A cross of steel beams that remained among the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks, and which became a beacon of hope for Christian rescue workers and mourners, has now become a symbol of controversy after organizers decided to include it in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at ground zero. An atheist group, the New Jersey-based American Atheists, has filed a lawsuit objecting to the Christian imagery, saying its inclusion “constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land.” Much like the lawsuit against the city’s decision to rename a Red Hook street “Seven in Heaven Way” (after the seven local firefighters who died on 9/11), the legal action over the rubble cross probably isn’t going to win the atheism movement many new friends, or a broader acceptance.
That made us wonder how prominent atheists — atheist evangelists, you might call them — felt about the lawsuit. Did they agree with it? Is this the kind of thing that atheists should make a fuss over? So we asked a number them to weigh in. Well, only Bill Maher got back to us. Here’s what he said: