Freedom of expression is front and center at today's Levy County commission meeting. Commissioners denied the request to allow a public atheist monument. GTN's Briana Harper was there for the arguments leading up to that decision.
The Ten Commandments and a Veterans memorial are the two monuments currently found outside the Levy County Court House.
But If it's up to the Williston Atheists group-- another monument should also be added.
An unusually large crowd attended today's county commission meeting. Most to voice their opinions either for or against a proposal to build an atheist monument here at the levy county court house lawn.
Organizer of the Williston Atheist group Ray Sparrow says, "The majority of citizens in the community are deeply religious-- I understand that, but there are also citizens of this community who are not religious. They choose to be represented in a public forum that is available to all citizens so we choose to be represented too."
Much of the discussion compared the current Ten Commandments monument to the proposed Atheist structure--both based on religious beliefs. But some say this goes beyond religion.
Local resident Robert Jordan says, "It's fairly clear that you can not put up religious monuments, but you can put up historical monuments that have to do with the foundation of this nation of which the ten commandments are.
The board's decision? To deny the application for the Atheist monument.
A decision followed by mixed reaction.
"I expected the decision... The decision was correct..... I think it was unfair. "
Commissioners explained the proposal did not meet the county's monument placement guidelines. But the fight isn't over.
Director of the North Florida American Atheist group John Pogal says, "We'll look at all the paperwork and we'll look at their ruling and we'll decide later so look for us in the news."
The decision to deny the application for the Atheist monument was unanimous and for now this outside forum will remain as is.