Could Baker, Louisiana Be a Candidate for the Next Atheist Monument?

Back in 2009, a Ten Commandments monument was placed in a public park, near a public school, in Baker, Louisiana:

It was paid for and put up there by former city councilman A.T. Furr and he wasn’t alone in his endorsement of this idea. Even Mayor Harold Rideau supported it, saying “We’re a Christian-based community.”

Another council member, Jimmy Pourciau, added his support, but when he was asked if he would support a similar atheist monument, his response didn’t come so quick: “I’d have to see it first,” he said at the time.

The city’s attorney, Ron Wall, said at the time that this was a bad idea; he “believe[d] the plaque would have to come down in a legal battle.”

But no one sued.

Blogger Randall Hayes was near that park earlier this month and he was curious whether that monument was still in place.

Yep. It was still there, hovering right behind the park’s name:

The Baker Decalogue would be fine on a church lawn or on some other private property, but placing a sectarian religious monument so prominently in a city park that is supposed to honor veterans is an insult to all the U.S. military men and women who were not followers of that sect. It is also, as the Baker city attorney advised, a violation of the Establishment Clause. It’s not too late for the city to do the right thing and have the religious monument removed for Veterans Plaza.

Randall thinks it’d make a great candidate for American Atheists’ next atheist monument; Baker is suffering financial difficulties right now. They don’t have money to waste on a lawsuit. They would be forced to either take down the monument or accept one from AA.

Makes sense to me, too. Dave Silverman, what do you think?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Michael Harrison

    That should be interesting. I’ll certainly be there for the groundbreaking.

  • GKD

    What would be interesting is if atheists actually stood for something, as opposed to acting like winy children against everything. These monuments are an issue because some secularists have overstepped the mark and attempted to use Separation of Church and state beyond what it intended. I have no use for Ten Commandments posted for the obvious reason of promoting a particular religion, but I know why they are doing it. The fault lies among those secularists who sound more like little Napoleons from Animal Farm, just itching to spring the trap. But then my brief visit here has shown me why this is. The title “Friendly Atheist” gave me hope that most atheists aren’t exuding the deplorable bilge arising in so many atheist quarters, who take all the hatred, bigotry, and ignorance of the most stereotypical religious fanatic, but without the charm. Sadly, in just the few responses I’ve seen, it’s becoming too common. Too normal. To me, this just shows atheism has so little to offer, and can only end up morphing into all the things that rational thought and logical conclusions are supposed to speak against. Not all were bad. But enough to show that this manner and nature of today’s atheism is, sadly, the rule rather than the extremist exception. Who knows? Maybe atheism isn’t true, and ultimately has nothing meaningful to say after all these years, and that’s the problem. But in any event, goodbye for now. I think I’ll find some fundamentalist site for reasoned debate and friendly environments. And help us if people think what’s here is either of those things.

    • anniewhoo

      Hmm. Interesting observations. But do you think it is as common as condescending Christian trolls visiting atheists sites? Who knows?

    • Holytape

      I have a question, when the billy goats try to cross your bridge do you try to bore them to death with long rants of condescending self-righteousness?

    • Machintelligence

      MOOOOOOOMMY! He hit me back!

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Oh my, another loser to help provide support for the Honeycutt Hypothesis, AND another Christian who practices sorcery by claiming to be able to read peoples’ minds. You’re a goldmine of hypocritical pseudointellectual rage, G.

      Add to that your very typical hubris in assuming that the mountains of analysis and documentation surrounding the Establishment Clause magically take a backseat to your special power of Knowing, and we could power five or six Christian “universities” by hooking you up and letting you text desperately.

      Make sure to report back to Jesus on how Christlike you are when you lie and spew. And don’t forget to stick the flounce, crybaby.

    • Taz

      “I have no use for Ten Commandments posted for the obvious reason of
      promoting a particular religion, but I know why they are doing it.”

      So do I. It’s for the obvious reason of promoting a particular religion. Someone just told me. That’s what makes it unconstitutional. And the fact it’s unconstitutional makes it worth fighting.

    • Goape

      So, to paraphrase GKD: “Hateful, ignorant, fundamentalist bigots have more charm than atheists. Thus atheism isn’t true so I win and goodbye”.

      Your posts contradict each other, making you seem biased and ignorant. I would like to say something friendly and productive but I don’t think you would understand, so let me try to come up with a more “charming” response tailor made for you, GKD: blankets made of unicorn taint, ostrich races, mean people, feelings, cell phone radiation and other non sequiturs, therefore the pope shits tiny cross-shaped pellets. I win. Goodbye.

