Atheists are going to court in America to stop a 9/11 memorial museum in New York from featuring steel beams found standing upright in the shape of a cross amid the rubble of the attacks.
The beams were seen by many New Yorkers as a beacon of hope for the city following the tragedy.
But American Atheists, the group who brought the lawsuit, say the cross is an unconstitutional mingling of church and state, and a breach of ‘equality’.
Museum officials said the cross was being displayed not because of its religious value but the role it played in the aftermath of the attacks.
Museum president Joe Daniels said in a statement: “The mission of the National September 11 Memorial Museum is to tell the history of 9/11 through historic artefacts like the World Trade Center cross.
He added: “This steel remnant became a symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero, as well as for people around the world”.
The American Centre for Law and Justice called the lawsuit “flawed”, and Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said; “This is another pathetic attempt to rewrite the Constitution and rewrite history by removing a symbol that has deep meaning and serves as a powerful remembrance to that fateful attack nearly ten years ago”.
The cross was placed inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum during a ceremony earlier this month.
Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, said: “As a public accommodation, the memorial must allow us [and all other religious philosophies] to include our own display of equal size inside the museum, or not include the cross.”
The 9/11 memorial and museum is due to open later this year on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.