American Atheists Responds to Ten Commandments Monument Outside City Courthouse with Monument of Its Own

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.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • WallofSleep

    Couldn’t a small group of volunteers with sledgehammers offer to remove the monument for free? I’m sure such a prospect would get the CMF to take the damnable thing back.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

      It could even be a fundraiser. Many freethinkers would donate $$ for the joy of getting to help remove the illegal and superstitious Commandments.

      • WallofSleep

        Smashing idea!

        Man, I suck at puns.

      • C Peterson

        You could auction off the chips. Like a piece of the Berlin Wall.

        • The Other Weirdo

          No. The Berlin Wall was history. This is just nonsense.

          • C Peterson

            I’m sure we’d all like the Ten Commandments to be history, too.

    • Dave Muscato

      We could auction off the pieces as a fundraiser!

      Kidding, of course :)

      • Gus Snarp

        Kidding? Why? It sounds like a great idea!

      • baal

        Have your attorneys slip it in the offer for resolution on the next case ;p.

  • Gus Snarp

    Awesome! I can’t wait to see it. I’d also like to put up my own monument with the real Ten Commandments: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2034:10-28&version=NIV

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      My first thought was Exodus 34:26.

    • Blacksheep

      The “REAL” 10 Commandments are the ones that Jews and Christians refer to as The 10 Commandments. If the commandments in Exodus 34 were considered the “real” ones, than those would be the ones hung in courthouses, etc.

      “There are a total of 613 commandments in the Torah, the five books of Moses. They can be separated into three categories, the 10 commandments, the Ceremonial Law for Temple worship, and the Social Law that governed the community. The original 10 commandments are found in Exodus 20: 1-17 and are repeated in Deut. 5:6-21. Although Exodus 34:1-28 contains 10 commandments, they can’t be the original 10 because half of them are Ceremonial Laws and only apply to Temple Worship.”

      A good summary is here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/08/27/you-asked-which-is-the-real-ten-commandments/

      • C Peterson

        To be more precise, there are no “real” commandments at all, since nobody in their right mind would consider the ideas of some bronze age tribal leader making up his laws to constitute binding commandments on modern society!

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Damn, and now I can’t find Jimmy Carr’s excellent rendition of same on QI.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
            • Gus Snarp

              [Edit: Removed my quote so I don't ruin the punchline] Oh that’s brilliant. I would gladly pay a tax on my television to get the BBC over just about anything on American television.

        • Blacksheep

          I agree that nobody should follow laws made up by a bronze age tribal leader. Christians believe that the Commandments came fro God, otherwise we would not give them any credence.

          • Gus Snarp

            And yet you believe that the words that a bronze age tribal leader wrote down and said were the words of God really are….

            • Blacksheep

              I do – but it has nothing to do with the fact that he was a bronze age tribal leader.

              • JohnnieCanuck

                Iron age. Early iron age.

                Don’t forget those iron war chariots, against which God is powerless.

                • Gus Snarp

                  Don’t blame him, we started this whole bronze age thing. I had to go look it up and it seems that the oldest known manuscripts date from the iron age. On the other hand, the supposed dates of events in the Bible would likely be bronze age, depending on how you date and how you add up the Biblical dates. So I guess it’s iron age if you base your assessment on known archaeological and historical evidence, bronze age if the Bible is literally true.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  For some reason, “Bronze Age sheepherders” is more fun to say than “Iron Age sheepherders.” Is Bronze just a funny word?

                  There are a few things we started that need to go. Top of my list is the claim that Jesus was warlike because of the “…not to bring peace, but a sword” passage. That’s such an obvious metaphor that it is at best a pathetically cheap shot to point to it, and doubly pathetic since you only have to skip down a line or two to find some actual arguably reprehensible lines.

                • Blacksheep

                  Bronze age sounded cooler. :)

                • Gus Snarp

                  Now there’s a down vote you can definitely complain about. Who down votes a comment like this? Bronze age does sound cooler. It also sounds older. Nobody’s really sure when the iron age ended anyway, there’s no agreed upon age following the iron age. The steel age? The plastic age? The silicon age?

          • C Peterson

            Christians believe that the Commandments came fro God, otherwise we would not give them any credence.

            Sure, place credence in something from an imaginary being, and none in the creations of humans. No wonder the world is so fucked up, under the influence of religion.

            • Blacksheep

              I never said I placed no credence on the creations of humans. The world is f’d up, but I think it has more to do with human nature than religion. But religion certainly plays a part – it’s one of the things many people liked about Christ, he was often critical of “religious” people.

              • C Peterson

                I never said I placed no credence on the creations of humans.