    • Tanner B James

      Oh, Hi Free. I see you are using the GKD alias again. It’s good to see you are still willing to troll this blog. At least it can be said you are “A Consistent Troll.” But really you need to evolve your language a little because you too often use the same insults and that is your tell. You won’t leave, the nature of a troll is to not leave but to change his alias in an attempt to elude the readers into thinking it has left. I’m beginning to think that you are Impotent. You can only get off by instigating anger in Atheist blogs. Sadly every-time you say Atheists are typically this or that you are also saying you are typically this or that too. You either fear engaging in a real discussion because you might actually begin to question your positions or because you lack any real depth. It is true we have nothing to offer people who choose willful ignorance. But that is your choice and I have no real desire to change your mind on that. In your little isolated world you are the only Napoleon that matters. Your opinions are irrelevant to the the rest of the world, here you think you are important and have something to say, that will make an impact but you do not, you are as important as a wart on a frog’s butt. Your opinions are only significant to your self. I’ll bet you turn and look down into your toilet every time you take a crap and exclaim, “Look I created that!!” Never realizing the full potential of your insignificant pitiful existence.

    • Spuddie

      Why do you hate our freedom so much?

      Why must you support those who attack it and do so in such a blatant way?

      They proclaim their hatred of religious freedom by etching in stone with displays of religious intolerance and oppression.

      Opposing such things is not just the duty of atheists, but of all freedom loving Americans of all faiths and beliefs. Those who understand and appreciate the freedom in our country to not be coerced into religious belief under the color of law.

    • Mario Strada

      I have zits that I will miss more than your posts. Please, don’t come back. You have nothing to offer as exemplified by your tired opinion of the blog’s name. Friendly was never meant to apply to anyone as petulant and unoriginal as you are. Arrivederci, or better yet, addio.

  • David Mock

    It’s so damn insulting to claim a community or country is Christian based. That’s like saying a community or country is white based.

    • C Peterson

      I’m sure you could find plenty of people in Baker, LA who would make exactly that claim, and find nothing insulting about it at all.

  • anniewhoo

    I wonder if we could put up a monument in Cross City, Florida? They have a 10C monument at their Dixie County Courthouse, and that is the home town of Joe Anderson, Jr., the man who has been funding and pushing all of the monuments. The case there was dropped because its plaintiff (a John Doe) decided not to move there after all. Because of the way that monument was allowed to stand, I don’t think it would be as easy to get in an atheist monument… but it would be awesome. Cross City is Christian Privilege Central.

  • Rain

    This is hilarious because it’s a graven image that says not to make graven images.

  • Jim Craig

    The 10 Commandments are displayed quite prominently in Gastonia, NC right next to the city hall. That might be a good place for a new atheist monument.

    • Rooster Freebird

      The next one should be on the Texas State Capitol lawn.

      • anniewhoo

        I vote for this one! Florida already monopolizes
        ‘Amerca’s Most Wanted,’ it’s time for us to share the wealth.

      • Feminerd

        I third this behind anniewhoo! I live in Texas, home of the Kountze cheerleaders and Rick Perry. We could use a bit of sanity.

        • LesterBallard

          This guy is moving to Austin, so good luck with your sanity.

          • Feminerd

            Well damn. That sucks.

      • jferris

        Please, bring it to Texas. I too live here. However, if you were really looking to help us out down in Texas, leave the monument, take Perry. Please.

        • averydashwood

          Sorry, atheists can’t work miracles.

          • Feminerd

            Besides, take Perry where? I don’t hate anyone enough to drop Perry on them :/

            • Fanraeth

              There has to be an island with no inhabitants somewhere.

              • Tanner B James

                It’s made of plastic, bottles and Styrofoam. About 100 miles or so off the Oregon coast.

            • Mario Strada

              I have a couple of friends with a boat and some leftover cement, if that helps…

  • pierre

    We’re asking if this one place where the local government is clearly in violation of the Establishment Clause is a good candidate for a second secular monument? As if there aren’t already hundreds of such places that we know about?

  • Cyrus Palmer

    As a veteran I’m appalled that a ten commandments monument would be placed in such a prominent place in a park called Veterans Plaza. I’m an atheist and I shed my blood right alongside of Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons and any other denomination you can name. We rarely got along when we were drinking, but when the bullets started flying, none of that bs matters.

  • LesterBallard

    I’m more inclined to put monuments up that represent religions other than Christianity, particularly Islam. Watch them go apeshit over that.

    • Paul Reed

      All in good time. Once they realise what’s going on, the other religions will want to jump on the bandwagon.
      I’m just wondering how long the “free speech zones” will hold up before the authorities decide enough is enough.

