Atheists want bible verse removed from University of Florida building; student complained

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Photo by Ben Tanner

Gainesville, Florida — The same group that attacked the City of Ocala and wanted the words “God be with Us” removed from the city seal, has now launched an attack on the University of Florida.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation said that UF has a bible verse carved into an archway of one of its building and it must be removed.

The group said a student at the school was offended by it and sent them a picture. The identity of the student is not being released to the media for fear of retaliation from other students.

UF’s Heavener Hall building has a bible verse on an archway that reads, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your god. Micah 6:8.”

On Monday, FFRF said they filed a complaint with university president W. Kent Fuchs.

FFRF says it is the nation’s largest association of nonbelievers, and serves as a state church watchdog with more than 22,000 members nationwide, including more than 1,000 in Florida.

A number of atheist websites have also joined in on the attack.

“The First Amendment prohibits the University from lending its voice to sectarian religious speech,” FFRF wrote on its website. “When a school chooses to display an excerpt from a religious text, it signals to students who hold differing beliefs that they are outsiders, that they are excluded from the campus community.”

“This inscription violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and cannot remain on university property,” wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel.

Seidel also said that the choice of verse was “in poor taste.” Chapter 6 of Micah is “a scathing indictment of the tribe of Israel,” said Seidel, in which “God declares that neither animal sacrifice nor human sacrifice will appease him, promises Israel to ‘make you ill and destroy you,’ and swears to kill infants: ‘what you bring to birth I will give to the sword.’ ”

Seidel went on to say the passage directly preceding the inscription, Micah 6:7, “contemplates killing one’s own child to obtain absolution,” charges FFRF, quoting the verse: “Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

“While the University of Florida most certainly does not endorse child sacrifice or genocide, chapter 6 of Micah does. If adhering to the Constitution is not reason enough to remove the quote, perhaps a desire to condemn genocide is,” concluded Seidel.

Heavener Hall is named after a local business leader who made a generous contribution toward its construction.

Hemant Mehta from Patheos.com, a group that refers to itself as “friendly atheist” wrote, “Why anyone thinks that belongs on the property of a public university, I don’t know. Walking humbly with God certainly won’t improve your prospects in the business world.”

FFRF said the only solution is to remove the bible verse.

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn and the City Council did not back down to the group, and kept the city seal intact.

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