« Hearing: Speed Bump Unlikely to Derail Proposition 8 Appeal | Main | Perry Addresses HPV Vaccine, Death Penalty at Debate »

September 7, 2011

Evangelicals Left Off 9/11 Memorial Events

Two high-profile memorial services for September 11 have drawn protests from faith leaders and religious organizations who have objected that an event plans de-emphasize the role that Christians played in the aftermath of the attacks.


President Obama will attend an event at the Washington National Cathedral on the evening of September 11 where he will deliver remarks at what appears to be a more secular service but is expected to include some form of benediction.

A 9/11 interfaith prayer vigil at the Cathedral earlier in the day will include Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III, Bishop of Washington John Bryson Chane, Rabbi Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation, Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche of Tibet, Buddhist nun and incarnate lama, Dr. D.C. Rao, a representative of the Hindu and Jain faiths and Imam Mohamed Magid.

A representative of the Southern Baptist Convention pointed out that the list of prayer participants does not include any evangelicals. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, protested that for a church service, the line-up seemed better suited for a meeting of the United Nations.

According to Richard Weinberg, the National Cathedral’s director of communications, the choice of participants emphasized diversity in order to “appeal to as many in the country as possible.”

“The Cathedral itself is an Episcopal church and it stands to reason that our own clergy serve as Christian representatives,” he told Fox News Radio.

In comparison, on Sept. 14, 2001, evangelist Billy Graham spoke at the National Cathedral, speaking explicitly of Jesus on the cross as the comfort in a time of great need.

New York City’s 9/11 memorial ceremony at Ground Zero, which both Obama and former President George W. Bush plan to attend, does not include any members of the clergy. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) wrote to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to request that prayer be included in the event.

"On September 11, 2001, our nation prayed," wrote Forbes, who is co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. "And on September 11, 2011, our nation will pray once again."

Bloomberg’s office suggested that it wanted to avoid disagreements.
"It has been widely supported for the past 10 years and rather than have disagreements over which religious leaders participate we would like to keep the focus of our commemoration ceremony on the family members of those who died,” said Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg, in an e-mail to CNN.
Smaller ceremonies including one hosted by the New York Police Department will include prayers by the NYPD chief of chaplains for and the Archbishop emeritus of New York.

The nation’s response to September 11 included plenty of prayer in 2001, though not without controversy. Media mogul Oprah led the nation in an interfaith rally that included Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu clerics televised from Yankee Stadium just days after the attacks. Following the event, Lutheran pastor David Benke was suspended by his denomination after suggestions that he mixed religion for adding his prayer on stage.
This year’s commemorative events mostly steer clear of overt religious themes. Sarah McLahlan and a wreath ceremony are featured at the dedication of the new National United 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 10, which both Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will attend.

The Obama administration has also promoted 9/11 as a “Day of Service and Remembrance,” urging Americans to perform acts of service in tribute. And members of Congress will participate in a moment of remembrance and a Congressional Remembrance Ceremony on the steps outside the Capitol on September 12, where members of Congress gathered to sing a spontaneous rendition of “God Bless America” in 2001.

The approach of the tenth anniversary has prompted a variety of ceremonies that seek to remember the event—and highlight the fact that 10 years after the fact, Americans remember the terrorist attacks in very different ways.


Obviously, National Cathedral is no longer the 'nation's cathedral' as it was once billed, if the largest protestant denomination as well as the largest segment of the nation's protestant population, evangelicals, are snubbed. Such ignomy!
God have mercy on our nation!

I notice Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians are not invited either, why was that not mentioned in this article? If you are going to tell the story, tell the entire story!

Good point. And lets not forget the Oriental Orthodox.

I'm tired of Baptists and other such Protestants trying to define who or what "Evangelicals" are. Episcopalians proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Episcopalians DO the Gospel of Christ. Episcopalians are every bit as evangelical as any Baptist. But Episcopalians don't have the same agenda that Baptists and others like them do. Therein lies the problem. Bottom line is this. It's an Episcopal church organized and carried out by Episcopalians. As such, Episcopalians - at least at this event - get to represent Christianity.

So the Christians who are participating aren't good enough? Since when is Evangelical another religion? Seems to me the SBC is just looking for publicity.

Without getting into the matter of who should and should not be invited, let me say that, while there are individual Episcopalians who are Evangelical in mindset and practice, no denomination which accepts gay marriage and countenances gay clergy can be, by definition, truly Evangelical.

Episcopal schools are often filled with children from many faith perspectives. It is a challenge and a delight. We do interfaith services with dignity and grace. That is good news.

To date, 1,544 professional architects and engineers have signed a petition calling for a new investigation “which must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that might have been the actual cause of the destruction through controlled demolition of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7”.

Their names and professional details can be seen at http://www2.ae911truth.org/signpetition.php

At the ceremony, there will be one Christian, one Muslim, one Jew, etc. There will not be an Orthodox Jew, a Conservative Jew, a Reformed Jew, nor representatives of the various Muslim groups, and so on. So, why should there be representatives of various Christian groups? Richard Land's statement is just another example of the SBC saying foolish things.

