Press Release: Atheists File Federal Lawsuit to Remove Christian Monument at OK State Capitol

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday Jan 13, 2014

Text of the lawsuit is available here.

Oklahoma City, OK—American Atheists filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against members of the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission for placing a 2,000-pound Ten Commandments monument at the north entrance of the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The monument was placed in 2012 following the passage of a 2009 bipartisan legislative measure.

“I want to be clear about this: We have a religious monument, placed on government property, by government mandate,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “That is an explicit violation of First Amendment protections of separation of religion and government. As though that isn’t going far enough, Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a law requiring that the monument endorse one specific religion, a clear violation of Fourteenth Amendment equal protection. There is now a law, on the books of Oklahoma, respecting the establishment of Christianity, which is grossly unconstitutional. The legislature has broken the law, plain and simple, and we are suing to right this wrong.”

The Ten Commandments monument has received extensive media attention in recent weeks. In August, 2013 the ACLU filed suit in state court, and in the past month, several other groups, including the New York-based Satanic Temple, have filed proposals for the placement of their own religious monuments alongside the Christian monument. The state-level lawsuit does not address the constitutional violations as the American Atheists federal suit does.As a result of the two additional monument proposals, the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission voted unanimously on December 19 to put a moratorium on additional monuments while the state lawsuit is pending, in effect refusing equal access to other religious groups and further demonstrating the Fourteenth Amendment violation inherent in this case.

“If this monument were on privately owned land—say, in front of a church—there would be no legal conflict,” said Public Relations Director Dave Muscato. “But by placing this monument, or any religious monuments, on government land, we have government endorsement, which is explicitly unconstitutional. I can’t imagine Oklahoma lawmakers didn’t anticipate a lawsuit and that’s exactly what they’re getting.”

The lawsuit announcement comes just months ahead of American Atheists’ 40th National Convention on Easter weekend in Salt Lake City. The convention will feature such speakers such as NFL star Chris Kluwe, Survivor®: Philippines grand prizewinner Denise Stapley, Grammy-nominated Spin Doctors bass player Mark White, Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Maryam Namazie of the Council of Ex-Muslims, popular bloggers PZ Myers and Greta Christina, and American Atheists President David Silverman. The convention will also feature a costume party, live music, stand-up comedy, an art show and silent auction, national and local exhibitors, and childcare options for attending families. The convention takes place the weekend of April 17-20, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

American Atheists, Inc.

P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016
Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

Keywords: American Atheists, Oklahoma City, Ten Commandments, 10 Commandments, monument, statue, First Amendment, Bill of Rights, Constitution, lawsuit, Oklahoma, atheism, humanism, freethought


Text of the lawsuit is available here.


  • Thomas_T

    Do not forget the part of the Oklahoma Constitution that prohibits this as well.

  • Isaac

    I wish you luck American Atheists we need more legal regulation on this stuff

    • TheLump

      The sad part is that there is already legal regulation for this. OK has simply opted to ignore it.

  • Joseph Logston

    I hope they take it down now!!!………………… joe

  • Rich Wilson

    And I’m sure we’ll hear people who say that AA only goes around and files ‘frivolous’ lawsuits. It’s simple, don’t break the law and nobody will have to sue you!

  • The Strategist

    AA is allowing the Oklahoma Legislature to save face. Let them fend off the Satanists’ lawsuit first. Let them be responsible for having a demonic monument next to their 10 Commandments. Let them experience the penance, shame, and mortification of violating their Constitution. And let that serve as a deterrent. Natural consequences.

    Social change is chess. Not whack-a-mole.

    • Sean McLain

      But if you cave in your opponents head he cant make his next move in time and thus forfeits the match, thus you win that round of chess.

  • Pingback: Two suits against Ten Commandments | Background Probability()

  • ShirKahn

    You couldn’t leave well enough alone could you? With other suits pending regarding it’s removal, including one brought by a Baptist minister, this comes across as a grab for the spotlight. As The Strategist so correctly pointed out, social change is chess, not whack-a-mole.
    In a state so overrun with Christians with guns and not a lot of attention to detail or nuance, I can’t help but fear that you have now painted a nice big target on Oklahoma atheists backs.

    • rargos

      “Christians with guns” … “a nice big target on Oklahoma atheists back”.
      Really? You really think that armed Christians are going to harm atheists over this? Sorry, but that’s a pretty paranoid comment.

      • ShirKahn

        Any one from AAInc- would you care to share the postings of a Tulsa local from your Facebook page that you deemed credible enough to bring attention to?
        Will they hold their own Wansee conference and send us to the showers or drive around in pickups shooting atheists like they did to blacks during the ’21 riot? No, not likely. Poking the bear like this though may be well enough to send a few zealots over the edge and in my opinion that risk is not worth filing this suit over especially when there are others already in play that could resolve the issue.

        • rargos

          Your post makes no sense at all — what are you trying to say?

        • Robin Lionheart

          If you live in such fear of Christian terrorists in Oklahoma, why do you stay there?

  • more compost

    It probably would have been a good idea to wait until all the other tactics play out before taking this step.

    For example, letting the Satanist monument issue play all the way out could have some far-reaching repercussions. Or other things going on in Oklahoma right now.

    On the face of it, this appears to be nothing more than grand-standing. If not counter-productive.

    • Ye Olde Atheos

      Maybe American Atheists sought to strike first in an attempt surprise the opposition, the Liberty Foundation, as they are loaded for bear and would have no doubt filed initial delaying motions. Maybe they sought to strike in coordination with the aforementioned ACLU suit and close off the change of venue they would have likely pursued to Federal court followed immediately by a temporary injuction as a staying and delaying function. Maybe they effectively closed off that aforementioned delay by going for an immediate directive under stare decisis. Maybe their opening volley today was crucial to the success of a timely decision in this case. Combined with the IRS case currently underway, maybe they can can gain the political advantage as well as the legal advantage. Maybe American Atheists knows what they’re doing.

      No. I’m sure it’s all just grand-standing.

  • rargos

    So if Satanists put up a statue in Oklahoma, will American Atheists sue to stop that as well?

    • Leigh Dunlap

      Do you really think for one minute that AA will need to spend their resources on that? Some Christian group will fund that lawsuit quick, fast, and in a hurry!

      • rargos

        Irrelevant – the question is whether American Atheists object to Satanist monuments in principle or whether they only object to Christian monuments. Double standards are intellectually dishonest.

        • Robin Lionheart

          Can you find any examples of the government showing actionable religious favoritism toward religions other than Christianity?

          It may seem to you like they only complain about Christianity, but the government doesn’t show favoritism toward minority religions, so they never come up.

          • rargos

            It’s a simple question: do atheists oppose ALL religious monuments on government property, including the proposed satanic monument?

            One could argue that monuments of the Ten Commandments are also a Jewish monument … and Jews are less than 2% of the US population.

