The atheists are at it again. Just when you think they’ve hit rock bottom, when they’ve reached the point that it’s physically impossible for them to go in any other direction but up, they demonstrate that there is no depth so deep that they can’t plumb it.
They’ll whine about the display of the Ten Commandments in a court of law as if it burns their retinas. Nativity scenes displayed on State House lawns send chills up their spines. Children uttering the words “under God” when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance produce spasms of outrage. Simple crosses in out of the way places like the middle of the Mojave Desert or on a remote mountainside somewhere in the Rocky Mountains give them offense, even if they’ve heard only a vague rumor of their existence.
Their standard complaint is that the presence of a religious symbol makes them feel “excluded.” Kind’ve brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it? You have to feel sorry for them. Of course, the religious symbols that put their shorts in a knot are always of the Judeo-Christian variety.
Their objection this time, however, strains credulity. This time, a group known as American Atheists has filed a lawsuit objecting to a cross placed on what is now sacred ground, i.e. Ground Zero. The cross is formed by two intersecting steel beams that survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9-11. The suit, American Atheists v Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, claims that the mere sight of the cross has caused several atheists so to feel so “excluded” that they’ve become physically and mentally ill.
No doubt about the latter, because if the 17-ft cross is not removed, the atheists want a 17-ft “A” put up right next to it. Does the word “petty” mean anything to them?
“Named plaintiffs have suffered,” so the suit contends, “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 attacks.” Incredibly, the plaintiffs didn’t even have to see the cross up close and personal. Seeing it on television was enough.
Like sunlight on a vampire. Don’t they have a remote?
How does a lawsuit based on that dopey premise ever make it onto a busy court docket? Who in his right mind could take it seriously? What sad excuse for an ambulance chasing lawyer would take the time to file a case like that? Wait. Strike that. Anyone who has seen a Barry Glazer commercial knows the answer to that one.
David Silverman, President of American Atheists, however, is the man in question. Not Glazer. Not this time.
“The cross has become a Christian icon,” says Silverman. Watch him. Nothing gets by this guy. “It has been blessed by so-called holy men several times, and presented as a reminder that God, in His infinite power of goodness, Who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists, or stop the fire, or hold up the buildings to stop 3,000 people from being crushed, cared enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. Ridiculous.”
When was the last time you heard someone refer to priests or rabbis as “holy men?”
We have here a guy who professes not to believe in God, yet he says that God allowed 9-11 to happen. The man is angry at God for not preventing the horrific events of that day. Why? How can that be if, for him, God does not exist? In Mr. Silverman’s own words, God “couldn’t be bothered,” but “cared enough to bestow upon us some rubble.” Ok, he’s being cynical and sarcastic, but his words are also illogical and contrary to his premise.
Where is Mr. Silverman’s anger at Allah? After all, Allah made no effort whatsoever to talk Mohammed Atta and his evil buddies out of their murderous plans. Have the American Atheists commented on the odious plan of local Muslims to build an Islamic Center only a few blocks away from Ground Zero?
Perhaps, it’s less a question of believing in God’s existence than of who He is. For Mr. Silverman, whether he admits it or not, God is a lazy non-interventionist Who should have stepped in and stopped 9-11. Because he did nothing, He therefore does not exist.
However, God isn’t what Mr. Silverman thinks He is. He’s a baseball fan. With apologies to Abner Doubleday, who actually had nothing to do with it, God invented the game, wrote the rules, and laid out the boundaries. Then He made Man, gave him a free will and sat back to watch what happens between the lines. He is an interested observer Who rarely, if ever, steps in. That’s not His job. But occasionally, like when that cross formed in the heat of the fire and survived, He lets us know that He’s watching.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum documents that, during the recovery effort, that cross became ” a symbol of spiritual comfort for thousands of recovery workers who toiled at Ground Zero, as well as for people around the world. In the historical exhibition, the cross is part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the story of 9-11 in a way nothing else can.”
So there we have it: when faced with the incomprehensively nightmarish landscape at Ground Zero, the recovery workers turned to God for support and comfort. That cross was the symbol that gave them the strength to get through what to most of us could only have been an unimaginably difficult ordeal. It belongs to them. It is them and it will be there long after the last of them is dead and gone.
Millions of Americans across the country went to church after the attacks to pray for victims and recovery workers alike. Everyone pulled together. There were prayer services in schools and workplaces. For weeks, fans were asked to join in moments of silence at sporting events. Not once did anyone say, “Except you atheists.” There were no signs anywhere that read, “Atheists not welcome.” Nobody would have said to Mr. Silverman, “I’m going to Mass. You can’t go with me.” Had he shown up alone at a church, he would not have been turned away.
Far from being “excluded,” atheists are are welcome as anyone to join in the worship of God. They are indeed asked to join with open arms. If they refuse the invitation, it isn’t held aganst them. But if after refusing they somehow feel “excluded,” whose fault is that?