Amid the shock, horror, and grief that remained in the aftermath of 9/11, Americans of many different faiths reached out to their religious leaders for guidance and strength. Days after the attack on America, President Bush spoke at a national memorial service at our National Cathedral, and clergy of various faiths offered prayers in conjunction with the president’s remarks.
Yet on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg has decided that clergy will be excluded from the 9/11 memorial ceremony. Bloomberg says the memorial schedule is too busy to allow prayer. Despite outrage from the American public and calls from religious leaders asking Mayor Bloomberg to reverse his decision, Bloomberg has turned a deaf ear to the protests.
Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor in former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration, said he’s outraged. “This is America, and to have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me,” I feel likeAmericahas lost its way,” said Mr. Washington, who has suffered severe medical problems connected to the time he spent at Ground Zero.
Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins said that Americans “turned to God for solace” after the tragedy of 9/11and that the clergy were part of the healing process. “At a Ground Zero commemoration for the families of victims, Mayor Bloomberg is allowing the presence of politicians and presidents, but no pastors or prayer. The mayor of course will be there, but politicians weren’t then — and are not now — nearly enough.”
New York City Council member Fernando Cabrera, a pastor in the Bronx, said faith was one of the “pillars that carried us through” the days after the attacks and called religious leaders “the spiritual and emotional backbone.”
“When you have a situation where people are trying to find meaning, where something is this big, when you have a crisis of this level, they often look to the clergy,” added Cabrera, who said excluding religious leaders from the ceremony was “wiping out the recognition of the importance that spirituality plays on that day.”
The American public is also voicing their anger and disappointment. A groundswell of protest is appearing on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Bloggers are outraged and prayer groups are being organized for the 9/11 anniversary.
We call on Mayor Bloomberg to heed the will of the American people. Honor their right to receive guidance and strength from their religious leaders on this day of healing and remembrance.
Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”