            I agree there should be no favortism shown to any religion (or lack of religion) when it comes to monuments on public land and don’t expect tax dollars to be used to pay for them either. Live and let live (at one’s own expense) is what I say.

          • I’m just saying

            Although others have essentially answered your question you seem to want a direct “yes” or “no” answer. The answer is yes, atheists oppose all religious monuments on government property that are put up in an unconstitutional manner.

            As Robert Lionheart pointed out above, it always seems to be Christian monuments that are put on government property.

            Read the post below from Rich Wilson to see what happens when lawsuits fail to get religious displays removed.

          • rargos

            Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification.
            Personally, I would rather give equal space / treatment to atheists than remove religious displays, but that’s an opinion.

          • Thought Police

            Actually, it’s not an opinion, it’s a personal preference.

        • Bill From Boca

          If the Satanist’s monument was the only one on this fictitious Gov’t property, and if the government was protecting that monument and preventing… let’s say a Christian monument, then yes… you would find allies in the atheist movement to help you remove the Satanic monument.

          • rargos

            I would like to believe that’s true, but from the comments posted here it seems “atheism” is really “anti-Christianism”.

          • Bill From Boca

            Sorry I took so long to reply…
            Being an atheist doesn’t mean your “smart”, it just means you don’t believe in the supernatural. Unfortunately, a lot of atheists have been hurt by Christians, so they understandably have an axe to grind. Others fear religion is a contagious “mental virus” which damages a person’s ability to think critically… and if that is your view, a compassionate person would be compelled to act. Both of these crusader stereotypes really have nothing to do with atheism, but they are usually heard from the most, and thus are what people usually think of when the word atheist is mentioned.

          • rargos

            As someone with graduate degrees in both liberal arts and engineering, and having taught both at nationally-known universities, I find the whole argument that religion is for the “weak-minded” or that it “destroys critical thinking” to be absolute nonsense. Atheism appeals very strongly to people who need to feel intellectually superior to others by creating straw man representations of believers as being anti-science or anti-intellectual. Most atheists are either unwilling or unable to accept that they are, in essence, victims of brainwashing themselves.

          • PrimeCutt

            We don’t all think that religion destroys critical thinking. Speaking only for myself, it seems more like the lack of critical thinking is what leads to religion. That’s not to say that you lack critical thinking in all facets of thought but it can mean you haven’t thought deeply enough about certain flaws within your religious beliefs.

            I’m not meaning to insult you, I just wanted you to know that not all people think you’re a brain-dead idiot for believing in a god. I think that I would probably disagree with what you think in terms of religion but that doesn’t mean I think you suck as an engineer or a debater.

            Touching more on the mention of your liberal arts degree, what would you consider as good evidence of a god’s existence?

            Just to nit-pick, you shouldn’t use nasty words like “brainwashing” when regarding atheists on an atheist board. If you hope to get along with anyone or for anyone to take your opinion seriously then you need to stop insulting us.

          • rargos

            Thanks for the comment. I agree completely regarding the need for civility – intelligent people can and should be able to politely discuss their differences. With regards my use of the word “brainwashing”, I’m simply repeating a word that was used to describe me multiple times. That said, I regularly get comments like these as well:

            “Undo your existence you condescending cunt. How in the holy titty-fucking lowercase Christ did you ever arrive at the conclusion that you are not a fucking troll-ass douche bag?” – ThoughtPolice

            I can give you literally dozens more examples of this — kind of makes the word “brainwashing” seem tame by comparison.

          • PrimeCutt

            You’ll find morons and jerks on the internet that back up any argument. I’m sure I could find all kind of examples of morons arguing for creationism but that obviously wouldn’t represent you in any way.

          • rargos

            Yes, but I seriously doubt the creationists would talk about stabbing children in the throat or use words like “cunt”, “titty-fucking”, and “douche bag” to describe people who disagree with them.

            Incidentally, even the Catholic church supports the theory of evolution — attacking religion because some believers are creationists is like attacking all Mexicans because you don’t like illegal immigration.

          • PrimeCutt

            Yeah but you would hear words like faggot and whore. Plus some creationists love to threaten people with hell and actually hope some people will go to it.

            Let’s please not argue about how nasty each side gets. It goes nowhere and just makes me angry at people in general. It shouldn’t stop people like us from actually arguing. Arguing in the less nasty sense.

          • rargos

            It’s fascinating that you seem to use the word “creationist” for all religious people. As I’ve said many times, the largest Christian denomination in the world (Roman Catholicism) teaches that evolution is a scientific fact. You do know that, right?

            You also have a very prejudiced and inaccurate stereotype of believers in general. I’ve been a devout, church-going Christian all my life and I have NEVER heard the words “faggot” or “whore” or any discussion of people “going to hell” from ANY believer. Seriously. And with the exception of a few lunatics, I doubt you would ever find any church in which these terms would be used to describe anyone. Go talk to some believers and visit some churches if you don’t believe me — that would be the rational, scientific thing to do before drawing judgements, isn’t it?

            Atheists enjoy projecting their own hatred, intolerance, and “nastiness” on believers, but the simple fact of the matter is that the VAST majority of Christians would never dream of engaging in the kind of vicious and vulgar attacks that take place here. I’m not here to argue or convert anyone — I’m here to better understand atheists and share my own ideas so that both sides understand each other better.

          • PrimeCutt

            First off I said “some creationists.” I did not say all. I love the people in the churches I went to as a child. They were all kind, loving, and supportive. So I have first hand experiences with how nice people from the church can be. I even went to a church that was extremely tolerant of homosexuality.

            Second, you’ve never met my dad and his friends. They think anyone that has gay sex is a disease on this planet and deserves hell and I know for a fact that they are not alone with that opinion. And by deserve hell I mean relatively more than people who commit small sins like lying and stealing. I have hosted kiosks at my school and had similar first hand experience with strangers that say these sort of things.

            Lastly, I know that the catholic church has officially accepted evolution as fact. Yet they still believe that god created life. I was mistaken and thought that the only criteria for someone to be called a creationist was that they believe god created life.

          • rargos

            I personally find it a little bit odd to see people define themselves by the kind of sex they like to have, and I’m not suprised that people are uncomfortable when they are forced to hear or talk about other peoples’ sexual preferences.

            That said, my faith teaches me to love my fellow man and not to judge, and it also teaches me to protect people who are being bullied or oppressed, including homosexuals.

            It often seems that a lot of the antagonism towards religion isn’t really about God at all — it’s a proxy war being waged by homosexuals against religion based on the (flawed) notion that religion is their enemy. This is tragic, because a very great number of good and loving people are being condemned and demonized for political, not religious, reasons.

          • Rich Wilson

            I’ve only ever met (not even in person) one atheist who was opposed to marriage equality. I can’t count the number of religious people who use religious arguments against not only marriage equality, but a whole host of other LGBT related items. At this moment, a number of states are considering legislation that will allow anyone (even doctors and teachers) to refuse service to anyone they think is gay, purely on religious freedom grounds.

