On June 29, they’ll be unveiling and dedicating an atheist monument on the grounds of the courthouse in Bradford County, Florida — right by the Ten Commandments monument, not coincidentally. This was a negotiated settlement to a lawsuit filed by American Atheists. This is what the monument looks like:
As always happens when the placement of religious displays on public property are challenged in court, the county claimed that it was not government speech at all and thus not a government endorsement of the content of the display. They claimed to have a limited public forum and that others could also place displays there. So American Atheists decided to do exactly that. The Stiefel Freethought Foundation paid for the creation of the monument (about $6000).
I’ve been saying for a couple years now that we need to do this all over the place. There are dozens of Ten Commandments monuments all over the country. I’d like to see a simple design for a monument that can be easily and relatively cheaply copied and local atheist groups around the country should submit applications to place them on every piece of public property that has a Ten Commandments monument. The display could be a list of humanist principles or quotes from the founding fathers supporting skepticism and humanism.
Doing this will force local governments to make a decision. If they deny the request, they are showing that the Christian display is government endorsement and there’s an Establishment Clause case there. If they approve it, the message of endorsement is diluted and public property is no longer the exclusive domain of Christian privilege. Win, win.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: