American Atheists, an advocacy organization dedicated to atheism, will set up a 1,500-pound granite bench in front of the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla., later this month, the Ocala Star Banner reported Thursday.
The atheist monument, set to be the first of its kind, will sit next to two tablets bearing the Ten Commandments, after a public dispute about the separation of church and state ended in compromise.
According to Time, a Christian group called the Community Men’s Fellowship erected the Ten Commandments monument last year. When American Atheists took the county to court citing separation of church and state, the two sides came up with a compromise that allowed the Ten Commandments to stay as long as the atheist group could put up a secular version.
In a press release, American Atheists said the atheism bench will feature quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the group's founder, Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
“We have maintained from the beginning that the Ten Commandments doesn’t belong on government property,” American Atheists President David Silverman said. “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.”
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Community Men's Fellowship said the atheists' group had a right to erect the new monument.
We want you all to remember that this issue was won on the basis of this being a free speech issue, so don't be alarmed when the American Atheists want to erect their own sign or monument. It's their right. As for us, we will continue to honor the Lord and that's what matters.