Fox New host Megyn Kelly cross-examined an atheist activist Thursday night about his group’s lawsuit over a Christian symbol’s inclusion in the 9/11 Memorial.
The former corporate litigator belittled claims made by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and their representative, David Silverman, during her “Kelly Files” program.
The president of American Atheists told Kelly that the cross made from steel beams found at the World Trade Center site following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were an inherently religious symbol that did not belong on public property.
“The cross is Christian, that it was installed in a religious service on consecrated ground, which makes it a working shrine on public land in the World Trade Center, and we think the atheists who also died on 9/11, and the Muslims and the Jews, should all have their equal presence,” Silverman said.
“It’s a very, very fair statement to say, and we think that the World Trade Center is being very disingenuous when they look at us with a straight face and say, ‘Oh, it’s not Christian,’” he added. “Of course, it’s Christian; it’s got ‘Jesus’ carved in the top of it. It’s a Christian cross on public land, and that’s illegal, so we want equal treatment.”
But Kelly argued that the cross was a historical artifact due to the circumstances of its discovery.
Attorneys for the American Atheists group have asked an appeals court to prevent the cross — which had been displayed at St. Peter’s Church, near the site of the World Trade Center, for five years – from being included in the memorial that’s scheduled to open in May or to also include a plaque honoring the atheists who died in the attacks.
“You want them to create something that was not there,” Kelly said. “You want them to create a plaque that says atheists died here, too. That was not there. That was not found in the wreckage at Ground Zero.”
Silverman noted that a Jewish star and Hindu holy water were also slated for inclusion at the memorial to offset the Christian religious symbol, but Kelly moved in to attack the plaintiffs’ claims.
“Let me ask you this, because you say it’s disingenuous to claim it’s not a religious symbol,” she said, lowering her voice and pinching her facial features in condescension. “Is it a little disingenuous to claim that atheists in your group are suffering dyspepsia and headaches as a result of seeing that cross included at the museum? That’s not disingenuous, that’s true? What is dyspepsia, what happens when they see it?”
Silverman said he’s not surprised the plaintiffs are suffering physical and psychological distress when they’re reminded of the traumatic events of 9/11 while also suffering religious discrimination.
“Walk me through it,” Kelly said. “When they see the cross…”
Silverman tried to explain that the plaintiffs didn’t suffer symptoms as a result of seeing the cross, but from being reminded of the discrimination.
“You haven’t answered my question,” Kelly said. “How many people do you have that are going to talk about that dyspepsia?”
Silverman said there were five plaintiffs in the suit, and the Fox News host asked if they had all suffered from anxiety, dyspepsia, and headaches.
“You’re accusing the other side of being disingenuous so I’m just probing your claims to see if — are they real, David?” Kelly said.
Silverman insisted the plaintiffs’ claims were legitimate.
“We’re talking about a 20-foot cross with Jesus carved on top of it that was installed by a priest on consecrated public ground,” he said. “They’re saying that’s not religious; that’s crap.”
Kelly winced sarcastically and asked if the plaintiffs got headaches immediately upon looking at the cross.
“I get a headache when I think about the fact that we’re being discriminated against by our World Trade Center Memorial,” Silverman said.
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