A federal judge in New York has ruled that the World Trade Center cross can be included in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The cross's intersecting steel beams survived the World Trade Center collapse in the form of a cross. But in July the group American Atheist sued the National September 11 Memorial & Museum's operators on constitutional grounds that the cross constitutes an endorsement of Christianity. Tthey requested to have the symbol removed from the site.
U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts ruled Friday that the display of the beams is permissible because they bear historical importance.
She wrote that the cross "helps demonstrate how those at Ground Zero coped with the devastation they witnessed during the rescue and recovery effort."
Many New Yorkers consider the cross as a beacon of hope that came out of the tragedy.
It will be housed at the museum in the "Finding Meaning at Ground Zero" section. Batts said there will be placards explaining its meaning and the reason for its inclusion.
"No reasonable observer would view the artifact as endorsing Christianity," the judge said. She added that the museum's creators "have not advanced religion impermissibly, and the cross does not create excessive entanglement between the state and religion."
AA President David Silverman and attorney Edwin Kagin plan to appeal the ruling. Kagin called it a government effort "to endorse Christianity as the national religion of the United States."
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is scheduled to open next year.