Cranford, NJ—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 unveiling is scheduled for June 29 at noon. It is the first atheist-sponsored monument on government property in the United States. American Atheists President David Silverman will deliver the dedication.
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.
American Atheists, along with plaintiff Daniel Cooney of Starke, filed suit in May 2012 for the removal of the Ten Commandments monument, citing separation of religion and government because the monument is on government land.
“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 Bible 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.”
“When it comes to government and religion, there are only two ways to show equality: all or none,” said Ken Loukinen, Regional Operations Director. “I am glad that Bradford County has chosen to show equality and will be a great example for other cities in Florida and the United States.”
The monument is being furnished by American Atheists via a grant from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.
Immediately following the unveiling, a public celebration sponsored by the Tallahassee Atheists, the Humanists of Florida, and the Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists (FLASH) is scheduled to take place at the Days Inn by the courthouse on Temple Avenue in Starke, Florida.
AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016
Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402
Keywords: American Atheists, Florida, monument, Bradford County, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Ten Commandments, secular, separation of church and state, atheism, humanism, freethought