First Amendment

Atheists will erect display next to Ten Commandments outside Florida courthouse


Atheists are getting equal time at a courthouse in Florida’s Bradford County.

The American Atheists will erect a display near a Ten Commandments granite monument placed on the courthouse lawn by a Christian group, report the Raw Story, News4Jax.com and a press release. Bradford County agreed to allow the atheist group to erect its own monument to resolve a lawsuit filed last year.

The display, to be unveiled on June 29, will be a granite bench engraved with quotations from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair and others. It will also feature Bible excerpts on punishments for breaking the Ten Commandments.

According to a March 12 mediated settlement agreement (PDF), the atheist display will contain the American Atheist name and website, and its content cannot be libelous, pornographic or obscene.

American Atheists public relations director Dave Muscato said in the press release that the group’s monument “emphasizes the role secularism has played in American history.” The Bible quotes are intended to show that “the Ten Commandments are not the ‘great moral code’ they’re often portrayed to be,” Muscato said. “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.”

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