Atheist sues to remove Ten Commandments monument from Allegany County courthouse grounds

Jul 19, 2016

By Jonathan Pitts

From the moment that Dr. Jeffrey Davis first saw the Allegany County Courthouse complex nearly 30 years ago, the monument to the Ten Commandments on the lawn has bothered him.

Davis, an emergency physician in neighboring Garrett County, had always been taught that the U.S. Constitution is a secular document. In his view, the 1,600-pound polished granite slab sends an inappropriately religious message.

“It offended me then, and it offends me now,” the self-described secular humanist says in a tranquil voice.

Davis first raised objections to the monument in 2004 — and quickly drew a counter-protest. But just as 59 years of wind, rain, snow and sun have failed to erase the messages carved in the stone, torrents of criticism have done nothing to change his belief that the tribute’s presence violates the law and should be remedied.


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28 comments on “Atheist sues to remove Ten Commandments monument from Allegany County courthouse grounds

  • Ideally, public to private land – it’s the principle

    While wrestling a slab of granite “grandfathered in” from an Amish woman (pictured) may appear like bullying, the principle is the thing.

    Cowboy Sheriff Trump supporter lost this case, because other citizens have rights also!



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  • OP – link – He says the commandments provide much-needed moral ballast during volatile times.

    There you have it! The perfect new location!

    Someone must have a sail-boat which needs a bit of ballast to help with stability in stormy times!



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  • Taylor, who describes himself as a 12th-generation Cumberland native, says the 5-foot tall slab has a religious purpose but not an explicitly Christian one. The founding fathers would have approved its presence, he argues, as they “clearly rooted American law in Judeo-Christian principles.”

    Total Fail!

    Hey Taylor-

    I’m a 13th generation Mayflower descendant (blatantly pulling rank here 😉 and refuse to apologize. ) and I’m telling you now that you have confused the Protestant fundamentalists who got off the Mayflower with the American revolutionaries who were a bunch of secular, checked-out of religion, royalty haters. There is no shortage of snarky anti-religion remarks made by the revolutionaries and can easily be read in their own books and letters that are available in every public library here.

    Apparently, not all of the Mayflower passengers were over the top deluded religionists. There were plenty of opportunistic merchants on board as well. Money makes the world go round.



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  • Alan, the proper place is a boat that will never float.
    I’m thinking the Ham’s Ark. They will both go down where they belong as soon as they hit the first big wave.



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  • alf

    haha. I’ll be happy to provide the documents if we can meet in a public place someday. Not on the intertubes though!

    Don’t be too impressed. In the Boston area the M. descendants are a dime a dozen. Those 17th century types were puritanical but did manage to produce hoards of progeny! Many M. descendants are related to more than one M. passenger. Mostly for a few generations they bred with each other. Amongst the descendants there is often a display of oneupmanship over who is related to the most prestigious passenger. “So, who’s your passenger???” Genealogy is interesting but be prepared to find some very unattractive skeletons in the closet as well such as fall down dead drunks who arrived here and changed their entire names posthaste. You know, less than stellar types who are never mentioned when the topic of ancestors comes up in social discourse… We don’t trot those names out with a flourish now do we…



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  • I think you were born in Kenya, Laurie. By the way, did you watch that horror show last night? I think Dr. Davis should get some help and start thinking about other things.

    If Trump wins, all bets are off. We are on the brink of fascism.

    Can you believe what that Benghaze mother said, and that the Trump people are blaming Hilary for the plagiarized speech, while at the same time denying the accusation?



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  • From the article

    Historians say Reugemer believed their presence would discourage juvenile delinquency.

    Either way, 180 of the monuments were distributed. One made its way to Allegany County, where it has stood near the courthouse since 1957.

    You know, these granite slabs ain’t cheap. In the current economy I can tell you that a medium sized granite headstone for a grave costs three thousand dollars. These ten commandment monuments are apparently worth more than that just based on their size. So what we have here in conservative terms is more than a half million dollars worth of polished granite block. (there are 180 of them) I don’t think it would take much to chisel the drivel writing off the front.
    How about we use those stones to create a monument to our secular American revolutionaries with some of their best sayings on it for public reflection.

    John Adams (1735-1826)

    “God has infinite wisdom, goodness and power; he created the universe…He created this speck of dirt and the human species for his glory; and with deliberate design of making nine-tenths of our species miserable for ever for is glory. This is the doctrine of Christian theologians, in general, ten to one… Wretch! What is his glory? Is he ambitious? Does he want promotion? Is he vain, tickled with adulation, exulting and triumphing in his power and the sweetness of his vengeance? Pardon me, my Maker for these awful questions.”

    “Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upoe point of breaking out: This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!”

    “Even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate a free inquiry?

    Ethan Allen (1738-1789) American Revolutionary War Hero.

    “In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue.”

    Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

    “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

    “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”

    “The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious… One need only look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.”