There is only one GOD. Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are wlaking the wrong path. No matter what anyone or I think, if you are not with Jesus, you are alone. I for one am with Jesus and do not condem others, but hope to offer salvation with Jesus Christ, for HE is the only way to the Father.
As far as our elected preisdent Mr. Obama, if he was a true Christian, he would stand up and with Christ, regardless of yhis politacl position, and encourage others to do so. If others want to speak, let them, but encourage them otherwise to follow Christ.
Blessings to all.

Not only are the Evangelists snubbed, but the First Responders are outright banned at the 9/11 ceremonies in New York City! Most of the First Responders are dying, from the air that the Bush Administration knew was not safe to breath, but went ahead and told the First Responders it was safe! Most of the First Responders don't believe the official conspiracy theory! They are treated like terrorist by the government!

If man had not divided himself into all these denominations, perhaps this bickering would have been avoided. Did Jesus tell us to become Christians, Catholics, Southern Baptist, Evangelicals, etc? Man loves labels and tags. All of your denominations are nothing more than labels and tags. Did Jesus die on the cross, so that you could wear a badge, and puff yourself up? Does Jesus care what you call yourself?

We cried, we read our Bibles, we went to church, but most of all we PRAYED; we prayed real hard and we prayed real long right around 9/11. Now look. Can't you people see what's being done with this? Are you that blind or that PC-brain washed? Forget that it's being held in an Episcopal church; forget that there are no Orthodox invited either. The bottom line is, the powers that be want to strip ALL spirituality -- especially Christianity -- from anything involving this 9/11 remembrance. Obama would rather we go out and pick up roadside trash anyway. If they could get away with it, I assure you they would have no clergy at all presiding. What an incredibly sick nation and culture we have become. This ties in neatly with the "Since 9/11" article, and see my comments there. I couldn't care less if you all get sick of hearing me repeat it, but I say again we are a very, very sick culture, and don't you doubt for a minute that the bizarre, even incredible, string of continuing natural and man-made disasters occuring almost weekly in succession aren't all tied to the reality of our end-stage condition. We are a nation no longer capable of repentance. We are bloated, spoiled and will not, cannot turn toward God. This Cathedral TV spectacular is nothing spiritual. It is more prime time for advertising dollars, and you can count on some politics thrown into the SHOW if you keep your eyes open. Don't expect to find the Holy Spirit hovering over this specticle and farce. None of it is of God -- it's a MAN thing, you know.

The cross which stands represents comfort to many who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because He is the resurrection and the author of eternal life. The great hope of everyone that puts their trust in Him. Yes, it does represent Christianity, and I say that without reservation because there are people that believe in an Almighty God that will someday resurrect all mankind. Those that would try to take this away from them is whiteout sensitivity to their great loss. What could Mayor Bloomberg or any other man say to these people to offer them hope? Only empty words from any empty heart.

Southern Baptists do not 'respect' other faiths and are not 'for' ecumenical and inter-faith dialogues or gatherings.

Perhaps the assumption was that they would not wish to honorably attend with respectful participation;
or worse, the fear that if they were invited, they would disrespect other faiths present at the ceremony, and call it their way of 'loving' others by telling them they are going to hell if they don't believe a 'certain way' that is acceptable to Southern Baptists.

I don't know this, but two main observations:

Southern Baptists make no secret of their contempt for other faiths.

Southern Baptists seem furious that they have not been invited to participate at the memorials with other faiths.

Logical ?

I can't understand it, but I'm not sure anyone really understands the complex emotions involved on all sides.

See, this pettiness is why they don't like us.

I notice that Buddhists, Taoists, pantheists, and many other views of the source of mystery behind all things are also not included. They could feel snubbed as well. So isn't the approach taken actually best? Recognizing the wide range of valid metaphors that work for different people, for official state functions we keep personal religions out of it. This respects everyone and allows people privately to remember in whatever way best suits their connection to spirituality.

Dear Evangelical leaders and talking heads,
Please get over yourselves. Remember that you are first Christians, and then Evangelicals, whatever that means. Also, just as importantly, remember that Episcopals also happen to be Christians, and if you can't consider them in the same camp as you, then you have succeeded in isolating yourselves from those you should consider brothers and sisters, something that Jesus would not likely have been a fan of. Can you really not hear the arrogance, entitlement, and isolationism in your voices, when you make statements like these?
Followers of Jesus who find it increasingly difficult to understand you

What are they remembering exactly! I live in the Middle East and here we will always remember the destruction of the Christian communities in the Middle East which resulted from America's unGodly and misguided eye-for-an-eye tooth for a tooth policy.

We have gone so far overboard with political correctness to avoid offending Muslims, at the expense of offending the Christian majority of this nation. There needs to be more unity within the Church and less bickering about who gets the spotlight. We must decrease, and let Christ increase. We woke up that horrible day 10 years ago, but now we're going back to sleep.