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Controversy erupts over lack of formal prayer at 9/11 ceremony in NYC

Controversy erupts over lack of formal prayer at 9/11 ceremony in NYC

Some Christian religious groups are protesting Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to not include formal religious prayer as part of the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Towers.

“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,” [Bloomberg’s representative Evelyn] Erskine said.

Several New York religious leaders say they understand the mayor’s position. They point to the multitude of religious events surrounding the anniversary as evidence faith isn’t being overlooked. “I just think a decision was made to give priority to the families. If this means more families will be attending, I think all of us can accept that,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis.

However, critics including the Catholic League and the Family Research Council, argue the program reflects prejudice against religion and ignores the central role religious groups played in the city’s 9/11 response. For weeks, Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal congregation near ground zero, allowed rescue workers to operate from its chapel. Faith-based service agencies volunteered for a range of duties, from feeding recovery teams to counseling families. Clergy organized interfaith services for the city, most prominently at Yankee Stadium.

“Nobody was turning religious leaders away from the scene 10 years ago. Why are they being banned from the 10th anniversary?” said the Rev. Richard Land, who leads the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant group. “The only answer pure and simple is anti-religious prejudice.”

More here.

As the article points out, this has been an ongoing issue in the community. And it’s driven in part because the perpetrators of the attack were acting out their particular understanding of their religious beliefs. A set of beliefs that many in mainstream Islam totally reject, making the situation particularly complicated.

What about in your community, or the services you’ll be helping to lead? Will you be having formal prayer? What will you be praying for?


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Andrew Gerns

After the embarrassing, not to mention hateful, manufactured kerfuffle over the Islamic center in lower Manhattan, it is no wonder that the organizers want nothing to do with formal, organized, religious expression at the official ceremony. These same people earned their exclusion by their bad behavior. Too bad they ruin the climate for the rest of us.

This is why the mainline churches, synagogues and mosque in our city if Easton, PA decided to act proactively and positively to make the 10th anniversary a day remembrance and hope.

Andrew Gerns


The Catholic (?) League and FRC are kvetching over a lack of formal prayers. I imagine they’d complain even louder if an imam were invited to give a prayer.

You can’t win w/ them. They make it ALL about themselves, “the Real Victims here”. Ignore them, I say…

JC Fisher

Bryan Owen

According to Elizabeth Scalia, it’s not just clergy who aren’t invited to participate. First responders are also not invited. See her blog posting entitled “Bloomberg: No Clergy, No FDNY.”


This sort of whining gets really tiresome. No one is stopping anyone from praying. Have your own prayer service any time you want. It’s just more of the same from the groups who repeatedly complain of persecution. The moaners should visit a country where Christians suffer real persecution, and they’d know how good they have it in the US.

June Butler

Apps 55753818692 1675970731 F785b701a6d1b8c33f0408

“Nobody was turning religious leaders away from the scene 10 years ago. Why are they being banned from the 10th anniversary?”

This is absurd! Religious leaders aren’t being “banned” from the ceremony. They’re just not going to take a formal role in it.

In my opinion Mayor Bloomberg’s decision is entirely appropriate.

-Cullin R. Schooley

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