April 6, 2020

Open Mic: No Prayers at the 9/11 Memorial Observance

REUTERS: Mike Segar

By Chaplain Mike

Have you read reports about the controversy concerning the ceremony of remembrance at the Sept. 11 Memorial dedication next week? No Christian clergy or leaders of other faiths will participate and no formal prayers will be offered. Some in the church and in our culture think that is wrong. Others agree with the decision.

During this week to come we will feature several posts reflecting on 9/11, and we will kick that off by inviting you to discuss this matter.

To prime the pump, here are some quotes expressing various opinions on the “clergy ban”:

  • “Your plan to exclude pastors and prayer from the Ground Zero commemoration is not only offensive to the families of victims, but strangely overlooks the role that faith played in bringing healing to countless lives,” (Petition from Family Research Council, signed by 55,000+. Source: Christian Post)
  • “This is a shameful example of anti-religious bigotry,” said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “This once again betrays the secular bias against religion in certain liberal elements of our society whose epicenter is New York City.” (source: Christian Examiner)
  • “The way I and many other faithful Christians see it is as an act of mercy—sparing us the spectacle of bundling all religions together as if they are worshipping one god or as if all these gods are equal.” (Michael Youssef, Church of the Apostles, Atlanta. Source: Michael Youssef.com)

  • “I’m stunned. This event affected the whole psyche and soul of the country, and you are going to have no prayer? What’s a memorial service if you are going to leave God out of it completely? It seems kind of hollow,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, which has sent “action alerts” to its 2.3 million subscribers urging them to write to Bloomberg to protest the ceremony lineup. (source: Huffington Post)
  • “The clergy gag rule is being instituted to avoid ‘disagreements over which religious leaders participate.’ But since when has this been an issue? Plenty of clergy, including an imam, spoke at an interfaith service at Yankee Stadium after the attacks, and they managed to pull it off without a problem. Why would it be any different this time?” (Bill Donohoe, President of the Catholic League)
  • “Florida Pastor Joel C. Hunter also told The Christian Post…that a 9/11 ceremony without church leaders or prayer paints an inaccurate picture of America. ‘It’s going to be exclusionary, secularist only, and we are one of the most religious countries in the world. So, the bottom line is, this is not how we were founded. This is not who we are,’ Hunter said.” (source: Christian Post)
  • Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urged Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday to reconsider his decision to bar religious leaders from speaking at the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”If I were the mayor, and this came up, I’d have a religious presence there,” said Mr. Giuliani during an interview with The Wall Street Journal.”I think [Mr. Bloomberg] has a right to make the decision and say, ‘We’re going to do it exactly the same as we did it in the past,'” Mr. Giuliani said. “He also has the ability to say, ‘We’ll make a slight alteration in light of how important religion was to many of these people.’ It could be done very simply by just having a priest, a rabbi, a minister and an imam together and say a little prayer at the beginning.” (source: Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 2011)
  • “Many people would understandably prefer to see a presence of clergy, but priority must be given to families of victims — that is the overriding concern,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis. “If you do include clergy, then the question becomes, ‘Which faiths should be represented, which are not represented, how does one include everyone?'” (source: Huffington Post)
  • “The ceremony was designed in coordination with 9/11 families with a mixture of readings that are spiritual, historical and personal in nature,” said Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg, in an email to CNN. “It has been widely supported for the past 10 years and rather than have disagreements over which religious leaders participate we would like to keep the focus of our commemoration ceremony on the family members of those who died,” she said. There will be moments of silence in the 10th anniversary observance so people can have times of “personal and religious introspection,” Erskine told CNN. (source: Christian Examiner)
  • “In a city where the most residents in recent memory now cite religious faith as strongly important, New York is tone-deaf to exclude all religion when remembering the slaughter of over 3,000 innocents,” says Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy. “To exclude clergy even at a memorial service implies that religion is not welcome in the public square, even in mourning.” (source: Charisma News)
  • “At the end of this argument-filled day, not having the clergy involved in the memorial service is what’s best for everybody. In fact is that I’d have to argue against Cabrera when he said, ‘This is not a message of unity when you begin to exclude people who were crucial to the turnaround moment that we needed.’ What Mayor Bloomberg and his office are doing is the exact opposite of that; it is in fact a message of unity because they’re stripping all faiths away and leaving attendees to remember as one people. After all, what else are those moments of silence for, than to practice remembering in your own faith? The mayor should be commended for making such a daring political move; he’s taken a controversial stand in an effort to bring a multicultural city, and country, together to remember those we’ve lost. (Tyler Brown, Kansas State Collegian)

