By DONLYN TURNBULL
If you can’t beat them, join them. The American Atheists will unveil a monument later this month next to a Ten Commandments structure in front of the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Florida.
The American Atheists failed in their efforts to rid the courthouse of the religious construction which led to a lawsuit to add their own marker. The 1,500 pound granite structure will be a bench with different quotes including the American Atheist founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair, which reads, “An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty banished, war eliminated.”
Secular quotes from the founding fathers will also appear including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The structure is to include a quote from the Treaty of Tripoli from the 18th century claiming the U.S. government was not founded on Christianity which is signed by John Adams. Evidently they don’t take in to account anyof their other writings. The bench will also challenge its religious neighbor by stating punishments from the Bible for Commandment violations such as stoning and execution.
American Atheists are considering this a victory since it is the first atheist monument erected on government property in the entire country. It will be interesting to see how many follow suit, literally. Regional operations director for the American Atheists, Ken Loukinen, credited the county for their efforts once they came to a settlement in the lawsuit citing their tolerance and efforts to promote free speech.
Dave Muscato, the American Atheists Public Relations Director said “The monument emphasizes the role secularism has played in American history. 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.”
The monument will be unveiled on June 29th at the courthouse.
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