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Wall Street Journal: Clergy banned from NYC’s September 11 ceremonies

Prayer and religious leaders have been left out of New York City’s official ceremonies observing the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“As the city of New York prepares to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11, religious leaders are raising concerns over the lack of clergy participating in the anniversary events,” observes Eric Marrapodi, co-editor of CNN’s “Belief Blog” on the Internet.

Fernado Cabrera a New York City councilman and the pastor of New Life Outreach International church in the Bronx, told Marrapodi that he was “Utterly disappointed and surprised,” over the decision. He has started a petition on Facebook to change that.


Bill Donahue of the Catholic League rejected the mayor’s office explanation of potential controversy over who would get to pray, saying such issues are sorted out all the time for presidential inaugurations and other major events.

“What [the mayor] did is what he often does, which is to make autocratic decisions,” Donahue said. “I don’t think this is something that will sit well with New Yorkers.”

“Do you remember what things were like in the hours and days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Evidently New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg does not,” writes Ken Klukowski in the Washington Examiner. “While the smoke was still rising against a clear sky over Manhattan, Pennsylvania, and Washington, people were flooding to churches across the country and prayer groups spontaneously organized in neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.”


Days later, recalls Klukowski, President Bush spoke at a national memorial service at our National Cathedral, and clergy of various faiths offered prayers in conjunction with the president’s remarks. And a televised interfaith service was held in New York City, attended by thousands.

However, it won’t be that way on the 10th anniversary, apparently, according to Klukowski:

Yet on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Bloomberg has decreed that clergy will be excluded from the 9/11 memorial ceremony. Bloomberg—who has a record of hostility toward social-conservative issues – especially Christian issues – says the memorial schedule is too busy to allow prayer.

Klukowski is director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council and coauthor of Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America. And he’s not happy with Bloomberg’s decision:


Public prayer has been a staple of public events since before the founding of America and the adoption of our Constitution. When the Supreme Court in 1983 upheld prayer invocations at the opening of governmental assemblies, the Court noted that the same week the First Congress proposed the Bill of Rights—including the Establishment Clause prohibiting an official national religion—it passed bills to hire paid chaplains to offer daily prayers and spiritual guidance.

Such prayers and guidance are especially important, not to mention comforting, in moments of grief and sadness. Think, for example, of Psalm 46, which begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”


Moments like 9/11 remind us of the frailty of human life. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. In tragedy, we are reminded to treasure what is truly important, and to contemplate the most profound issues of existence and eternity.

We turn in such moments to those whose calling is to study and teach these issues. Far from a crutch for the weak-minded, this calls for the strength to turn off the TV and iPod to contemplate those sobering realities.

That is why those who teach the things of God participate in public memorials. Far beyond some sort of meaningless ritual or custom, public prayer both solemnizes these occasions and shines the light of sacred and eternal truths on our temporal lives here on earth.

Bloomberg’s sad exclusion of all prayer and clergy from the 9/11 ceremony is also illustrative of something much broader: political correctness increasingly means intolerance and exclusion of Christians from public life in our society. We see this in bans on prayer at veterans’ funerals in Houston, as well as in criticism of Governor Rick Perry’s day of prayer event.

Ironically, this is what the 9/11 terrorists – jihadists completely intolerant of others’ beliefs – were seeking. And America’s deep, vibrant faith stands against all this. For all these reasons, leaders of our historic faiths must be prominent in any 9/11 memorial service.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment warren cain

    I am sorry the mayor of NY has decided to not have any clergy speak/ pray during the 9/11 memorial service.

    It is another example of the what is wrong in America today!

    This country was founded on FREEDOM of religion..NOT Freedom FROM religion.

    There should be prayers offered by clergy of many faiths instead of none at all.

    I imagine the majority of adults in America were praying to the GOD of their understanding on 9/11.

    Also, I hope most people continue to pray for peace, love and mercy for all mankind, in order to stop the hatred which caused the terrible tragedy that occurred on that day years ago.

    I will keep praying for peace…will you?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Allan

    If they did invite religious speakers, some people would insist that a Muslim be invited while others would consider inviting a Muslim would be like inviting a neo-Nazi to a Holocaust memorial service. I would prefer having a religious speaker, but, with the feeling in this country today, perhaps it is better not to.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Casey Archer

    There is no way clergy or believers can be prevented from praying. All they have to do is pray silently, instead as Jesus taught — “And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in their synagogues and on the street corner, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Brian Beck

    I am glad there is “NO PRAYER” @ the 9/11 memorial service. Why? Because even though it may be banned in public arenas it is not banned in me. Jesus is alive and well in me and therefore I will pray and no one can stop that. No one can ban my thoughts except my Lord Jesus Christ and only those that molest His Holy name. God is not sleeping out on some star galaxy sipping an expensive coffee-No!!!!!!! He is God and we are not and if we think by banning prayer that we have put God in His place……….Think again! Job chapter 38 says ” Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it! Who shut in the the sea doors? Have you commanded the morning since your days began? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Have you entered the stores houses of the snow? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed? and so on, ect. Hebrews 2:6 says,”What is man that you are mindful of Him.”
    God is showing common grace to all but that hand of Grace will be lifted and the felling of disgrace that God ever made them will soon fall upon them with more dread and terror than imaginable.
    I will pray for mayor Bloomberg and I do see His position but banning prayers-Never likely. God has kept the inclusiveness that this ceremony would have represented away. Its not prayer that is being banned but inclusivity and this is Christ doing. As a Christian I am exclusive because I am saved by Christ alone, Faith Alone, Scripture alone, Grace alone, and all for the glory of God alone.
    I don’t want mixture-I want purity. I don’t want inclusiveness-I want exclusiveness! and I have that in Christ Jesus. Man thinks he is so smart but God will and has the last word-John 1:1 “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God. Words may not be spoken about Him in the service but don’t worry because the Word was in the beginning and the Word will be @ the end.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Priscilla Paul

    This is ludicrous. I think anyone in NYC on 09/11/2011 should encircle the entire Memorial Service and all related activities with a huge chain of prayer. Handholding Christians, Jews and any other peaceful prayer group should stand all around the city and lift their voices in prayer. I am a Mayflower descendent and my ancestors would be hanging their heads in shame to see how we are allowing a group of killers to determine when and where we will pray. What’s wrong with this picture??? All those that died in those crumbling, burning buildings would weep to see that they died in vein, if the mayor allows himself to be used in such a despicable way!!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Maryann Fox

    The people of New York City elected this individual. I hope that they learn from this event, that the man they elected doen not see the place that Religion plays in our society and listens to the wishes of his people. He enjoys good health, family, position, freedom, yet he is ignoring the wishes of the people who elected him. What kind of a leader do you think he is? THe wish to pray, ask for divine help, give thanks for blessings, peace, are the right of all Americans. Not to allow prayer on this special day, is a tragedy, however, we are not stopped from offering our own prayer with our families and remembering those who were lost on the terrible attack and for those who still suffer to this day and beyond.URL

  • http://Who'sinvited? Dani Folsonario

    No clergy, no room for the first responders…Who is included in the ceremony?

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