All hands stretch towards a steel beam cross as Rev. Brian Jordan, center, applies holy water during its rededication at the World Trade Center site in New York, Friday October 3, 2002.
Here at On Faith we’ve spent the week covering American Atheist’s lawsuit petitioning New York City to remove two steel beams –an Ground Zero artifact that forms the shape of a cross– from official September 11th memorials.
Few panelists defended the suit, and even our own atheist contributors seemed to feel that the lawsuit was ‘frivolous’ and distracted from real church and state battles. One notable exception was Tom Flynn, executive director of The Council for Secular Humanism, and editor of Free Inquiry magazine , who wrote that, “in a secular society, government needs to avoid not only the actuality, but even the appearance of endorsing one religion above others.”
On his show Thursday night, Daily Show host Jon Stewart took his turn tackling the controversy, noting that the American Atheist organization had taken such a hard-line approach on the issue that the organization had alienated “even those who are indifferent to their cause.”
“That cross is an artifact. It was found at Ground Zero,” Stewart said. “It has come to mean something to people who view it as a symbol of comfort.”
Watch Stewart’s take below. Viewer warning: In true Daily Show fashion, Stewart uses some language that is NSFW.
And if you have time, it’s worth re-watching Stewart’s show from Sept. 20, 2001. As we approach the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the video helps put culture-war skirmishes like this one in their proper context.