Here is some historical and contextual perspective about 9/11 commemorations:

  • “A National Day of Prayer and Remembrance was held three days after the attacks. The Sept. 14 observance featured a service at Washington’s National Cathedral at which President Bush and Billy Graham spoke. On Sept. 23, an interfaith memorial service was held at Yankee Stadium in New York City.” (source: Christian Examiner)
  • “Clergy have never been an official part of the 10 remembrance ceremonies at ground zero, which include one six months after the attacks and one on each 9/11 anniversary since. Instead, the events have featured moments of silence during which audiences may reflect and pray. Six such moments are planned this year — two to recall when each of the twin towers was struck, two to recall when each tower fell, one to mark Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, and one to remember the attack on the Pentagon. But while there has been little controversy over the lack of formal religion at previous ceremonies, this year’s event has generated petitions and responses from religious figures across the country.” (source: Jaweed Kaleem at Huffington Post)
  • “The bottom line is for 10 years we’ve been doing this for families, and we’re going to continue to do it for families,” Mayor Bloomberg stated. (source: Examiner.com)
  • [Rabbi Joseph Potasnik] noted that other commemorative events will have clergy and prayer. These include an event organized by the New York Police Department on Sept. 8 at Lincoln Center, which will include Rabbi Alvin Kass, the chief of chaplains for the NYPD; Cardinal Edward Egan, the archbishop emeritus of New York; and Bloomberg. Representatives of the Archdiocese of New York are participating in several 9/11-related events, and the Interfaith Center of New York is also hosting many 9/11-related gatherings. (source: Huffington Post)

Another group that has not been invited to the memorial is the group of 90,000 first responders: the firefighters, police officers, and civilian volunteers who courageously dealt with the crisis ten years ago. Historically, they have not been included in these ceremonies, either, but some are objecting to their exclusion on this tenth anniversary. One of them said, “The best of the best that this country offered 10 years ago are being neglected and denied their rightful place.”

Now it is your turn.

We look forward to a robust, civil discussion as we begin to remember this critical event in American history.

Comments

  1. Tempest, meet teapot.

    • I think all the Christians there should simultaneously start reciting the Lord’s Prayer in unison. People don’t need clergy to pray.

  2. I can see the pros and cons of having clergy at the event, but I do think it’s a bit disingenuous to say “It’s because we want to have as many of the families there as we can, and there’s only limited space” – and then have rows chock-full of various politicos.

    If they had a blanket ban on all state and other officials to go with the clergy, I’d be happy with that – but as an Irishwoman, it’s none of my business one way or the other.

  3. soooo…clergymen can show up at the event and guide people’s reflection, can they not? What’s the problem here? “…leave God out of it completely…” get real!

    • The memorial site is open only to those who have tickets, and the tickets for Sept. 11 were distributed to family and invited guests — as I understand it, mainly political representatives. The site is limited in size, so it won’t be an open ceremony. It opens to the public on Sept. 12, and the tickets for that date were snatched up immediately.

  4. It seems almost unbelievable to me to make this decision. We still don’t get it. This was a Religious Attack ~ Jihad is Holy War. This is a totally religious issue. It shows how ignorant the general public is about the dedication and commitment of these Muslim terrorists to their religion. Obviously some volunteered to die for it in the 9/11 attack. I realize that we are trying to be Politically Correct and not step on any toes at this ceremony but – uh-being burned alive seems a little more than having ones toes stepped on. What is wrong with us??