            Yes, I realize not all religious people think as you do, but the vast majority of anti-gay politics comes from religion.

            The LGBT people I know don’t in fact define themselves based on their sexuality, or talk about it. They joke about the ‘gay lifestyle’ being ‘gay going to work’ and ‘gay grocery shopping’, which, you know, are pretty much the same as ‘going to work’ and ‘grocery shopping’.

            And to PrimeCutt, since evolution doesn’t deal with the start of life, but merely the growth of the tree of life, one could conceivably think God had something to do with creating the first replicating DNA (or RNA) and left it from there, and be both a creationist and an evolutionist. I think Francis Collins is pretty close to that, although probably more “God Guided” (Theistic Evolution)

          • rargos

            Thanks, although I think you’re supporing my contention that many people become so-called “strong” atheists (i.e. actively attacking belief) not because rationality and science are important to them, but because they are trying to remove what they perceive to be as an enemy of homosexuality.

            One has to wonder how many atheists there would be if it was the scientists who said homosexuality was “wrong” and Christians who were the most vocal supports of gay rights.

          • Rich Wilson

            We have the correlation that I think we both agree on, but we’re 180 on causation.

            Personally I think you’re giving way too much to Homosexuality. I don’t see it any more related to my atheism than my support of emancipation or women’s suffrage.

            LGBT rights is a reason for me to oppose religious action that attacks human rights, but not a reason I lack belief in God.

          • rargos

            “lack of critical thinking is what leads to religion”

            May I ask what you base this generalization on? There are many people who clearly lack the ability to think clearly, including a fair percentage of atheists on this site.

            You also state that “you haven’t thought deeply enough about certain flaws within your religious beliefs.” Without knowing my beliefs, how can you be sure there are flaws in them? Did you ask what I believe, or did you just use the same straw-man stereotype constantly put forward by the atheists?

            Are there “flaws” in most people’s religious beliefs? Of course there are. But there are also flaws in scientific belief — the fact that the Bohr model of the atom is no longer considered a good representation of electron levels does not invalidate the fields of Chemistry or Physics — it simply means we need to further study and refine our knowledge in these areas. Why is religious belief any different?

          • PrimeCutt

            Sorry, but I typed that first comment at work and didn’t have much time to go over it.

            To clarify, I meant only to say that we would disagree on certain things. Obviously if we were to have a lengthy discussion on our beliefs I would no doubt disagree with you on certain aspects on what justifies the belief in a deity seeing how you obviously believe in one and I do not.

            I’m not saying you’re wrong I’m saying that I will most likely disagree.

            And to clarify my more general statement, I think that religious people do not use the same level of scrutiny when going over their own religious beliefs as they would with engineering for example. I’m sure you’re a perfectly capable engineer and your use of critical thinking has gotten you this far but at the same time I would wager that you don’t use as much critical thinking when pondering on your beliefs as you would say, designing new schematics for an engine or a wing or what have you. You probably base your beliefs in the field of engineering on testable and verifiable facts but in regards to religious thoughts you probably don’t base them on verifiable evidence.

            But yes these claims hold no ground because I don’t know what convinces you that there is a I’ll ask again, “what would you consider as good evidence of a god’s existence?”

            Give me your best argument for why god exists.

          • rargos

            Thanks for the clarification. Perhaps you could define what you mean by “critical thinking” — to me this simply means that I don’t blindly accept information but question and investigate what is presented to me, and in this sense my attitude towards religion is no different than my attitude towards engineering. (Incidentally, you would be very surprised at how much gut-feel plays a role in engineering …)

            My best argument for why god exists or what is good evidence of god’s existance? How about if I start with an analogy? If the first astronauts to land on the moon discovered a perfectly formed pair of iron scissors, NO ONE would ever believe that those scissors were formed by the random collision of an iron meteorite, even after billions of collisions. The simplest and most logical answer is that some intelligence created those scissors and placed them there.
            I consider evolution to be proven science, but the idea that life *originated* from lightning striking a pool of amino acids (or similar), and then evolved in a hospitable environment into intelligent human beings is infinitely more unlikely than finding a pair of randomly-created scissors on the moon.

            If you were a believer, I would however simply answer that I see and feel God’s presence in my life every day, but I realize that this answer makes no sense at all to non-religious people and I’ll make no attempt to explain it — one might as well try to explain what love is to someone who has never been in love.

          • PrimeCutt

            Do I have to bore you with an argument from ignorance speech or have you heard it before?

            Moving on from that point It’s silly to say that man must have been created from god just because you can’t fathom a scenario where they actually originate from non-life. I’m making the age-old argument that it’s odd to look at a scenario as complex and incredible as evolution and say “That’s too incredible, so I’m gonna state that an even more complex being has just always been around.” It’s not consistent.

            I know you’re afraid I’m trying to strawman your argument so please elaborate any further if you can. The way I see it is that you’re accepting of evolution but for some reason think that’s too improbable to happen on its own so you add another entity to the equation. Which no matter how you look at it, just makes the scenario even more complex and incredible.

            Sure, it’s a simpler concept to wrap your brain around but you have to admit that that argument is kind of just adding even more to the overall equation in the end.

            Evolution + Origin of Life < God + Origin of Life + Evolution

            If Evolution + Origin of life = "Too Unlikely"

            Then Evolution + Origin of Life + God who started it all = Even more unlikely

            Lastly, I want to acknowledge that I know you're arguing more for the amazing design behind humans and life in general making it even less likely for there not to be a creator. With that specific point in mind I will argue that you're giving the amazing complexity and design of a god less scrutiny than you are for man. If something sentient were to create our universe then obviously, that being is even more complex and amazing and must have had a designer.

            One less important point which you asked me to touch on: By critical thinking I mean the ability to look at a question or scenario and decide for yourself what you think is the most likely solution, or answer, or way to improve existing knowledge on the scenario/question. The concept of critical thinking will always be confusing in scenarios where not event the greatest scientists have the answers.

          • rargos

            With all due respect, your post is so rambling and disjointed it’s very hard for me to understand what you’re trying to say, and it appears that instead of reading my comments, you’re simply making generic comments.

            So here are my very simple points:

            1) Many religious people (such as myself) and religious institutions (such as the Roman Catholic Church) accept evolution as scientific fact. There is ample scientific evidence of complex organisms developing from simpler organisms.

            2) There is absolutely NO scientific evidence of life spontaneously originating out of non-living things. Scientists are also unable to create life from non-living things. There is also no scientific evidence of life on other planets or any extraterrestrial intelligence.

            So how do you explain the existance of life? A rational person who came across a complex machine in the desert would assume that it was created by an intelligence, not a spontaneous combination of grains of sand. Until there is evidence to the contrary, the simplest answer to the question of where life came from is that it was created and not a random occurance.