                Actually, that’s exactly what you said. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you meant something different. That said, however, religion is is a product of human nature. You can’t separate it. It’s a negative aspect, one of the elements that damages society.

              • Jim Dandy

                wat? you don’t think religion is part of human nature?

              • baal

                “The world is f’d up but I think it has more to do with human nature than religion.”

                Now try reading your sentence from the point of view of an atheist. Religion is an f’d up part of human nature.

          • DavidMHart

            This is, I hope you realise, a really weird thing to believe? If someone presented you with another book of myths, of similar vintage to the Old Testament, with different gods and different holywillies claiming to speak for those gods, coming up with different sets of commandments, you’d give them no creedence at all. And yet the evidence that the Bible was actually written with input from a supernatural entity is exactly as strong as the evidence that any other book was written with input from a supernatural entity.

            • Blacksheep

              The difference is that Christians work backwards from Christ. The belief in the OT is a natural extensiuon of faith in Christ. Many people followed him (and still do) who have little or no knowledge of the OT.

              • DavidMHart

                Okay. I hope at least you’re not trying to claim that this is a valid way of coming to true conclusions about reality, if you start by presupposing that your conclusion is true and then stretch and twist (or selectively ignore) the evidence in order to make it fit your conclusion?

                You would agree that a Muslim could with exactly equal justification work backwards from the conclusion that Mohammad was actually receiving messages from God? Or that a Hindu could just as validly work backwords from Krishna?

                • Blacksheep

                  Who said that I was stretching, twisting or ignoring anything? My conclusion is a deeply felt, time-tested, and life proven conviction. The OT fits perfectly with that construct.

                  I have no idea what a Muslim or a Hindu feels other than that it’s the presence of God – so in that way I understand.

                • DavidMHart

                  You are ignoring the fact that there is nothing in the Bible that can be demonstrated to be the work of anything other than ordinary humans – and when it comes to any other book, that would be good enough for you to provisionally conclude that it is entirely the work of ordinary humans. If there were good evidence that the Bible had divine input, you wouldn’t need to ‘work backwards from Christ’; you could just say: here is the evidence that the Bible has divine origins; the conclusion that Christ actually existed and actually was what we claim he was is a reasonable conclusion.

                  The fact that there is no good evidence that the bible has divine origins means that you have to judge the bible by different standards from those you use to judge other books – and if you are going to do that, you have no good reason to say that Muslims are wrong if they judge the Quran, or Hindus the Vedas, by different standards. And yet, since Muslims, Hindus and Christians have reached such wildly divergent conclusions about the nature of their god or gods, you know that at least two of these groups must be wrong in some of their core beliefs, and you have no grounds at all for thinking that your chances of being wrong are less than theirs.

                  The point is that starting from your conclusion can be used to justify any conlusion, and therefore cannot be a valid way of trying to honestly figure out what’s true about reality.

                • Blacksheep

                  I never said I “needed” to work backawards from Christ – I said that i did.

                  As you know, there is no concrete, physical evidence that Jesus was Christ – if there were, we wouldn’t be having this discussion! We would happily (hopefully) both agree, in the same way we agree on gravity, inertia, and the benefits of excercise.

                  I stated my reasons for belief: I have a “deeply felt, time-tested, and life proven conviction…” which makes the truth of Christianity as evident to me as the love I feel for my friends and family and the joy that I feel swimming in the ocean – all of which are subjective and non prove-able.

                  I also believe that nature itself is evidence of an intelligent creator. (Note that I’m not saying that YOU believe that, or that it’s a fact – I’m saying that I believe that).

                  What’s true about reality is that we live in a cause and effect world. What we do, think, practice, eat, etc. all has an effect. If choosing to follow Christ, based on the Gospel, has a life changing effect for the better, that’s just as real as anything else.

                  As far as the different conclusions by different groups go, I can only have three responses to that:

                  1. I have no idea what they are feeling, but that does not change my belief.

                  2. I do believe that some of their core beliefs are wrong.

                  3. As many Christians believe, Christ came to save everyone – and that means everyone. (I hope that’s the right answer).

                • Nate Frein

                  Let’s get something straight, here. If there were evidence Jesus existed, we would agree on his existence.

                  If there were evidence of Jesus’ divinity, or some overarching “god”, then we would agree that such a thing existed.

                  We would not agree that such a thing (or person) deserved worship.

