Bench That Features ‘God’ Quote From Pennsylvania’s Founder Relocated Following Atheist Complaint

OIL CITY, Pa. — The Oil City Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) held a public rededication ceremony outside its facility on Monday after a bench featuring a God-centered quote from Pennsylvania’s founder was given back to the organization as city leaders voted to remove the display from a public park due to a complaint from a professing atheist organization.

A crowd gathered along the banks of the Allegheny River to witness the occasion, which was heralded by patriotic music and speeches. A motorcycle guard, decked with American flags, also lined the streets to accompany the bench to the VFW property.

“The problem we’re solving today is the effect of the negative influence of persons who demand respect for their beliefs, but are not willing to do so toward others,” lamented State Rep. James Lee, R-Seneca, according to video footage from KDKA-TV.

As previously reported, American Atheists (AA) sent a letter last November to the mayor of Oil City to request that the bench, which was donated in 2003 by the VFW, be removed from Justus Park. It assert that the inscribed text violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Men who aren’t governed by God, will be governed by tyrants,” the bench reads, paraphrasing a quote that is often attributed to Pennsylvania founder William Penn, a Quaker who wrote a number of theological books and who once stood trial for “causing a tumult” in preaching in the streets.

AA contended that the quote violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which instructs that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The group also said the text is disrespectful to non-Christians.

“[T]he Tyrants Bench contains an overtly religious message which endorses one particular religious viewpoint: Christianity. The statement that ‘Men who aren’t governed by God will be governed by tyrants’ not only has absolutely nothing to do with honoring our service members, but is derisive toward the all non-Christian American service members who have served and died for this country,” its letter asserted.

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Although local residents pushed back against AA, launching a “Save the Bench” campaign and pledging over $17,000 should the city face a legal challenge, city council members voted in April to return the bench to the VFW in order to avoid the expense of a lawsuit.

Pennsylvania Founder William Penn, Quaker, street preacher and author of books such as “No Cross, No Crown”

“The quote by William Penn, appearing on the Tyrants Bench, honors Pennsylvania’s founding father, as well as the men and women who gave their lives to protect the rights of all U.S. citizens,” the Save the Bench website reads. “The Tyrants Bench is an expression of gratitude to those whom it honors, and no one has ever been forced to look at or use the bench.”

The VFW had requested that if the display was removed, that its other non-religious bench and memorial be returned as well. Therefore, all of its monuments were returned and were present for Monday’s rededication ceremony.

Some of those present said that the government should never have caved to AA.

“I don’t think [the city] studied it nearly like they should,” Venango County GOP chairwoman Martha Breene told reporters. “I know they didn’t.”

As previously reported, Pennsylvania Founder William Penn was also the author of the 1682 “Great Law,” which was a series of civil and criminal statutes based upon the fear and reverence of the Lord.

“And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid for the better prevention of corrupt communication that whosoever shall speak loosely and profanely of Almighty God, Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit or the Scriptures of truth, and is legally convicted thereof, shall for every such offence pay five shillings or suffer five days imprisonment in the house of correction at hard labour to the behoof of the public and be fed with bread and water only during that time,” one of the laws read.


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  • Trilemma

    “Men who aren’t governed by God, will be governed by tyrants.”

    Problem is God doesn’t govern. So, I guess we’re doomed to be governed always by tyrants.

    • Bob Johnson

      William Penn just couldn’t think of the many alternatives. I mean top of the list, men are not governed, that is, anarchy. Anarchy being what many have written is absolute freedom of the individual.

      • MCrow

        Anarcho-pacifism was even founded by Christians on Christian principals. It’s main critique? It requires people to basically be saints.

    • Robert

      God governs those he elects
      to eternal life through faith in Jesus. Satan governs those who choose eternal death rather than eternal life in Jesus.

      • Trilemma

        How does God govern you?

        • Sisyphus

          Being governed is a choice whether by gods or tyrants.

          • Trilemma

            Being governed by gods means being governed by people who claim to govern on behalf of god. You still get tyrants.

          • Sisyphus

            The quote of Penn on the scandalous bench seems to imply a difference. 🤓

          • Trilemma

            Yes, Mr. Penn, as is the case with many religious people, appears to be trapped in binary consciousness. So, he saw two distinct opposite choices. Religious people tend to believe that if they could set up a theocracy based on their religion, they would have some sort of utopia or heaven on Earth. Many Muslims flocked to ISIS controlled areas in the hopes of finding an Islamic utopia.

