Officials in Bradford County, Fla., have reached an agreement with the American Atheists organization that will permit the group to install a monument dedicated to atheism outside of the local courthouse.
The monument, which is a 1,500-pound granite bench, will include quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists. It will also include a list of Old Testament punishments for violating the Ten Commandments, including death and stoning.
While the monument will be placed in the courtyard outside the Bradford County Courthouse, the agreement states that it is to be maintained by American Atheists.
Will Sexton, an attorney representing Bradford County, told reporters that the atheist monument will be placed in a "free speech" area that the county established in 2011. The site is also the home of a monument dedicated to the Ten Commandments.
The agreement is the result of an apparent lawsuit that was filed after the organization attempted to install the atheist monument last year but was blocked by the county.
"The atheists got something they could have had without having to go to the court," Sexton said.
The monument to atheism will be placed next to the Ten Commandments monument later this month.
Dave Muscato, the public relations director for American Atheists, told The Gainesville Sun that if religious groups are allowed to have monuments, "it's only appropriate that we have matching monuments."
According to Muscato, the atheist monument is believed to be the first one dedicated to atheism to be placed on public land in the United States.
Sexton emphasized in his report that other groups could not put up purely religious monuments in the area near the courthouse. According to the representative, county guidelines require that the monuments must include the commemoration of people, events and ideas that have historical significance for both the United States and Florida.