NYC 9/11 Ceremony to Exclude Religious Leaders

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The World Trade Center Cross being installed in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Source: Chip East, Reuters, July 23, 2011

Several religious leaders are urging New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reverse his ban on allowing clergy to speak during the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Bloomberg has defended the exclusion, noting that clergy have never officially participated in any of the 10 ceremonies at Ground Zero.

Opponents of Bloomberg’s ban include New York pastor and former Democratic congressman Rev. Floyd Flake, Jim Wallis of evangelical social justice group Sojourners, and World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General Geoff Tunnicliffe.

A prayer petition released by the Family Research Council stated, “Bloomberg’s behavior is not a matter of legal philosophy, dullness or insensitivity; it is a deliberate defiance and insult to people of faith across America. More important to Bible believers, it is an insult to God upon whom our nation depends for our safety.” The Family Research Council delivered over 62,000 signed petitions to New York City’s City Hall on Thursday, Sep. 8, 2011 urging Mayor Bloomberg to allow clergy to participate in the 9/11 memorial ceremony.

Evelyn Erskine, a Bloomberg spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to CNN in late August, “The ceremony was designed in coordination with 9/11 families with a mixture of readings that are spiritual, historical and personal in nature. It has been widely supported for the past 10 years and rather than have disagreements over which religious leaders participate we would like to keep the focus of our commemoration ceremony on the family members of those who died.”

The 10-year anniversary has also provided an opportunity for the Christian Action Network, Congressman Allen West (R-FL), and others to continue advocating against construction of the Muslim community center near the World Trade Center site.

Sunday’s Ground Zero ceremony will include victims’ families reading the names of the 2,983 deceased, several moments of silence, and remarks by President Barack Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Sources:

Dan Gilgoff, “Progressive Christians Join Controversy over Excluding Clergy at 9/11 Event,” www.cnn.com, Sep. 7, 2011

“FRC Delivers 62,000 Petitions Urging Mayor Bloomberg to Allow Clergy, Prayer, First Responders at 9/11 Memorial Ceremony,” www.frc.org, Sep. 8, 2011

Heather Sells, “Criticism of Bloomberg’s 9/11 Clergy Ban Grows,” www.cbn.com, Sep. 7, 2011

Jaweed Kaleem, “‘Clergy Ban’ at 9/11 Memorial Ceremony Inspires Complaints,” www.huffingtonpost.com, Sep. 2, 2011