  • Jason Todd

    The irony you can cut with a knife.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      I don’t see any irony here.

      • Oboehner

        Of course you don’t.

        • zampogna

          I don’t either.

    • Shalom

      I think their standard excuse is “We don’t tolerate the intolerant.” Meaning, it’s OK for them to hate people but not OK for others.

  • meamsane

    Again, nothing at all to do with the Establishment Clause here!

    • Ambulance Chaser

      It violates the second prong of the Lemon test by promoting religion.

      • meamsane

        Lemon test? A creation of the SC not the Constitution!
        The Establishment Clause is directly related to LAW.
        Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishment of Religion…
        To establish such, it would have to be coerced by LAW. This is why the first Amendment is worded the way it is.
        Donating a park bench to a city and on public property is not “Establishing a Religion”.

        • Jason Todd

          You have an organization having a spaz over the mere mention of God. The. Mere. Mention. And you have people dropping their pants and quaking in fear instead of telling them to get stuffed, the right and proper response every time.

          Now, Ambulance Chaser deserves criticism because he actually thinks we live in a nation of judges (Lemon test my tuchis.). But of course, any criticism will result in his flagging the comment because the crybaby thinks he’s above such things, no matter how accurate or deserved they are.

          When this is deleted, my point will be proven.

          • meamsane

            “Get stuffed” is what the federal courts should be saying to these emotional lightweights!

          • Sisyphus

            Emotional lightweights? Ha, believing one is governed by some mystical diety is emotionally weak and intellectually lazy.

          • meamsane

            I’ll give your opinion all the consideration it deserves! Next!!!!

          • Jason Todd

            Flagged for blatant trolling.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I don’t know where you get the idea that I’m routinely flagging posts because they disagree with me. I’m perfectly happy to engage in legitimate debate, as long as it doesn’t involve slanderous accusations. And I definitely don’t go around blocking everyone who disagrees with me.

          • zampogna

            Oh, I think there are lots of people besides Ambulance Chaser who flag your posts.

        • Ambulance Chaser

          Despite your dogged (and bewildering) insistence to the contrary, “creations of the Supreme Court” are absolutely law.

          • meamsane

            Name the Article, Section, and Clause of the Constitution that grants to the SC “some” legislative authority other than Congress as the “law making body”?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I’m not going to name the Article, Section, or Clause that does anything. I have no interest in getting into theoretical, philosophical debates about issues that have been settled for 200 years.

            Case law is how our legal system has functioned since time immemorial, predating even the founding of the United States. I’m tired of trying to justify it, because A) you won’t agree with me and B) whether I can or cannot justify it is immaterial. THIS IS HOW IT WORKS. This is not up for debate, and there is no lawyer, judge, or law professor in America who would argue this with me.

          • meamsane

            You can’t provide it because it is not there! your answer is a total cop-out and excuse. And we are not talking about theory here, but fixed and set principles contained in the Constitution.
            Actually, there are judges and lawyers that would argue with you. Some of them actually do defend our Constitution.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Such as?

          • meamsane

            I am not going to name…………

          • Jason Todd

            Name what?

          • meamsane

            Judges and lawyers that would disagree with his deification of SC opinions!
            I don’t feel obliged to give names since he will not show me in the Constitution the clause that backs his assertions.

          • Jason Todd

            Mark Levin. Jay Sekulow. Jeanine Pirro. Off the top of my head.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Let’s be careful about what you’re accusing Jeanine Pirro of. You’re saying that if I went into her courtroom when she was a judge, I could cite the most perfectly on-point case law to support my position, and she would ignore it if she felt like it. Are you seriously prepared to level that kind of charge against her? Because that’s a VERY serious thing to accuse a judge of doing.

          • meamsane

            I’m not so sure about Jeanine Pirro. But DR. Edwin Vieira is another. A legal Scholar. Harvard Grad. There are others. It is a false statement by AC that all lawyers, judges and scholars in the US would agree with him. He simply does not care to know the truth.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Aside from the fact that Edwin Vieira is a far-right, militia-movement crank, his writings include NUMEROUS citations to case law, so no, Vieira isn’t going to do it for you.

