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9/11 Memorial Controversy Revives Debate Over Neutering Public Crosses

Are memorial crosses worth preserving if they are neutered of their religious significance?

A 17-foot, cross-shaped beam became a famous Ground Zero symbol in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Now it is facing legal challenges to its intended public display at the still-unopened, billion-dollar National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

The controversy reflects debate over whether memorial crosses are worth preserving if they have to be neutered of their religious significance in order to remain in the public square.

Last year, American Atheists sued the museum to stop the display of the cross, arguing that the cross is a Christian symbol which dishonors 9/11 victims who were not Christian. In August 2012, the museum asked for the lawsuit to be thrown out.

The museum claims that the cross is an "important and essential artifact" that "comprises a key component of the retelling of the story of 9/11."

CT has previously covered the Supreme Court's tangled view of public crosses, as well as examined whether or not memorial crosses should be viewed as secular.

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