Should an Atheist Complain About a ‘Church Bulletin’ Discount?

In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, atheist John Wolff went to the website for the local Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen and was surprised to see a special discount on Sunday that seemed to specifically exclude him:

Prudhomme said she began offering the discount a little more than a year ago. She said she has offered all kinds of discounts or incentives at various times, including some to senior citizens, early-bird diners, children under 12, people who shop at certain other Columbia businesses and even Columbia High School students.

“I thought it would be nice to do something for Sunday dinners and encourage people to come in,” she said.

Wolff said he was disturbed when he found the offer on Prudhomme’s website. He said was considering eating there, but never did.

“I don’t consider it an earthshaking affair, but in this area in particular, we seem to have so many self-righteous religious people, so it just annoys me,” he said.

We’ve seen the same type of marketing campaign before, once at a Denny’s restaurant, and once at a Mexican restaurant. I’m sure it happens at plenty of other places, too.

Here’s what I would have done in Wolff’s shoes: Bring in a flyer from a local atheist gathering. (Or even a local mosque.) See if you get the discount. If you don’t, then you can say they’re discriminating against non-Christians. If the owner is just trying to drum up business, I doubt they would really complain about a group of atheists showing up just to capitalize on the discount. (The owner admitted that she doesn’t even attend church herself. She just wants more customers.)

Even if that didn’t make your legal case any stronger, it would make for a *much* more interesting news story.

But Wolff skipped that step and rush directly to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The FFRF sent the restaurant a letter of warning (PDF) in the past and twice more since then — no response from the restaurant owners yet.

The FFRF letter says that the restaurant is violating the Civil Rights Act, which says in part that “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation…” But I’m sure the owners would argue they’re not violating it because they welcome atheists to their restaurant. They’re just offering a discount for people who bring in a particular form of a coupon. (I’m not suggesting that’s a good argument, for what it’s worth.)

One lawyer I spoke to also says a possible lawsuit could have some merit because this particular discount shows an intent to discriminate, suggesting it’s similar to if the restaurant said “10% discount for white people.” But in that case, they’re also saying “no blacks allowed” and that’s a problem. Saying that you’ll give a discount for church bulletins isn’t necessarily the same thing to me as “discount for Christians only” — it could honestly be an issue of using the wrong phrasing. That’s why this would be more obviously discrimination in my (non-lawyer) eyes if Wolff had actually gotten rejected with an atheist bulletin.

I’m also wondering what the difference is between what Prudhomme offered and, say, a Senior Citizen’s discount or a Ladies’ Night discount. Couldn’t you argue it’s all discriminating against a certain class of people?

If a lawsuit is filed, is there really any chance Wolff would win the case?

Just to be clear, I’m not supporting the restaurant owners. I think what they’re doing is a bad business decision that’s backfiring on them because of the negative publicity this story is attracting. I’m just interested in whether atheists could successfully argue that this is a form of discrimination.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Fsdfd

    Trying to sue a restaurant for this reason is retarded.  This is sort of complaining that leads people to hate atheists.

    http://i.imgur.com/Ywdxl.jpg

    Lemme guess, you’re fine with this?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Stephica Stephanie Taylor

      I agree, and find this quote especially ironic 
      “I don’t consider it an earthshaking affair, but in this area in particular, we seem to have so many self-righteous religious people, so it just annoys me[...]”

      Take out the religious part and I think it describes the complainer.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Cool it with the ableist language, k?

    • Randomfactor

      I certainly think SOMEONE should bring the law to the attention of the restaurant owners.  But I’d think it ought to be someone who asked for an equivalent discount and was refused.

  • Rich Lane

    We used to go by the churches on Sunday and pick up bulletins from the top of the trash bins after services.  Why waste a discount coupon if someone else is throwing it away? :)

  • Gordon Duffy

    I never understand why people are so quick to condemn the person who complains about these things.

    Is it only ok when they are in High School?

    • Fsdfd

      You cannot see a reason to differentiate between a government funded institution and a private enterprise?

      Really?

      • ortcutt

        We have public accommodations discrimination laws.  Those apply to private businesses.   So, I fail to see your point.

        • Fsdfd

          Private businesses deserve a high level of autonomy as they aren’t funded by tax payer money. 

          Why in the world would anyone support a law that makes it illegal to offer discounts to church going people? It’s purely draconian.

          • ortcutt

            If you want to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, talk to your Congressperson.  I’m just telling you what the law is and what Mr. Wolff’s legal rights are.

      • Isilzha

         I think it’s an interesting question.  It does seem to be offering discounts (giving preferential treatment) for one particular religious group, xians, since they are typically the ones who have their religious meeting on Sunday and use bulletins.  

      • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

         What is it with you people who think that private businesses can legally discriminate?  Have you been asleep since 1964?  Wake up.

    • revaaron

       No, it’s just only OK when a the law is actually being broken.

      You see, public schools are an extension of government. There would be an actionable complaint if a public school offered a discount on school lunches specifically to Christian students.

  • http://www.lxndr.com/ Alexander Unwyn Cherry

    There are bars in my area that offer a free beer to people who bring in a ticket stub for any shows at nearby venues. Is that unfair discrimination to me, since I don’t go to these venues for shows?

    There’s also a lot of places at the food courts in local malls that give discounts for possessors of movie tickets.

    Apart from the presence of religion, how does this at all differ? 

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Religion is a protected status.  As is sex.  Age is, but only if one is over 40 (and only for employment?  I forget).  So bringing in a ticket is just a coupon.  Anyone can go to a show and get a ticket.  An old age discount isn’t discriminating against an old person, it’s discriminating against young people, and young people aren’t a protected status.

      Ladies night? Hm.Heck, service members get lots of discounts.  And I’ve even seen that extended to ‘heroes’ which sometimes includes teachers.

      • revaaron

         And bringing in a church bulletin is just a coupon. No profession of faith required. She’s trying to drum up business on a typically slow day- the obvious thing is to do something to attract a market which often eats out on the day.

        • Kodie

          Sunday is not a typically slow day. Tuesday is a typically slow day. Families eat dinners together on Sundays, sometimes at a restaurant, sometimes because they went to church, but sometimes because it is (due to Christian predominance and presumption) a traditional day of the week where busy families sit down together for a nice dinner. There’s a War on Sunday Dinner now because someone’s trying to impress upon the owner and the rest of you that other people eat dinner on Sunday? Entitling one religious group to a discount, not taking down the ad, not being able to think of another gimmick to drive business? Does it work? Does it keep the atheists away? Or does it make them set foot in a church so they can have a coupon too? And maybe find the lord if they’re so militant for their 10%.

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      Suppose one of those venues was a men’s only club?  Suppose it was a club only for members of a certain ethnic background?

      Anyone can go to one of those shows.  You choose not to; it’s not that you are prevented from going.  

      The only argument that would fly in my opinion is that it doesn’t require church attendance.  If you can stop by the church and pick up a bulletin to use as a coupon, it’s not much different from stopping by the newsstand to pick up the local free weekly or other non-delivered paper.  

      • The Captain

        Just to nitpick here… most times anyone can go to the church too. 

        As an atheist I would much rather sit through a 90 minute church service for free  wings than sit through a movie like The Brides Maids.

        • revaaron

           Better yet, you don’t even have to sit through the service- just grab one from the lobby at any point. Preferably during service so you don’t have to waste time chatting.

    • ortcutt

      Tickets to those shows aren’t concomitants of race, color, religion, or national origin, so no.

      • revaaron

        What if it was a show marketed to, created for, or primarily attended by members of a particular gender, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, or national origin?

    • ReadsInTrees

      I agree with you. The discount wasn’t for “Christians only”, it was just anyone with a church flier.  If the discount is so important, just go to a church and grab a flier. They hand them out for free, no questions asked (usually). 

      • Randomfactor

        I’d love to hear what happens if someone brings in a flier from a mosque.

        • Isilzha

          From the way the ad is worded it could be declined as it would not have Sunday’s date on it.

          • Kari Lynn

            It just says “current church bulletin” I would assume that anything from that week would be fine.

  • Tainda

    Easy fix, don’t eat there.

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      Easy fix, Black people.  Just sit at the back of the bus.  You’re going to the same bus stops, right?  Who cares if Whites are given preference for seats?

      • flyb

         This is a ridiculous analogy. White people don’t ride the bus.

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

    People go to church, then they go to lunch, often as a group.  The owner’s just trying to incentivize those groups to go to her restaurant rather than another.  Big deal.  I imagine the guy could have sweet talked his way into the discount if he needed to.  It’s sort of like driving the car from your garage to the sidewalk to get the paper.  It gets the job done, in a way, but is unnecessary overkill.

    • Isilzha

      I think we all understand WHY she was doing it.  However, the question is does it amount to religious discrimination in public accommodation.

      • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

         Kinda my point, y’know?  Lawsuit = overkill IMO.

  • Also

    What about those places that offer “ladies’ night” specials?

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Good point. If anything, I think that is far more discriminatory than the church bulletin discount. Ladies get in free, but I have to pay? Enjoy the… what’s the opposite of a sausage fest? :-P

      • Christinatrin

         …melon…party?

      • http://msmith13.wordpress.com/ Mark

         A clambake? (I wish I could take credit for that one.)

        • Drew M.

           Oh, that one is simply brilliant!

      • Also

        Tuna melt?

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      Those are actually illegal in many states and in the UK.  It was considered illegal in general, in violation of the 14th Amendment and then the Civil Rights Act, until September 2010, when Hollander v. Copacabana Nightclub was thrown out by the 2nd Circuit Appeals Court.  

      • ortcutt

         It’s not protected by the 14th Amendment because there’s no state action with a private public accommodation.  The Federal Civil Rights Act doesn’t count  sex as a protected class for public accommodations discrimination, but many state civil rights laws do, so many state courts have ruled Ladies’ Night promotions illegal. 