          • meamsane

            HAHA! Far-right? Your exposing your politics! So he cites case law? What better way to expose the pretense of modern day judges (as if they were) defending our Constitution. Its fortunate that he is not a far-left drone without an original thought in his head. Drones don’t like thinkers.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            “So he cites case law? What better way to expose the pretense of modern day judges (as if they were) defending our Constitution”

            I don’t know what that means, but if you’re trying to hold up Edwin Vieira as some paragon of a movement that doesn’t believe in case law (again, kind of like a movement among physicists that doesn’t believe in calculus), then you’re wrong. Vieira cites plenty of case law to cite it, not to “expose the pretense” of anything.

            Anyway, we seem to have left the point behind several paragraphs ago. Can you explain your position in one sentence so I know what it is I’m supposedly not understanding?

          • meamsane

            The point you made was that no judge, scholar, or lawyer would disagree with you. I.E. that the SC is the final word on what is Constitutional or that what the SC says is law. That statement by you is false. Edwin Vieira believes that is a myth. He is a legal scholar. Not believing in case law was no point I made at all.
            Article 3 of the Constitution does not say at all that the SC is the final word. they gave themselves this power in 1803. There is also no evidence in the Constitutional Convention that the Founders intended the SC to be the final word. I believe in original intent and that the federalist papers are the best explanation of the meaning of our Constitution that there is. That is my position. We simply disagree.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Then who decides what the original intent of the Founders would be in any particular case?

          • Jason Todd

            That’s an understatement.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            So there are none then. Got it.

          • Sedagive

            The Supreme Court doesn’t legislate. It doesn’t create new laws. It simply mandates which laws are constitutional, of the ones it covers. But anything that it does decide is law.

          • Robert

            Our pope in all things is the bible Gods word and not the united states supreme less court or the u.s. constitution . Do you understand now ? Its about as simple as I can make it for you

          • Robert

            Why do you have so much faith in laws ? no one is following them. People even kill the cops that try to in force them . from simple no speeding
            Laws to murder or robbery laws they are not obeyed. Laws disappear any way ,when no one wants them . such as forbidding alcohol. Laws they can’t even regulate alchol or drug use people constantly disobey them and they can not even guarantee you this life or a happy life and they certainly can not give you everlasting life. So why do you have so much faith in laws? Why have you made them your god ? When they prove useless and cause so much anger and hate so often?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            …huh?

      • Robert

        You violate common sense and. reason but your not banned here. Lol

        • Ambulance Chaser

          I “violate common sense and reason” because I expect that if we discuss legal issues that we do it according to how legal issues are actually litigated in real-world courts?

        • Jason Evans

          Can I offer to refill your prescription?

      • NCOriolesFan

        The only lemons is the AA.

  • Oboehner

    There goes those people who claim to simply “not believe” going nuts over it like some kind of religious zealots.

    • zampogna

      You can’t put items that promote religion in public areas. It’s just that simple, why can’t you understand that? This is going to crop up again and again and again, and you’re going to lose every single time.

      • Robert

        Psalm 2:12

      • Oboehner

        Says who? And what about “cavemen” in public museums? Lose? When did that happen?

        • zampogna

          Sorry you are so troubled by facts, but that is what you are up against here. Cavemen belong in museums. And you guys keep losing these battles over and over.

          • Oboehner

            Cavemen belong with unicorns, fairies and pixie dust – none of them ever existed. Cavemen are merely a figment of a religious belief.

          • zampogna

            Depends what you are calling cavemen. Prehistoric men existed and we have the fossils to prove it.

          • Oboehner

            Like Piltdown Man? ROFL, maybe Nebraska Man? Lucy the baboon? LOL. You people really crack me up!

          • zampogna

            Did I mention hoaxes? No? Then why bring them up?

          • Oboehner

            Perhaps because ALL of the supposed “cavemen” are hoaxes. So yes, you did mention hoaxes.

          • zampogna

            You said cavemen. I said prehistoric man which is a science word you might have heard before.

          • Oboehner

            Oh I see, all true because someone slapped a sciencey word on it. Too bad they just don’t have anything to go with those empty words.

          • zampogna

            Yep, that would be the scientists who did that. And guess what? Scientists know and study…science.

          • Oboehner

            Using your logic the moon is made of green cheese, after all we have food science and Selenography which scientists know and study… science.

