Criticism of Bloomberg's 9/11 Clergy Ban Grows

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The issue of whether clergy should help mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks has pitted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg against a number of faith groups.

The mayor says the event will not include clergy. It will instead focus simply on the families of 9/11 victims.

Share your story. Visit he CBN Special 9/11 10th Anniversary Tribute.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice spoke about the 9/11 10th anniversary service's lack of clergy on The 700 Club, Sept. 7.   

However, critics say his clergy ban shows a prejudice against religion.

In a speech Tuesday on the 9/11 terror attacks, Bloomberg said the hijackers did more than target two buildings.

"They attacked the freedom that defines our city and country. The freedom to think and speak and worship and love as we wish," he explained.

Bloomberg's barring participation by faith leaders in the city's 10th anniversary service has sparked protests from a variety of Christian leaders.

"At times of grief people don't turn to politicians, they turn to God. So having clergy there who can both lead people before God and also grant them comfort in their time of grief, I think is extremely important," Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, told CBN News.

The Family Research Council and other groups have organized petition drives to protest the mayor's decision.

Other leaders -- like Rev. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention -- have questioned Bloomberg, especially because so many faith groups were among the first responders 10 years ago.

Even a Los Angeles Times editorial noted, "If a minister can deliver an invocation at a presidential inauguration, it's hard to see a constitutional argument against a non-denominational, clergy-led prayer at a city's memorial event."

Religion has certainly been a part of other 9/11 memorials, most notably the service at the National Cathedral right after the attacks. President Obama is scheduled to speak at the cathedral this weekend at an anniversary service.

Critics of Bloomberg point out the nation has turned to God in times of need throughout its history.

"When America and the allies invaded Europe on D-Day in 1944, President Roosevelt led the nation in prayer on a national radio broadcast for 10 minutes asking for blessings for our troops. So this is not a partisan issue and it's not just a current fad," Klukowski said.

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