    • Adrienne, do you see something different about this tenth anniversary commemoration that should cause officials to change the way they’ve done this in the past — when only families participated?

      • Chaplain Mike ~ the difference I see is the pre-service media “hype” for want of a better word. The general public has been made much more aware of this 10th Anniversary Service than previous ones. ABC news has been running a time-line of daily events leading up to the attack titled, While America Slept”. People Magazine has a front cover story about the children that were born whose fathers were killed in the attack and so on. Therefore it will draw many more people and visitors than the past commemorations.

        • I had a much different viewpoint after reading that it has been for the families every other time. Now what I would suggest is that they should perhaps have had a large special commemoration in Yankee Stadium or some other public venue. From what I understand the Memorial itself only has space for a few thousand people, so it would not be suitable for immense crowds.

          There are several specifically religious commemorations taking place. In fact, in tomorrow’s post I will write about Trinity Church, the historic Episcopal church that survived right near the twin towers. They are having an entire week of services, concerts, and activities to mark the tenth anniversary.

          Having said that, I think what Mayor Guliani said makes some sense. Since this is a special commemoration, what harm would it have caused to alter the normal pattern of these annual family memorials slightly and have clergy representatives from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam present along with the families and politicians to offer either brief remarks or prayers for peace and healing?

  5. ” ‘The bottom line is for 10 years we’ve been doing this for families, and we’re going to continue to do it for families,’Mayor Bloomberg stated.”

    That in itself sounds like the appropriate religious response: let the mourners mourn. How many times on this forum have we talked about the tragedy of pastors turning memorial services into altar calls? I am a bit incensed by the cultural war police taking the moment away from the families (Family Research Counsel of all people – how ironic). We are becoming no better than the religious extremists who started all this, whose religion is the banner they wave rather than the core of their being. Turning this into a parade of religious talking heads would remove religion from the moment.

    • Certainly some have used this as an opportunity to bluster and moan without (it sounds like) understanding the situation very well. Perhaps the most Christian response would have been to express our love and support for these grieving families and the first responders and perhaps even offered to hold a special commemoration where we would pray for their healing and for peace.

    • +1

    • “We are becoming no better than the religious extremeists who started all this.”

      So now signing petitions and making statements to the media is the same as slamming airplanes full of people into buildings full of people? Really?

      • My statement had nothing to do with terrorism, rather the misuse of religion. I should have chose my words more carefully.

  6. On top of the practice of not having religious elements in past 9/11 memorial services, I support the decision for a couple of reasons:
    a.) I don’t have to worry about some angry religious-right pastor blaring “us versus them” rhetoric in a public prayer of remembrance.
    b.) I don’t have to worry about some lefty-softy pastor giving a bland, generic hallmark card prayer that lumps all religions together with an unnamed God/presence/force.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      a2) I don’t have to worry about an End Time Prophecy Fulfillment/God Punishing America For Fill-in-the-Blank high-pressure job. And it’s really saying something when that’s the first thing even I think of — Culture War Without End, Amen.

  7. Maybe Glenn Beck could speak on behalf of the truly religious in America (heaven forbid that one of those leftist social gospel collectivist traitors were allowed to speak!). (yes, sarcasm).

  8. After the recent NASCAR prayer “my smokin hot wife”, I am scared to have any pastor speak in a public forum. Put a pastor in a position of getting focused on him, they get looney.

  9. After seeing the article about this on The Christian Post (linked to above), I signed the Family Research Council’s letter to Mayor Bloomberg. Not that I’m necessarily as conservative as FRC (in all matters). I did this to voice my concerns about, and for, religious liberty. That’s all.

  10. More often than not, when priests, pastors, rabbis and imams are selected for these functions, they are expected to “behave themselves”—in other words, water down any real religious teachings that you might have from Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, and just teach what’s politely appropriate for a secular civic function.