          • zampogna

            That’s not my logic, that’s your attempt to mock my logic with a terrible analogy. No one involved in selenography or food science has ever claimed the moon is made of green cheese.

          • Oboehner

            Nope, it’s EXACTLY what you were attempting to do, claim validity based on an applied sciencey name. Can you prove no one involved in selenography or food science has ever claimed the moon is made of green cheese? Didn’t think so.

          • zampogna

            That is too daft to entertain, sorry. If the claim had been made we would be hearing about it in the news or elsewhere. Are you saying we have to assume someone said it because no one can prove they didn’t?

          • Oboehner

            Can’t entertain so you slap the “daft” label on it, got it.
            What “scientists” believe and what they can prove are two different things. What they BELIEVE is far from fact, it all depends on their worldview.

          • zampogna

            Correct. It’s too daft to entertain. Not worthy of an educated mind. Try again when you have something worthwhile.

            Scientists don’t do anything based on what they believe apart from test hypotheses. What they believe doesn’t matter and is worthless just like their worldview. It’s what they discover that matters. They don’t make things come true based on their desires.

          • Oboehner

            That tosses evolutionism out the window then.

          • zampogna

            Whatever evolutionism is.

          • Oboehner

            Your religion.

          • zampogna

            There is no such word.

          • Oboehner

            Look closely, it’s there.

          • zampogna

            The work you seem to be corrupting is evolution. And it’s not an “ism”. Why do you have trouble saying evolution like every other civilized human being, even those who oppose it?

          • Oboehner

            I am more intellectually honest, why do people call it creationism?

          • zampogna

            Because it’s faith-based and cannot be proven. Unlike evolution.

          • Oboehner

            EXACTLY like evolutionism.

          • zampogna

            Gee, all those evolutionary biologists, daily working in the reality you work so hard to deny. They must really ruin your day.

          • Oboehner

            Guess all those appeal to authority argument mean something in your little world, I prefer testable, repeatable, actual science.

          • zampogna

            No you don’t. What you prefer is holy books, blind faith and a old paranoid revenge fantasy story.

          • zampogna

            Lucy isn’t a hoax by the way.

          • Oboehner

            Lucy = 2% miscellaneous bones, 10% baboon remains, and 88% imagination.

          • zampogna

            I see, is that your professional, archaeologically-approved statement on the matter?

          • Oboehner

            I’m not a meteorologist, but I can see the sky is blue.

          • zampogna

            So assessing the weather requires the same level of knowledge as archaeology. Amazing.

          • Oboehner

            Ever do a little reading, look at some pictures at least?

          • zampogna

            Just the usual amount for someone who didn’t choose that as my field of lifetime study, why?

          • Oboehner

            Not your field of study yet you are somehow qualified to discuss it?

          • zampogna

            Just as I know gravity exists as it’s been proven by the guy(s) who studied it, and I didn’t need to study it myself, so it is with scientists and archaeologists. They prove things and they get other scientists to test their findings. No Magic holy books or faith involved.

          • Oboehner

            So it’s ok for you…
            Yes there is faith involved, sorry. Unless you have documentation from bazillions of years ago.

          • zampogna

            We do, and if you disbelieve the dating methods used by people far smarter than you, then your head is firmly stuck up your…..sandbox.

          • Oboehner

            So they have the documentation from bazillions of years ago? If not their “dating system” is too rife with assumption, speculation, and plain old religious belief to be any more than a sad little joke.

          • zampogna

            Well your utter distrust of what has been long accepted amounts to little more than a tantrum, bub.

          • Oboehner

            “long accepted” That all the “facts” you have? Your blind faith is strong – bub.

          • zampogna

            You have already shown the kinds of science that you refuse to believe because of your fundamentalism. Callingvthat “blind faith” only shows how deep you can dig your heels in to avoid the reality the rest of us enjoy.

          • Oboehner

            Sorry you are trouble with a total lack of facts.

          • zampogna

            I’m not. Cavemen are in museums, people trying to plant religious figures on public property keep getting shut down. You guys are moths flying into flame over and over. What lack of facts is plaguing me?

          • Oboehner

            Cavemen ARE mythological religious figures on public property. Are you trying to say your religion is ok to shove on the public?
            Lack of ANY proof whatsoever for your religious beliefs, try those facts.

