New York City Mayor Bloomberg, under fire recently for his exclusion of clergy at the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks commemoration, is hoping that the memorial will "give a message 100 years from now." The message seemed largely to be a secular one:
The message of this, Bloomberg says, is that "New York is back."
New York may be back, but the protests over the lack of clergy at the ceremony is a microcosm of the split in the country over religion. The New York Times reports:
Richard D. Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in an interview that the planned ceremony only proved that New York was the “epicenter of secularism,” out of step with the rest of America.
“We’re not France,” he said. “Mr. Bloomberg is pretending we’re a secular society, and we are not.”
Congressman Randy Forbes, a Republican representative from Virginia and a co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sent Mr. Bloomberg a letter on behalf of the caucus members urging him to include prayer in the ceremony.
At the same time, some evangelical Christian leaders said they were outraged that an interfaith prayer service planned by the Washington National Cathedral did not include a Southern Baptist or other evangelical minister.
“In miniature, this is what’s happening to the whole country,” said Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. “9/11 was this moment that we came together, and it lasted about three-and-a-half minutes. The country went from a brief moment of something like unity, to complete Balkanization, and now we’re seeing it in religion and in politics, like in everything else.”