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Another group … comes out

Daniel Cooney unveils an atheist monument during a ceremony Saturday, May 29, 2013, at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Flora. His lawsuit resulted in the monument being placed alongside an existing monument for the Bible's Ten Commandments. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

Typically atheists try to get monuments removed from government property. Like Daniel Cooney, who tried to get the Ten Commandments monument removed from the grounds of the Bradford County courthouse in Starke, Florida.

“That’s not a place for us to express our differences. That’s a place for, if anything, us to express our commonalities,” said Cooney.

But the county refused to remove the monument. At which point David Silverman, president of American Atheists got involved.

“It’s a matter of – if you can put religion there, we can put atheism there,” explained Silverman.

Finally, he and Bradford County, and Daniel Cooney, came to an agreement: instead of removing the Ten Commandments, American Atheists could put up their own monument – to atheism. And so over the weekend, they did.

It’s the nation’s first atheist monument on government property.

It declares atheists believe that a hospital should be built instead of a church, and that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. It states that the government of the USA is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. And it lists the punishments for the Ten Commandments – such as stoning adulterers.

David Cooney, the man who got this all started, told he was surprised to find there were so many atheists in town.

“This is their ‘coming out.'”

Now that they have come out – what next? Atheists can already vote, they can legally marry. There’s really only one thing they can’t do: get elected. The only self-professed atheist ever to serve in Congress appears to have been California’s Pete Stark, who lost his seat last year. Although, Thomas Jefferson did make some pretty serious deletions from his personal Bible, but that’s a whole different discussion.

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