    The fact that they’re present at all is because politicians want to throw a bone to religious folks. If it were truly about religion, what you’d see is the politically incorrect spectacle of pastors mainly from the lead politician’s faith, preaching Jesus. Or in Mayor Bloomberg’s case…

    Well, actually, isn’t that what we do have? He’s not an observant Jew, and (no offense to Reform Jews who actually take it seriously) affiliates himself with Reform Judaism because it’s such a lenient sect that you can do absolutely nothing to develop yourself spiritually, and still call yourself Reform. And that’s what he’s doing with the 9/11 memorial—absolutely nothing.

    In any event, what we have at your average public function is civic idolatry and hypocrisy. I would much rather have the real thing—even if they pick someone whose understanding of God is totally different from mine, or even wrong—than the milquetoast hypocrisy that passes for a religious benediction these days. I want a Christian, or even Jew or Muslim, who really does want God to show up. I want that or nothing.

    • Which indicates to me that if some religious people were really that upset about this, why didn’t they plan and organize a specific commemoration for prayer and to give religious perspective?

      To be fair, there are a number of those, but I don’t think the ones doing all the complaining are part of them.

      For example, Rick Warren is having a special prayer commemoration linking churches together via a live webcast, including a congregation Saddleback planted near the memorial site.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Which indicates to me that if some religious people were really that upset about this, why didn’t they plan and organize a specific commemoration for prayer and to give religious perspective?

        Because Cursing the Darkness is so much more Delicious than lighting a candle.

        • Turning the event into an anti-Muslim/gay/liberal/Democratic Party/Obama hatefest is also so much better for fundraising.

      • Presumably the one that Mayor Bloomberg and the politicians are putting together is the “official” one, that speaks for our country. I suspect the folks that are annoyed about that actually do believe it does speak for our country—as if God doesn’t understand how democracy works, and judges a nation’s underlings instead of its sovereigns. (Meaning us.)

        I’m with you, though: The opposition is just as political; Christians will do our own thing regardless, as we should. Getting the government’s endorsement is part of the reason why we need to keep church and state separate: It corrupts the church, and renders it unable to provide a properly prophetic critique of the state. (At least, unable to provide one that anyone can take seriously. Ahab’s 400 prophets, fr’instance.)

  11. I understand why no clerics are invited, but the logic that the decision-makers used in arriving at that decision is not, and can not be, applied consistently across the board.

    Politicians, government and civil leaders make quite a few decisions that offend me (and others), but there is no apology about those decisions. Yes, I do vote, and will vote and do get involved in the political process, but many of these decisions have been unilaterally decided for me and I don’t have any recourse(In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court Justices interpreted the law for me before I was even born). So, please don’t pull out the “we don’t want to offend anyone” defense. If you really didn’t want to offend anyone, you wouldn’t do anything at all. Ever. (but that would also offend someone). It’s an untenable position for any government to take.

  12. I think not having the 1st responders there is more of an outrage. People can pray w/o a religious leader. But not having the heroes of 9/11 there is kind of a slap in the face. As one Facebook post I read recently stated, they weren’t invited to the original 9/11 either, they just showed up.

    • Yeah, this didn’t sit well with me either. So many of these have sicknesses & trauma from their work that day…they are also among those injured by the terrorists that day. They should be there, if they can bear it.

  13. Dan Crawford says

    Let civic religion have its god-less rituals. Let Christians gather at the same time in a church or churches and worship the God who rules over all, the United States of America included. As for “pastors” like Youseff and others like him, the less they say, the better.

