As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, the 10th anniversary ceremony commemorating the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 will not include prayers or clergy of any kind. Evelyn Erskine said in an email to CNN that “the ceremony was designed in coordination with 9/11 families with a mixture of readings that are spiritual, historical, and personal in nature…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 on the family members of those who died.”

Many are reacting to the announcements with frustration and confusion. A Facebook petition has been started by Fernado Cabrera, NYC councilman and pastor of New Life Outreach International, and Fox News’ headline reads, “Without clergy, it’s a victory for the terrorists.” Bill Donahue of the Catholic League rejected Erskine’s explanation since it’s not ever a problem for other major events like presidential inaugurations. Rudy Washington, deputy mayor in Rudolph Giuliani’s NYC mayoral administration, told the WSJ that he was “outraged”: “To have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me.”

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