                • Gus Snarp

                  If you’re still paying attention to comments in this thread, Blacksheep, I’m legitimately curious about something. You’ve essentially acknowledged the fundamental difference between us is one of how we evaluate evidence. I, and many on my side, rely on what can be shown scientifically as well as on high quality historical evidence (that is, preferring that which can be corroborated from multiple sources and preferring primary sources, mainly). Whereas you (and I think most who believe as you do) seem to prefer some inner feeling as your standard of evidence. Since you’ve already acknowledged that, I really have nothing left to argue with you, as long as we differ on the evidentiary starting place, we can’t really proceed further.

                  But I’d like to ask a bit about this evidentiary starting place. I’ve found your answer to why you believe to be vague, so I’d like some clarification. I don’t want this to be a Socratic trap, so I’m putting all my cards on the table, I just want to know what you really believe and why, if I can understand that why.

                  So first, are you a Biblical literalist? Do you believe that every word of the Bible is literally true? If not, since you seem to believe much of it is true, how do you decide which parts should not be taken literally (e.g. Genesis)?

                  Second, as I see it there are four reasons to believe the Bible is true (completely literally or at least substantially) and all four are classic logical fallacies. In reality, I expect most who believe in the Bible do so for a combination of these reasons:
                  1. The Bible is true because it is the word of God and God wouldn’t lie. That is, the Bible is true because it says it is true. This is circular reasoning and the problem with it should be obvious: anyone can write a book and make those claims. So this reason is the worst, and I think people who rely on it must also be relying on some of the other reasons.
                  2. Parents, teachers, pastors or other authority figures said it was true. This is the appeal to authority fallacy – just because someone smart and important says it is true does not mean that it is.
                  3. Most people believe it is true. This is only true in certain cultural contexts, globally it’s not the case. Even if it were, it’s the appeal to popularity fallacy, i.e. “Eat shit! Ten billion flies can’t be wrong!” Huge majorities of people in various regions and cultures believe all sorts of demonstrably wrong things. Popularity does not make it true.
                  4.The Bible is really old and people have believed in it for a long time. This is the argument from antiquity fallacy, and its flaws are also obvious: there are lots of old books, some older and with longer histories of belief, they can’t all be true, and age is clearly not a good marker for truth (barring primary sources versus secondary sources).

                  Now your stated reason for believing the Bible is different from all those, but to be honest, I think your real underlying reason is one or more of the above. You basically say that you have an inner feeling that the Gospel is true and therefore the rest of the Bible must be. And something about life experience. But I don’t really see how “I strongly believe in Jesus and have emotions that I can’t help but trust” (if I’m paraphrasing accurately), translates to: “The entire Bible is true”. Is it not entirely possible that Jesus was real, was even the son of God, but that the authors of the Bible still took liberties/got some things wrong/were generally human? How does one take this inner feeling and say that it means every word of a book must be true, even when there is overwhelming evidence, evidence that you would likely accept on any other subject where your strong inner feeling wasn’t more important to you, that Genesis is demonstrably false. That Exodus is demonstrably false (the Egyptian enslavement en masse of Israel simply didn’t happen). I’d truly like you to elaborate more on the foundation and nature of your belief. I’m sure people will argue with you about it in the thread and down vote your comment, but I won’t. I want to know, and I’ve basically laid out my case and feel no further need to argue with you.

                • DavidMHart

                  “I never said I “needed” to work backawards from Christ – I said that i did.”

                  Okay. So now that I’ve explained why working backwards from the conclusion that you want to support is a completely useless way of validly arriving at true knowledge of reality, since there is literally no bullshit conceivable that you couldn’t support by working backwards, and you’ve asserted that you don’t need to do it, why on earth would you want to? Why, if you have good reasons to believe in the divinity of Jesus, reasons that don’t rely on circular arguments, would you want to embarrass yourself by indulging in obvious intellectual dishonesty?

                  “I stated my reasons for belief: I have a “deeply felt, time-tested, and
                  life proven conviction…” which makes the truth of Christianity as
                  evident to me as the love I feel for my friends and family and the joy
                  that I feel swimming in the ocean – all of which are subjective and non
                  prove-able.”

                  Ah, the good ol’ “you can’t prove love is real” canard. Well, maybe not, but you can amass damn good evidence. We can do brain scans and heart-rate monitoring to see what happens when you think about the people you love, we can actually observe how the behaviour of people who claim to love us differs from that of those who are indifferent or hostile – we can study love. Imperfectly, but there is still lots of good evidence that human love is a real phenomenon. There is not a shred of good evidence that the divinity of jesus is a real phenomenon. There is a lot of good evidence that “people believing that Jesus was divine” is a real phenomenon – but these people can be wrong, and you’d have absolutely no problem at all with the hypothsis that people who think the Koran is divine are all wrong, so why do you think the people who believe Jesus was divine aren’t equally misguided, just because one of them happens to be you? You seem to be holding yourself to lower standards of intellectual honesty than you would hold other people to.

