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Oil City VFW Just Says ‘No’ to Atheists

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 @ 12:11 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – The Oil City VFW likes its bench in Justus Park just the way it is and decided to decline a request by the American Atheists Legal Center (AALC) to replace it because of wording that the AALC believed violates the First Amendment.

As reported last week by exploreVenango.com, AALC even offered to replace the bench with different wording at no cost to Oil City taxpayers, but that didn’t sway VFW Post 464 who donated the bench and three other memorials to the park in 2003.

The bench in question, the Tyrants Bench, contains the quotation “Men Who Aren’t Governed By God, Will Be Governed By Tyrants.”  The atheist group felt the wording on a public park likely violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and does not fairly consider veterans who are also atheists.

The letter was sent to Oil City Mayor Bill Moon, and Moon asked VFW Commander Jason Reed for a reply because it is a VFW memorial and donated by the local post. He asked the post to decide what it wants to do.

The post didn’t take long to decide and voted unanimously late last week to reject the request.

“I wanted to get this out to everybody when I saw the letter; it’s absolutely insane,” said Reed.  “They said we had five days to respond, but then what?  They quoted some legal cases, but I have other cases, too.  If it goes anywhere, a judge is not going to take that away.  If they want to go the legal way, I am talking to attorneys about any legal right they have to come in here and make us do this.”

As a practical matter, the bench in question is made out of black marble and could be quite expensive.

“It’s more expensive than it was in 2003; I can guarantee that.”

For more from last Wednesday’s story, click here.

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