Among the many things I am not—reserved, a spokesperson, always serious—legal analyst has to rank near the top of the obvious list. Still, in my beneath amateur opinion, I don’t think American Atheists are going to win their still ongoing lawsuit to keep a cross from going on at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. However whether or not they do, I think this is a poor battle for them to wage.
Now I am not just making a gut judgment about the court case as many like CNN’s legal analyst Jeffery Toobin vehemently dispute that American Atheists even have a good chance of winning. According to Toobin:
“When the government is surveying a historic development, the government does not have to exclude religions images and artifacts from its displays.”
If he is right, this fight against a cross at the museum is probably frivolous but even if they had a decent shot at winning this one I still think it would be a bad idea to pursue this case.
It’s not just that you have to pick your battles but this entire ordeal strikes me as the legal equivalent of trying to argue someone out of their religion on their death bed. The reward is low, and the image, even if you succeed, is horrible. I get that we as nonbelievers have a long road ahead of us before being included as equals and I support the hard fights to come in gaining the clearer division of church and state.
However on my list of infringes on the rights of nonbelievers in America this ranks far below the serious issues like the expansion of “Faith-Based Initiatives” and the continuing acceptance of religious reasons for discrimination in law. I’d even place it beneath the less pressing offenses like having “God” on our money. I want the removal of anything that infringes on my rights as much as any nonbeliever but I also want an effective use of the time, resources and whatever good will we have to achieve that end. I don’t think this qualifies as the latter.