Atheist Monument Stokes Controversy, Calls Of Hypocrisy

An atheist monument in Florida has angered some religious groups and led to calls that the group putting up the monument is hypocritical.

The new atheist monument was unveiled this weekend at a Florida courthouse, part of a settlement to end a lawsuit about a Ten Commandments monument at the Starke, Florida, court.

The group American Atheists originally sued to have the Ten Commandments monument removed, citing the separation of church and state. A mediator instead suggested the atheists could erect their own monument, and they chose one that features a bench and quotes from various American founders about church-state separation.

The monument also contained passages from the Bible about the harsh punishments Christians are supposed to follow for violating the Ten Commandments.

The only real life opposition for the monument came from the Florida League of the South. A small group of protesters blasted Christian country music and waved “Honk for Jesus” signs.

“We reject outsiders coming to Florida — especially from outside what we refer to as the Bible Belt — and trying to remake us in their own image,” said Michael Tubbs, state chairman of the Florida League of the South. “We do feel like it’s a stick in the eye to the Christian people of Florida to have these outsiders come down here with their money and their leadership and promote their outside values here.”

But despite the light protests, many Christian writers have spoken against the monument and attacked the motives of American Athiests and its founder, David Silverman.

They accuse him of using the monument not as a way to express an atheist ideal or assert the group’s equal rights under the law, but instead to criticize Christians. Even Silverman’s public statements seem contentious, noting that atheists are about “the real and the physical.”

“When you look at this monument, the first thing you will notice is that it has a function. Atheists are about the real and the physical, so we selected to place this monument in the form of a bench,” Silverman said.

Others note that Silverman himself was opposed to the idea of allowing a religious viewpoint to be presented in a public space. While he and other atheists may argue that atheism is a lack of religion, the atheist monument does seem to espouse a specific viewpoint.

Do you think there is anything wrong with an atheist monument, or is it fair that they be allowed to express their viewpoint equally?