At 10 Commandments Shrine, Atheists Build ... a Bench?

Because, they say, it's practical

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 30, 2013 8:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – Thou shalt not believe? A group of atheists are holding a sit-down—quite literally—at a monument to the 10 Commandments outside a Florida courthouse. As a testament to their non-belief and a protest to the granite slab they sought to remove, American Atheists unveiled their own monument yesterday: A bench that sports quotes from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and John Adams. "When you look at this monument, the first thing you will notice is that it has a function," says the group's president. "Atheists are about the real and the physical."

It's an interesting intersection of church and state, reports the AP. American Atheists had sued to have the 10 Commandments monument removed; it sits on government property in what's called a free speech zone. Their request was denied, but they were told they could have their own monument. "We're not going to let them do it without a counterpoint," says their president. And that counterpoint inspired its own counterpoints, as the unveiling was greeted with "Honk for Jesus" and "Yankees Go Home" signs, spirited debate, and even a driver who tossed a toilet seat and toilet paper out. "We protest their events, they protest our events," says one atheist. "As long as everybody's cordial and let people speak. This is our day, not theirs."

Gael Murphy of Tampa poses on the newly unveiled atheist monument after a ceremony Saturday, May 29, 2013, at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla.
Gael Murphy of Tampa poses on the newly unveiled atheist monument after a ceremony Saturday, May 29, 2013, at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla.   (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)
Shawn Karon, left, a Christian, has a discussion with atheist Jerry Levins, right, as Bob Hurst, left center, and Marshall Rawson of the League of the South listen Saturday, May 29, 2013, in Starke, Fla.
Shawn Karon, left, a Christian, has a discussion with atheist Jerry Levins, right, as Bob Hurst, left center, and Marshall Rawson of the League of the South listen Saturday, May 29, 2013, in Starke, Fla.   (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)
Chandler Allen, 10, is the first person to sit on the bench during the unveiling of an Atheist monument on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.
Chandler Allen, 10, is the first person to sit on the bench during the unveiling of an Atheist monument on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.   (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, poses during the unveiling of an Atheist monument outside the Bradford County Courthouse on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, poses during the unveiling of an Atheist monument outside the Bradford County Courthouse on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.   (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)
Rob Squires argues with Eric Hovind, with Creation Today, after Hovind preached his beliefs during the unveiling of an Atheist monument on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.
Rob Squires argues with Eric Hovind, with Creation Today, after Hovind preached his beliefs during the unveiling of an Atheist monument on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.   (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)
Gael Murphy, an atheist, poses for a photo on the bench during the unveiling of an Atheist monument on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.
Gael Murphy, an atheist, poses for a photo on the bench during the unveiling of an Atheist monument on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.   (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, stands on a Ten Commandments and says why he thinks it shouldn't be there, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, stands on a Ten Commandments and says why he thinks it shouldn't be there, June 29, 2013 in Stark, Fla.   (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)
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