  • averydashwood

    It’s funny how it’s always the commandments. Why this fixation on the Decalogue? Why never, say, the Sermon on the Mount?

    • Fanraeth

      Because they don’t like to remember all that hippy peacenik stuff Jesus said about caring for the poor and loving others. They’d rather glory in Old Testament law which let you kill those slutty sluts and TEH GAYZ.

    • Michael W Busch

      The ethics of the Sermon on the Mount aren’t particularly good either.

  • WoodyTanaka

    “Randall thinks it’d make a great candidate for American Atheists’ next atheist monument; Baker is suffering financial difficulties right now. They don’t have money to waste on a lawsuit.”

    If that’s the case, then it is the perfect opportunity to sue and tell them you’ll sue them into bankruptcy unless the religious statue is removed. Don’t give them a way out. Putting up an atheist monument (off to the side, not in the central location, no doubt) does not solve the problem.

  • Benny Cemoli

    . . .

  • Paul Reed

    I hope that AA and the atheist community aren’t so eager to put up “our own” monuments that they forget that there shouldn’t be any monuments at all!

    Putting up monuments of our own is the backup plan.

  • rwlawoffice

    “Back in 2009, a Ten Commandments monument was placed in a public park, near a public school, in Baker, Louisiana:”

    Near a public school! Oh the horror!

    “Randall thinks it’d make a great candidate for American Atheists’ next atheist monument; Baker is suffering financial difficulties
    right now. They don’t have money to waste on a lawsuit. They would be
    forced to either take down the monument or accept one from AA.”

    This is a telling statement about the tactics of FFRF. Try to pick on a community there they think they won’t have a fight due to limited resources. Just like the bully they try to be.

    • Paul Reed

      Typically, you’re missing the point. On purpose, perhaps.
      The monument in Baker is evidently deep within public property. That is, it shouldn’t be there.

      Baker doesn’t have money to waste on a lawsuit. Good! We don’t want them to waste money. It’s not a case of them being “easy pickings” (you seem to think we’re predators waiting to pounce on the vulnerable). It’s a case of not wasting time and money in a losing battle against your constitution itself. This allows everyone involved to “cut to the chase” and actually get things done.

      • rwlawoffice

        I got the point. The comment of being “near a public school” is unnecessary and can only have been made for supposed shock value as if that would be horrible.

        Of course it is a case of trying to find easy pickings and Hemant’s comment is telling. The FFRF intentionally targets those communities where they think that financial concerns will force them to agree to FFRF’s demands. Rarely do you see them going after large well funded potential defendants.

        • Paul Reed

          Well, clearly your opinion about the matter is the only possible explanation.
          Did you happen to notice that it was talking about a *public school*, not just a school? Wonder why that might be…

          FFRF’s “demands” are that the local government/authority in question adheres to the constitution.
          What’d be the point of actively seeking out people who you know have the money and desire to fight tooth-and-nail against having to follow the laws of the land? And, by the way, that money that’d be wasted comes from the tax-payer.
          So yeah, if possible, we’d rather not have the tax-paying public’s time and money wasted by over-religious officials.

          • rwlawoffice

            This statement is not just my opinion. It is my observation of the locations where FFRF sends their letters and threatens to file suit. This strategy is simply confirmed by Hemant’s statement in this post.

            I would disagree that FFRF is simply trying to get people to follow the law of the land. In most instances they are incorrect about the law but complain anyway. It is their version of what they want the law to be, not what it is.

            • Paul Reed

              You’re mixing two things up. Your claims about mention of the school (“Oh, shock horror, won’t someone think of the children?”) were pure speculation. Consider that the whole rest of the article related to church/state separation. Nothing mentioned children. Yet you insist that one passing mention of a public school “can only have been made for supposed shock value”. That was your opinion, and it was far from clear-cut.

              As for the FFRF, that “strategy” is – as I’ve explained – the best way to avoid costly legal battles. It forces the defendant to actually deal with the issue rather than engage in legal procrastination.
              And again you’re making some vague accusation about FFRF’s “true” agenda. If they’re wrong about the law, they’ll lose the case. Simple as. It’s not in their interest to raise a lawsuit if they’re wrong.

        • Kevin R. Cross

          Good. The more case-law we get that strengthens our position, the stronger the situation becomes, and the less likely communities will waste tax dollars trying to oppose doing the right thing.

  • UWIR

    “Veterans Plaza”? I think that park need an apostrophe more than it needs the Ten Commandments (although with the current state of American literacy, if it did have an apostrophe, it would likely be before the s).