  14. Why are all the politicians attending? Why no first responders? I guess the pols think they are important!

  15. I think it’s a good idea not to have people of faith there publically praying. A few points….

    1. Let’s not forget that it was “faith” that brought about September 11th. “Faith” is what allowed 19 terrorists to fly planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. September 11, for me represents how ugly “faith” can be.
    2. Whose “faith” is going to be commerated? Christian faith? Okay which one? Islam? Okay which brand?
    3. Jesus talked about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. I could be mistaken but I think some of these groups were opposed to having a mosque being built nearby, and led a “crusade” (pardon the pun) against it. Is that love? To slander your enemy?
    4. I think the root of the issue is that many of these groups of leaders bask in public attention, and have orgasms of excitement when they are the center of attention. Many of these groups have problems with narcissism. They can pray privately or pray with others at Trinity Church etc…For the life of me and I’ll say this until my last day…I can’t understand why so many Christians insist on public prayer when Jesus rebuked public prayer and said to make it a private affair. Have any of these people read their Bible lately?
    5. Some of these groups have agendas. The American Family Associaton raises red flags in my mind. Due to their previous actions on how they have described Muslims and gays I think they eanred a spot as a hate group at the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is my opinion…but I think it was rightfully deserved.

    Okay I am done…. 😉

    • Eagle,

      Good point about public prayer. You know your Bible well.

      I confess that I have felt uneasy about a pastor or religious figure praying publicly at a national event. It feels presumptuous: often the prayers are elaborate and long, filled with superlatives extolling America, the government and her leaders. How can we be so sure that God is so pleased with how we do things?

      On balance, it’s probably for the best that religious figures will not be present at the ceremony of remembrance.

      Explosive side-note to Eagle: 9/11 was not the work of religious faith: it was the work of godless Western intelligence, which is in love with greed, violence, deception and conquest. Do your research: the truth is out there.

      • Ben, if you are referring to 9/11 conspiracy theories, I think you’re crazy (with all due respect). However, we may run a post later in the week on some of these, especially since there has been some Christian promulgation of these theories.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Double especially since Christians seem to be specially prone to Conspiracy Theories. (Satanic Panic, anyone?)

          There used to be an essay on the Web about that very subject; searching on the title “Christians and Conspiracy Theories” should bring it up.

          • In one sense the entire Gospel is a conspiracy, albeit a conspiracy against the powers of darkness. Isn’t that what “Christus Victor” boils down to? Jesus entering the world and subverting and defeating the reign of sin, death and corruption?

            So yes, I certainly believe Christians should believe in conspiracy theories, but with discretion of course. It does nobody any good to be gullible and credulous.

        • I look forward to a future discussion of the issue, Chaplain Mike.

      • Ben…if you are going to say that the CIA or others parts of our government orchestrated the 9-11 attacks in an effort to gain additional funding; I’m going to aggressively disagree. I’m not into conspiracy theories whether it be Roswell, JFK, Pearl Harbor, UFO’s and the cover up by the Air Force or 9-11. I could be mistaken but the 9-11 report crtiiczed the different parts of the government which couldn’t operate or share information. In short order the inability to navigate through bureaocray is what helped bring about 9-11.

  16. In memory of so many lives lost, terminated in what can only be described as an act of entirely malicious evil, what else can be offered but prayers? All other communication is worthless.

  17. Craig Sliezc says

    From the politicians’ perspective, if they invited a priest and a minister, they’d better invite a rabbi too–and if they have a rabbi, then the’d have to invite an imam. If they had an imam, his speech would be the only thing shown on television.

    How did the Moslems manage to jump the que ahead of the Buddhists, anyway? I mean, we all know that the Buddhists are more likeable. Is it just because it’s easier to say “Jewish Christian Moslem”?

    Were any of the victims Wiccans or something? That could be another reason for just not inviting ANY religious leaders. (God knows how the army manages to keep all the weirdos from becoming chaplains.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The Army uses a threshold limit “to keep all the weirdos from becoming chaplains.” When the number of personnel of a specific religion reaches some specific percentage of total personnel, chaplains are authorized for that specific religion. Jewish chaplains were authorized during the American Civil War in the 1860s, and Buddhist and Muslim chaplains were authorized only recently. (Buddhists from the wave of refugee immigration after the Vietnam War; we have a lot of ethnic Buddhists here in the O.C.) It’s a matter of numbers.