    • Annie

      The college town where I live tried to do away with Ladies’ Nights a few years ago.  The result was that bars started having “high heel” and “shaved legs” nights… and yes, some college men wore heels or shaved their legs to get free drinks. 

      • Isilzha

        More men should shave their legs and wear heels. 

      • Baby_Raptor

        I respect those men. 

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Cyclists and swimmers are some of the best conditioned athletes.

    • ReadsInTrees

      I’ve seen one recently for “Any kids wearing a baseball uniform”. Is that discriminatory towards kids who are handicapped and cannot play sports? Will they accept a softball uniform, since many schools still do not allow girls to join the boys’ baseball team?

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        You may not think so, but you actually brought up a pretty good point. If you have a special for people wearing a uniform that incidentally may only be allowed by one gender, is that still discrimination? It’s worth talking about, even if not in the context of the above article.

  • Crunkabortion

    What a douchebag. 

  • Rchar92767

    It’s different from Ladies Nights and Senior Citizen discounts because the federal laws that address “privately owned facilities that offer food, lodging, gasoline or entertainment
    to the public” (aka public accommodations) prevent discrimination based on national origin, race, color and religion only. Gender and age are not protected classes in this particular area. 

    • Coyotenose

       Exactly! Otherwise we couldn’t keep little kids out of bars. They make funny drunks, but it still seems wrong somehow.

    • Emb

       an atheist can use this coupon though.  you don’t have to be a christian to use the coupon.  you need to know how to get it.  Its no different than say a coupon that is placed in a brochure for a high school play.  A non Highschool person can use the coupon.

      • Rchar92767

        Right. But that wasn’t the question. The question was what is the difference between this and Ladies Nights and Senior Citizen discounts. The difference is that federal law doesn’t cover gender or age in this realm.

        • The Captain

          So then little league ticket promotions are discriminating then?

          How about cub scout discounts?

  • http://twitter.com/geekexile Brian Fields

    This complaint has been going on for over a year now.  It’s just now coming to light because John filed the PHRC complaint.

    He
    didn’t “rush off” to do anything – The fact is that they refused to do
    anything about it for nearly a year before John put in an official
    complaint, even after the FFRF sent them three letters.  If you read the FFRF link, you will see that this issue was brought to the FFRF in April of *2011* – Hardly rushing off to do anything.

    The PHRC
    isn’t like filing a lawsuit – It is a mediation board – Designed to see
    if there’s any merit to the complaint, and to work to come to a
    resolution in a fair manner, or to refer the case to the court system if
    there’s merit to the complaint and a compromise can’t be mediated.

  • The Captain

    What a douche bag! This is no different than “ladies night”, “buy one get one free with college ID”, or 1/2 off with ticket stub promotions. Hell even “happy hour” “discriminates” against people who work during those hours right? And I can’t quite agree with  your recommendation of brining the local atheist flyer. Should a restaurant that offers 1/2 off wings with a ticket from the local little league baseball game also have to honor that discount for some guy who shows up with a ticket from a monster truck pull two towns over also?

    Even worse this is not some massive national chain that is institutionalizing “discrimination”. This appears to be a local restaurant trying it’s best to gin up some business by getting the church crowed to show up. This isn’t “the man” he’s fighting!

    And for all those that say not to eat there… Grow the hell up. So a promotion wasn’t geared towards you. So what. Are you all also going to stop going to restaurants that have Groupon deals since they are discriminating against people who don’t have iphones or the internet? Dollars to donuts says you don’t.

    • Tainda

      When I said “don’t eat there” I was saying, quit your damned whining and go somewhere else.  

      I also think this guy is a douche.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      What a douche bag! Who are you to say whether or not we decide to eat there as a result of this? Free market, yo.

      • The Captain

        Free speech thats how I am to say. You know, the “free market” of ideas?

        Also nothing makes one sound more like a dumb tween than ending a sentence with “yo”. You typed that!

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          I know I typed that, yo. What’s the matter, bro? U mad?

  • Thin-ice

    Meh, if that cafe wants the church crowd, they are welcome to them. All the waiters and waitresses who I’ve ever talked to say that the Sunday church crowd gives the least tips and is the most demanding of all their customers. 

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

       The thinking there was probably, “If we give them a discount, they’ll have more to tip with.” Pipe dream…

      • amycas

         No, they always tip on the discounted price. So annoying.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Hey, a cat can dream, can’t she?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/47IDX2QAR6VU6ZAILFU6I23ACQ Joseph

      My wife used to wait tables at a “family restaurant” back in grad school.  On numerous occasions, customers who ate there after church on Sunday would tell her, without a hint of irony, that they weren’t leaving her a tip because she “shouldn’t be working on the Lord’s Day.”

      • Kaydenpat

        Ha!!

  • Emb

    Its in the phrasing of the coupon.  I don’t find any issue with this discount.  Its like putting a coupon in a brochure specially made for say a high school play.  anyone can use the coupon, an atheist can use the coupon. They are allowed to go into the church and get a bulletin.  The bulletin is free and can be gotten.  Just like the high school flyer with the coupon on it.  Attacks for Radical means just to be Radical isn’t progressive, its just being Radical.  Which is no different than the other side.

    • Bubba Tarandfeathered

       No true atheist would ever step into a church just get a 10% discount off their dinner.

      • http://billybobsbibleblog.blogspot.com/ billybobbibb

        Isn’t this the ‘No True Scotsman” fallacy, except applied to atheists?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

          I think that was the joke…

        • Bubba Tarandfeathered

           Are we cousins?

      • Isilzha

        Technically, the church could prohibit them from coming into the church and stealing church property.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Hey, I would.

        (What?)

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          My wife would be completely confused as to what the big deal is.  And she’d take several copies of the church bulletin, just in case.  Saving money trumps pretty much anything else.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Having been a starving student at one point, fairly recently, even, saving money DOES trump everything. Well… everything but safety. Safety always comes first.

    • Isilzha

      Well, the problem is the bulletin  isn’t actually free to the public.  It’s there for the use of the people attending the service.  Also, a church isn’t really open to the public, not in the sense that stores and restaurants are suppose to be.  So, if they knew your intent for being there was just to snag a bulletin out of the trash then they could bar your access.  I’m not saying that’s likely, but that’s part of the idea behind the question of if this discount violates public accommodation. 

      • ReadsInTrees

        I’m pretty certain anyone could obtain a church bulletin with minimal effort. I know of very few churches who quiz you before letting you in through the doors. Most are so eager for fresh meat that it’s a “come one, come all” policy. They’d probably be thrilled to have an atheist come in who might inadvertently absorb some Jesus vibes and get converted. 

        • Isilzha

          That’s not really the point.  Religious building are different than private businesses because they do have more freedom to discriminate than others.  If they knew your intent was just to take a bulletin and leave then they can bar your access to the bulletin and therefore to you receiving the discount.  Also, the bulletin is something produced by the church, at the church’s expense and it’s use is reserved for those attending the church service. 

          What you’re saying sort of proves my point because for an atheist to get the discount they must lie, sneak, steal and risk harassment for their lack of religious beliefs in order to obtain a bulletin.  Therefore, the discount can be seen as discriminatory. 

          • ReadsInTrees

            Or an atheist could just go to a UU church, which is welcoming to atheists.

            • Isilzha

              Well, I was kicked out of attending a UU church because I actually questioned if a newsletter article banning disposable tissues was serious.  I honestly didn’t know and when I was told it was serious and that members should bring cloth handkerchiefs, I couldn’t hide my incredulity that I was actually HAVING such a conversation.  It was then I was told that obviously the UU church wasn’t the right place to mean and I should find somewhere better suited. 

              Seriously, THAT actually happened.  It was then I realized I was DONE with any and all vestiges of religion.  So, UU churches can be just as weirdly dogmatic as any other place.  If you don’t drink their particular brand of Kool-Aid, then you’re not welcome.  So, for that UU church apparently I wasn’t environmentally “enlightened” enough to attend.

              • Tainda

                Ok, I have to ask.  Why are disposable tissues banned?  Is it because they have to pick them up after because people throw them on the floor or a more idiotic reason?

                • Isilzha

                  Nope, only because the cloth ones are reusable and therefore they believe it’s better for the environment.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

                Huh. I was just thinking earlier today whether I should check out the local UU church. Now that you mention it though, I can see it being a bit uppity (still might check it out though). It reminds me of one college class I was in and people were supposed to bring food the next day. One girl raised her hand and said, “Just be careful you guys because some things like honey aren’t vegan.”
                Idk. I’m liberal and tolerant and everything, but it seems like when big groups of people like that get together, they’re so worried about every tiny little thing and they expect everyone else to be too. 

                • revaaron

                   Fortunately, not all UU congregations are that way.

      • Birdie1986

        I’m fairly certain that most churches take the position that the “house of God” is open to all, and they would be happy for you to take the bulletin, as it helps them to spread “the Word” so I think your argument doesn’t fly.

        • Isilzha

          Well, it depends.  The thing is that someone would still have to go onto church property under false pretenses and take a bulletin intended only for use by those attending services.  Further, if the person was honest about there intent the church COULD legally bar them from the property.  Also, the person could face harassment do to their religious beliefs when trying to acquire the bulletin.  The problem is that the discount requires alot more effort and relative risk for an atheist than a christian.  So, it does discriminate based on religion. 

          I’m confused as to why so many atheists want to support any form of religious privilege in secular society. 