                  And again, deeply felt inner conviction is a terrible method of arriving at true information about reality. People can and do have deeply felt inner convictions that are manifestly wrong. People can and do have deeply felt inner convictions that are utterly incompatible with someone else’s inner convictions (so, even if you don’t know which one of them is wrong, you can say with 100% certainty that at least one of them must be wrong). See, again, Christians and Muslims. Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God, was crucified and came back from the dead. Muslims believe (because their holy texts say) that Jesus was an ordinary human, that the crucifixion was, in effect, a hoax, and that there was no resurrection. And their inner conviction can be just as strong as yours. Inner conviction gets us not one iota of distance towards establishing the divinity of jesus; you have to present some good, real-world evidence before you are justified in expecting anyone else to take it seriously, and if you had any intellectual honesty, you would cease believing it yourself unless and until such evidence became available.

                  “I also believe that nature itself is evidence of an intelligent creator.”

                  I hope you realise that you have the burden of proof here, because nothing in nature that we have so far discovered an explanation for has turned out to need an intelligent creator (apart from, obviously, things that we have created ourselves).

                  This has been a long screed, but do you at least understand why we think your reasons for believing your supernatural claims are deeply inadequate, and why we think you ought to be able to do better?

            • baal

              HP Lovecraft is the messiah and prophet of the one true mythos. I’a I’a Cthulhu Fgnthn.

        • Jim Dandy

          never underestimate the power of idiocy. every discussion i get in with christians always includes a pause and confused look when i point out that the book they base their beliefs on is 2000 yrs out of date.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Oh c’mon, you have to admit it’s funny that most Christians in America know more about a movie than they do the bible.

        • Blacksheep

          You may be right – (Not on the 10 Commandment front, since the accepted “real” ones are the ones that even Christian scholars accept as the proper 10) – although I never run into the alleged un-educated Christians in my circles.

          • Gus Snarp

            80% of Americans are Christian. Quiz anyone you meet on the street about the Bible.

            • Blacksheep

              That would be a good experiment. However the 80% includes people who are “Christian by default” / socially Christian. (The group who are increasingly answering “no religion” in polls). I think if I quizzed Christians who consider themselves believers, and go to church say 20 times per year, the results wouldn’t be too bad. (But I could be in for a sad shock!)

              • SeekerLancer

                I think you’d find very mixed results as an average person’s view and knowledge of the bible is usually directly colored by their pastor. The average Christian is not reading the bible and drawing their own conclusions, they’re being told what to think about it.

              • Blacksheep

                How does this reply get 3 “down” votes? It makes me laugh sometimes! This is a tightly wound bunch…

                • Anna

                  It does seem kind of unfair. Not everything you say is bad, LOL. I think you get down votes just because of your general perspective. Hey, I have seen you write informative comments!

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Auto-voting does seem to be antithetical to critical thinking.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Boy that was fast- I don’t think I’d even changed my avatar yet! You must be clairvoyant!

                • Anna

                  Heck, I got a down vote just for defending Blacksheep! It’s true that I have seen him make informative or completely inoffensive comments. Just because someone’s a fundamentalist doesn’t mean that every single thing they say should be automatically discounted.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I bet blacksheep has an armada of sock puppets all down voting him to prove persecution of Christians. It’s the only possible answer I say!

                • Blacksheep

                  Rich, if only I had time for that!
                  …You might recall that I have disagreed that Christians in the US are persecuted. I don’t really think they are.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  We will know them by how many down votes they get.

                • Blacksheep

                  :)

                • Blacksheep

                  I actually understand if anything pro-christian were downvoted – that comment was 100% neutral – in fact I was agreeing with Gus that I might be wrong!

                • Anna

                  Yup, and I think I would agree with you on that point. I assume your circles include people who are passionately and consistently involved in religion, and I would naturally expect those people to have more knowledge about the Bible than people who identify as Christian but never attend church.

                  It also depends on what type of religious environment people are immersed in. While there are highly anti-intellectual strains of fundamentalist Christianity, there are also evangelicals who think of themselves as very sophisticated and are well-read when it comes to philosophers and theologians. Now, naturally an atheist would think apologetics are bunk, but at least those people are on a different level than the fundamentalists who love Jesus but never read anything but cherry-picked Bible verses.

                  As a matter of fact, I think the Pew Forum survey did show that evangelicals are at the top of the list when it comes to Bible knowledge:

                  The survey, broken down into three broad categories, including Bible and Christianity, World Religion and Religion in Public Life, went on to detail Mormons and White Evangelical Protestants as scoring highest on knowledge about the Bible and Christianity, with Jews and Atheists/Agnostics scoring highest on knowledge about other religions, as well as Religion in Public Life.

