Atheist Monument Unveiled, More Promised


On Saturday, the atheist monument in Bradford County, Florida was finally unveiled by American Atheists and local atheist leaders. And apparently there are plans for 50 more such monuments, to be proposed wherever there are Ten Commandments monuments on public property around the country. From a press release AA sent out:

American Atheists further announced that the Bradford County Courthouse bench is only the first of many, with an intent to place a total of up to fifty monuments nationwide on government properties where religious monuments currently stand. American Atheists credits an anonymous donor for making this vision possible. The group plans to work with local atheist affiliate organizations nationwide to locate religious monuments and, if necessary, file additional lawsuits in order to place their markers.

This is the idea I have been advocating for the last couple years (and I’m going to sue you, Dave Silverman! Okay, not really. But really glad this is happening). Everywhere there are Ten Commandments monuments, we need to propose a similar monument. I would not replicate this design, however. I would instead come up with a design for a positive statement of humanist principles. But this legal strategy is important because it puts cities and counties in a bind. They can deny the placement of the new monument, which opens them up to an Establishment Clause case because the Ten Commandments monument is government speech, or they can declare a limited public forum and open the courthouse grounds up to all outside groups. That will seriously dilute the message of endorsement. Or they could, I suppose, decide to take down the Ten Commandments monument, which is the best result of all.

Of course, the unveiling ceremony drew protestors:

While celebrating, many members of the audience took turns sitting on the bench in order to have their pictures taken. Because the sealant was still wet from the installation earlier that morning, the bench slipped from the pillar supporting it. No one was injured and the monument will be repaired shortly. A Christian apologist and YouTube personality, Eric Hovind, also climbed atop the pillar and began preaching during the picture-taking despite boos from the crowd.

Hovind is as much of an asshole as his father. And what, exactly, did he think he would accomplish by this? Did he think that the gathered crowd would say, “Holy shit! I’ve never heard of this Jesus guy before, I’m going to call on my knees and become a Christian”? And Hovind was not alone:

AAmonumentprotest

Again, what was the point? Did they really think someone would see a sign that says “Jesus” and convert on the spot? And of course, you had the neo-Confederate Southern nationalists who want a theocracy there too:

AAconfederates

If you don’t like our Christian culture, go back home? We are home, asshole. This is our country too. And “the south” is not a Christian nation; it isn’t a nation at all. You tried to make it one once. Anyone remember how that turned out?

Comments

  1. raven says

    Xpost from The Zingularity.

    1. How long before it is vandalized? I’m guessing sooner rather than later. It’s a xian thing.

    2. I do hope they have a video camera on it. It will make a great Youtube video and advertisement for the religion of peace and tolerance.

    3. I do hope they kept the plans and have some spares. I will certainly donate some money for the replacement. Or replacements.

    It was quite clever to make it out of granite. It makes it harder to vandalize and a lot of xians could use the exercise.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Because the sealant was still wet from the installation earlier that morning, the bench slipped from the pillar supporting it. No one was injured …

    The seat slipped sideways from the notch in the pillar, about 3 inches max. It could have slid another foot before there was the slightest chance of anything falling.

    The League of the South guys did quietly march away as soon as the AA ceremony started. Some of their fellow christianists across the street held up “Honk for Jesus” signs and played poor christo-country music loud enough to make hearing difficult across four busy lanes of traffic (the Bradford County sheriff’s deputies got them to turn it down a few times, but let them wail once the dedication was done).

    Starke has no real newspaper of its own, but one from an adjoining county printed a good article, including a photo slide show. About 200 AA supporters turned out, on a rainy day at a deep-red little town in backwoods Florida – not bad!

    We can only hope that AA will commission 50 new designs from diverse artists for the rest of the series: while this design beats that of their regrettable billboards, a half-hundred cookie-cutter replicas would send exactly the wrong message about freethinkers.

  3. says

    You still cannot outdo the South for hateful stupidity; but it’s encouraging to see other Southerners standing up tolerance and free thought.

  4. jaime says

    The bench appears to be a sound legal strategy as well as a thoughtful challenge to inapropriate privilage. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry about the protestors. I’m especially sorry about the “Christian nation” comments. I’ve heard a bit about American Athiest, but I’m not well-versed on them. Do they ever collaborate with religious groups/individuals, or accept religious volunteers?

  5. says

    1. How long before it is vandalized? I’m guessing sooner rather than later. It’s a xian thing.

    According to my Facebook feed, they tried to vandalize it during the unveiling.

  6. says

    “Did they really think someone would see a sign that says “Jesus” and convert on the spot?”

    I converted because of that. I also ate when I saw an “EAT” sign and died when I saw a “Stop” sign. True story.

  7. tubi says

    I converted because of that. I also ate when I saw an “EAT” sign and died when I saw a “Stop” sign. True story.

    Didja hear the one about the guy heading out for a little weekend hunting trip? Driving along the highway, he saw a sign that said “Bear Left,” so he turned around and went home.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    W. Kevin Wicklund @ # 6: According to my Facebook feed, they tried to vandalize it during the unveiling.

    Pretty feeble attempt: somebody driving by threw out a toilet seat and a roll of toilet paper; one of the believers grabbed the seat and put it on the bench (from which it was removed in seconds).

    Since they don’t seem to have gotten to it before the adhesive set, their job has now become much harder (so to speak). As the monument sits right in front of the county courthouse, only a few steps from the four-lane highway which passes through town, it will be more than a little difficult for local law enforcement to turn their heads and pretend not to see. (And if the monument does get destroyed, the publicity value to AA will certainly exceed replacement costs.)

  9. jameshanley says

    I like the guy’s tshirt that reads, “the more I seek him, the more I find him.” Apparently God is a product of confirmation bias.

  10. gshelley says

    And what, exactly, did he think he would accomplish by this? Did he think that the gathered crowd would say, “Holy shit! I’ve never heard of this Jesus guy before, I’m going to call on my knees and become a Christian”? And Hovind was not alone:

    possibly. the one thing I learned from reading Chick Tracts is that the magic words “Jesus died for your sins” automatically convince anyone who hears them and those that don’t convert on the spot or being willfully obstinate.

  11. Stacy says

    what, exactly, did [Hovind] think he would accomplish by this [preaching from the monument]?

    Maybe the same thing Dave Silverman thought, when he climbed atop the Ten Commandments monument a few minutes later?

    Silverman obviously wasn’t thinking about Jebus, or about converting anybody to Christianity. Sounds like you think Hovind is a hypocrite. (No argument there.)

    Funny that you failed to mention that part.

    It’s actually irrelevant. The objection isn’t to people standing on monuments, it’s to people interrupting other people’s ceremonies.

    Thanks for playing.

Leave a Reply