          Also, I’m seen MANY churches NOT be welcoming to many different people when I was a kid.  A church is NOT really open to all as they can discriminate.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

            I wouldn’t say that any atheist is necessarily in support of this, it just doesn’t bother some of us that much. Plenty of stores or restaurants offer discounts to sports teams, college kids, ladies nights or whatever. People are “discriminated” against all the time if they’re not in these special groups.
            I just think that if you start saying that you can’t offer discounts to certain people, the logical conclusion is that you can’t off

        • Kodie

          How many extra flyers do you think they print just to be used as a coupon? I don’t think it’s right for the restaurant to expect anyone to do that if they hadn’t gone to church in the first place. You want to get your discount on a technicality, whereas they shouldn’t be providing a church-attendance-based discount in the first place.

          The coupon is to bring your current church flyer/bulletin – it’s pretty much giving promotion to get people who used to go to church to get back in the pews. I know people very commonly do go out to eat after church, but something about this flyer also encourages church attendance among the less-regulars. Not simply a matter of going to a church and getting one, but encouraging people who haven’t gone to church for a while to go back, that the restaurant deems this good or correct. It’s not something I take as lightly as how hard would it be to just pick up a flyer on my way over to this restaurant because I deserve a discount too. How about something less… obvious? Discount with recent receipt from Wal-mart.

          • Birdie1986

            Why would the restaurant owner give a crap whether her customers went to church?  I think she was just trying to get more customers.  Even if she did want to encourage people to go to church by giving the discount for having a church bulletin, someone could still get the bulletin and bring it in for the discount.  The argument that this is “stealing” a church bulletin and that you would be walking into the church under “false pretenses” is ridiculous.  Since when do you have to reveal your reason for going to church to anybody?  I am absolutely an atheist.  I think most of the stuff they spout off in church is total bs, but I attend with my family on holidays so that I can spend time with my family.  Nobody makes me tell them why I am there when I walk in the door, and if I walked in, took the bulletin and left, it would be nobody’s business why I did that.  Give me a break.

  • Christinatrin

    The phrase ‘choose your battles wisely’ comes to mind. If the restaurant had been allowing only bulletins as coupons since its opening, it *might* be cause for offense- however this is not the case. For an atheist to raise a stink about this impacts our image in a negative way, imo.

    • Bubba Tarandfeathered

       If it were the other way around for instance a “humanistic liberal vegan co-op” were to offer a discount that appeared to discriminate against “god fearing republican tea partying omnivores” believe me some wack job would pitch a stink too.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Seems female only discounts are legal in some states, illegal in others, including Pennsylvania.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies'_night#Pennsylvania

  • ErickaMJohnson

    This whole things sounds really whiny to me.  What if they’d been giving a discount to anyone who brought in a ballot stub showing they voted? Or to veterans, or anyone who did volunteer work? 

    Just go print up a stack of FSM Church programs and you’re good.

    • http://msmith13.wordpress.com/ Mark

      I think you can even download those from the FSM site. That might elicit an interesting reaction.

    • ortcutt

      Here’s the thing.  We the non-religious put up with restriction that protect the religious, but when we point out that someone is discriminating against the non-religious, we’re “whiny” for wanting our rights protected?  That’s screwed up.  Sorry, but religious people can’t have it both ways.  And the sad thing is that we’re so used to being discriminated against, that even we are accustomed to think in ways conditioned by religious privilege.

      • JWH

        I think it’s worth having a sense of proportion.  If you’re being denied service at a restaurant or hotel, fine, sue.  If a teacher is visibly discriminating against atheist students, by all means, complain and sue.  But it’s childish and annoying to whine about not getting a 10 percent discount on Cajun gumbo.

        • ortcutt

          So, would a 10% off for white people discount be OK with you?  Would black people be “childish and annoying” to complain about that?  Is the difference something other than a greater tolerance for religious privilege in our society?

          • ErickaMJohnson

             The owner wasn’t trying to be discriminatory. She was oblivious to the fact that this discount might alienate non-Christians. Yes, that shows the privilege of Christianity, I’ll agree with that.

            But he didn’t even try to talk to her about it before suing! Talk about a terrible neighbor! If this is a business in your community, reach out to them. Start a conversation.

            • ortcutt

              Did you bother to read the article?  The FFRF has already sent two letters to the restaurant without resolution, so they can’t claim ignorance.  The issue was brought to their attention and they aren’t doing anything about it.  At that point, referral to the PA Human Relations Commission is entirely appropriate.

              • JamesM

                That was the FFRF, not the whiny guy who was miffed at having to bring a Church bulletin to get a gumbo discount. This guy doesn’t seem much different than the other man that tried to sue Ray Comfort for selling bumper stickers that offended his atheist sensibilities. Choose your battles. If you have a problem, learn to communicate with the people you are having problems with. I’m embarrassed for FFRF for taking this matter seriously enough to send letters to the restaurant.

                • ortcutt

                   He did communicate, through FFRF.  If you don’t like that, tough.  That’s what lawyers are for. 

                • revaaron

                  If someone’s immediate reaction is to call in the dogs over the most minor perceived slight, you’ve got issues that go way past not getting a 10% discount.

          • Uncommonsense

            There is a HUGE difference between being “white” (something you did not choose but are by nature) and being religious or not (something you freely choose to believe or not). If people treat you differently because of what you choose to believe or not, get over it! Religious people have been treated differently for all of history – sometimes favored, sometimes not. It goes with the territory, and whether you like it or not it goes along with your freely chosen beliefs, too.

        • Isilzha

          I want to see all religious privilege removed from secular society.  Of course, I’d really like all religion to disappear, but I don’t that will ever happen.  However, since it won’t, I want people to keep their religion in their own homes and churches and stop making everyone else give them special treatment for their beliefs.

          • Uncommonsense

            Do you believe in protecting your freedom to believe what you choose and to associate with the people you choose in the way you choose? If so, you had better protect the same right for the religious. Any argument you make for taking away their so-called “privilege” in a free society can be used to take aware your “privilege” to believe and associate as you please.

          • musicman

             Did you say “making”!??  I don’t see anyone making anyone do anything.  Go to the restaurant and order your food, eat it, pay for it and leave.  If they want to give a church-goer a discount for presenting their bulletin, so be it!  No one made anyone else go to that restaurant and eat!  You have free choice to go and order off of the menu just like anyone else who goes in there.  I may be on vacation and go through there someday, and although i am a church-goer, I may not have a bulletin with me!  I pay the price asked and leave a great tip and get on my way.  No one “made” me stop there.  This is an “un-argument”!!

        • Nordog

           And let’s not forget, to the best of my knowledge, no one is complaining of actually having been denied a discount.

          • ortcutt

            It’s not clear that’s necessary.  The advertisement of offer itself may be sufficient to fall afoul of the law.  If that’s the case, then refusal of the offer is irrelevant.  This is beyond my legal knowledge, but I’m sure someone at the FFRF could clear it up since they seem to have brought a few church bulletin discount cases.

            • Nordog

              Well, I’m sure the lawyers will make it all better.  Personally, I find the law to increasingly be a poor guide.  That which is proscribed is not necessarily bad; that which is condoned in not necessarily good.  In short, to borrow from Dickens, the law is an ass.

              • ortcutt

                I really don’t care what you think about the law and I don’t see why Mr. Wolff should care either.

                • Nordog

                   If it makes you feel any better, I don’t care that you don’t care, but then, you probably don’t care about that either.

      • ErickaMJohnson

         That’s the thing, his rights are not being infringed upon. He is not owed a discount and he wasn’t even being denied a discount. The owner just wanted to get more business; he could have brought in anything, even an FSM bulletin from the web and gotten the discount. 

        This guy assumed he was being discriminated against and was resentful of all the ” self-righteous religious people.” He should have talked to the business instead of assuming the worst.

        • ortcutt

           He’s owed to not have price discrimination based on religion imposed on him.  There have been extensive communications with the restaurant without resolution, so it’s not true that he assumed anything.  They have had multiple occasions to clarify whether the offer is open to anyone with or without a church bulletin.

          This idea that he should just get a church bulletin or print a FSM bulletin is offensive.  A church bulletin is a concomitant of religion.  It’s not something that a non-religious person would have and thus serves as a indicator of religious adherence.  I don’t want a FSM bulletin.  It’s a clever joke, but I don’t worship His Noodliness, nor should Mr. Wolff need to in order to get a discount. 

          What are you and the other people complaining here so afraid of?   Whenever things come up, there’s always someone saying that we shouldn’t rock the boat.  Many atheists seem to be afraid that if we assert our rights we’re going to be hated.  I hate to break this to you, Ericka, but the religious already despise us.  As Hitchens said, I welcome their hatred.  I see no reason to think that standing up for our rights is going to make us any more despised.

          • Alexandra1973

            I am so, SO sick of people screaming “DISCRIMINATION!” over every little thing.

            What’s next, people who don’t have coupons screaming about being penalized for not getting the Sunday paper?

            • Isilzha

               Well, if the papers were only available at churches and not places that must allow access to the general public, then yes.

              • revaaron

                What abodiscrimination!!from a particular newspaper? The official paper of some Christian group, political party, or country club? Must be distribution

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AO26OIUBOPS3RE5EWZJRLJGJT4 Berto

                 You are an idiot.

          • LifeinTraffic

            So, while I agree with most of this post, I am not sure I agree with a religious bulletin being an indicator that you must worship the deity it relates to. It’s something I’ll have to give some more thought, but we get several church bulletins in the mail, even though we’ve never gone to a church.  I am an atheist with a church bulletin, not a worshiper with a church bulletin.

            We also get several e-bulletins from local churches, including Thomas Road, because we like to keep track of what kind of crap they’re up to now so we know what our next fight is.  I have several months worth of AWAKE! sitting on my nightstand because they’ve recently addressed some issues in religious terms that intrigue me (in the same way that certain TV shows do: I can’t stop watching because it’s just so bad). Again, I am an atheist with a church bulletin. I don’t worship a deity, the bulletin isn’t indicative that I do so–it’s just something I read.

