Behold, America’s First Monument to Atheism

From TIME magazine:

Following a lawsuit and more than a year of controversy, at noon on Saturday a group called the American Atheists will unveil the United States’ first public monument to atheism in a square outside the Bradford County courthouse in Starke, Florida, near Jacksonville. The five-foot-long, grey granite bench and connecting pillar, which were built and engraved by local masons using granite quarried in Georgia, will feature secular quotes from the Founding Fathers as well as a statement from the organization’s founder, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, encapsulating the 50-year-old group’s views:

“An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that deed must be done instead of prayer. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty banished, war eliminated.”

As a rule, atheists aren’t big on monuments, due to their religious symbolism. But the 4000-member group decided to erect one anyway after it lost a lawsuit in March that would have forced a local Christian group to remove its own monument – two stone tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments – located in the same public square. Once the atheist bench and attached pillar are in place, the two monuments will stand just a few yards apart in the square’s “Free Speech Zone,” where private citizens are allowed to erect displays.

“We don’t want to establish this monument, we feel we need to establish it,” says American Atheists President David Silverman. “If [Christians] are going to have their religious statements made on public land, we’re also going to have our statements made on public land whether they like it or not.”

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