atheist monument erected near the Ten Commandments monument in Starke Florida. This is supposedly a break for "religious freedom" in that it's the first time an atheist monument was erected on government land. From what I can see in the pictures of it, it looks like it is not affirming anything, but merely mocking Christianity. So I wonder what the message is? What is it "for" (as opposed to "against")?
Then I thought a little more. On what basis did the American Atheists argue for the monument to be placed there? For this to be an expression of religious freedom, the monument must be representing another religion. And so, did they claim that atheism is a religion? Because the Constitution defines religious liberty as freedom of religion, not freedom of anything you want to say.
There is a protection for anything you want to say - freedom of speech. If the monument is there as free speech, then I presume any group could say anything they want on government land, under the guise of free speech. Coke could put up a "Drink Coke" monument. The local bridge club could put up a "deck of cards" monument. Did the atheists argue free speech or that they were a religion? How far did they compromise their principles to get the monument they wanted?
Then again, is atheism a religion? I know the atheists don't think so, but they want to expand the definition of religion to include non-religion (much like the homosexual lobby wants to expand the definition of marriage to include non-marriage).
Certainly atheism has more dogmas and fundamentalist concepts than some religions. They have absolute tenets of the faith that can't be challenged. And faith it truly is. To refuse to consider all proofs of God's existence, and refute logical arguments takes quite a bit of blind faith. They even have fundamentalists (like Dawkins) who can be just as amusing and annoying as the worst televangelist you ever saw.
I was talking to a self-professed atheist about some very well scientifically documented miracles and the response was "it must all be random". So I asked how atheism explains why these random events "miraculously" happen in response to prayer. There are no recorded events (that I am aware of) of things like bread spontaneously becoming human heart tissue, or monks turning bombers around that are not associated with the prayers of the faithful. The response was "all we know is it must be random - we can't make any other statements." Then I was accused of not being dogmatic.
Another thought is this. It's one thing to have different religious views displayed - Ten Commandments vs. Buddha. But Buddha and the Ten Commandments don't mock each other (in fact, they mostly support each other). This is a direct attack on the adjacent monument. It's like Westboro Baptists at a military funeral - it's disrespectful to have them next to each other.
Final thought. If atheism is not a set of beliefs, but merely the absence of religion belief, then there are already hundreds of monuments all over the country. Every monument that does not express a religious belief would be an atheist monument. But I suspect that atheists like to define themselves differently when it suits them.
[UPDATE: Someone sent me this, about monuments in Washington D.C. No, it's not in response to this, but it's kind of relevant. And an interesting video]