            • Kodie

               They could make it really strict and have one or several approved churches stamp hands or admission bracelets, which would be really rude. Having a current church bulletin, i.e., from that day, for the most part, you went to church that day. They don’t just want Christians; they want people who went to church today. A few people like you and the weirdos hitting church just for the restaurant discount might get through, but mostly they are expressing a preference for regular church attendance, and not even the lazy sleeping-in Christians. Might get them to go back to church more often, while they’re at it.

              • Figaro

                Current means from a recent service.  Not from the day.  Stop by any church on the way and they are stacked in the vestibule. How do you think kids who skip church convince their parents that they went?

                • Kodie

                  It might sound illogical, but current means current. A special discount for Sundays doesn’t mean a program from last Sunday. I accounted for weirdos who think they are getting over on the restaurant (and I think strange for atheists to go out of their way, and a little bit rotten for Christians), but I think mostly they’ll assume you’d been to church that day and most of the time, not 100% of the time, be correct.  Kids don’t usually go to a restaurant without an adult. Adults who may not have been to church in a while may be incentivized to go back.

                  Meanwhile, I do think it’s nickel-and-dimeing, but on the principle of the thing, the ad states a public preference the restaurant has for the religious beliefs of its patrons. Whether or not people “cheat” to get a discount is not really what’s at issue here.

                • Jeff

                  The real issue is not about a discount the real issue is your stupidity in thinking the resturant is out to get you when they could care less what you believe. It’s. Simple. Eat somewhere else. God loves you.

                • Kodie

                  It’s. Simple. Eat somewhere else.

                  Thanks, Jeff, for illustrating the goals of this ad! And why it’s illegal. Also, there is no god, but I think you’re kind of an asshole.

                • Clarkd52

                  NO, its NOT illegal! Grow a brain.

                • Kodie

                  It is illegal. http://www.citizensource.com/History/20thCen/CRA1964/CRA2.htm

                  The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title II – Public Accommodation
                   TITLE II–INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AGAINST DISCRIMINATION IN PLACES OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION(a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of
                  the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and
                  accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in
                  this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of
                  race, color, religion, or national origin.

                  Where’s you’re “NOT illegal” cite? You don’t have one because it IS illegal, and you’re one ignorant ahole, shouting at me. U MAD?

                • musicman

                   EASY, Kodie!

            • Isilzha

               The word “church bulletin” is typically used to mean a program from that day’s service.  It’s not generally used to mean an advertisement or newsletter.

              • LifeinTraffic

                Mine all say “Bulletin” on them, and many churches in the area mail out or actually hand-deliver (as part of an attempt to get you to come to their church, usually, if you’re home; but, they leave them rubber-banded to the door fairly regularly, too) their bulletins to community locals. They are the standard bulletins, with prayer requests, event updates, etc. So, while you may equate it to only being available in church, that day, to those attending, it’s not a universal thing.

                ________________________________
                From: Disqus
                To: LifeInTraffic@yahoo.com
                Sent: Friday, July 6, 2012 6:08 PM
                Subject: [friendlyatheist1] Re: Should an Atheist Complain About a ‘ Church Bulletin’ Discount?

                Isilzha wrote, in response to LifeinTraffic:
                The word “church bulletin” is typically used to mean a program from that day’s service.  It’s not generally used to mean an advertisement or newsletter.

                Link to comment

            • Elwbusiness

              Hey you need to get you one of those bible’s those christians read and put it on your night stand and every night read Psalm 14:1 & Psalm 53:1 and then you will know what there God thinks about you! 

            • musicman

               I am really glad you are intrigued by their views.  Perhaps you will, one day, see the real logic behind Christianity and the real truths that you are continuing to deny, even tho, deep down, you are screaming to believe “something” put all of this earth together.  Even nature itself cries out to our Maker’s praise!  I pray you will get it, and not be too late when the last breath is taken.  But as long as there is breath, there is hope!  ………Why do you “fight”?  You are wasting your time on believers in God.  They have a hope and a real cause.  I apologize for those who take it so far as to show “hate”.  We are to show love to and pray for ones such as yourself, that you will see the light of Jesus and understand that you can’t work your way to another “place”.  When this life is over, there IS more, and as followers of Christ, we have the blessed assurance of spending an eternity in a wonderful place called heaven.  I pray you will come to see that truth one day.  Read the Bible as a real historical document sometime.  Go into it with an open mind and not by what your friends and profs have told and taught you.  See if the Lord will not show you His truth.  Go on…..give it a try!  I suggest the book of John, for starters!  Peace to you, Lifein Traffic!

            • Haraldg

               I am intrigued LifeinTraffic, by atheists spending so much time, energy, money, thinking and argument to try to convince others of something that does not exist.  If I believed something does not exist, I would not have to prove it to anyone. I would  just brush their rhetoric off as some superstitious nonsense and not waste my time, but keep out in traffic.

              • LifeinTraffic

                Well, when believers in the FSM start trying to push through legislation that violates your agency because of their religion, as Christian’s have mine, maybe you’ll understand. I don’t ever intend to just “brush off…rhetoric” that is aimed at taking away my rights of those of others, and I find it sad that so many people do just that.

                ________________________________
                From: Disqus
                To: LifeInTraffic@yahoo.com
                Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 9:34 PM
                Subject: [friendlyatheist1] Re: Should an Atheist Complain About a ‘ Church Bulletin’ Discount?

                Haraldg (unregistered) wrote, in response to LifeinTraffic:
                I am intrigued LifeinTraffic, by atheists spending so much time, energy, money, thinking and argument to try to convince others of something that does not exist.  If I believed something does not exist, I would not have to prove it to anyone. I would  just brush their rhetoric off as some superstitious nonsense and not waste my time, but keep out in traffic. Link to comment

          • Dawny229

            If the restaurant had said “10% off to those customers that deny Jesus”…and then the restaurant owner said it didn’t discriminate against Christians because “anyone is free to come in and deny Jesus and get the discount..including Christians”…would anyone buy it?

            • http://www.facebook.com/kentuckydan Daniel W Kauffman Jr

              you equate an affirmation of faith with having  a piece of paper you can pick out of a churches trash?  I am not certain I would want to be associated with anyone who uses such feeble logic LOL

            • Clarkd52

              YES for crying out loud… its private enterprise! They can do what they want with THEIR restaurant! Geez! Can we complain and criticize, sure, I support freedom of speech, too, but they are doing nothing illegal.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AO26OIUBOPS3RE5EWZJRLJGJT4 Berto

               Dawny, you have no rights to the property or service of another. You have no right to discounts from a private business owner. You have no right to demand anything from any private business except to receive what you pay for.  Now wipe your nose, unbunch your panties, and go pull a church bulletin out of a trash can somewhere so you can get a discount too. And do us all a favor; reach up to your right cheek with your right hand and slap yourself silly.

          • Lewies Vander

            Just so you know:  Only a minority of Christians ‘despise’ atheists.  Not all Christians are haters, just like I’m sure not all atheists have a problem with Christians. 

            Also – just in case you’ve never been to a church – there are a lot of people going to church that are not saved, nor worshiping God.  They might attend out of force, habit, or because of an invitation.  To them it’s like going to a concert – if they took the ‘program’ (also called a bulletin) they could get the same discount.  It doesn’t mean they actually agree with, worship nor endorse the church. 

          • Clarkd52

            you said, “He’s owed to not have price discrimination based on religion imposed on him.”?WHAT? That is patently False. The restaurant owes Him nothing but food for the price they demand. He doesn’t like the price – he goes elsewhere. Your logic is incredibly false! If this was a government org giving pref to religion you’d have a point, but Private enterprise can put up a sign that says, “We don’t serve Baptists here”, if they want! 
            They can’t discriminate against race or the physically challenged, but your chosen behaviors and beliefs do not mean they OWE you anything! And thank Goodness!

            • ortcutt

              Are you aware of this thing we have in our society called “laws”?  Maybe you’ve heard of them before.  Laws impose legal duties and legal remedies.  If you’re not familiar with Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with it before wasting people’s time.

          • Lynn Garrett

             You are dead wrong.  I don’t despise you.  I’m sure I am even friends with a more than a few folks who don’t believe as I do.  But why are you targeting a religious “coupon” as opposed to an age-based coupon?  Your group is the one who’s making it into a religious issue.  Not mine.

          • Juan

            With all due respect to you sir. The ministry of all Christians is to love everyone including atheists. How can we draw some one to church if we show disdain and hatefulness to them, or to people who do not go to church. We would be failing in our ministry.  I believe that you have the right to refuse Jesus as that is a God given right. He will never forsake you for not loving his Son Jesus.  If you want to keep on being an atheist, go ahead, I will not hate you for it. I respect your God given rights.  But please, do not put all Christians in the same category, we are not all the same.

            • Kodie

               

              How can we draw some one to church if we show disdain and hatefulness to them, or to people who do not go to church.

              10% off on Sundays with a current church bulletin?

            • ortcutt

              Jesus isn’t going to forsake me because, like all dead persons, he no longer exists.  Jesus died a long time ago in Jerusalem (if he existed at all).  If you have some actual evidence to back up your outlandish claims, I’d love to hear them, but otherwise you’re just making wild claims with no shame about your lack of any evidence.  I mean, don’t you feel even the slightest shame about that?

