Atheists in Florida have erected a monument to non-belief in God just metres away from a slab engraved with the Ten Commandments.
The atheists had gone to court to try to get the Christian monument removed, but during mediation on the case were told they could have their own monument, too.
On the basis of “if you can’t beat them, join them” they erected one – a bench made out of granite.
“Now today America’s atheists take another step forward in our struggle for equality,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists in front of about 200 people who attended the unveiling.
As a small group of protesters blasted Christian country music and waved “Honk for Jesus” signs at passing cars, the atheists celebrated what they believe is the first such monument allowed on government property in the United States.
The bench is on a lawn in front of the Bradford County courthouse in what is described as a free speech zone.
On it are quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists.
It also has a list of Old Testament punishments for violating the Ten Commandments, including death and stoning.
The Community Men’s Fellowship, which erected the original monument, praised the compromise that meant it did not have to be removed.
“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,” the group posted on its Facebook page.