After Speaking Out Against “In God We Trust” Display, Alabama Atheist’s Next Target is Religious Veterans’ Monument October 3, 2014

After Speaking Out Against “In God We Trust” Display, Alabama Atheist’s Next Target is Religious Veterans’ Monument

Back in August, several non-Christians spoke in front of the Mobile County Commission (in Alabama) to request they put up displays reading things like “In Reason We Trust.” It was in response to a vote to put “In God We Trust” on a plaque in the city’s Administration Building. Despite the pushback, the Commission denied those requests, saying only the Christian phrase would go up.

Amanda Scott, a member of the Mobile Atheist Community, was one of the people who fought against the Christian privilege:

Her willingness to speak up also made her the target of several online threats, including one from a correctional officer.

But Amanda isn’t backing off. In fact, she has a new mission involving a veterans’ memorial at the Baldwin County Courthouse:

On the memorial are the words “Dedicated to the glory of God and in honor of the veterans of all wars.”

The monument was sponsored by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans, and is located on county-owned property.

Amanda is asking: If a religious monument can go up on government property, then why not an atheist one? She’s even taken the first steps to make it happen:

The 21-year-old college student and atheist… said Friday that two complaint letters had been mailed to the Baldwin County administrator regarding the veterans’ monument.

Scott said she would like to see another memorial erected at the courthouse similar to the 1999 “Atheists in Foxholes” monument in rural Munford, Ala., in the Talladega National Forest. That monument was established by the Alabama Freethought Association, a chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which had created a retreat on Lake Joan called Lake Hypatia. She said it’s likely that funding for such a memorial could come from the foundation.

“It’s really beautiful,” she said. “It’s dedicated to atheists in foxholes, with hopes that mankind will be able to avoid all wars in the future.”

I asked Amanda why she preferred adding a new monument over just altering/removing the current one, and she told me (via email):

My personal preference would be to put up our own monument because I think it makes a bolder statement. But I would be willing to accept the removal of the monument as a compromise. It’s better to have no war memorials on government property than to have an exclusionary religious one.

It looks like her requests are having an effect. An update to the article this afternoon included these statements:

Baldwin County Commission Chairman Charles “Skip” Gruber said the commission would be “more than glad to listen to what they have to say.”

“I would see if we can get it on the workshop (agenda),” said Gruber, who supported an “In God We Trust” sign being placed in commission chambers in July.

That’s not the same as a green light for an atheist monument, but it’s not yet a rejection.

How about a huge Internet-round-of-applause for a brave young activist? So many people would have tried to hide from the spotlight after all that unwanted attention, but Amanda’s continuing to chip away at church/state violations. Just incredible.

(Large portions of this article were published earlier)

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