          • Bcdeforest

            If he didn’t have the bulletin, he could have gone to another place to eat.  I believe that he is one of those who just wants to cause controversy.  Since many people do go to church on Sunday, it makes sense that this  might be a way of the restaurant getting people to come in and eat by offering a discount if you had a church, any church, bulletin.  The bulletin was no different than if a person came in with a coupon–it would have been honored on the same day.  We all have freedom to go and do what we want–even restaurant owners.  You shouldn’t be able to dictate how they run their restaurant!! If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go there, but don’t cause trouble for others just because you don’t like it. Life is full of offers for one thing or another. we shouldn’t have to worry about offending somebody all the time. You can’t polease all the people all the time. So get over it and let us live in the land of the free!

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AO26OIUBOPS3RE5EWZJRLJGJT4 Berto

             No, the idea that is offensive is the notion that an adult would craft an argument such as yours. That stupidity is as offensive as it gets in a nation that guarantees me the freedom to serve who I wish, to give discounts to whomever I wish.  Did you sleep through high school civics or are you just that illiterate as to so misunderstand the Constitution.

            You ask what we are afraid of.  We are afraid of hating idiots like you continuing to downward spiral of this nation. The restaurant owner can offer discounts to people with green eyes, two heads or 12 toes.  They can offer discounts to people who own horses.  And, if they really want to drum up more business, they could offer discounts to certifiably ignorant and stupid people like you.  But then they would have to take food stamps for you to take them up on their offer….. oh well….

            • ortcutt

               He probably can’t offer discounts to people with green eyes because there is a pretty clear racial correlation with green eyes and being white.  Race is one of the protected classes under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

              Sadly, you seem to think that what you learned (badly) in high school civics is the whole of the law.  It isn’t.  If you don’t know what the law is, don’t go shooting off your mouth.

        • Kodie

           What about people who would actually go to church more because of this ad? I guess they are allowed to do that though if they’re not discriminating against anyone else in practice. The bulletin does not guarantee attendance, however, do they have preferential treatment of people they know have actually been to church? What if the restaurant advertises in a church bulletin? They are allowed to get customers and hit demographics that are likely to want a good meal on a Sunday after church.

          It just makes it sound like they don’t want anyone there who hasn’t actually been to church, they prefer if you’ve been to church, and they want to populate the tables with church-goers. If they let the patron in without a bulletin and offer the discount for complaining, they don’t want a ruckus, see. That’s just PR. That’s not tolerance. If they haven’t taken down the ad, it’s still discriminatory. They really don’t want “your kind” in their restaurant if they can fill it up with Christians.

          • revaaron

            What difference does it make whether or not they want “your kind” in the restaurant? I don’t think that’s what they’re doing here, but even if there was there’s nothing illegal about that. It’d be illegal if they refused service to “your kind.” Fortunately, we don’t have a Thought Police- it makes no difference to the law if the shopkeep has a dislike of me because I’m gay, black, latino, straight, not-black, lesbian, trans, straight, white so long as they do not refuse service of commerce on those grounds.

      • Kodie

         Start a competing restaurant and have a discount for atheists only. All you have to do to get your discount is state you don’t believe in god, or whichever god you pray to. People who are Christian might cheat and say they don’t believe in Buddha. Maybe some of them will make friends with an atheist just to use his discount. Or, you know, file a complaint. Here’s how the news report would go:

        Can you believe this restaurant won’t give these patrons a discount because they believe in god? The nerve! The consumer advocate reporter will do an investigation of the issue and there will be lawyers.

        On the opposite hand, the news would report this incident, if at all:

        Those whiny atheists are trying to shut down an important restaurant because they can’t get a church bulletin for the discount. Shove the microphone in the face of all the Christian people who think we suck, and that we’re making a big deal over nothing: What about the restaurant owner’s religious freedom?… Why do these people even leave the house — they’re not welcome anywhere…. Always causing trouble…

        • Isilzha

          The restaurant owner is free to believe in whatever she wants.  However, she’s not allowed to discriminate based on religion.  That’s against the law.

          • revaaron

             It would be against the law- fortunately, she’s not.

            • GotSome

              Again, ANY church or religious bulletin would get you the DISCOUNT, if you happened to watch the interview this morning (christian, muslim, buddhist, pagan, lack of a god, etc.).

              Take your business elsewhere, as there is NO need for YOUR persecution.  Different companies offer discounts based on policies of their choosing.  I can get discounts being a military member.  Are you going to INFRINGE upon my receiving a dincount somewhere because I am military?

              Throw thos ENTIRE discussion out, as it is so PETTY your oxygen shouldn’t even be used to perpetuate it!  Enough said…

              • revaaron

                I think you’re replying to the wrong guy- I agree.

              • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

                 If she had really intended to accept any kind of bulletin, she shouldn’t say “church bulletin” in the ad.  She could call it “community bulletin”, “nonprofit bulletin”, etc.  Look up “Hagerstown Suns” and “church bulletin” to see a similar case from the 1990s.  In the end the ball team changed the promotion to “Sunday Family Bulletin Day”, where they accepted any nonprofit bulletin…and everyone was happy.

          • CLARKD52

            There IS NO religious discrimination here. Thats the Fact!

        • Dawny229

           You bring up a valid point.  My first reaction was to think that maybe it wasn’t a big deal, however, I wonder if Christians would feel discriminated against if the ad had read “10% discount to customers that deny Jesus”

          • revaaron

            They would, and on similarly shaky ground.  We’d be pointing out the obvious and mocking the Christian idiot complaining for having the typical persecution complex.

            • Kodie

              The socially acceptable, often-reported-on-the-local-news ‘who is the good guy and who is the bad guy’ persecution complex? That one? 

          • Clarkd52

            We might not like it, but its a FREE COUNTRY. I’d tell them I’m dissappointed if I REALLY wanted to eat there, but mostly I’d just move on! Now, what an uneducated idiotic Christian would do, I don’t know.

            • formerfarmboy

               You know what’s so funny about all this.  The only reason any of you can even make these comments is because this country was founded on Christian principles.  Did you know that 52 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of
              Independence were orthodox, deeply committed Christians? The other three
              all believed in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and
              His personal intervention.People like to sound “intellectual” about this and make disparaging comments about Christians, but in actuality it’s because of Christian beliefs you live in a country where you can openly oppose the foundation of our country and not be persecuted.  It’s time to use a little logic – and by the way, I am educated and work 60 – 70 hours a week and, oh no – a Christian too.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                Ya, that’s why blasphemy is technically illegal in Ireland of all places…
                I’m educated and although I work 70 hours on rare weeks, it’s usually closer to 40-50.  Does that make you more right than me?

            • Pastorvassar

              I would go to the restaraunt, if they had good food, eat, pay the full price, and leave a good tip. I would be supportive of their business. While I was there, I would be polite and gracious. I would do this because I am educated, and I am pretty sure I am not an idiot. My education, both secular and Christian, has taught me to act in this way. In addition I have learned from the practce of these things that I have been taught, that this kind of behaviour makes me and all that I come into contact with, both non Christian and Christian, religious and non religious, more comfortable and happier.

        • Phish

          the restaurant owner isn’t making people say they believe in god.  A secular jew could go into the baptist church and grab a bulletin and get a discount, so could an atheist. print up your own bulletin or find one online. they don’t care where it came from.  they don’t care if you went to church or not. the owner said as much.

          • Kodie

             If it doesn’t matter to her, then why stick with an illegal and inhospitable gimmick? Is this a contest to see who can be the most creative at getting a discount? Is it really that stupid to assume that most people who bring in easily-obtained “proof” they attended church that day probably did go to church? The issue is the ad, not how supposedly popular it is to trick the owner. If the owner is so casual, why not come up with another gimmick and take this one down? She says she’s casual but she’s not really. You’re not welcome at this lady’s restaurant. I’m not welcome. How anyone can enjoy paying the restaurant for not being as welcome as some other customers because you tricked them out of a few dollars – not the principle. Go somewhere else, until every restaurant catches wind of this gimmick and hopes the atheists just won’t go where they’re not wanted.

      • Actively Atheist

        Bull–you think “religious people’ actually go to church?  They would have to go look for the bulletins too or print up their own or look online.  Nobody goes to church.  Find out how many churches are near this restaurant, that’s why they’re doing this.

      • OregoniAn

         Can’t disagree more. It’s a private enterprise, not a public taxpayer
        funded institution. They’re just trying to drum up some business – and
        whether our small but growing minority think this particular idea is
        good or not is immaterial. Let your patronage (or lack thereof) express
        what you think.

        They have a right to do this. And no, I’m not in any way “conditioned” into this line of thinking. The law is pretty straightforward in this area.

        I regularly receive a 10% discount from the garage I take my car to, simply because I am left handed. Do you want to whine about that? How about the ridiculous discounts (and free bus passes) my father gets, simply because he’s older than dirt??

        • ortcutt

          Public accommodations laws apply to private businesses, not just state actors.  Also, handedness isn’t a protected class under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   I really can’t figure out why people keep making false claims and bringing up irrelevant unprotected classes.  Is the legal situation here really so hard to understand? 

          • Clarkd52

            No the legasituation here doesn’t involve public accomodations or 64 civil rights act or free access laws. h us said bring us a bulletin, we’ll give a discount. Next week it could be bring us a shrubbery. ITS THEIR resturant! They can do this. THey can’t discriminate against those protected by law, of course. BUT religious beliefs or the lack thereof are not protected.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kentuckydan Daniel W Kauffman Jr

        You ARE  being whinny unless it is your contention that atheists are devoid of logical thought?  There is NO discrimination here,  There is no church that I know of that limits attendence to members, or even believers.   A large point of a service is to convince NONbeleivers to believe.  So there is no barrier whatsoever to a person dropping by a church and picking up a bulletin.  After services there are quite a few just laying around.  So you don’t even have to listen to the service
        quod erat demonstrandum

      • Brad

        Your common sense is really lacking.  Common sense says its just a coupon, not a discrimination case.  The guy didn’t like the restaurants policy so he went somewhere else.  He has the freedom to eat somewhere else so the restaurant should have the freedom to offer coupons however they want.  Get over it already!

