Atheists Monument at Fla. Courthouse to Be Unveiled

Friday, 31 May 2013 01:00 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The Bradford County Courthouse in Florida will soon be home to the first atheist monument on government property when a 1,500-pound granite bench with nonbeliever statements and quotes from the nation's Founding Fathers is unveiled in late June.

The structure stems from a compromise between the American Atheists organization, a national organization that defends civil rights for "atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers," and Bradford County, which has a Ten Commandments display at its courthouse, according to The Blaze.

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The American Atheists sued last May over a Christian group's construction of a Ten Commandments monument, arguing that because it sat on government land, it violates the separation between church and state.

The court ruled in the Atheists' favor, granting them permission to build a monument of their own.

"We have maintained from the beginning that the Ten Commandments doesn't belong on government property," American Atheists president David Silverman said in a statement. "There is no secular purpose for the monument whatsoever and it makes atheists feel like second-class citizens. But if keeping it there means we have the right to install our own monument, then installing our own is exactly what we'll do."

Silverman plans to attend the June 29 unveiling. The monument features an excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams.

"The United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion," one statement reads.

The bench will also cite apparent Biblical contradictions, such as some punishments for breaking the Ten Commandments call for death.

"The monument emphasizes the role secularism has played in American history," said American Atheists PR Director Dave Muscato. "And the Bible quotes make it clear that the Ten Commandments are not the 'great moral code' they're often portrayed to be.
Don’t kill, don't steal? Of course. But worship only the Judeo-Christian god? That conflicts overtly with the very first right in the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion."

A grant from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation is making the bench's furnishing possible. Founded by millionaire Todd Stiefel, the foundation's mission statement is “gain(ing) respect for freethinkers and ensure the complete separation of church and state."

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