            Again, the topics of evoution and the existance of life are completely separate issues, despite the fact that many athesists (intentionally?) confuse them in hopes of finding something with which they can attack religion as being “non-scientific”.

          • PrimeCutt

            I know that evolution and the origin of life are separate subjects and that’s why I made that distinction within my weird and garbled math equation.

            Regardless you are using the same argument against the origin of life as most creationists make against evolution. Let me make my argument less confusing. You are using the argument that life is “too complex” to have come from non-life. How come man is too complicated to have come from non-life yet a god is not? How does logic point toward man needing a creator but does not point toward a god needing a creator? That argument is inconsistent.

          • rargos

            I don’t see how that’s inconsistent at all. Causality is a purely temporal concept (something happens before something else and causes it to happen) which would not apply to God.

          • PrimeCutt

            “Which would not apply to God.”

            Can you explain why it does not apply to god?

          • rargos

            I’m not going to pretend to be able to explain (or even understand) the nature of God. If there is an all-powerful being that created life, knows past, present, and future, knows our thoughts, and endowed us with immortal souls, I would imagine that our human perception of causality (based on a linear experience of time) would not apply.

            The Taoists have a certain point when they say that if it could be explained logically in words, it wouldn’t be the Dao. God (like love) is something you know when you experience it, but which is impossible to do justice to in words, no matter how many poets, songwriters, and greeting card authors have tried 🙂

          • Bill From Boca

            I agree that the atheist community tends to attract people who need to feel superior, but I profoundly disagree that religion doesn’t damage critical thinking. Did you hear about the little girl who was stoned to death in Syria for opening a Facebook account? Were those people thinking critically? What about the parent that refuses to give antibiotics to cure an infection in their child because the infection was “God’s plan”? Are we infringing on their religious liberty by insisting on saving this innocent child’s life?

    • Rich Wilson

      The goal is to get rid of all religious displays on government property. That should be patently obvious to anyone who isn’t just trying to troll.

      The important question then is how best to accomplish that. If lawsuits fail, as they did in FL, and the other side plays the “everyone can have their religious display” game, then what is left is showing how stupid that is by putting up other displays.

      That’s how we got the bench in FL.

      If the Satanist monument ever goes up, it will surely be because the lawsuit against the 10 commandments failed, and a lawsuit against the satanist monument would already be decided by precedent. At that point we’d have to join the crowd and put up an atheist bench.

      • rargos

        In all sincerity – what benefit do we all obtain by removing these monuments? It makes atheists look petty and mean — a classic example of “intolerance in the name of tolerance”.

        • Rich Wilson

          Let me start by turning that around. What benefit do we obtain by putting religious monuments on government property in the first place? Is it art? Do we think people will be about to murder someone, but see the monument and think “Oh, right, bummer, that’s forbidden”?

          Or as I think, is it a way to give our own religious view a little more ‘push’ by adding some government to it?

          I think we agree that we can’t just allow one. It would be unfair for anyone in the ‘out’ group to feel like they won’t receive full and equal treatment from their own government.

          So then what is the cost of allowing all monuments? Well, we’re going to run out of space. Who’s to say Jedi isn’t a real religion? Or what about someone’s deeply held belief that “God Hates Fags”? Who’s going to play religious gatekeeper and say what is or is not allowed?

          If we want to look at this as a cost/benefit analysis, I don’t see any real benefit to putting these things up. The group getting theirs might get a warm fuzzy, but it’s at everyone else’s expense, and the display would be more appropriate on private property. The cost is that we’re opening the door to anything goes.

          • rargos

            That’s not how the world works: since you’re proposing a change in the status quo, the burden is on you to show how your proposed change would make things better. Why do we need to prohibit new monuments or (especially) tear down existing ones?

            I hardly think anyone is converted to Christianity or deterred from murder by walking past a monument on government property. That said, religion has played a very important role in the creation of this country and its laws. That’s a historical fact. Denying that religion is an important part of both the past and present in this country doesn’t change that fact.

            And to be perfectly clear: I would strongly oppose any monument that says “God hates fags” or similar. I think we should all promote our views in a positive, constructive way, not attack people we disagree with (which seems to be, unfortunately, a typical modus operendi among atheists).

          • Rich Wilson

            It’s not much of a status quo. Many of the existing 10 Commandment monuments were part of a marketing campaign for the movie. Nobody is denying history. If this was a museum and included other similar historical items, that would be a different matter.

            “not attack people we disagree with”

            I think you’re confusing “attack” with “not be a doormat”. Not wanting to have my government tell me what to believe about gods doesn’t mean I’m attacking anyone. I would simply prefer that government stay out of the telling people what to or not to believe business.

          • rargos

            So is it okay for publically funded museums to spend money buying, displaying, and maintaining religious art?

            As for “not wanting to have my government tell me what to believe”, I agree with you completely. In fact, I would say Christians are on the defensive lately when it comes to government telling people what to believe (see recent developments with regards to gay marriage, abortion, etc.).

            ALL governments “tell people what to do” to various extents. Would you be okay with laws against gay marriage (for example) if they were made by purely secular governments? Look at China or North Korea for examples of places where such laws exist without any “help” from religion at all.

          • Rich Wilson

            So is it okay for publically funded museums to spend money buying, displaying, and maintaining religious art?

            Of course it is.

            Christians are on the defensive lately

            You’re used to having things a certain way. In particular, a way that is deferential to your position. Any change, even one that makes things more fair to everyone, feels uncomfortable. Heck, many atheists are even bothered by it.

            see recent developments with regards to gay marriage, abortion

            I can understand that you’re bothered with the government telling you that you can’t discriminate against someone just because they’re married to someone of the same sex. But I can’t see how that’s the same as being told which god is The God. I’m sure we’ll disagree on that.

            I wouldn’t call North Korea secular, but that’s beside the point. Homosexuality was a felony in the Soviet Union. And no, just because a law is created by a secular government doesn’t mean I agree with it. I do think laws need secular arguments. In the case of marriage equality, I have not yet seen a secular argument against marriage equality that convinces me it should be banned. The only secular argument that I think isn’t flawed is “It’s icky”. There are some things we ban simply because they bother us so much. An extreme example would be, you cannot sell the rights for someone to have sex with your body after you’re dead. In the case of marriage equality, I don’t see that anyone being icked out by gay sex outweighs the rights of gay people to have sex. (And it would be an argument against gay sex, not marriage)

            I think we’ve mostly come to the point of disagreeing as to whether we should have no religious monuments endorsed by government, or allow all. We’ve presented our positions, and we disagree. We’ll see what the courts say.

          • Rich Wilson

            BTW, if you’ve been a practicing Christian for over 50 years, then surely you know what Jesus said about homosexuality.