        • Kodie

           If the restaurant can simply drive away business from customers they don’t want, and then calling them names for complaining about this illegal policy, what would you do if the ad went unchallenged and all the restaurants did the same? The thing is, they think they are getting away with something because they don’t come right out and say “these people are banned.” They don’t actually ban anyone, and they most likely offer the discount when even slightly challenged. Basically, you are looking at an ad to think where you want to go for dinner. Hey, this ad says “SPECIAL”, but you have to bring your church bulletin. I guess I know where I’m not wanted… They are trying to be clever to get around the law, the same law that forbids a restaurant from having a whites-only policy.

      • Lynn Garrett

         How are you being discriminated against by this?  It is no different than a children’s menu or senior citizens’ discount.  Nobody said you can’t eat there OR that you are going to be charged MORE than a regular customer.  You just will have to put yourself out more to get a “coupon” for a discount than someone else will.  It’s ONE. DAY. A. WEEK. sheesh!

        • ortcutt

          The protected classes under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are race, color, religion, and national origin.  Age is not one of them, so your examples of children’s menus and senior citizens’ discount are irrelevant.  Please familiarize yourself with the law before making legal conclusions about what is and what isn’t illegal discrimination.

      • juan

        It seems to me you are not your own man. Do you always follow the crowd instead of being yourself and doing what you want? What about the kid’s discount, senior discounts, veteran’s discount, etc…..? If you did not serve in the armed forces, you are not entitled to any discount. Own up and take it like a man? maybe a child?

        • ortcutt

          There are four protected classes under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: race, color, religion, and national origin.  Title II governs discrimination in public accommodations, such as restaurants (including privately-owned ones).  So, kid’s discounts, senior discounts, and veteran’s discounts are outside the scope of that law, and thus legal if not prohibited by any other law.  On the other hand, white people discounts, Christian discounts, and native-born citizen discounts are all illegal under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This is a simple distinction and I’m sure you’re enough of a man to understand it now that I’ve explained it to you. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AO26OIUBOPS3RE5EWZJRLJGJT4 Berto

         “…wanting our rights protected…”

        You have no rights to dine at a discount in a private establishment. Where the h*** do you get the notion that somehow you have a right to private business?  Moron, open your own damn restaurant and serve atheists.  Moron.

        • ortcutt

          Have you never heard of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?  Title II of that Act prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, including restaurants, on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin.  Privately-owned businesses are covered by that law.  The law creates certain legal rights and remedies.  So, who exactly is the moron here?

      • Haraldg

         Ortcutt, what does this have to do with religion?  You can bring a church bulletin in for the discount.  No one is discriminating against non-religious people!  You do not have to be religious to get the discount or that “privilege”.  No one is being protected, no one is being discriminated against.  If I do not get the newspaper with a discount coupon, should I arise and say, “Why are you discriminating against me and giving privileges to informed press readers???”  If this is made out to be a civil rights issue, it is the most twisted, uninformed nonsense I have ever seen.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Pretty sure my wife would tell the management “We’re here, we’ll stay if you give us the discount, but leave if you won’t”.  And probably get the discount.

    Then the question would be whether to add that 10% back into the tip.

    • Nordog

       The fact is that the late morning and early afternoon Sunday lunch crowd is huge business in most places.  People are leaving church and want to go have a bite to eat with family and friends.  It seems natural to me for a restaurant to market for the church crowd.

      Also, I would be surprised if they didn’t give everyone a discount regardless of whether or not they had a church bulletin.   To deny the discount would just be bad business practice, regardless of one’s theology or lack of.

      To this last point I’m reminded of a video by the guy who founded Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors.  “Give them the Pickle!”  The idea there is basically to make your customers feel great, don’t sweat the small stuff, give everyone a little extra.

      That’s good business.

      • Kodie

         

        It seems natural to me for a restaurant to market for the church crowd.

        And let everyone else know they’re really not welcome, even if they don’t say it to your face when you show up, and even if they accommodate your patronage with a discount.

    • Kodie

      It’s my understanding that restaurants will give you practically anything to stay, if you have a complaint and threaten to leave. People talk about their restaurant experiences. The staff wants to know if you have any problems (that’s why they constantly ask), so they can buy you out of saying anything bad about them to your friends. Also, the manager doesn’t get the tip, the waiter does. Did the waiter treat you poorly or the management? I realize you are speaking hypothetically, but I’m confused why you would reward or punish the server for the management’s policies and how when the issue was raised, accommodated your patronage with a discount.  

      The fact is the guy got his equal discount for merely complaining that he was naturally excluded from getting one for being an atheist. Haven’t you ever been offered free dessert before? There are scammers who live their lives complaining at restaurants just to get free food. In a better-case scenario, you’d get the discount and a free appetizer, never run out of bread, and you might even look like you’re still angry and get a coupon to come back when you are feeling better. They want you to say nice things and not be mad at them anymore.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I’m confused why you would reward or punish the server for the management’s policies 

        I wouldn’t punish the server.  I only suggested adding the 10% to the tip, making it at least 25%.  Why reward the server?  Build good will for atheists?  I generally don’t like the idea of ‘buying goodwill’, but the fact is, I’d be inclined to pass on at least part of the savings in any case.

        I rarely eat out anyway.  In fact, the last time I did was at a get-together after an atheist author gave a talk.  The server ended up refusing the full tip because it was so big.  Everyone was overestimating their portion of the bill/tip/tax.  I don’t think anyone was doing it ‘on purpose’ since the source of each portion was pretty anonymous.  We were all just tossing money into the pile.  We ended up giving what the server wouldn’t take to the organization that got the speaker.  So who knows, maybe atheists are good tippers.

        The fact is the guy got his equal discount for merely complaining that he was naturally excluded from getting one for being an atheist.

        No, he didn’t even try.

        He said was considering eating there, but never did 

        • amycas

           You can come eat where I work. I never refuse a large tip.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SMVTMGVS7B5ZJ45DLCYO2U7U2E wallflower

    My opinion is that you don’t eat there & pass on your experience to other non-religious (maybe even religious) people. Find a place (and I know there are tons) who would be grateful for your business.    I think a letter to the business owner would be fine.  Even one to the newspaper. I don’t know; threatening legal action seems a bit much.

  • Ymelo93

    (for all athiest) jesus says the last is first and the first is last this
    sign tom me means everything is ironic for balance for example
    the sun makes you dark so light makes you dark, working out
    makes you weak afterwards, when you lose one of your senses
    the others become stronger for balance, in places with high
    altitudes theres days with more sunlight and theres also days
    with ,ore darkness for balance young people do alot of drugs
    wich makes you old, taking a shower makes you dry so geting
    wet makes you dry so repent now and get baptized now! please
    share

    • Bubba Tarandfeathered

       Huh?

      • Tainda

        My thoughts exactly

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/SMVTMGVS7B5ZJ45DLCYO2U7U2E wallflower

      wat? English – do you speak it??

    • flyb

      Uhh.

      Wut?

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      The who and the what with the where and the huh??

      Jesus also got angry at a fig tree for not producing fruit off-season, and cursed it. Why should we take anything he said (if he existed at all) at face-value?

      All this last is first, dark is light, wet is dry, hard is soft bullshit just makes no sense at all.

    • Isilzha

      Jeebus also said to not get married and hate your parents.

      God likes to murder children.  He sent a pair of bear to kill a few of them making fun of some guys bald head and he also advocates for the skulls of infants to be dashed against rocks.

      Your religion is a nasty, vile, disgusting thing and I don’t want it anywhere near me.

    • LifeinTraffic

      Oh, look, word salad! It’s like my awesome dinner salad, but with less substance and more bitter fruit.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

       And you smoked how much crack?

  • http://msmith13.wordpress.com/ Mark

    If the restaurant owner had any sense, they would simply give the discount to anybody who asked for it. They could still continue to promote the discount any way they liked. There’s no point in collecting a pile of used church bulletins anyway.

    • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

       There’s still a legal question as to whether the establishment can advertise the promotion as a “church bulletin” promotion, even if, in reality, they accept any type of bulletin.  The mere advertisement of “church bulletin” would probably alienate non-Christians and have the EFFECT of discrimination.

      • http://msmith13.wordpress.com/ Mark

         Seems like a valid point. It would certainly alienate me.

  • trekkie_disq

    This atheist that is complaining is being what I would call ‘butt hurt’ about nothing.   This is a private citizen offering something in a means to increase their business.   Sunday Lunch after church is something many people do, if it will put more buts in seats big deal.   No different than other examples like movie ticket stubs, whatever.   This isn’t a government entity violating the first amendment, it’s someone trying to make a buck and figuring a way to do it.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Thing is (and I’m not agreeing with the atheist in the above news story), the Civil Rights Act of 1964 essentially prohibits privately own businesses from discriminating. So this isn’t really an issue about whether it’s a private vs. government-run business… but rather, whether or not the CRA covers this scenario. Which I don’t really think it does.

      • trekkie_disq

        I don’t see how Civil Rights get involved here though (and I’m no lawyer, so I may be missing it) .   To me it’s a ‘if you have this piece of paper, you get a discount’ thing.   The piece of paper isn’t all that difficult to get, it’s not authenticated, and if you don’t have one, you don’t get thrown out.   Post a single Atheist weekly to the web and put ‘BULLETIN’ at the top and then if they won’t accept it because it’s ‘not a church’ or something more involved maybe you’d have something.   Who knows, just seems like there are a lot more things to get worked up and spend energy on than a discount at one restaurant in one city.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          Perhaps I should have been more clear. I agree with you 100%. I was just talking about the context in which this argument should be framed…  nitpicking, really. :P

  • 0xabad1dea

    While it would turn down my desire to eat there several notches, I think this falls within the free-speech choices of the business. Of course if a business run by an atheist ran some sort of inverse promo they’d be denounced as satanic ;)

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

     Well, I like to consider that a lot of the local 24-hour diner-type places that cater to the after-church crowd on Sunday afternoons are the same places that cater to the after-closing crowd late Saturday night.

