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(RNS) -- After years of fights over religious monuments on public land, a county courthouse in northern Florida will soon be the home of the nation’s first monument to atheism on public property.

On June 29, the group American Atheists will unveil a 1,500-pound granite bench engraved with secular-themed quotations from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and its founder, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, among others, in front of the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla.

The New Jersey-based group, which has a membership of about 4,000 atheists, humanists and other non-believers, won the right to erect the monument in a settlement reached in March over a six-ton granite display of the Ten Commandments on the same property.

American Atheists sued Bradford County after the erection of that monument last year, claiming its place on the courthouse lawn represented a government endorsement of religion.

Both monuments were paid for by private money. Businessman Joe Anderson paid for the Ten Commandments monument through the Christian Men’s Fellowship, a local group, and the atheist monument was paid for by American Atheists with a grant from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.

The dueling monuments illustrate an ongoing battle over public displays of religion across the country that have gone beyond the annual December dust-ups over creche displays on civic property. Just this year, there have been legal wranglings over Ten Commandment displays in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and in another Florida county.

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 Some quotes from the Florida monument:

    “An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty banished, war eliminated.” – Madalyn Murray O’Hair

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “It will never be pretended that any person employed in that service [writing the Constitution], had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven.” – John Adams

    “Where a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”  – Benjamin Franklin

http://www.religiontoday.com/news/atheists-unveil-first-monument-unbelief-public-land.html
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