                  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/enlightened-living/201010/atheistsagnostics-more-knowledgeable-about-religion

                • Blacksheep

                  That sounds accurate – and pretty much reflects my circle. Thanks Anna.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  Sigh. I’m critical as hell, but even I don’t downvote what are essentially neutral posts. This is like a lite version of that troll the other day who was downvoting people for asking questions to clarify the meaning of other posts.

              • Michael W Busch

                I think if I quizzed Christians who consider themselves believers, and go to church say 20 times per year, the results wouldn’t be too bad

                In the US at the present time, most people who call themselves Christians profess belief in some version of the Christian god (~75% of the total population). There are relatively few cultural Christians in the US. Ref. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States .

                Americans also over-report their church attendance, by quite impressive factors (ref. http://www.npr.org/2012/10/24/163527979/what-we-say-about-religion-and-what-we-do ).

                So you would not actually get significantly different results with “Christians who consider themselves believers and say they go to church often” than with all US Christians – the groups are nearly identical.

                And it happens that as a group, irreligious Americans are more knowledgeable about the teachings of Christianity than Christian Americans are.

                • Blacksheep

                  On your last comment you may be right – I have no way of knowing.

                  As far as “cultural Christians” are concerned, I personally know scores of them, so I know the number is high. What I mean are people who don’t go to church, don’t pray, don’t read tha bible, and never bring their faith up in conversation – but who would still check “christian” on a form.

                  It could be geographic.

                • Michael W Busch

                  What I mean are people who don’t go to church, don’t pray, don’t read the bible, and never bring their faith up in conversation.

                  That doesn’t make them not-believing Christians. It just makes them non-devout. You are basically saying “those people say they’re Christian, but they’re not true Christians”.

                  - but who would still check “christian” on a form

                  That’s not the same of your earlier category of “The group who are increasingly answering “no religion” in polls”.

                • Blacksheep

                  True, I don’t know what’s in their hearts.

              • busterggi

                Ach, the “no true Christian’ excuse again – as always.

                • Blacksheep

                  How does that apply here?

                • busterggi

                  “the 80% includes people who are “Christian by default” / socially Christian. ”
                  Your own words ought to explain themselves to you.

      • Gus Snarp

        Funny though, that the first ten were destroyed and replaced with the ten in Exodus 34, which are the ones described, at the time of their first appearance, as the Ten Commandments.

        • Blacksheep

          It’s not that simple. The summary I attached explains it – In context and in new Testament corroboration by Christ, tthe accepted 10 are the “real” ones for multiple reasons.

          • Gus Snarp

            The summary you attached is a bunch of convoluted justifications by a biased observer who starts from a position of belief that the Bible is true. There was no Christ, there never will be a Christ, the entire book is pure fiction and, whether some theologian can concoct a justification for why what a plain reading says is not what is really meant and how there are no contradictions is inconsequential. There are contradictions and twists and turns in the language owing to the fact the Old Testament in particular was a whole collection of different oral myths cobbled together and written down centuries after the events described, many flatly disproved by all sorts of scientific and historical evidence, supposedly happened.

            There is no “real” Ten Commandments, but there are two sets of ten commandments with relatively equal claims to the title, and this simply shows that the Bible is a book of mythology, not divinely inspired proof.

            The author of your summary even acknowledges this when he says critical scholars disagree with him. “Critical” would appear to mean “unbiased by preexisting belief in the divine nature of the Bible”. Feel free to believe this work of apologetics just as you are free to believe the Bible, but don’t peddle it to me as anything like objective fact.

            • Blacksheep

              I’m not trying to hide that – the link was to The Gospel Coalition. If I didn’t believe that Christ existed and that the Bible was true, I wouldn’t have sent the link in the first place! Of course that’s the premise!

              We obviously disagree on the “real 10″ topic, but it’s a moot point for two reasons:

              1. You beleive it’s all made up anyway
              2. The Gospel gives the 10 C. a whole new context

              • Michael W Busch

                Christ existed and the Bible is true, that’s the premise

                That is a false premise. In fact, both parts of it are false. The first part is false because there is no evidence that whatever historical Jesus there may have been was anything other than a normal human. The second part is false because the Bible is in large part myth, in large part forgery, and in large part self-contradicting. This is not disputable on any reasonable grounds.

                • Blacksheep

                  That’s one of the most blatant out -of-context clippings i’ve seen! At least play fair. My sentance, thjat you chopped in half, was:

                  “If I didn’t believe that Christ existed and that the Bible was true, I wouldn’t have sent the link in the first place!”

