STARKE, Fla. — An internationally recognized creation evangelist mounted the nation’s first-ever atheist monument on Saturday and began to preach the Gospel to the crowds gathered for the unveiling ceremony.
Eric Hovind of Creation Today and a number of other Christians attended the event, which was held at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Florida. As previously reported, the monument is part of a settlement between officials in Bradford County and the organization American Atheists of Cranford, New Jersey. Last year, American Atheists sued the county for permitting the display of the Ten Commandments on the premises, which was placed by a group known as Community Men’s Fellowship.
The county had asked the Fellowship to remove the Decalogue, but the men refused to do so. Therefore, instead of forcing the matter, it was agreed to allow American Atheists to erect their own display outside of the courthouse in the free speech area.
“We have maintained from the beginning that the Ten Commandments doesn’t belong on government property,” stated American Atheists President David Silverman in a press release. “There is no secular purpose for the monument whatsoever and it makes atheists feel like second-class citizens. But if keeping it there means we have the right to install our own monument, then installing our own is exactly what we’ll do.”
Therefore, the group placed a 1,500 pound granite bench near the Ten Commandments monument, which features quotes from American Atheists founder Madeline Murray O’Hair, founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, as well as an excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli. An area of the monument also reportedly features the ten Biblical punishments for violating the Ten Commandments, such as the death penalty for murder and adultery.
Silverman was present at the event and spoke to the audience both about the monument and his disdain for the laws of God as outlined in Scripture, which he called “barbaric” and a form of “hate speech.”
“The demand to worship one God of one religion under penalty of death is the essence of theocracy,” he said, referring to the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
According to the Ocala Star Banner, he told the audience that the reason Christians still believe in God is because they don’t truly read the Bible, and offered a signed copy of the Scriptures to anyone who would agree to read the Bible in its totality.
However, at one point, Eric Hovind of Creation Today also began speak, and climbed on top of the atheist monument to address the people with the message of the Gospel. According to the ministry website, Creation Today “is a leading Christian-apologetics ministry, defending the literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account from the theory of evolution.”
“I’d like to thank the tolerance of the atheists for providing a platform to declare the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father,” he declared. “Thank you so much for providing a platform to preach the truth.”
As Hovind spoke, one attendee called out that the Bible is nothing more than a fairy tale.
‘‘The problem is it’s not a fairy tale,’’ Hovind responded.
Others began yelling “Bring out the lions!” and “Burn him at the stake!”
Reports state that Hovind spoke for just a moment, but the Associated Press snapped a shot of the creation speaker addressing the crowd on top of the monument. Other Christians present held signs, distributed tracts and played Christian music.
“Welcome to a world that rejects God,” one pamphlet read. “Welcome to a world where there is no right and wrong.”
Silverman says he plans to erect 50 atheist monuments across the country.