    It’s less of a church-bulletin discount than a 3:00 AM Loud Eggs premium.

  • ortcutt

    “$5 off for white people” or “$5 off for native-born citizens” or “$5 if you bring your Quran”

    Imagine how outraged people would be by those promotions, regardless of whether they were offered to everyone in practice.  The promotions themselves would shock the conscience.

    The website is advertising price discrimination, and under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, price discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin is illegal.  I guess it’s a question whether advertising discriminatory behavior is OK if you don’t actually carry it out.  I’m sure someone at the FFRF knows this better than either you or I do.

    Age is not a protected class under Title II of the Civil Rights Act, so Senior Citizen’s discounts fall outside it.   So do Ladies’ Nights, since sex is not a protected class under it either.  However, Ladies’ Nights are illegal in Pennsylvania as they are in many other states.  

    The only reason people aren’t more outraged by this is the pervasiveness of religious privilege.  There is still an assumption among a large part of the population that Christianity is the right religion and that that those who practice it deserve special treatment. 

    • Isilzha

      “$5 off native-born citizens”

      The reminded me that many places often offer discounts to residents in the state (and often requires valid ID to get it).  I’m trying to remember if those are only places which receive tax money.  Do you know if it’s legal for private businesses to offer discounts to residents?  Or does it even matter as it’s not actually touching on a protected class?

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Disneyland has done it, based on locality of zipcode.  This year a bunch of Tahoe resorts were offering free rooms to people in the Sacramento areas (by zipcode).

    • ReadsInTrees

      I don’t think it’s discriminating by religion. The discount wasn’t “10% off for Christians only” it was just a discount for anyone presenting a church bulletin…which easily obtainable. Heck, an atheist can just go to the local UU church and snag a bulletin if it matters that much to them.

  • Annie

    The discount is mentioned on the restaurant’s website, and it doesn’t sound like there are any coupons present in church bulletins.  So this is not some secret discount that only church-goers know about.  I would inquire about the discount, and say as a non-churchgoer, what would you like me to bring in to get the same discount?  If there was no way for me to get the discount, then I might be inclined to cause a stink.  I think Wolff went a little overboard on this one.

    • Isilzha

      Yes, people who don’t attend church are then required to go into a church and essentially steal a church’s property in order to get the discount.  I don’t think many churches would appreciate someone coming into their building for the sole purpose of getting bulletins even if they are taken from the trash. 

      • Annie

        My suggested solution had nothing to do with rummaging through the trash, but rather inquiring at the restaurant if there was another way to get the same discount. 

        • Kodie

           Don’t you think you’d feel a little uncomfortable there, seeing as they prefer church-going folks to non-church-going folks?

          • Annie

            No.  Sometime in my late 30s  that wonderful “I don’t give a damn what other people think of me” switch was turned on.  And I live in the South, where I am told more times than not to “have a blessed day” after every transaction I make.  That being said, I also wrote recently that I changed my stance on this whole situation.  Not because I would feel uncomfortable, but because the present dialogue coming from the restaurant makes it obvious to me that this was not an honest mistake on their part.

            • Kodie

              I think if they haven’t taken the ad down yet, they don’t comprehend it expresses a preference for one kind of customer, possibly to the point they’d be full, so nobody else could eat there. They don’t say you can’t eat there, but they are subtly hoping you would know your business is not so welcome. What if all the restaurants put up similar ads? If it’s just one restaurant, sure there are other restaurants, but your grandmother comes to town and that’s where she want to go. If it goes unchallenged, other restaurants can freely make ads expressing a preference – your kind is not wanted here or here or there or way over there. Where are you supposed to eat then?

              Law has to have precedents. If this is unchallenged, that’s a precedent. Christians seem to love their sacred traditional discount at a local restaurant. If it’s challenged, that’s a precedent. For the future to be less filled with this kind of discriminatory bullshit, it’s fine with me if someone starts a lawsuit, especially since the owner could not be reasoned with or see any error with how she runs her business this way. It’s all good if you give people the discount anyway, right? Let them eat there, if they must tarnish your atmosphere.

              I just wouldn’t feel comfortable eating there, and I didn’t get that switch where I don’t give a damn. Well, I don’t care what they think of me, but I don’t want to patronize a business that’s expressed a religious preference to its customers (I don’t generally care what the owners believe in either), but how they treat all their customers. It’s a hospitality industry – so points off for inhospitable ads and implicit atheist tax.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    It’s a tricky spot because unless it can be proved that they were discriminating against Atheists by refusing something from an Atheist gathering, then it’s just “one of those things”. I mean if you look at her past offers, she does it for all kinds of people, not just churchgoers. 

  • The Captain

    Great now we have an atheist version of this whinny bastard everyone hates.

    Sexual Stealing – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 02/08/07 – Video Clip | Comedy Central

  • Joe Zamecki

    Hey folks, I say if we’re going to complain about this, we might as well complain about the war too. It seems to be a religion-inspired war that’s being funded by tax dollars paid by ALL U.S. taxpayers. If that’s not a state/church violation, I don’t know what is. It’s the violent kind. I say why not go after ALL the state/church violations out there.

    • Bubba Tarandfeathered

      Nope not about religion, more like its about rare earth metals, who’s got em “the Taliban in Afghanistan” and who they are selling them to, the Chinese. Its may also still be about building an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea to avoid Iran, brought to you via Halliburton and it subsidiaries.

      • Bubba Tarandfeathered

        Religion is a tool. Please people stop being so daft.

        Even Atheism is part of that tool kit because it engrosses our minds and keeps us from looking at the whole picture.

        Muslim Radicals do exist but they are not fighting a war to spread religion they are fighting a war to stem the spread of western expansionism. Religion is the guise they are using to inadvertently spread their own expansionism. China, Russia and Iran are quickly becoming post modern industrialized nations. Many of the Arab nations are too. They will need viable resources that we want.

        Viable resources? Viable means “cheaply obtainable natural resources”, a rare commodity these days. Non Viable is stuff that costs a lot of money to get out of the ground, almost always it’s not cost effective.

        Religion is a “stupid stick” the more it is used to beat indoctrination into your head, the more stupid you become and the less you ask intelligent questions.

        Like where are we going to get more rare earth metals to supply our silicon revolution?

        China, well yes, but the Chinese hold a monopoly on the market and are charging a premium. Just like the Taliban would do if we could build that oil pipeline or start mining their vast deposits of rare earth metals, plus then we would be condoning their backward religious behavior.

        So how does a government get it’s citizens to support an unethical war of expansionism, tell them religious radicals are threatening human-rights in some backwater 3rd world country.

        War is about expansionism and natural resources, it has pretty much always been about that. How its packaged to the tax payer is always a lie. Muslim Radicalism is the new lie.
         
        This is all public knowledge, easily obtainable, as long as you have an open mind empty of religious indoctrination.

        Don’t be a tool.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joequincy Jon Peterson

    From the comments of the owner, I gather that it’s just not thought out that much. I don’t think there’s any intent to discriminate. The thought process was more likely something like “what can I do for my next promotion? Oh, you know a lot of churches give out flyer/bulletin/things every Sunday… maybe we can get a lot of people to come in by offering a discount if they present those.”

    I think this is an example of overzealous claims of discrimination… something that we, as a community, need to tone down on. This kind of thing actually lends weight to the term “militant atheist”. :/

    • Isilzha

      I’m not sure it’s fair to target this one particular restaurant, but overall I do want to see religious privilege removed from secular society completely. 

      I don’t think we need to tone anything down at all.  In fact, I think more of us need to stop being silent. 

  • http://fred5.myopenid.com/ fred5

    All any defense lawyer worth their money is going to have to do to defend against any complaints or lawsuits against the restaurant is subpeona the video included in this article and play if for the judge and jury.

    Two quotes of interest from the video:

     

    It’s not a big deal in itself”

    I do bear a grudge against the religious right…”

     The fact of the matter is that Mr. Wolf has admitted that he never dined at the restaurant in question, that the discount isn’t a “big deal” and that the only reason he is complaining is a “grudge against the religious right” pretty much makes any lawsuit/complaint a nonstarter in my opinion.

    Someone should tell Mr. Wolf that it doesn’t do his case any good to go admitting things like the above on video and it writing as it tends to undermine ones case.

  • Isilzha

    One problem is the bulletin  isn’t actually free to the public. 
    It’s produced by the church, at the church’s expense and is intended solely for the use of the people attending the service.  Also, a church isn’t really open to the public, not in the sense that stores and restaurants
    are suppose to be.  I’m pretty sure churches have the ability under the guise of religious freedom to exclude people from their property that other places do not have.  So, if they knew your intent for being there was
    just to snag a bulletin out of the trash then they could bar your
    access.  I’m not saying that’s likely, but that’s part of the idea
    behind the question of if this discount violates public accommodation.

    I think it’s an interesting question.  Also, I don’t think suing for this is a horrible thing.  I support removing as much religious privilege from our society as possible.

  • JWH

    This reminds me of that dude who sued bars to stop ladies’ nights.

  • Mary

    You are smart and computer savvy, Hemant. There are a lot of important things you can do with your life, and you’re doing a lot of them already. But spending your time talking to lawyers about a 10% discount for a meal outl? Perhaps it is a result of forgetting how brief your time on this planet really is. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m working 60+ hours a week with cancer patients, trying to provide support, fund research, reading their stories (so heart wrenching). If your blog covers too many time-wasters like this topic, I will have to unsubscribe. 
    And that is how I “argue” against something I like. I don’t sue – I just go elsewhere.