            And if the monument is supposed to be historical, I have an idea. Let’s put it up by strike out the commandments that are not codified in US law. That would leave three of the ten (and of course we’d have to pick which tradition to honor in deciding how to number them).

            And maybe beside it we can have monuments to honor the history of slavery and suffrage in this nation as well, and how the bible was used to argue both sides of both of those struggles.

          • rargos

            “BTW, if you’ve been a practicing Christian for over 50 years, then surely you know what Jesus said about homosexuality.”

            Yes, he said nothing at all about homosexuality. Do you have a reference to a particular passage from the Gospels? There are passages in the Old Testament and Epistles, but I’ve been studying the Bible for decades (both translations and the original Greek/Hebrew) and I haven’t seen anything in the Gospels about homosexuality.

            As I’ve stated so many times before here on AA — please do your own research into religion and talk to actual mainstream believers (not the loudmouths, wackos, and extremists) instead of relying on atheist propaganda. I think you’d be very surprised to find that the VAST majority of believers are friendly, helpful, and non-judgemental people. There are even many Christian churches that perform gay marriages and there are gay/lesbian clergy in some of them as well.

          • I’m just saying

            rargos, you said “…the burden is on you to show how your proposed change would make things
            better. Why do we need to prohibit new monuments or (especially) tear
            down existing ones?”

            There are a number of court decisions regarding similar displays on government property. If a government agency gives permission for a private group to put a religious display on government property (as they did in this case), they have created a public forum. They must either allow all comers to add their displays, or remove the original display, thus eliminating the public forum.

            Ending the constitutional violation is “better” than violating the law. The ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have both filed lawsuits and I assure you they will assume the burden of proving their cases.

          • rargos

            Governments already exercise discretion with regards to which monuments are allowed on public land. Should the Vietnam veteran’s memorial in DC be removed because there is no monument to draft dodgers? Would the US Park Service allow me to erect (at my own expense) a monument to President Fillmore right next to the Washington monument?

            What about place names? If we allow the capital of California to be called “Sacramento”, isn’t that also wrong? We name cities after Catholic saints – isn’t that discriminatory? Are you going to sue in order to make sure people don’t live in a city or on a street named after a religious figure? Where does it end?

          • I’m just saying

            The monuments you mention in the first paragraph are not religious monuments. I have been to the Vietnam War Memorial in DC. It is a black marble wall with the names of those who died in Vietnam inscribed. There are no religious symbols on that memorial. I also saw the Washington monument and I don’t remember seeing any religious symbols there either. So they have nothing to do with freedom of religion and are not relevant to this discussion.

            In your second paragraph you raise an interesting point. I have never thought of the names of cities being a problem for anyone. I suppose one reason is because no one would prevent you from founding a new town with a religious name such as Shiva, Brahman, Buddha, etc.

          • rargos

            You’re missing the point: governments don’t give equal access to all points of view when it comes to monuments. They allow veterans’ memorials but not anti-war memorials. They allow statues of MLK but not of the founder of the KKK. Even within a given set of things, there is no equal treatment — we have a Washington monument and Lincoln memorial, but nothing for Millard Fillmore. Expecting complete equality in how monuments are approved is irrational, whether those monuments have to do with religion or not.

        • I’m just saying

          rargos, the benefit of removing the Christian monument would be to stand up for the Constitution of the United States by ending the 1st Amendment violation that exists at this time. This 10 Commandments display could also be made constitutional by allowing other people’s monuments to be included. The simplest solution, however, is to simply remove it.
          I have a great respect for the US Constitution, and I’m guessing you do too. The people challenging this monument are defending the 1st Amendment. They are just trying to get the State Legislature of Arkansas to comply with the law of the land. Why would you consider the atheists to be Intolerant bullies?
          By the way, the Arkansas constitution also has a religious freedom clause.

          • rargos

            How is removing a monument protecting free speech? You don’t protect one person’s rights by taking them away from another person.

          • Gehennah

            We want it removed because it is an endorsement of one religion over others.

            While we could just allow all monuments to go up too, that is going to get out of hand very fast. There are over 3000 different religions in the world, lets say 10% of them decide they want to put up a religious monument on the OK grounds, that is 300 monuments.

          • rargos

            Could you please point me to a list of the “3000” religions in the world? I hear this (frankly, unbelievable) comment over and over on atheist websites and have never seen an actual list. Or are you simply repeating atheist propaganda on “faith” (pun intended) alone?

          • I’m just saying

            You said: “How is removing a monument protecting free speech?”

            The First Amendment grants three separate freedoms. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom to peaceably assemble.

            The violation created by this monument has nothing at all to do with freedom of speech or freedom to assemble. It is solely a violation of the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment.

            As I mentioned in my previous comment, about 3 days before this comment (look for it below this comment), a long history of court rulings have said that placing a religious display on government property and not allowing displays by other people is a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

            You also said: “You don’t protect one person’s rights by taking them away from another person.”

            The people opposing this monument are not taking away anyone’s rights because violating the Constitution is not a right. They just want this violation of the law to end.

            I have a couple of questions for you if you don’t mind. Do you respect the Constitution, and do think it’s OK to violate the Constitution?

          • Rich Wilson

            Don’t forget the press, and the right to petition government for redress of grievances 🙂

          • rargos

            You’ve missed my point entirely — I support giving equal access to all religious monuments, not banning them all from public property.

            Freedom of Speech and Assembly? Excellent examples. Would you also ban groups from holding demonstrations or giving speeches on public property simply because they’re religious groups?

            I’ll say it again — give everyone equal access and equal rights. Isn’t that the core of the Constitution?

    • Gehennah

      Probably not, but for this reason.

      If they allow any religious group that wishes to place their monuments, then there is no endorsement of religion as it is open to everyone.

      The problem is that they are trying to keep other religious monuments from being built. It is all or nothing.

      • rargos

        Agree completely. I’m a Christian but have no problem at all with a monument to Satanism. I’m also completely fine with a secularist/atheist monument. What I do have an issue with is anyone, Christian, atheist, or otherwise, who thinks that it’s okay to try to bully other people into silence.

        • Rich Wilson

          I would argue that a monument that declares that all people who don’t subscribe to that monument’s message should be killed is pretty close to bullying.

          Yes, I know the punishment isn’t listed directly, but it’s still a listed rule. Me and me alone. If you believe in a different god, you’re breaking the rule on this stone tablet placed her with government approval.

          • rargos

            “I would argue that a monument that declares that all people who don’t subscribe to that monument’s message should be killed is pretty close to bullying.”

            That’s complete nonsense and displays an almost staggering ignorance of Christianity. Why is it that atheists are so hung up about Old Testament rules that even modern conservative Jews don’t follow? I guess Christ’s message of “Love thy neighbor” and “Turn the other cheek” aren’t quite as easy to attack, are they?

          • Rich Wilson

            Why are Christians so hung up on proclaiming “You shall have no other gods before me.”

