Atheists Sue Florida County Over Ten Commandments Monument Outside Courthouse

In February of 2014, I posted about how the Williston Atheists (in Florida) wanted to erect a pro-atheist monument outside the Levy County Courthouse where there was already a Ten Commandments monument (on the right in the image below):

The atheist group was modeling its efforts after what American Atheists did outside the Bradford County Courthouse in northern Florida where they installed a bench with atheist quotations to counter a Christian monument nearby:

AA President Dave Silverman sits on the bench (via @AmericanAtheist)

But when they presented their idea to the Levy County Commissioners, the officials voted unanimously to reject the atheists’ proposal, saying the application wasn’t complete.

At the time, the atheists said it was a foregone conclusion before the meeting even started. They were not given a chance to address the concerns, and the reasons for rejection were drawn up before the atheists had even made their formal presentation.

A couple of months later, that April, they tried again with a proper application. But they were rejected yet again.

This time, officials told them that the (completely) arbitrary guidelines required all monuments to have complete text on them. So no quotations allowed. And wouldn’t you know it? The proposed atheist bench was full of quotations…

But think about that for a moment. What’s the Ten Commandments if not an excerpt from a larger text? That’s what the atheists wanted to know.

the county attorney says that the ten commandments don’t have to have the whole bible printed… because the supreme court has recognized the commandments as a secular document used on its own.

Actually, that’s irrelevant when you look at the County’s guidelines:

A monument or display shall include the reproduction of the entire text or image of any document or person(s), or entirety of any item that played a significant role in the development, origins or foundations of American or Florida law, or Levy County

On that basis, the Ten Commandments had no business there. There’s no way you can argue that not worshipping false idols, not working on the Sabbath, not taking God’s name in vain, and not having other gods before God have anything to do with our legal system. (While we’re at it, honoring your parents, committing adultery, lying to your neighbor, and coveting anything aren’t illegal either.)

This month, more than a year after all of that went down, atheists filed a federal lawsuit against Levy County.

Charles Ray Sparrow, leader of the Williston group, and American Atheists say that the Ten Commandments monument violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment:

The Display is religious in nature, has a primary purpose of advancing religion, and is not part of any broader exhibit, historical or otherwise. It stands alone.

Of their own efforts to put up a monument, the atheists simply say their proposals were denied.

(Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article have been posted before.)

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