Religion

Florida Commissioners Reject Atheist Monument On Courthouse Lawn Next to 10 Commandments

| by Allison Geller

Levy County, Fla. officials rejected a proposal by local atheists to erect a monument on the courthouse lawn, which is already home to a monument inscribed with the 10 Commandments.

The Williston Atheists, a small group of about a dozen members, applied for a 1,500-pound granite bench inscribed with quotes by famous American atheists like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to be installed outside the Bronson County courthouse.

An identical bench was placed by another Florida courthouse last year after it too was rejected the first time. That monument, in Bradford County, just 50 miles northeast of Bronson, was the first atheist monument on public land.

Commissioners of the Gulf Coast town rejected the atheists’ application on the grounds that the quotes were incomplete.

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“None of the texts on the proposed monument appear to be a reproduction of the entire text of any document or person, as required in the (county) guidelines,” the commission’s report reads.

But the Williston Atheists aren’t backing down that easy.

“It is just an excuse,” said Charles Ray Sparrow, the group’s organizer. “We will not give up.”

Sparrow and his group, which began a few months ago, contacted the national American Atheists association to help them with the plan to install an areligious monument in the courthouse square.

“The majority of citizens in the community are deeply religious — I understand that, but there are also citizens of this community who are not religious. They choose to be represented in a public forum that is available to all citizens so we choose to be represented too,” Sparrow told GTN.

American Atheists President David Silverman said he thinks the county will eventually decide to allow the monument.

“It will be up to Levy County whether they want to go to court, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, lose, and get an atheist monument anyway,” he said.

Sources: Religious News Service, GTN