            You ask why we’re hung up on it- we’re not the ones putting it up.

          • rargos

            I’ve been a practicing Christian for almost 50 years and I’ve never heard a sermon/homily on the topic “have no other gods before me”. But I’ve heard an awful lot about the need to love one’s neighbor, help the needy, and turn the other cheek.

          • Rich Wilson

            And yet I’ve never seen the sermon on the mount engraved in granite on a courthouse lawn. I’m not interesting in debating what Christianity is to you. That’s your personal belief. That’s fine. I’m debating the words the government is endorsing. If they don’t represent any Christians you know, then WTF are they doing on government property?

          • rargos

            So you’re okay with a religious monument as long as it’s not on public property? Or are you opposed to any displays of religious belief? Be honest.

          • Rich Wilson

            Be honest? Isn’t that a little passive aggressive? I have been nothing but honest, and if you have any reason to think I’m not, then there’s no much point in telling me to be honest other than to imply that I might not be.

            Of course I don’t have a problem with religious displays on private property. I drive by several churches just about every day. Most of my family and many of my friends are Christians. When I sneeze and someone says “Bless you” I say “Thanks”. I live near Sacramento and see no reason to change the name. I also see no reason to change the names of the days of the week. My problem isn’t with what any other person believes or how they express it (so long as they’re not harming anyone). My problem is my government telling me I Trust God. My problem is my government telling me that religion and morality are bound together, as if I can’t be one without the other.

            I’m overjoyed for people to put up whatever religious displays they want at churches or on their own property, because it emphasizes the religious freedom that I’m fighting for.

          • rargos

            Thank you – that’s one of the most well-spoken and mature comments I think I’ve ever read here (or anywhere else, for that matter). I really appreciate you taking the time to explain your position to me and anyone else reading this. Please continue to share these kinds of comments here and elsewhere — there’s far too much hostility and mistrust on either side of these issues, and being able to find mature and rational people to talk to is a big step in the right direction.

          • I’m just saying

            I just wanted to chime in on this too. I have no problem with religious monuments on private property. I just want the government to observe the separation of church and state. If you pay attention to the news you will probably see that all of the lawsuits regarding religious displays against those on government land.

            I think there is a common misunderstanding among Christians that we oppose all of their religious displays and are in fact trying to prevent them from practicing their religion. This isn’t true. We just want the government to stay out of religion.

          • rargos

            There’s an equally common misundestanding among atheists that “freedom of religion” means that the government must be completely devoid of any religious symbolism or references and that any such symbols / references somehow represent an endorsement of (a particular) religion.

            And while I very sincerely appreciate your tolerance of Christians (as they should tolerate you), there are, unfortunately, many atheists who want to remove religious belief from society completely. We had a case locally where a fast-food restaurant was the target of protests and a short-lived lawsuit because they put “Merry Christmas” on their sign. There are many Christians who don’t believe that the removal of religious imagery on PUBLIC property alone will be enough to satisfy the anti-religious movement.

            But again, thank your for your comments.

          • Rich Wilson

            Do you have a link to that Merry Christmas case? In the last iteration of the “war on Christmas” my Facebook feed, which includes many atheist groups and organizations, expressed that everyone should say what they want, and receive in the spirit it was intended. I can’t recall anyone being upset over a “Merry Christmas”.

          • I’m just saying

            This is a reply to rargos comment beginning with:
            “There’s an equally common misundestanding among atheists that …”

            It seems that you are a moderate Christian and I am a moderate atheist/agnostic. There are radical atheists who would like to remove all vestiges of religion. There are also radical Christians who would pass laws that would impose all of their sectarian religious beliefs on the rest of society. There are even some who desire to replace our democratic government with theocracy.

            We are not those people, and I have enjoyed our conversation. This article is 5 days old, so I won’t be posting any more comments here.

          • rargos

            I’ve enjoyed it as well – thank you for the discussion.

          • Desertman50

            That’s odd. I’ve heard far more cases of where religious groups harass businesses for putting “Happy Holidays” on their advertisements and in their stores than the other way around. Do have any further information on this “case?” Like where and when it happened?

          • Desertman50

            I can’t speak for RIch, but yes, most people (including religious folks) who object to religious monuments on public (meaning government) property have no issue with their display on private property, such as homes or churches. Those few that do are a very small minority and honestly have no legal standing.

          • Dani

            But the monument in display does not show the nice side of the christian coin, now does it? It isn’t ignorance, it is a fact. Maybe you have not read the bible (Like so many Christians I know) and just chose to naively believe in the milder, nicer, version of God depicted as a carpenter (aka Jesus).

          • rargos

            “Maybe you have not read the bible….”

            And you have? Or do you simply pick quotes that suit your point of view?

            But since you asked: having spent the last few decades reading and studying the Bible (including the original Greek and Hebrew), I would like to belive that I am more than somewhat acquainted with it.

            You dont like the ten commandments? Fine. Would you object to a monument saying “Love your neighbor” and “turn the other cheek?” How about one listing the beatitudes? Somehow I don’t think those would be any more palatable to atheists, would they?

            I think it speaks volumes about atheism that they rely almost entirely on the Old Testament instead of the Gospels to attack Christianity.

          • Desertman50

            LOL. Atheists don’t rely on ANY portion of the bible. We’re atheists, remember? Dani and I are both exposing the hypocrisy of your religion. You want to present only the sugar coating of your religion while rejecting the parts you don’t like. I find it amusing that you chastise us for relying on the Old Testament yet here you are, defending the 10 Commandments that come from the Old Testament. And you haven’t defended the punishment for breaking most of them.

          • rargos

            I’m sorry, but your post makes no sense at all — you didn’t read anything I wrote and claim I said things I didn’t say. I’m happy to discuss this with you, but it’s rather hard to talk to someone whose posts are just random collections of off-topic rants.

          • Desertman50

            You are obviously unaware of the punishment for breaking most of the commandments. For most of them, it is death by stoning. Let’s take just one: “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me”

            Genocide. Entire cities with men, women, children and animals must be killed. (Deuteronomy 2:33-34, Numbers 21:34-35, 1 Samuel 15:2-3, Joshua 6:21. Joshua 10:40) In some cases you can keep the girls alive for raping. (Numbers 31:15-18)

          • rargos

            And you’re obviously unaware (or more likely find it inconvenient) that Christians follow Jesus’s teaching of turning the other cheek. Jesus even protected a woman from being stoned for violating the Old Testament laws. It seems that atheists somehow never manage to read past the Old Testament. Or do you simply collect quotes from the Internet?

            But please do contine hunting through the Bible for the most extreme examples you can find — it makes you look silly and uneducated to people who really do read the entire Bible and not just the parts that they believe justify their prejudices.

            Even the most orthodox of orthodox Jews don’t stone people in Israel. North Korea, on the other hand, publically executes Christians. Perhaps your concern for peoples’ welfare is a bit misplaced.

