WTC Cross Lawsuit

Support the WTC Cross Lawsuit filed by American Atheists, a non-profit educational foundation with the aims and purposes of upholding the Separation of Church and State and fighting for equal rights for non-theists.

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Comment by Blair Scott on August 24, 2011 at 4:10pm


  • The four individual plaintiffs – Jane Everhart, Dennis Horvitz, Kenneth Bronstein, and Mark Panzarino – are US citizens and residents of New York City as well as members in good standing of American Atheists, Inc.
  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), along with the City of New York, own the land on which the 9/11 Memorial and Museum has been built.  PANYNJ has also played a material part in the development and construction of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
  • The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), funded with $10 billion in federal funds to rebuild downtown Manhatten after the 9/11 tragedy, provided the funding for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
  • The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation (WTCMF) is a 501(c)(3) non-religious non-profit organization responsible for developing and constructing the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
  • The WTCMF received $79,252,830 in unrestricted government funding for its purposes in 2009; and $69,452,552 in unrestricted government funding in 2010. These amounts constituted approximately 59% of the total funding the WTCMF received for the construction of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
  • In August 2010, Congress instructed the US Mint to strike 9/11 Commemorative medals to raise public funds for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  Proceeds from the sale of those medals were directed to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
  • It is estimated that the 9/11 Memorial and Museum will attract over 5 million visitors, of all faiths and none, to the site. It is AA’s contention that part of the message they will get at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is that only Christians were affected by this tragedy and render all of the non-Christian victims as “illegitimate others” undeserving of recognition.
  • This lawsuit has been pursued in large measure because the memorial and other governmental authorities did not respond to any of the repeated requests for dialogue with our community over our expressed concerns.
Comment by G Smith on August 24, 2011 at 4:08pm
I'm wondering whether the Freedom From religion Foundation is pursuing this issue. I'm a member of FFrF.
Comment by Blair Scott on August 24, 2011 at 4:07pm


The United States was attacked by Islamic militants on September 11, 2001. That attack included the destruction of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, New York City, where 2.792 individuals lost their lives.

Two days after the attack, construction workers found a steel girder intersection approximately 10 feet across and 17 feet high and weighing 4,000 pounds (2 tons) amongst the rubble. By October 2001, the Franciscan (Catholic) friar Brian Jordan came and ‘blessed’ this piece of building debris and began holding religious services at the site.

Eventually, the girder cross was removed to St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church on 22 Barclay Street, in Manhattan, exact date unknown.  While there, the girder set was further modified and trimmed to look more like the Latin cross of Christian tradition.

In 2002, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was established, with a $10 billion grant from the US government, to rebuild downtown Manhattan.  Soon thereafter, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation (WTCMF) was established to begin designing a permanent memorial for those that died in the 9/11 attacks.

At about that same time, various groups began lobbying the WTCMF to include the girder cross in the final design of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.  American Atheists spoke out against that suggestion, making numerous appearances to civic and governmental groups as well as on national media denouncing the suggestion as a blatant violation of the First Amendment and exclusionary to non-Christian Americans.  It also offered to provide its own memorial artifact to be set next to the girder cross to honor all other Americans who died in the 9/11 attacks.  American Atheists never received any response to its complaints or its offer of an additional memorial artifact.

The WTCMF completed the construction of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in July.  On July 23, the WTCMF arranged to have the girder cross brought back from St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church and dropped in through the roof of the museum to be placed on a mounting that the WTCMF had built specifically for that purpose. The girder cross was then immediately consecrated in a private religious ceremony by Brian Jordan, the same Franciscan friar who originally claimed the girder cross to be a religious icon soon after it had been discovered.  No other religious or secular representatives were invited to the event.

On 26 July, 2011, American Atheists filed suit against PANYNJ, the states of New York and New Jersey; their governors; the City of New York; the mayor of New York City; the Lower Manhatten Development Corporation; the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation; World Trade Center Properties, LLC; the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus; and Friar Brian Jordan.


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