When I was a kid, people had this phrase, “to show your butt,” which meant “to make an obnoxious ass of yourself.” The American Atheists organization is suing to prevent the “9/11 Cross,” a cruciform portion of girder that fell into the pile of wreckage when the World Trade Center collapsed, from being part of the 9/11 museum display on the site. More:

A judge should toss out a lawsuit by a national atheists group seeking to stop the display of a cross-shaped steel beam found among the wreckage of the World Trade Center, lawyers for the operators of the Sept. 11 memorial at ground zero say.

The lawyers said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday that the 17-foot-tall beam will be displayed as a historical object because it tells part of the story of the rescue and recovery effort after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which destroyed the twin towers and killed thousands of people.

They said the display of the cross among 1,000 artifacts, photos, oral histories and videos is no different from the showing of hundreds of religious paintings routinely displayed at government-supported art museums.

The memorial operator’s lawyers are correct. As it happened, I’m pretty sure I was the first journalist to report on the 9/11 cross’s discovery. My uncle is a Lutheran pastor who was an FBI chaplain at the time, and was sent at once to Ground Zero. He phoned me a couple of days after 9/11 to tell me that a construction worker had found the cruciform girders in the pile, and was leading those overwhelmed by the horror down there to pray before the cross. My uncle told me it was an incredible thing to see, and that it was becoming a rallying point for rescuers.

I couldn’t gain access to the pile, but the construction worker who found the cross, Frank Silecchia, came out and allowed me to interview him for my New York Post column. He told me about how there was a FDNY captain whose firefighter son was killed in the collapse, and who was a sobbing, enraged mess. Big Frank — he is a huge man — took the grieving father down to the cross, and helped put him back together. Stories like that. I believe my column was the first thing written about the 9/11 Cross, but many, many more of these stories eventually emerged. Those men working on the site were having to face unimaginable horror, every single day; for many of them, that cross was a source of comfort and strength, because it made them think that God was with them, even there in the pit of hell.

That the American Atheists cannot recognize that the 9/11 Cross has great historical significance, if only because it meant the world to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of 9/11 rescuers only shows how completely arrogant, obtuse, and inhuman some atheists can be. What an utterly despicable organization, one that does not do the cause of atheism any credit, but rather damage, insofar as it confirms the worst stereotype of atheists. Jon Stewart ripped them a new one here:

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