss the groung that you walk on, give praise to our flag, our constitution, our values, and want to stop the insanity. USA doesn’t stand for Come on over here and we’ll give you the farm.

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