          • Desertman50

            Thanks for confirming that Christians are cafeteria-style worshippers: They only follow the “good” parts of the bible and deny the “bad” parts of the bible — unless, that is, it suits their agenda.

          • rargos

            Knowingly or not, you’ve fallen into the typical atheist tactic of the false choice: one has to either (a) embrace the literal truth and inflexible application of everything in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) or (b) reject everything in the BIble as wicked and/or false.

            I have heard lots of atheists use very obscure passages from the Old Testament to attack Christianity, but I can’t recall a single time that they quote Christ himself. Things like “love thy neighhor”, “turn the other cheek,” “feed the hungry”, and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” never come up, even though those are the core tenets of Christianity.

          • Desertman50

            “I can’t recall a single time that they quote Christ himself. Things like “love thy neighhor”, “turn the other cheek,” “feed the hungry”, and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone””

            That’s because these are common-sense tenets. YOU fall into the trap of thinking these things are unique or exclusive to Christianity. These are pretty much universal tenets for ANY society. You cannot accept that non-Christians can adhere to these same, common-sense tenets. You arrogantly believe that you have a monopoly, a trademark on these things.

          • rargos

            Please either provide a quote from any of my posts here where I’ve said anything of the sort or stop putting words in my mouth.

            For the record: I believe that ANYONE, believer or atheist, can adhere to these tenets. I also belive that these tenets are common to almost all religious and secular belief systems. Christianity absolutely does not have (as you put it), a “monopoly” on this.

            You would save us both a lot of trouble if you would simply ask people what they believe instead of making unfounded accusations and assumptions based on your own prejudice and, frankly, ignorance with regards to Christianity.

          • Rich Wilson

            As an aside, “cast the first stone” doesn’t show up in the earlier versions. It started in the margins in later copies, and then got included in the main text later.

            It’s a great lesson to be sure, but we don’t actually know if it’s one that Christ spoke.

          • rargos

            Reference? NA28 doesn’t indicate this, so you’ll forgive me if I want a scholarly reference based on an extant text. Where did you get this (alleged) information from?

          • Rich Wilson

            Pretty sure Bart Erdman, but I’d have to look for the reference. My understanding was that it wasn’t a disputed position.

          • rargos

            [laughs] Almost everything about Bible manuscripts is disputed. Protestant and Catholic Bibles don’t even have the same number of books …

            I did some research in the meantime and I think I have a better understanding of what you’re referring to, but I don’t see the theological significance. The simple fact that something was not attested in some early manuscripts is, by itself, not a “smoking gun” — by the same criteria, several authentic works by Aristotle, Shakespeare, etc. can be considered “later additions” since they were not included in this earliest folia, etc.

            Even if it were conclusively demonstrated that this was a later, apocryphal addition, it would not make any substantial difference in my position.

            But thank you for the pointer: I’ll contine to do some more research and let you know if what I come up with, if you’re interested.

          • Rich Wilson

            Check the textual history section here

            For me the Bible makes perfect sense in a historical context, written by men, reflecting the cultural norms of the respective times. No divine.

          • rargos

            Two points:

            1) As someone who did two graduate degrees before there was even such a thing as a web browser, I find the use of Wikipedia as a reference to be questionable, at best. Had I tried to use even a peer-reviewed, reasonably authoritative source such as the Encyclopedia Britanica for any of my research papers, they would be have been rejected immediately and my future as a scholar would have been placed in serious jeopardy. Like television, Wikipedia all too often only gives people the IMPRESSION that they are informed.

            2) Yes, the Bible (like every other book in existance) was written by human beings and reflects the cultural norms of their times. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. That said, I fail to see how you make the jump to claiming that this proves a lack of divine inspiration or guidance. One could argue that the fact that large portions of the Bible (especially the Gospels) are relative to life in modern times speaks to the universality of its message.

          • Rich Wilson

            1) this is a comment on a blog, not a research paper. I get your point about Wikipedia and I don’t completely disagree. And I know it’s not what you asked for. But I’m not trying to present a smoking gun, just an interesting tidbit.

            If you do find more I would appreciate it. I’ll try to find where I read it as well. It’s just not at hand.

            Peace 🙂

          • Thought Police

            Perhaps it is because Christians (I seriously wish I could spell that without it being auto-capitalized) not only read the old testament and thus absorb and perpetuate its lies and vulgarities, they pull bits and pieces out of it to fit in to their ideologies and practiced insanity.
            A bit off topic, but where on this planet is there enough water to cover the entire Earth?

          • Bill From Boca

            I commend your thinking on religious bullying. I honestly believe these religious battles everyone has would end if more people thought like you do. Atheists use the Old Testament to attack Christianity for obvious reasons…it’s easy.
            I agree “Love thy neighbor” and “turn the other cheek’ are valuable lessons for any person, but you can’t defend the New Testament in this manner and still (e.g.) persecute homosexuals. This is because the New Testament doesn’t forbid homosexuality directly. (Matthew 19:4-6 & Mark 10:6-9 are the “one flesh” passages, Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21, Acts 15:20,29, etc. are the “sexually immoral” passages.) The commandments forbidding homosexuality directly are in the Old Testament, which is surrounded by a bunch of other rules that Christians choose to ignore.
            I am actually thankful that Christians ignore many of these rules as obeying some of them would land you in jail today… (e.g.) stoning to death a rebellious son. Obeying most of them would put you in close proximity to the extremists like the Westboro Baptists.
            If being gay was so bad, you would think Jesus would have mentioned it. If divorce is wrong (Matthew 19:4-6 & Mark 10:6-9) why are there divorce laws in the old testament? If abortion is wrong, why did men bring their unfaithful women to the temple for the “bitter water” that makes their “belly swell” and their “thighs rot”. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can have it both ways.

          • rargos

            So your objection to religion is based entirely on your (support for) homosexuality?

            Frankly, I don’t care what anyone does in their bedrooms, but I find it a bit odd when our society spends so much time publically discussing the kinds of sex people like to have.

          • Bill From Boca

            No, I have many reasons to object to religion, and I just mentioned a bunch in the post above. I also think getting into people’s business in the bedroom is wrong like you do, so why are Christians so obsessed with this? Didn’t you hear they are now refusing to serve gay people in their business establishments? This crap is getting out of hand.

          • rargos

            I think your perception about Christians being “obsessed” with homosexuality is based on a very small but vocal number of Christians — most Christians (like myself) really don’t care about people’s sexual habits, they just don’t want to hear about them, have them constantly discussed in front of kids (gay, straight, or otherwise), or be asked to accept them as “normal” — it’s no different than people who are into S&M constantly talking about it and asking people not to be uncomfortable when they do.

            As for serving people: again, this is based on a very small number of instances.

            Question: would it be okay for a bakery run by gays to refuse to make a cake that says “No gay marriage” or “Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman”?

