Should religion be part of the NYC 9/11 observance?

Should there be a religious element to New York City’s 9/11 commemoration on Sunday?

There won’t be, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered there be no clerics speaking at the event.

“It’s a civil ceremony. There are plenty of opportunities for people to have their religious ceremonies,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show. “Some people don’t want to go to a religious ceremony with another religion. And the number of different religions in this city are really quite amazing.”

“It isn’t that you can’t pick and choose, you shouldn’t pick and choose,” Bloomberg said. “If you want to have a service for your religion, you can have it in your church or in a field, or whatever.”

Some people who want a religious overtone to the occasion say this iconic image of 9/11 alone justifies it:


It’s the image of Father Mychal Judge, whose body was pulled from the wreckage and carried to an altar of a nearby church.

But opponents say injecting religion also brings in the theological riff-raff.

Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who prompted international outrage by threatening to burn copies of the Quran last Sept. 11, has said he plans to show up at Ground Zero on Sunday at the same time as the services there to address “issues concerning Islam,” according to the Religion News Service.

  • Tyler

    Thanks for posting the link to the story, and the high-rez picture of Mychal Judge. Having read the story, it’s not unfair to say that the picture is “a modern Pieta. And I think Bloomberg is on the right track. In my book, it’s OK to have a commemorative service separate from a religious service.

  • Joe Busch

    This isn’t any different than any other year. Bloomberg has kept clergy members from having an official role since the first of these memorials, and people are only getting worked up because it’s the big 1-0.

    Well, that and there’s a lot more fervent religious activism these days. I suppose that’s playing a role.

  • matt

    Why does the govt get the monopoly on the ceremony? I understand city employees went in and did amazing work, and they chose to walk into that hell and my hat is off to them each and every day. But we are still picking and choosing and what do you know the govt has decided that govt should be the one to run the affair.

    Personally I think it would have been a whole lot cooler if they would have turned it over to the firefighters or a relief/support organization or some other charity.

  • Jim Shapiro

    If the wiser message of most religions – we’re all one, love, forgiveness, charity, compassion – was what was stressed, bring em on.

    Unfortunately, religion tends to be used and interpreted as a dividing, us vs them force ( no, not always, but the exception proves the rule), so until we evolve past the need for superstition, keep it in the church/mosque/synagogue and out of the public square.

  • Kassie

    Sure, bring religion into it. But only if there is religious representation of everyone killed in the attacks. Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Catholics, Hindus, Agnostics, Protestants, Quakers, and who knows how many other religions. The ceremony can go on for 8 hours as each get their equal time.

    Most of the time, when people say they religious people at these things, they mean they want Christianity there. Maybe Judaism. Probably not Rastafarians or Atheists or Muslims. It is just best to keep thing neutral.

  • Paul

    This reminds me of the story a couple weeks ago about how Wisconsin Republicans were not allowed to march in the Labor Day parade because, of course, they are anti-Labor.

    Religion inspired the attacks of 9/11 – of course it shouldn’t be part of commemorating it.