  18. Let the victim’s families decide and if they don’t want any yacky windy clergy – then so be it. If the religious right tries to make political hay out of this…then in my mind they’ve become the more reprehensible of the lot…

  19. An acquaintance of mine mentioned this, with vitriol spewing. Knowing very little of it at the time, I surmised that the mayor, it being a civic event and all, probably just wanted to avoid the “which clergy do you ask?” dilemma. OMG. Out came the speech about how by God! we have freedom of religion in the country and by God! you can’t take the Lord out of everything, and on and on and on. I didn’t feel like fighting so I let it drop. I guess I should have pointed out that religious freedom also includes the freedom to abstain from religion. But then, a few minutes later, when the east coasts earthquake came up in conversation, and a mention was made about the damage done to the National Cathedral, the same woman was surprised to learn there is a National Cathedral in Washington DC. Gotta love Middle America sometimes….

  20. “Religion, moreover, is often most influential where it is least obvious.” -Mark C. Taylor.

  21. This was a tough one, as a 22 year retired Navy vet and a pastor, it is easy to get conflicted on priorities. In my humble opinion, whether clergy are there or not is a secular decision. I agree with the position taken by Pastor Yousef in that an ecumenical service gives equal creedance to each religion and as a Christian that puts us in direct conflict with John 14:6.

    At the end of the day, let’s not politicize this issue or make it into something it is not. I am not offended when the secular world rejects the Gospel message or the person of Jesus Christ. Saddened, but not offended

  22. I think it’s kinda over-played, to be honest. It’s been one way for 10 years and suddenly people are making petitions. Isn’t that what Christians complain that atheists do to us all the time?

    To be honest, I’m leery of the 10 year anniversary meme altogether. It seems more likely that (again) the Christian faith is going to be shoe-horned into Americanism to allude to God’s sanction on all our actions.

    For example, my Ministerium is having a remembrance service – the poster that went out had patriotic imagery but no religious symbolism or even Scripture. It gave me chills.

    At my church we’re having a prayer of lament for our prayer time, and ending worship with Communion.

  23. Maybe the emphasis to have a “religious” service is because the anniversary falls on a Sunday this year. If so, that would be strange. When Christian observances (like Christmas) fall on a Sunday, some churches close their doors.

    Our church will have a 9/11 observance in place of Sunday worship next week. There’s still a lot of collective pain for those who watched these events unfold. I remember watching the news reports day and night absolutely numb. Being in a military town, there are many here who lost loved ones not on 9/11 but during the past ten years of the war on terror. There are plenty of opportunities to mourn with those who mourn. Members of the armed forces are being encouraged to wear their uniforms to service next week. From that aspect, I think there is a incredible opportunity to minister. But I am concerned that even in my church it will be difficult to keep out the cultural war, religio-propaganda elements.

    • I think our pastor, too, is planning something different for Sunday. I love him dearly & he’s usually a straight shooter, but I’m holding my breath and praying that this will be a real prayer service and not deteriorate into mere flag-waving

  24. It does seem strange that politicians are invited, if it truly is about the families.

  25. Giuliani: “It could be done very simply by just having a priest, a rabbi, a minister and an imam together.”

    Wait, I’m confused: are they going to a memorial service, or walking into a bar?

  26. Prayer should be allowed by leaders or laypeople of ALL FAITHS! We are a free nation, with freedom or religions and FREEDOM OF SPEECH! This to me is a defamation of the Constitution – the right to free speech. This is NOT a memorial service.

