A conservative legal group is taking up the defense against an atheist group's lawsuit seeking the removal of the World Trade Center cross from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
The American Center for Law and Justice said it will file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of former 9/11 firefighter and first responder Tim Brown in support of the WTC cross, which was installed at the Ground Zero memorial Saturday, the Christian Post reported.
"We will aggressively defend the placement of this cross," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, said in a statement Tuesday. "This memorial, a powerful part of the history of 9/11, serves as a constitutionally-sound reminder of the horrors that occurred nearly a decade ago."
The American Atheists, which advocates an "absolute separation" of government and religion, filed a lawsuit Monday, saying the cross is an unconstitutional "mingling of church and state" and should not be included if "no other religions or philosophies will be honored," according to a statement on the group's Web site.
Their suit names the museum, Mayor Bloomberg, and New York, among others, as defendants.
Museum organizers, and other supporters, disagree, however, with the American Atheists, saying the cross is a symbol of hope for many and should have its place at the memorial.
The cross is "an important part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the history of 9/11 in a way nothing else could," 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said Saturday, the Christian Post reported. "It is a symbol of the progress on the Memorial and Museum that we feel rather than see, reminding us that commemoration is at the heart of our mission."
In his statement, Sekulow called the lawsuit "deeply flawed and without merit."
"They are injured by the mere existence of the cross? We're talking about two-intersecting steel beams that held up when the Twin Towers collapsed. Yes, it is cross-shaped. But, suffering physical and emotional damage because of the existence of the cross? Give me a break," Sekulow wrote.
"This claim is ridiculous. If someone doesn't like it, look the other way. Skip that part of the exhibit. This is just the latest chapter of an anti-God strategy employed by atheist organizations across the country -- a strategy offensive to millions of Americans, a strategy that we're confident ultimately will fail in court," said Sekulow in the statement.