The Commandments and the Atheist Monument – Part 1
The first of a short series of articles about the text on the Atheist Monument, Starke, FL
On Saturday, June 29th 2013, David Silverman, president of American Atheists, unveiled a monument to atheism outside the courthouse at Starke, Florida. The monument, in the form of a stone bench, is adorned with quotes purporting to support atheism and oppose Christianity, as well as a list of biblical quotes, claiming to list the punishments to be meted out for breaking each of the Ten Commandments.
The opposition to Christianity is significant, because it underlies the purpose of the monument. This first-ever publicly funded monument to atheism was erected just feet away from a stone monument recording and celebrating the Ten Commandments. The American Atheists’ monument is set in direct opposition to the Ten Commandments, and its installation follows a lengthy court battle, during which the atheists tried, and failed, to force the removal of the Ten Commandments monument.
So why is there a monument to the Commandments? This is because the monuments are outside the courthouse. The American legal system, comprised of a judge and twelve-person jury, is a direct descendent of English Common Law. English Common Law, though more fully codified in 1182 under the reign of King Henry II, was actually devised in pre-Norman times by the famous King Alfred the Great, in his law-book known as the Doom Book. It is noteworthy that the Ten Commandments are included in Alfred’s Doom Book as a preface, to emphasize the Christian absolute standards of morality which underpin Common Law. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate historically and legally for a monument celebrating and declaring the Ten Commandments to be placed outside a court building in the United States, and, by inference, this would suggest that the opposition of the American Atheists to such a monument could be interpreted as opposition to the moral basis of American law.