          • zampogna

            Wow, just wow.
            A visit to a museum would be an eye-opener for you. You could also see the mythical dinosaur skeletons while you are there, and then you could go to the concession for a nice soda.

          • Oboehner

            Did I say the dinosaur skeletons are mythological or are you throwing out the desperation strawman? Cavemen ARE mythological religious figures on public property.

          • zampogna

            Prehistoric men have skeletons too.

          • Oboehner

            Correction, mythological skeletons. Interesting how we have so many full skeletons of dinosaurs, yet nothing but hoaxes and empty claims of “cavemen” bones.

          • zampogna

            What is a “mythological skeleton”?

          • Oboehner

            mythological: adjective; myth·o·log·i·calˌmi-thə-ˈlä-ji-kəl – lacking factual basis or historical validity.

            skeleton: noun; skel·e·ton /ˈske-lə-tən – a usually rigid supportive or protective structure or framework of an organism.
            Merriam/Webster

          • zampogna

            So what, they BUILT fake skeletons of prehistoric men for the world’s museums?

          • Oboehner

            Piltdown anyone?

          • zampogna

            Your one agreed-upon hoax aside, are you SERIOUSLY saying they built fake skeletons for all the museums?

          • Oboehner

            A couple of bone fragments and a lot of imagination and voila!

          • zampogna

            I prefer to leave those sorts of things up to people who actually study them for a living.

          • Oboehner

            There’s your blind faith, see that was easy.

          • zampogna

            No, because I’m not putting faith in witch doctors, I’m consulting people who actually know and are not making any guesses.

          • Oboehner

            There, more blind faith that you know they actually know anything and aren’t pumping you full of BS.

          • zampogna

            They do.

          • Oboehner

            Blind faith again.

          • zampogna

            That’s your department, not mine. I have never put blind faith in anything, and never will.

          • Oboehner

            ” I have never put blind faith in anything, and never will.” Too late, you already admitted to it.
            Unless of course you can produce one shred of proof for your religious beliefs.

          • zampogna

            I admitted nothing. Don’t put words in my mouth. I have no religion nor any religious beliefs, and once again, you can call consultation of facts “appeal to authority” all you want but no one cares. There IS such a thing as appeal to authority, it’s one of the most egregious logical fallacies there is, but it’s in a domain inhabited entirely by people of faith. Which means you, not me.

          • Gross Prophet

            I don’t know how you have such patience, or care to spend so much time on what is obviously a losing effort/lost cause. This guy is so knowledge-averse it’s a wonder he manages to use a computer — and I believe he enjoys being a contrarian, and yanking people’s chains — also known as a troll.

          • zampogna

            Sadly, I have had enough of an exchange with him now to know that he ACTUALLY believes what he says he does. As unbelievable as it may sound.

          • Oboehner

            Facts that you cannot produce, ignoring the fact all you have is blind faith in a religious belief.

          • zampogna

            You’re denying such a huge catalog of iron clad facts it’s a little difficult not to laugh at you.

          • Oboehner

            “a huge catalog of iron clad facts” Yet you can’t seem to come up with one single fact, it’s a little difficult not to laugh at you.

          • zampogna

            Which of the massive catalog of the facts you are choosing to ignore would you like reiterated so you can laugh at all the scientists who verified it?

  • Not Guilty

    That bench make look innocent, but it’s notorious for jumping on people and trying to convert them to Christianity.

    You can’t be too careful. Once the word “God” appears in public, theocracy sets in, instantly.

  • Harry Oh!

    Legal mumbo-jumbo aside, the fact is that the AA and the extremists who agree with them, prove beyond any doubt the accuracy of the Tyrant quote.

    • Robert

      Yes and your god is who or what you
      Place your faith in. Placing your faith in laws or one self is foolishness.

    • NCOriolesFan

      Bingo!

  • Becky

    “AA contended that the quote violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which instructs that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.'”

    A quote on a bench does not a law make.

  • Herrnhut

    1682 was a good year. It had more than 3 centuries of blessings from Jesus our LORD. 2017 is an excellent year as it has been 2 days (thousand years) of when Jesus stayed at Sychar with the Samaritans (the Gentile church) when we will tell the woman evangelist (the church) “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

  • http://HisPlaceDanville.com Stephen Anderson

    And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (Rom 1:28 KJV)