The New York Daily News writes:
A federal appeals court has tossed a lawsuit by a group of atheists who challenged the display of the “Cross at Ground Zero” at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court ruled Monday that the cross recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center was more of a “genuine historical artifact” than a symbol of Christianity.
The judges noted that the cross — comprised of a 17-foot steel column and a crossbeam — became a “symbol of hope and healing for all persons” in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. . . .
The American Atheists initially sued the Port Authority in Manhattan Supreme Court in July 2011. The case was transferred to Manhattan Federal Court, where Judge Deborah Batts dismissed it on summary judgment.
The group appealed, arguing that displaying the cross at the museum violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and state constitutions of New York and New Jersey.
The atheists contended the display of the cross at the museum “gave the impression of a Latin cross, a symbol associated with Christianity.”
They asserted that displaying the cross was unconstitutional, “particularly without any accompanying plaque or similar item acknowledging that atheists were among those” who died on 9/11 or participated in the rescue efforts.
The appellate judges ruled the atheists’ “challenge fails on the merits.”
The judges concluded that the “stated purpose of displaying The Cross at Ground Zero to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular.” . . .