NEW YORK â€” A judge on Friday tossed out a lawsuit that sought to stop the display of a cross-shaped steel beam found among the World Trade Centerâ€™s rubble, saying the artifact could help tell the story of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts rejected the arguments of American Atheists, which had sued the National September 11 Memorial & Museumâ€™s operators in 2011 on constitutional grounds, contending that the prominent display of the cross constitutes an endorsement of Christianity, diminishing the contributions of non-Christian rescuers.
Batts wrote that the cross and its accompanying panels of text â€œhelps demonstrate how those at ground zero coped with the devastation they witnessed during the rescue and recovery effort.â€ She called its purpose â€œhistorical and secularâ€ and noted that it will be housed at the museum in the â€œFinding Meaning at Ground Zeroâ€ section with placards explaining its meaning and the reason for its inclusion. It also will be surrounded by secular artifacts.
â€œNo reasonable observer would view the artifact as endorsing Christianity,â€ the judge said. She added that the museumâ€™s creators â€œhave not advanced religion impermissibly, and the cross does not create excessive entanglement between the state and religion.â€ She said the plaintiffs also failed to allege any form of intentional discrimination or cite any adverse or unequal treatment on the basis of their religious beliefs.
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