Come June 29, a county courthouse in Northern Florida will have the dubious distinction of becoming the first public property in America to display a monument touting atheism.
The monument is set for unveiling on that date, Religion News Service reported. It’s a 1,500-pound granite bench from American Atheists that’s engraved with secular quotes from Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and from group founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
American Atheists is based in New Jersey and touts a membership of 4,000, RNS reported. It’s battled for years for the right to display its monument on public properties, calling it a constitutional right and claiming that deniers are guilty of First Amendment discrimination.
The basic argument: If the Ten Commandments can be displayed on public properties, then so can atheist messages, the group said. The group won the right to put its monument at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla., in March.
The quote from O’Hair on the monument reads: “An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty banished, war eliminated.”
The atheist monument will be placed near a 6-ton granite display of the Ten Commandments on the courthouse property, RNS reported.