A national atheist group is attempting to stop the placement of a cross at a 9/11 memorial in New Jersey — charging the Christian symbol's public display is "grossly offensive" to its members.
"It’s grossly offensive … because it purports to represent everybody who died as though a Christian symbol can have that effect of representing everybody and that's not appropriate," Dave Muscato, a spokesman for American Atheists told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"Not everybody who died that day was Christian. If I had died I would certainly not want a Christian symbol representing a memorial for me."
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Muscato's group of more than 3,000 members, which is based in Cranford, N.J., is challenging the plans of the city of Princeton to place a piece of the World Trade Center on city property because it has a cross cut into it.
"The problem is it's unconstitutional to just show one religious symbol by itself on government land paid for with government funds," Muscato said.
"It is a violation of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. If they set up a free speech zone — which means that any group that wants to put in a similarly sized symbol could do so in remembrance of people from their groups that died that day — then we'd have absolutely no problem with this at all and completely support it."
Muscato said his group is ready to take the heat to defend its position.
"It's more important to us to stand up for the Constitution than to be liked," he said.
"Civil rights activism is not popular. When this sort of thing happens, people get mad at us but we're standing up for the right thing."
The memorial is the brainchild of Princeton Deputy Fire Chief Roy James who wants to erect it on state land near the Princeton Battle Monument.
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