The eternal war between righteous Christians and smarmy nonbelievers has a new ground zero: rural Highway 98 in Polk County, Florida. First, a religious group called Polk Under Prayer blessed the Central Florida asphalt strip with "holy oil" to protect the county from Satan, "evildoers" and "the drug crowd." This weekend, the atheists struck back. With an industrial-sized tank of "unholy water," they washed away the oil and declared: "We come in peace."
"This event is not about atheist rights, it's about welcoming everyone into Polk County," Humanists of Florida director Mark Palmer says.
A coalition of atheists spent the day on Saturday scrubbing away at the highway, reports Bay News 9 out of Lakeland.
The "un-blessing" came about a year after Prayer Under Polk anointed the highway. The group's leader says they've been blessing the county line to keep the bad guys away.
"(We've been) praying for that entryway in to the city, that God would protect us from evildoers, mainly the drug crowd, that they would be dissuaded to come in to the county," group director Richard Geringswald tells the station.
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The atheists, though, says all the holy oils and praying are just meant to make un-believers feel unwelcome.
"It sends a very bad signal to everyone in Polk County, and (anyone) who travels through Polk county who doesn't happen to be Christian," Palmer says.
This isn't the first time Polk County has been the staging ground for a clash between the worshipful and the skeptics. Palmer's group clashed last year with Geringswald after Prayer Under Polk buried "prayer bricks" promising that "the wicked shall be destroyed" all along I-4.