Family Research Council

Remarks by Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq.
Family Research Council Senior Fellow for Legal Studies
September 8, 2011
New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera Press Conference: Mayor Bloomberg's Banning of Clergy and First Responders from 9/11 Commemoration

(My name is Cathy Ruse and I'm the Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council.) Thank you, Councilman Cabrera, for inviting me to participate today.

On the morning of September 11th Father George Rutler heard a jet-plane flying too low, learned the horrific news, and flew to the scene, spending the morning hearing the confessions of fire fighters entering the soon-to-collapse building. In the coming days he suffered exhaustion from conducting funeral Masses.

Father Rutler, you are not welcome at the Ground Zero commemoration, nor is any member of the clergy.

Before Todd Beamer uttered his now iconic last words, "Let's roll," he recited the Lord's Prayer with Lisa Jefferson, the GTE Airfone operator. Yet there is no place for this or any prayer at Mayor Bloomberg's event.

The decision to ban pastors, prayer, and first responders from the official commemoration of 9/11 at Ground Zero is, as Councilman Cabrera shrewdly observed, "hollow and strange."

When our country was attacked, Americans didn't say: "Oh, Great Politicians, please hold a press conference!" No, they turned to God for help and solace. It was and is their natural response to a great tragedy.

Banning religion from the memorial of this tragedy is, in fact, unnatural for America, and for Americans. It's hollow and strange. It feels like an attempt to scrub the history books of the importance that God and faith played on that day and afterwards, and even to rewrite our long-cherished tradition as a nation of elected officials including clergy and invoking God at every point of crisis.

Perhaps for Mayor Bloomberg, God and faith do not mean much, but it is exceedingly tone deaf not to recognize their importance to most Americans. And so it isn't any wonder that Americans are speaking out. In just over a week 60,000 people signed our petition calling on the Mayor to reverse his decision -- an overwhelming response in such a short period of time.

Government can only do so much, politicians can only do so much. The presence of politicians and presidents will not make up for the absence of prayer and pastors.

This nation needs prayer more than politics. Please, Mr. Mayor, allow clergy and prayer at this ceremony.