                  I’m not for a second telling you that it IS true, nor am I trying to convince you. I’m stating my belief.

                • Michael W Busch

                  And I am stating that your belief is provably wrong. And how can you say “I believe X” while not for a second telling me “I think X is true” ?

                  That’s one of the most blatant out -of-context clippings i’ve seen! At least play fair.

                  I paraphrased. It did not seem out of context.

                • Blacksheep

                  OK…

                • DavidMHart

                  How is ‘stating my belief’ in any relevant sense different from ‘telling someone that it is true’? If it’s your belief (as opposed to merely a hypothesis that you’re toying with) then by definition you think it is true, and if you tell someone else that it is your belief, you are by definition telling them that (you think) it is true.

                  [edit - just seen that Michael Busch addressed this simultaneously; by all means reply to them rather than me if you wish]

        • The Other Weirdo

          Incorrect. God had originally given Moses 3 stone tables of 5 commandments each. Moses broke one. “The Lord Jehovah hath given unto you these fifteen…” (Drops a tablet and it shatters) “Oy vey. TEN Ten Commandments.”

          • Rickenbacker4001

            Classic Mel Brooks….

      • Guest

        People not understanding things does not make those things untrue. See: Most of Science.

        Christians also consider Sunday to be the “real” day of rest. Funny that. It’s as if the book was poorly written and and subjected to goal-oriented editing by committee, and one can make many interpretations of almost any part of it.

        • Blacksheep

          “People not understanding things does not make those things untrue.”

          Very well said!

          • Matt D

            So how many religious texts have you read before reaching the conclusion that the Bible is the right one?

        • Blacksheep

          I believe that the most important things of all come through. The day on which someone worships is not important, it has nothing to do with the Gospel. And thankfully, since the Gospel is about forgiveness, all is well even if we get the 10 Commandments wrong.

          • Matt

            Um, isnt the day that someone worships incredibly important? Remembering it and keeping it holy is one of the ten commandments listed above.

          • Charles Honeycutt

            If one Commandment isn’t important, the others are equally unimportant from the perspective of them all having been laid down by God at the same time for the same reason.

            Sabbath refers specifically to Saturday, the last day of the week. There’s a reason that our calendars place Sunday at the beginning of each week. As I’m sure you know, the Sunday tradition was brought about in order to appease pagans and anti-Semitic Christians. It probably doesn’t need explaining why this should be relevant to those who want to follow the other commandments and traditions.

            I agree, the overall ethical message of the NT does not require all the details in either text, many of which directly contradict said message anyway. But if those details are to be ignored, the book cannot then be honestly claimed to be a work of divine inspiration. There are religions and philosophies that contain the same positive messages without the bulk of negative ones… or the built-in martyr complex and victim-blaming of the whole thing, but that’s another argument.

            On a tangent, I have a college text from about 1950 describing all the major world religions, with a massive, and in some cases almost dishonest, emphasis on the positive aspects of each. The best description of Christianity that I’ve ever seen is contained in it: “Christianity is not Jesus’s religion; Christianity is a religion about Jesus.”

            • Blacksheep

              I never said they should be ignored (didn’t intend to imply that, anyway) – just that we’re still OK if we’re confused on that front. I don’t look upon an un-answered question as evidence that something is false.

              On the sabbath front, I’m not sure that it matters. If anything, Christ taught that it’s the spirit of the law that matters more than the letter.

              My takeaway is that in certain ways Christianity is the most positive – and any negativity is more about realities of life. Other more “positive” religions sometimes require endless striving for salvation (Look at Buddha’s last words) while Christianity offers salvation based on faith (with works as evidence – but not as currency).

              “Christianity is not Jesus’s religion; Christianity is a religion about Jesus.”

              Interesting quote. I suppose by default that’s true – since he would be following himself. Furthermore he was not in need of salvation since he was without sin, so it puts him in a different categroy. (savior vs saved).

              I wouldn’t say “about” though, I would say that Christianity was Jesus’ message of salvation to the world. “Good news.”

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Eh, I consider Christianity one of the most negative. Hell is an atrocious theology.

          • The Other Weirdo

            Tells that to the Jews.

      • Space Cadet

        What?!? I’ve been very careful about not boiling a kid in it’s mother’s milk and now you tell me it’s not important?!?

        RAAAAAAAAGE!!!!eleventy!!11!

        • Blacksheep

          It does sound kind of mean – and wrong, though.

          • Space Cadet

            Wrong, how? That is a commandment of the Ritual Decalogue. Or am I misunderstanding your comment?

