Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments monument outside the courthouse (YouTube/Cruciefiction)

The first monument dedicated to atheism is to be erected in the US outside a courthouse in Florida.

The 1,500lb granite bench will be placed near a Ten Commandments monument installed last year.

It is being put in place by the American Atheists, who will pay for and maintain the monument. The bench will include quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists.

The atheist monument will also include a list of Old Testament punishments for violating the Ten Commandments, which mainly involve death.

Last year, the Christian Ten Commandments monument placed outside the courthouse in Bradford County sparked a legal row.

American Atheists sued Bradford County over the monument and demanded it be removed. In retaliation, the Christian group that installed it filed another lawsuit, demanding it remain in place.

Bradford County Courthouse
Atheist protesters outside the courthouse demading their monument stay (YouTube/Cruciefiction)

David Muscato, director of public relations for the American Atheists, told the Gainesville Sun it was "only appropriate" that they have a matching monument to the Christian one, but stressed that "it's our preference that none of these are here".

He added that he believes this will be the first atheist monument to be placed on public land in the whole of the US.

Will Sexton, an attorney representing the county, said the atheist monument was permitted because it would be placed in a "free speech" area that was established in 2011. The two groups reached a deal allowing the rival monument and it will be erected at the end of June.

He said: "The atheists got something they could have had without having to go to the court."

Sexton also noted, however, that other groups wishing to put up monuments must adhere to county guidelines, which require them to include the commemoration of people, events and ideas that are historically significant to Florida and the US.

Bradford County Courthouse
The two groups reached an agreement following a legal battle over the monument (YouTube/Cruciefiction)

Some residents say they are not pleased with the atheist monument. Geraldo Ortiz, 29, told the Gainesville Sun that it was like a "slap in the face".

He said the atheist message does not fit in with the justice system, while the Ten Commandments instil moral values: "It's like, what is atheism doing? Nothing."

David Viviano, 29, who has set up the North Florida Atheists, explained it was difficult being an atheist in the area.

He moved to the state from New York and said he was constantly asked where he went to church. When he revealed he was an atheist, he said people told him he and his children were going to hell.

"I don't enjoy being condemned to hell every day," he said. "I got really frustrated with the fact that I was supposed to accept what they talked about and what they believed and they thought was real, but they wouldn't even listen to what I had to say. I don't want people to only see atheists holding up protest signs."