First Amendment

Courthouse atheist monument is unveiled among protests and blaring Christian country music

The American Atheists unveiled a courthouse monument in Florida’s Bradford County on Saturday, erected in a “free speech zone” near a Ten Commandments monument.

There were protesters and speeches, including an introduction by a county commissioner who quoted the Bible, the Christian Post reports, citing information from American Atheists public relations director Dave Muscato. He said the dedication went “amazingly well.”

The Associated Press noted a small group of protesters who played loud Christian country music and displayed signs with “honk for Jesus” and “Yankees go home” messages. Someone driving by threw a toilet seat and toilet paper out the window; no one was struck. A local preacher stood and spoke while on the monument, a 1,500-pound granite bench.

The monument has the American Atheist name and quotes from the group’s founder, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, as well as from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. It also lists Old Testament punishments for violating the Ten Commandments. Atheists were able to erect the monument at the courthouse as a result of a lawsuit settlement.

American Atheists president David Silverman explained the Old Testament quotes in an interview with AP. A Christian group “put a monument on a public lawn that, if you put it in context, says atheists should be killed,” he said. The atheist monument is “an attack on Christian privilege, not an attack on Christians themselves, and not so much an attack on Christianity,” he said.

Muscato has previously said the monument also “emphasizes the role secularism has played in American history.”

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