About a year ago, Community Men’s Fellowship (a Christian group) gave the city of Bradford County, Florida the gift of a Ten Commandments monument to put outside the county courthouse:
At the time, American Atheists filed a lawsuit against the county. County officials were ready to take down the monument… but the Community Men’s Fellowship refused to remove it. In fact, God told them not to:
… Community Men’s Fellowship wrote back: “We have prayerfully considered your request and have determined that we will not comply with the County’s order.”
How’s that for brazenness? We broke the law, but we’re not going to fix the situation.
So what could the city do? They could have hired people to lug that giant thing away (though I don’t know why they should’ve had to pay for that) or they could’ve sued the Christian group (again, who would pay for it?)… after weighing their options, city officials decided to make the courthouse area a free-for-all. Anyone who wanted a monument would be allowed to have one.
Fine, said American Atheists. We’ll call your bluff and put up our own monument!
And that’s what they’ll be doing next month thanks to a grant from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the group announced today:
Following a settlement with Bradford County, Florida, American Atheists will unveil a new monument in front of the Bradford County Courthouse: a 1,500-pound granite bench engraved with quotations from Thomas Jefferson, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Benjamin Franklin, and others. The bench will sit adjacent to an existing monument featuring the Ten Commandments.
The monument features an excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams, which declares “The United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion”; and excerpts from the Bible, quoting the biblical punishments for breaking each of the Ten Commandments — many command death.
“We have maintained from the beginning that the Ten Commandments doesn’t belong on government property,” said Silverman. “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.”
I don’t have a picture of the monument yet, but it will be publicly unveiled on June 29th.