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9/11 steel cross display can stay at museum, court rules

NEW YORK -- A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit by an atheist group seeking to stop the display of a cross-shaped steel beam found among the World Trade Center's wreckage.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday sided with a federal judge's ruling last year that the decision to include the beam in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum did not advance religion impermissibly.

American Atheists had sued the museum's operators in 2011 on constitutional grounds. The group says it is disappointed in the decision and is deciding whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 17-foot-tall steel beam was found by rescue workers two days after the 2001 terror attacks destroyed the World Trade Center.

Before a hearing in March, those opposed to the cross in the museum demonstrated outside federal court, CBS 2's John Slattery reported.

"This is part of religious history. It's an act of religious symbolism. It is a shrine now," Ken Bronstein of New York City Atheists said at the time. "That miracle cross should be moved back to St. Peter's where it was for five years."

The cross was a T-beam from Tower 6, which was blessed by Father Brian Jordan who served as the ground zero chaplain.

"This was a sign of consolation. It's was never meant to hurt anyone, hurt the atheists or anything like that," Fr. Jordan said. "It is an artifact that should be included in the museum because it's a history museum. This is a part of the memory of 9/11."

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