      • busterggi

        Oh those unliteral heretics!

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      Everybody is saying there is 10 but this video proves there was 15. Oy Vey!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAtRCJIqnk

      • Denis F

        10 …. 15 ….. 613 …. who is counting ?

    • Rainkitten

      The actual commandments were mostly copied from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. There is probably not a single thing in the entire Bible that is actually original. Most other religions of the day were “Borged” into it.

    • XX

      Okay… a bit confused and concerned here… does Exodus 34:20 seriously say that you should kill your first born son as a sacrifice to god?

      • Gus Snarp

        No, I think when it says “redeem” it means kill a lamb instead of your son. I think.

        • XX

          Leave a bit too much up to interpretation.

  • Joy Lynskey

    Great article!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I would like to express in advance my complete shock and surprise in the event the bench is vandalised.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I really really really hope a Muslim organization puts up something with the Five Pillars of Islam

    • DavidMHart

      Five pillars, eh? Sounds like monument-building is right up their street :-)

    • Gus Snarp

      We could turn the whole lawn into a religious sculpture garden. I’m thinking we could avoid the usual shock value statement and instead go for beautiful and tasteful sculpture. The bench already sounds far more tasteful than that hideous thing in the picture, so we get the Pillars of Islam, the Pillars of Buddhism, maybe a Buddha, a Ganesha….. making sure that they’re all more attractive and tasteful than the Ten Commandments…

      • Michael W Busch

        *Precepts of Buddhism.

        • Gus Snarp

          I suppose I should have said the four noble truths and the eightfold path…

      • M. Elaine

        I’d like to see a bronze sculpture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Maybe a birdbath!

      • Luke Skywalker

        A Jedi Code should be there with other honky religions.

        A holoprojector monument framed with two lightsabers.

        • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

          “Hokey”, not “honky”.

          • WoodyTanaka

            I like “honky religion.”

          • Mr. Pantaloons

            No, definitely honky. I’ve never seen another religion used to so vigorously defend the privileges of white people at the expense of everyone else’s.

      • anniewhoo

        A copper Kali, that turns blue-ish green would look awesome.

      • NotThatGreg

        Don’t forget “Leda and the Swan”

    • rhodent

      I would actually chip in to help pay for such a thing. Not because I respect Islam any more than I do Christianity, but because I want the Christian theocrats who started this mess to regret it as much as possible. Perhaps watching Muslim and atheist monuments (and hey, can we get some pagan stuff up, too?) will help them get the message of why you don’t want to intertwine church and state in a way that removing their monuments so far has not.

      • anniewhoo

        I think we need to start an Indiegogo! It would be great to have the view of the courthouse from 301 look like a monument yard.

    • Artor

      The local Wiccans could put up a giant explicitly phallic Maypole, and the Satanists can put up an inverted cross. I bet some Xtians would start to understand the issue then.

      • vadersapp

        The inverted cross thing is a bad idea. It is indeed used by Satanists, but it is a mistake to do so. It was first and continues to be a symbol of St. Peter. Satanists adopted it out of misunderstanding and, though they continue to use it and have adapted it to their beliefs, it is still a common Catholic symbol for Peter. If the goal is to make Christians uncomfortable, I’d recommend something they cannot possibly mock as a ripoff. Perhaps the inverted pentagram with a goat’s head engraved in it.

        • XX

          So people shouldn’t take other people’s religious symbols and use them as their own? Christians have done this throughout history. Apparently now they’re the only ones allowed to do so or else they feel like they’re being persecuted.

          • vadersapp

            I didn’t say that symbols cannot or should not be adopted and adapted to other ideologies. I have no preference whatsoever in that regard. I’m saying that if the goal is to piss of the entitled fundamentalist Christians that started this, then that’s not a good symbol to do it with. Obviously they’re gonna be trying to undermine everything else added to the area in front of the courthouse to save their pride. Don’t give them an excuse to do so with a symbol that can be twisted in their favor. If you’re GOING to put up an inverted cross, it should at least have some other markings or symbols to distinguish it as an unmistakable satanic symbol, not a symbol of St. Peter.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        There could be a pentagram for Wiccans/witches/some pagans and an upside down, unbounded pentagram for Satanism.

      • Jim Jones

        The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り “Festival of the Steel Phallus”?) is held each spring at the Kanayama shrine (金山神社) in Kawasaki, Japan.

        • baal

          I love the Japanese. (have to wonder a bit about over compensation)

      • VoiceOfReason71

        No they wouldn’t. They would just complain about the alleged “War on Christianity,” and sue for discrimination or hate crimes or some such nonsense. They wouldn’t understand a thing. In their warped little minds, the only REAL religion is THEIR religion, and the fact that other people are freely and legally practicing their own beliefs (or lack thereof) in this country is perceived as an act of aggression.