          • Rich Wilson

            There’s slight difference between a bakery serving a person, and being asked to make a particular cake. I don’t think that cake should be considered crossing the line, especially since it would be an obvious troll, and the best way to respond would be not give them the media story, and just make the damn cake.

            I would support a baker’s right to not make a particular cake, like “God hates fags”. or “Christians are idiots”.

            And keep in mind that a business can refuse to serve a particular customer. If a gay couple went into a bakery and generally acted like jerks to try to be refused service, I’d be find with them being refused service. It’s only when all gay customers are refused service that I’d have a problem.

          • Bill

            You make good points, and I also don’t like having people’s business in my face. If I’m going to be honest with myself, I have to admit that I am probably somewhat biased against gays myself.

            Perhaps this is due to the culture in which I was raised, but this is really my problem, not theirs. I don’t like seeing straight people making out in public either. I get the same feeling of disgust as I do when I see gay people do it.

            Intellectually, I have no problem with who people decide to love. I also do not think my child would be damaged in any way if they were to witness two people of the same sex kissing. At best this would produce a question or two, and that would be the end of it.

            I do disagree with your characterization of “a small number of vocal Christians”. If this was the case, elections wouldn’t hinge on the question, and 8 States wouldn’t have laws against it with 5 more considering adopting new anti-gay legislation.

            I am speaking up on this issue now because I feel like Christians are over-reacting. I understand they feel threatened by social change, but forcing religious laws on a free country is not right. That kind of nonsense is what started the English Civil War, and it’s the reason why my ancestors came to this country in the mid-to-late 1600’s.

            Nobody is telling Christians that they can’t practice their religion, but forcing their religion on others by passing anti-gay laws is simply wrong. Whatever happened to the messages of ‘pray in private’, love, tolerance, and turn the other cheek? Nobody is saying they have to like it, but tolerance should be a natural response for any true Christian.

            Finally, Christians aren’t solely to blame here. They are being provoked and used by politicians as a reliable voting block to get their voters to turn out. (Falwell & Gingrich’s moral majority) This is exactly why nothing was passed for them when Republicans held both houses of Congress & the White House in (2002-2006). If Republicans solved these reliably irritating issues for Christians, they would lose a lot of the support these groups provide. It’s called “voter apathy” and the Republicans fear it above all other issues.

  • Scott

    I’m not an American, but the first Amendment says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Can someone explain how putting up a monument violates this? As far as I can tell, erecting a monument doesn’t equate to establishing a religion by law or any of the other parameters.

    From my limited knowledge, it seems that this amendment doesn’t even restrict the government to pick and choose which monuments it displays (probably based on majority opinion) provided that there is no law to establish a certain religion.

    • Jim Jones

      > Can someone explain how putting up a monument violates this?

      All levels of government have put up religious monuments of every sort on or in public property for 200 years.

      Every single one has been Christian. Not one has supported any other religious viewpoint. Other religions have routinely been denied access to the same properties.

      Enough already. Everyone or no one.

      • Scott

        I’m not sure it follows from the first amendment that the standard is ‘everyone or no one’. I’m sure if a majority of people want to erect some random monument on public property they would be able to do so. The only thing that would be unconstitutional would be to write a standard of what religious monuments could be accepted or rejected into law, provided that the law is seen as the establishment of a religion or any other parameters in the amendment. Denying a monument that the majority of folks (by vote) don’t want is clearly not the same as enacting this sort of law.

        I must be missing something here. As I said, I’m no expert on the American constitution so I’m sure AA must have some sort of grounds on which this is a serious suit.

        • so called expert

          This is all from memory, so please correct my errors. Placing a religious monument on public land is generally considered a state endorsement of religion. As such, it is not permitted. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as a grave marker for a christian soldier in Arlington cemetary. Another exception allows Moses to join Hammurabi and Solon etc… in the Capitol Building. Even though there are some gray areas, the decalogue is especially disfavored. This is because different christian sects have different versions of it, therefore it discriminates against many more people. This is the short version of an answer, but I hope it was helpful.

        • I’m just saying

          Scott, although the first amendment isn’t very detailed, the courts have consistently ruled in the last two hundred and some years that the government cannot endorse or denigrate any religion in relation to any other religions or non religion. The First Amendment taken with the history of court rulings have pretty well established that this 10 Commandments monument is unconstitutional as it stands.

    • Gehennah

      By allowing Christian monuments and not allowing others, this is an endorsement of the Christian religion.

      • rargos

        I don’t know about an “endorsement”, but government has always been selective about what monuments they allow — there are (and should be) many monuments to MLK on public property, but none to the founder of the KKK. Perhaps you think goverment should tear down the MLK statues or at least give equal treatment to hate groups?

  • Pingback: Atheist Group Sues to Remove 2,000 Pound Okla. Ten Commandments Display From Capitol Grounds BY MICHAEL GRYBOSKI, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER | HE STILL SPEAKS!()

  • Pingback: Podcast #193 – Kicking Open the Closet in Sports | American Freethought()

  • Dani

    I just want America to be like it was supposed to be (Not according to me but according to the FOUNDER FATHERS) with a government COMPLETELY independent of the church (or any religion for that matter).

    • rargos

      Nonsense. Almost all of the founding fathers were regular churchgoers who regularly wrote about their belief in God. What they wanted was a society where one group of Christians didn’t persecute another group of Christians, NOT a secular society. Stop drinking the liberal revisionist history Kool-Aid and read their actual writings (not selectively chosen and misleading quotes).

      • faron

        And Freemasons too! They were Freemasons and as such they were required to believe in God/Gods/Goddesses/ any higher being.

  • older-woman

    I keep advocating for privatization of land, buildings, schools, anything where we want to continue displaying or doing anything religious. Divide this land. Transfer ownership. We have a park here that is for the public but which is privately owned. And we are able to have a living Nativity event and more in it. It works, people.

  • jeff winland

    #1- if you hate God and don’t believe in Him, how can you demonstrate that, if you don’t believe in him? If you hate some person, but don’t believe they are real, how can you hate someone that isn’t real in your mind? #2- when are you going to sue the Federal Govt. for allowing various monuments in D.C. that have religious inscriptions (Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the floor of the Rotunda (10 Commandments inscribed on a brass plate in the floor) be on display? Just curious. Probably won’t get an answer…….

    • Rich Wilson

      #1 – nobody hates God. You can’t hate something that doesn’t exist. Some people have various levels of dislike for the various mythical entities that people have invented. I rather dislike Voldemort, for example.

      #2 – There’s a difference between displaying various religious messages, and displaying a message exclusively from a single religion (even if it’s displayed as co-opted by another religion).

  • derek

    Im sooooooo ashamed to be an athiest…you people are so full of yourselves and shit. Quit acting like we dont have a “religion”. The belief that government is the answer to all problems is the exact same as a religious person believing in God.

Copyright 2013 American Atheists