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Atheist group wants bench by Commandments

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The Williston Atheists will make their case to place a stone bench on the grounds of the Levy County Courthouse in proximity to the Ten Commandments monument.

The group, which is affiliated with American Atheists, filed their application on Jan. 13, and it was presented at Tuesday's Levy County Commission meeting. 

Under the county's Monument Placement Guidelines, the commission is required to vote on the application at its next meeting. 

So, in anticipation of the flurry of attention the matter may receive, the commission has requested the use of Courtroom A  – which is larger than the commission's meeting room – for the Tuesday, Feb. 4 meeting which begins at 9 a.m.

Ray Sparrow of Morriston, one of the organizers of the group, said in a phone interview that the application was made because, “We wanted to avail ourselves of the benefit afforded to educate the public.”

The application details that the 1,500 pound, granite bench will be dedicated to the citizens of Levy County who are non-believers and who are not represented by the Ten Commandments monument. And the application assures, “Our monument proposal is in NO way libelous, pornographic or obscene.” 

The monument will have quotations from papers by Founding Fathers and Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, a statement of atheist beliefs by the late Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and a list of biblical banishments for breaking the Ten Commandments. 

A similar atheist bench monument was placed adjacent to a Ten Commandments monument at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke in 2013 under an agreement with the American Atheists group and local residents to prevent the filing of a court suit.