  27. From my point of view, as a follower of Christ, I would personally want to have prayer at the memorial service, were I an affected family member. Moreover, I wouldn’t want someone else to dictace that I CAN’T have prayer and mourn or grieve the way I see fit.
    However,I think there are a couple of issues to consider here:
    1. Freedom of Religion: We should always support the Constitution in protecting our religious freedom. It should never be banned from an area or venue. Too many people have died to protect this right we have, for us to not stand-up when we see it being violated.
    2. With Freedom of Religion comes a Responsibility of Believers: As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.” God himself gave everyone the ability to choose His way or their own. He has given us certain religious freedom now that we live under the blood of Jesus and in the Age of Grace. Is prayer always beneficial, as well as permissible? Yes, if it is a true desire to communicate and connect with our Lord. But I’m not sure we are to use it to “make a point”. Jesus himself discouraged this type of behavior. (“And when you make your prayers, be not like the false-hearted men, who take pleasure in getting up and saying their prayers in the Synagogues and at the street turnings so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.” Matthew 6:5) We need to make sure our heart-attitudes are right, if we are to stand before God and pray and to stand up and protect our religious freedom.
    3. Although it would be nice to have “permission” for official leaders of the church (including other religions, to be fair), we have to admit deep-down it really is more Pomp and Circumstance than anything else. We, the believers, must decide to do that which is going to glorify God: If we aren’t “allowed” to have a publicly-led prayer, then let’s join together in small circles, unconcerned about who is watching, and more concerned about The One Whom we are talking to. We all have the same access to God; this is the religious “freedom” that the Bible refers to and that our founding forefathers believed in protecting.
    I, myself, intend to pray for the families and loved ones affected by the evil events of 9/11. But I will also be praying for our leaders, including Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama, that they would truly come to a knowledge and understanding of the saving power of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the relationship that they, and ALL people, can have with Him. I would like to invite my Christian brothers and sisters to do the same.

  28. It breaks my heart the direction some of the leaders are taking this country.
    They do not realize or understand you can keep clergy from attending an event, but you cannot stop prayer any more than you can keep God out of anywhere He wants to be.
    I agree this event will be mostly Pomp and Circumstance.
    We will be attending a memorial service and will be praying for all those directly affected by this attack along with this country, that was founded on our forefathers belief in God.
    I pray every day for the leaders, especially the president, of this great country. Prayer or God cannot be stopped. I can pray any time anywhere I want to and I do. Just because you don’t hear me or see my lips move dosen’t mean it isn’t taking place. Like the little boy said “You can make me sit down on the outside, but I’m still standing up in the inside.” Just because man does not hear us dosen’t mean God Dosen’t…The biggest lack of tolorance I see in this country today is toward christians. I don’t mean religion because as sad as it is religion does not always represent God’s truths. God Bless America !!!!!!!

  29. Why does everything have to be about clerics? Not everyone is religious, as a humanist should I be upset there are no humanist speakers invited? No, it is about the families, nothing else.

  30. Who says that God isn’t invited to the 9/11 Anniversary ceremony?
    One thing that they can’t control is a flash mob – get the word out to all you can and do a flash mob with Amazing Grace and even The Lord’s Prayer.
    I will sending this request to as many Christian organizations as possible like the Family Research Council, Catholic League, 100 Huntley Street, etc.

    Go for it!
    Debora

  31. I think that there is no need for clergy or prayer at this service. The point is not to pray for the souls of the fallen, but to remember their lives. If you were to have any prayers performed by clergy, then a clergy member from each religion would need to perform a prayer. This would include an imam, which would create a HUGE controversy (even though several Muslims not involved in the attack were killed that day) because of the anti-Muslim sentiment in our country.

    It is a very smart choice to remove the possibility of controversy all together and not include any sort of prayer. It is unnecessary to pray to remember. The point of the ceremony is not at all to pray for the dead, but to dedicate a monument to their memory. That does not require prayer.

    However if people INSIST on a flash mob, i hope to god that you include the shema, lords prayer, and a full Salah, so as not to alienate one religion. Or, at the least, leave the name of Jesus out of the lord’s prayer so that Muslims, Jews, and Christians can all say amen.