The Mayor of New York decided not to include religious leaders in the ceremony at the September 11 memorial today. He told critics of the decision that he was trying not to force religion on other people. On his weekly radio show, he told New Yorkers:
“It’s a civil ceremony. There are plenty of opportunities for people to have their religious ceremonies. … Some people don’t want to go to a religious ceremony with another religion. And the number of different religions in this city are really quite amazing.”
Glad to know he thinks they’re amazing. Was that a compliment? Or is he personally amazed that people believe this stuff? And what does it have to do with whether they’re included. At one point, his aides told the press that he didn’t want to be in the position of having to pick which religious leaders would get to speak. On the radio show, he said, “It isn’t that you can’t pick and choose, you shouldn’t pick and choose. If you want to have a service for your religion, you can have it in your church or in a field, or whatever.”
Whatever. I listened to almost all of the ceremony today and dozens if not scores of speakers mentioned God and Heaven and Jesus. Former Mayor Giuliani read from Ecclesiastes. And President Bush read Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to Mrs. Bixby (the woman who lost her five sons in the Civil War:
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
It’s pretty hard to have a memorial service without mentioning God. But Bloomberg was able to worship the way he wanted—the liberal boomer way. He found room at the ceremony for performances by James Taylor and Paul Simon.