American Atheists to unveil a secular monument to counter ten commandments.

Wow!  Is today ever a red letter day!  I woke up to the story that Michelle Bachmann is history (or would be if ethically dubious people confined to obscurity were “history”).  And then I found a press release from American Atheists in my inbox that just made my day.

The Bradford County Courthouse in Florida has a stone monument to the ten commandments.  This didn’t sit well with American Atheists who helped Daniel Cooney file a suit against them in May of 1012 (I guess we should be glad it wasn’t tried in the Bradford Count Courthouse).  The case was settled with the courthouse agreeing that, between the choices of excluding all beliefs or welcoming all beliefs, to be inclusive.

You know how they say “be careful what you wish for”?  American Atheists is planting a fucking victory garden down in Florida.  Here’s what they will unveil on June 29:

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.

That’s just plain lovely.

“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.”

“The monument emphasizes the role secularism has played in American history,” said Public Relations Director Dave Muscato. “And the Bibles quotes make it clear that the Ten Commandments are not the ‘great moral code’ they’re often portrayed to be. Don’t kill, don’t steal? Of course. But worship only the Judeo-Christian god? That conflicts overtly with the very first right in the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion.”

The point of having the ten commandments on government property isn’t because they are representative of a great moral framework.  “No graven images”…oh no!  How will society ever get by without that commandment?  The godly want the commandments there to imply that to be American means to be Christian, and to suggest that Christianity is, in fact, endorsed by the government.  This monument will be a fantastic counterpoint.  The ten commandments come only from the bible, but the secular monument will have a direct quote from a document approved unanimously by the earliest of congresses.  One speaks far more for what this country is about.

I can’t wait for the first believer who thinks to themselves “What’s this?  Words approved unanimously by all the founding fathers I claim to think so highly of?” before vandalizing the monument for Jesus, thereby transforming the neighboring ten commandments monument into a monument to how atheists don’t generally become vandals when presented with ideas they dislike, and how Christianity doesn’t keep people from being assholes.

Great job American Atheists!

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • islandbrewer

    I want to carve a giant stone statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and have it erected in the courthouse. And maybe a statue of Kali. And the Dwarven Grudge Keeper, too.

  • Dave Muscato

    Thanks JT! Just one quick point of clarification for your readers: This was actually a settlement rather than a ruling, which just means that if any other group wants to put in a monument, they would also have to sue. What happened was the 10C monument was donated by another group, we threatened to sue because of the 1st Amendment, the county manager asked the donors to remove it, they refused because of *their* 1st Amendment rights, and so the county was in the position of being sued whether they kept it or not. They offered to settle with us by agreeing to put in our monument next to the existing one, and we dropped our suit. The unveiling is at the end of June!

    - Dave Muscato
    Public Relations Director, American Atheists

    • Nate Frein


      Wish I could be there in June.

    • islandbrewer

      Do a great job on the monument, please! I love the concept!

    • JTEberhard

      Thanks Dave! Fixed the article.

    • Andrew Kohler

      May I suggest you add Exodus 34:28, which is the only verse in the Bible that uses the phrase “Ten Commandments” even though the new post-golden calf incident tablets to which it refers are completely different from the popular list in Exodus 20 with the exceptions of the Sabbath day and idolatry? If these people want to display the Ten Commandments, they could at least bother to be scripturally accurate.

      One more thing: JT, I suspect that “May of 1012″ may be a typo (although sometimes I do feel like I’m living a thousand years ago when I read the news).

  • Art_Vandelay

    I always get a huge kick out of Christians that try to detach themselves from the vile commands of the Pentateuch, citing Old Testament “Jewish” law, but at the same time…they’re all about the 10 Commandments, man. It’s such a nice round number!

    • Feminerd

      Heck, Jews distance themselves from the vile commands of the Torah too! When’s the last time you heard about a Jewish woman accused of adultery being forced to drink a magic potion of ashes and water to see if she miscarries or not?

      Of course, they openly admit they don’t follow all the rules.

      • Zinc Avenger

        They probably have a special kind of plastic bag accused-adulterous women can sit in that gives them an out.

    • Andrew Kohler

      I’ve always found the “that’s the Old Testament!” rejoinder (and even the name Old Testament) to be quite insulting to Jews. It’s essentially saying, “Well, we fixed your religion and made a better one!” It feels a bit odd for me to have this reaction, since I’m a Jewish apostate who also finds the Hebrew Bible, especially much of the Pentateuch, to be repellent and immoral.

      By the way, if the New Testament is supposed to be an improvement to the Hebrew Bible (because apparently the omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, omniscient, omniomni creator of the universe couldn’t get it right the first time), wouldn’t it have been nice to fix the whole slavery thing?

      • Zinc Avenger

        They did fix the slavery thing. I think it was the Gospel of Shut the Fuck Up, and there were some passages in the Book of Nothing to See Here, and the most important part is in plain sight in the Book of We Write The History Books How We Please.

        • Art_Vandelay

          I’ve either had too much gin or the “Gospel of Shut the Fuck Up” is the greatest thing I’ve ever read.

          • Zinc Avenger

            It’s one of the smaller Gospels, but it is one of the central texts used by the First Church of Fuck You.

  • DKeane123

    I hope the satanists come back in the same way they were supporting prayer in schools in Florida!

  • Bridget Gaudette

    I wonder which former State Director started this process.. hmmm..

  • Tim Keating

    I do like and respect Dave Silverman, but this is taking the wrong tone: “There is no secular purpose for the monument whatsoever and it makes atheists feel like second-class citizens.”

    It doesn’t matter how we feel. There is no amendment to the Constitution that protects you from the establishment of butthurt. What matters is that the monument is illegal, and making statements that we feel bad and that’s why they need to fix the problem is negotiating from a position of weakness.

  • Zucca Xerfantes

    And how’s that whole ‘Atheism not keeping people from being assholes’ thing coming along?



    So really, religious belief (or lack thereof) has no basis on whether or not someone is an asshole.