The Rev. Pat Robertson says he is “frankly shocked” that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will not allow clergy members to play a role in the city’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
|The Rev. Pat Robertson: "I am frankly shocked that Mayor Bloomberg thinks that he is doing the city of New York a favor by eliminating the spiritual element at an event commemorating tragedy, grief, and heroic sacrifice." (Getty Images Photo)
“It goes with the finest traditions of our nation that we memorialize bravery, courage, and sacrifice with appeal to the Author of life,” the founder of the 700 club said Thursday in an exclusive statement to Newsmax.
“I am frankly shocked that Mayor Bloomberg thinks that he is doing the city of New York a favor by eliminating the spiritual element at an event commemorating tragedy, grief, and heroic sacrifice,” said the popular evangelical leader and former Republican presidential candidate.
Bloomberg, who insists that the ceremonies should focus on the families of those killed in the World Trade Center attacks, also is barring political speech at the event, which will be attended by former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Bloomberg’s ban on religious observance at ground zero is drawing serious fire.
"This is America, and to have a memorial service where there's no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me," said Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor under Bloomberg’s predecessor Rudy Giuliani, who organized a nationally televised interfaith ceremony at Yankee Stadium in the days after the 2001 attacks.
Washington added: "I feel like America has lost its way. I am very upset about it. This is crazy.”
New York City Council member Fernando Cabrera, a pastor in the Bronx, said faith is one of the “pillars that carried us through” the days after the attacks.
The ban amounts to "wiping out the recognition of the importance that spirituality plays on that day," Cabrera said.
The city’s most prominent religious leader, Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan, said he would celebrate Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the morning of Sept. 11 and then will go to St. Peter’s Catholic Church a short walk from Ground Zero.
Bloomberg has said he wants the tone to remain similar to that of previous years, when the lack of religious input went largely unnoticed.
Evelyn Erskine, the mayor’s spokeswoman, defended the decision not to invite religious leaders to speak, saying: "There are hundreds of important people that have offered to participate over the last nine years, but the focus remains on the families of the thousands who died on Sept. 11.”
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