    “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man..perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind…a mere contrivance (for the clergy) to filch wealth and power to themselves.”

    “State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights…Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.”

    Ok my fellow atheist ladies…tell me you’re not swooning over this guy. Oh if only I could transport myself back to the 18th century for just a few hours where I would contrive to meet up with the great T. Jefferson in a dark alley behind the Cock and Bull pub, or in the cloak closet of the Constitutional Convention. sigh

    Who the hell thinks that big granite monuments on public property would cure juvenile delinquency?!!! Any non-deluded person would know that to be completely ineffective against delinquency. Why didn’t they spend the money on some Outward Bound programs? Or perhaps some vocational training?

    Anyways, I’m just now thinking that our best revolutionaries were probably damn bothersome delinquents too, in their day. Who else has the guts to take on the British Army?

    Quotes from the book (and plenty more where those came from):

    The Quotable Atheist, Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound. by Jack Huberman, 2007.



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  • Dan

    I think you were born in Kenya,

    Soooo…what are you saying Dan, that I’m directly descended from Lucy the Australopithecine??? How dare you say that Dan!! I am NOT a monkey and my grandmother was NOT a monkey!!! She was definitely a great ape though, but let’s not emphasize that, shall we? She was a proud Mayflower descendant. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!!!

    I refuse to watch that R. Convention. If you really are my friend you will NOT ask me to do that. 😉



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  • Laurie (and I guess Bonnie)

    Jefferson’s suggestion that we question God’s existence because it is reasonable to do so and that God, if there is one, would prefer that we be reasonable rather than superstitious (driven by blind fear) makes no sense whatsoever.

    Jefferson was a highly gifted man, a wonderful man. I have read about him. But even men of his caliber say asinine things from time to time.

    (Perhaps he was being ironic!)

    (I’m sorry, Laurie, but if you are going to run for the highest office in the land and I am going to be working for you, you have to be thoroughly vetted. And I heard from my sources that you are a pseudo-WASP and was born in Kenya. Until the facts are all in, I will hope and pray that this is a malicious rumor.)

    🙂



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  • Dan
    I am not a pseudo-WASP I am the real deal for whatever it’s worth which isn’t much these days. I only trot that out to get one up on someone who is annoying me with their own pompous ass claims of high and mighty ancestry. 🙂
    It works though!

    I will agree to your being my chief of staff but that doesn’t give you the right to make my cabinet appointments. 🙁 Don’t get above your station in this life !!! Was that sexism???? Hmmm….I’ll just bet some guy is doing the same thing to Hillary right now.

    ~eyes him suspiciously~

    About the vetting, let me save you the trouble: Yes I smoked a boatload of pot, inhaled it deeply and enjoyed every minute of it with no guilt whatsoever. There you go. The end.



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  • @Dan (#15)

    Jefferson’s suggestion that we question God’s existence because it is
    reasonable to do so and that God, if there is one, would prefer that
    we be reasonable rather than superstitious (driven by blind fear)
    makes no sense whatsoever.

    I dunno… I see it as a rather elegant refutation of Pascal’s Wager.

    🙂



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  • From the article:

    But he considers the work daunting and said he’s not above wanting at least a little support.

    “Some people say I’m tilting at windmills, and maybe that’s true,” Davis said. “But Don Quixote could use a lawyer.”

    What about the Freedom From Religion Foundation? This sounds right up their alley.



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  • My head is exploding. Here in the UK we watch your American political shananigans with a mixture of bemusement and disbelief. Trump is clearly insane, Melania has just copied verbatim parts of Michelle Obama’s speech which they’re trying to claim actually comes from My Little Pony. Ben Carson is trying to make a case that Hillary Clinton is Lucifer because she once knew a guy who once wrote a book that mentioned the devil. You’re fucking mad over there. It’s beyond batshit crazy, it’s brain exploding time. What the fuck is going on?



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  • Arkrid Sandwich #24
    Jul 20, 2016 at 8:20 am

    My head is exploding. Here in the UK we watch your American political shananigans with a mixture of bemusement and disbelief. Trump is clearly insane, Melania has just copied verbatim parts of Michelle Obama’s speech which they’re trying to claim actually comes from My Little Pony.

    Insanity appears to be a requirement, to be a political darling of the media, and to be promoted as leadership material, – on both sides of the Atlantic!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/07/david-camerons-reckless-folly/#li-comment-207856



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  • LaurieB #9
    Jul 19, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    You know, these granite slabs ain’t cheap. In the current economy I can tell you that a medium sized granite headstone for a grave costs three thousand dollars. These ten commandment monuments are apparently worth more than that just based on their size. So what we have here in conservative terms is more than a half million dollars worth of polished granite block. (there are 180 of them) I don’t think it would take much to chisel the drivel writing off the front.

    Chiselling is very rough and ready and slow.
    Modern power saws are much smoother and faster!

    http://www.shutterstock.com/s/stone+cutting/search.html?page=1&inline=119825995



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