        • Artor

          *sigh* I hate to admit it, but you’re probably right.

          • Cap’n Obvious

            they are the voice of reason…71

      • baal

        I hear they have huge issues with crosses floating in piss.

    • Cat’s Staff

      I’m really opposed to the idea of allowing this kind of thing as long as we can to have our free speech too, weather it’s bibles in schools, or in state parks, or monuments on government property. If that’s the way things go, we will loose. There will be large permanent granite monuments at every possible government building and all the atheists and all the other religions combined won’t be able to match them. It will establish a sort of class system of religion viewpoints, those who can afford more prominent/permanent displays will be better off. Sure this bench probably cost a 10th or even a 100th as much as a court case, but can we make 1000s of them for every government building in the country (there are over 3000 counties in the US and many more cities, each with multiple buildings). The argument we should be consistently making is not that freedom of speech issue, it’s the fact that when there are religious messages on government property someone might think that implies endorsement.

      • Reverend Robbie

        Darn it. That’s a decent point. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        You’re right. Littering the area with every imaginable monument would be a very distant plan B. I just hope that even a hint of Muslims wanting their turn would send people back pedaling.

      • mike

        Actually, you can mass produce steel-reinforced, concrete monuments for under $100. Pour, dry, rinse, repeat. Make them ugly, sturdy, maybe phallic, and anchor them to the ground.

      • Guest

        Kinda reminds me of steeple building. Let’s see whose reaches highest toward the heavens….

      • XX

        Many people DO see that as an endorsement. And it is.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    My only issue here is that instead of this Christian group paying for their idol to be removed, we are paying for something that probably won’t last a few weeks. The city should have removed their idol and sent them a bill or better yet, fined them until they had it removed on their own dime.

    • Andy

      Just transfer it to the next city that tries to do something similar

  • disqus_FyivI8lPzq

    Woo! Unveiled on my birthday!

    • Beet LeRace

      Hahaha… who would downvote that?

      • allein

        Somebody jealous that it wasn’t on their birthday?

  • nickvicious

    Good ole Treaty of Tripoli. That quote always leaves the “Christian Nation” advocates flabbergasted.

    • Charles Honeycutt

      Don’t forget that when they try to claim it was “just his opinion” or something similar to point out that the treaty was reprinted in all major American newspapers at the time, and produced no backlash whatsoever.

      • Sven2547

        Yeah, that’s the funniest part. “It’s just a treaty so it doesn’t count”. That’s funny, Article VI of the Constitution says that all treaties made are the supreme Law of the Land…

  • LesterBallard

    I wonder how much the monument cost; and I wonder how many books it could have purchased for their libraries. Or anything with actual value.

  • Timothy R Alexander

    Giant ten commandments = Worst Gift Ever!

  • doaftheloaf

    it’ll get vandalized right away…

  • Cattleya1

    I’ll bet good money the Atheist and any other non-christian displays suffer a lot of vandalism. Maybe they could have it made out of Tungsten carbide or Corundum…

    • Observer

      Maybe they should spray it with that Ultra Ever Dry stuff so that nothing can stick to it… that would be cool, and hilarious to watch.

  • carolsue1313

    I live around the corner. Can’t wait!

  • Rickenbacker4001

    Xenu straddling an exploding volcano monument would be cool.

  • Stealth Avenue

    This is how it should work. Neutral or free-for-all. Somehow I doubt the Christian Taliban will get the point, though.

  • JA

    $10 says some “true believer” takes a sledgehammer to the bench within a week of it being placed.

  • XX

    It doesn’t just make atheists feel like second-class citizens. It makes all non-Christians feel like second-class citizens. I certainly wouldn’t feel like I was getting a fair hearing.

  • Kelley

    how about a giant “?” for agnostics? LOL

  • ryan

    I give you…Keep the Sabbath holy!!!! Unless you’re getting wasted that night like most Christians.

  • Wolfman Krauzer

    Can we have also a bronce statue of Lord Kratos? God of War and the bearer of Chaos? jajajaja

  • Joshua D. Craig

    Can we get a monument with The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth? That would probably ruffle a few feathers.

    1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
    2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
    3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
    4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
    5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
    6. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.
    7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
    8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
    9. Do not harm little children.
    10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
    11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.

  • Erik I

    Quit calling these…”things” atheists. They are not. Whatever this is, it’s not atheism. It’s a cult of its own, dedicated towards bringing down all other religions. True Atheists don’t care about religion.


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