    • Mary

      Sorry for the typos. “Argue against something I don’t like” is what I meant to write. 

    • Isilzha

      People who make the argument that there are “more important things you should be doing” REALLY irritate me.  Yes, and instead of sitting at your computer typing that inane comment you could be out selling all your possessions and moving to Africa to feed starving children with AIDS. 

      Lady, there are always other battles to be fought and though this may seem to be petty to you, I happen to think it’s an interesting legal question.  AND I also don’t think it’s petty because it goes directly to the idea and legal standing of religious privilege in our society.  I think fighting to remove all vestiges of that privilege is an important fight and one more people need to start participating in.

    • Isilzha

      And it’s silly to tell other people what they should and shouldn’t be writing about on their blogs.  You don’t like it, go read something else.

  • Nordog

    I love how the guy in the video says he doesn’t want any particular outcome except as regards more tolerance and understanding.

    And who says atheists are irony-impaired?
     

  • jeffj900

    This is no different than restaurants providing senior discounts or military discounts, or other promotions designed to draw a particular group of customers. As long as it is a private business, and not a promotion of religion that uses public property or an expenditure of tax dollars, there is no real establishment clause argument here. It’s also not a matter of employment discrimination. Atheists ought to have no complaint about this, other than to lament the unfortunate facts that religious believers are still a majority.

    • Isilzha

      Actually, if you read the comments many people address how this is different than other discounts.  One reason is that religion is a protected class.

      • jeffj900

        Age is a protected class too. That does not preclude senior discounts at private businesses. All that is going on here is that a business is targeting a market and promoting an image. There is nothing stopping businesses from giving discounts to attendees at atheist or secular conferences when they are in town. There is nothing preventing businesses from promoting themselves, if they feel it would be profitable, as atheist friendly or reason based establishments in order to attract like-minded customers. It is a time-honored business practice to make such efforts to appeal to particular customer bases.

        It would be a big mistake legally and also strategically for atheists to waste time trying to block such practices. There is no point; nobody is being harmed. Military discounts don’t hurt my feelings because I’m not in the military. Senior discounts don’t hurt my feelings because I’m not a senior. And discounts for church attendees don’t hurt my feelings because I’m an atheist. It doesn’t seem rational to me to get upset about this particular case.

        • amycas

          Age is not a protected class under Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Neither is gender. Please read the other comments posted above which explain this in depth.

          • jeffj900

            Age is a protected class under the Age Discrimination In Employment Act of 1967. In this discussion I’m stating my personal opinion about church discounts in restaurants. I think it is foolish for atheists to object to this. Nobody is being refused service. I eat in restaurants all the time that offer senior discounts and military discounts and it doesn’t bother me a bit that I don’t happen to qualify. The same types of discounts can be and have been offered to attendees of secular, humanist, and atheist conferences at hotels and restaurants.

            I would like to get God out of the flag salute, and off our currency, and out of schools and government meetings and publicly funded buildings, parks, and monuments. But restaurant discounts is a fundamentally different case involving a common type of business practice on private property that does not refuse service to atheists or other non-Christians. This practice is not exclusively to the detriment of non-Christians nor is it exclusively to the benefit of Christians. I don’t care what any one else has written about it any where, this is my opinion based on my feelings as an atheist and as an American citizen.

            I greatly long to see the day when religion is reduced to the status of quaint folk history, and when no public figure who claimed religion had any truth value or moral authority could be considered sane and serious. Atheists and atheism has a lot of hard work before it to discredit superstitious religious faith and displace its grip on society with reason and empirical methods. I simply don’t see this particular matter of banning church attendance based discounts as one that either has legitimacy in a free society based on individual rights and property rights, or has a place at all on the long list of public, political, and philosophical issues that atheists need to be concerned about and spend time and energy fighting. Whether or not such an effort to ban church discounts has any chance at all of succeeding in court is an entirely separate question; I’m not a legal expert, but my layman’s opinion is that such an attempt would most likely be rather easily dismissed in a court of law.

  • MegaZeusThor

    “Bring in a flyer from a local atheist gathering. (Or even a local mosque.) See if you get the discount.” –> Agreed.
    Even then, there’s bigger fish to fry (in my opinion anyway).

    • Isilzha

       That would have been an interesting test.  However, the offer is only good on Sundays and stipulates it must be current.  The intent, I’m sure, is that it must be dated for the Sunday you go to the restaurant.  Still, what does “current” actually mean? 

  • Birdie1986

    An atheist could actually just go to a church and pick up a bulletin and still get the discount, so, really, this is sort of stupid.  The discount doesn’t say you have to have actually attended the church service and believe in the crap, so it’s not impossible to comply with.  I think that bringing in an atheist group flyer is a bad suggestion.  That implies that atheism is a religion and that an atheist group meeting is a church.  That offends me more than the restaurant discount (which really doesn’t offend me at all, and I am a fairly adamant atheist).

    • Isilzha

      Yes, they could, but that means they must essentially trespass on church grounds and steal their property.  Churches are not public places and I don’t think they even have to abide by all the rules of public accommodation because they have special religious privilege to discriminate.

      • corvelay

        Yeah that’s not really how churches work. While they’re operating, especially during services, they generally work on an open invitation kind of assumption, even though they are private property. Anyone can go in for any (legal) reason they like, and just about every church I’ve ever been to wouldn’t really have a problem with people hopping in and out, even if just to grab a bulletin for a discount. They’d prefer that to having no contact whatsoever with unbelievers. Your risk in doing so is essentially nil. The worst that would happen is maybe you’d get the stinkeye from an old lady or two.

        • Nordog

           “Your risk in doing so is essentially nil. The worst that would happen is maybe you’d get the stinkeye from an old lady or two.”

          You might get some Jeebus on ya.

          • Isilzha

            And that stuff is nasty!

        • Isilzha

          It’s not just a question about how churches typically operate, but what they are legally allowed to do.  They CAN bar people from their premises.  An atheist who goes to a church just to get a bulletin will be treated differently than someone who regularly attends. 

          The question is if the discount amounts to religious discrimination and it does. 

          • corvelay

            “The question is if the discount amounts to religious discrimination and it does.”

            No, it manifestly does not, and I think most of the people here understand that.

            • Isilzha

              I understand why you and the others don’t think that it’s religious discrimination and I strongly disagree.  At the very least it’s religious privilege, and christian privilege at that since the discount stipulates a current church bulletin must be present on Sunday.  I don’t know if Mosques and Synagogues typically use bulletins, but they hold their gatherings on Saturday.  So, unless they can present their bulletin for a discount then they are being discriminated against.  Of course, that’s why the discount should have been tested before making a complaint.

              • corvelay

                Yeah, could be privelege, but privelege isn’t outlawed, at least not yet. I’m of the opinion that freedom of association in America has suffered enough already.

                • Isilzha

                   They’re free to associate.  Eliminating religious privilege has nothing to do with denying them their basic rights and freedoms.  It does, however, address the SPECIAL privileges they assume in our society.

                  Actually, we have brought privilege into the legal sphere on many times.  It’s just we’ve never really addressed religious privilege in that way before.

                • corvelay

                  How exactly would you eliminate religious privilege without attacking freedom of association? Or freedom of speech, for that matter?

                • Isilzha

                  An example of religious privilege is standing up and wanting to say a prayer at a non-religious group meeting (ie, a garden or book club) and expecting everyone to give respect for your belief.  Christian privilege is assuming that any prayer will be xian and getting angry when it’s not.  I don’t understand why the word “privilege” isn’t cluing you in that the actions are actually assuming special rights and accommodations over others.

                • corvelay

                  oookay. Good luck in eliminating those actions, and the thousands of other examples even less amenable to your position you decided not to hilight, via the legal sphere without trampling on basic rights and freedoms.

                • Kodie

                  Do you get that some things are illegal and some things are just annoying? Christians seem to presume Christians and Christianity is welcome at any time, but if an atheist points that out to them, they’d consider the atheist hostile and militant. Whereas an atheist rarely has the opportunity to express how atheist every atheism is today out loud, a Christian would speak up in a heartbeat how you persecuted their beliefs by expressing your own, apropos of nothing. Double-standard=privilege. It’s not something you can necessarily eliminate via the legal sphere, but when they are breaking the law, why not? 

                • corvelay

                  This is replying to Kodie below, since the thread was just ridculously thin.

                  I do understand the difference between annoying and illegal. I also understand that the concept of privilege spans both categories, so when someone talks about “eliminating privilege” via the legal sphere, that effort is inevitably going to require abridging guaranteed freedoms.

                  And what Christians consider hostile and militant is when atheists try to use the organs of the state to make it illegal for resterateurs to offer a discount upon the provision of a church bulletin.

                  I read this site because for some reason Hemant has a thing for promoting ridiculous causes that tend to have the net effect of perpetuating the stereotype that atheists are angry, antisocial assholes, and I like to be apprised of those topics my Christian friends are likely to bring up once we get into our next, inevitable, debate. At least Hemant had to good sense to not support this one wholeheartedly.

                • corvelay

                   Maybe we’re talking past each other as far as what constitutes “privilege”

                • Isilzha

                   http://lmgtfy.com/?q=%22religious+privilege%22

  • http://www.facebook.com/Myrealana Carrie Cadwallader

    Do you get so worked up over places that give a discount to people displaying stickers from a local high school or sports team? You aren’t eligible for every discount and promotion that’s out there. Get over it.

    • ortcutt

       The law governing public accommodations (Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) only lists four protected classes: race, color, religion, and national origin.  Being on a local sports team isn’t one of those classes and doesn’t bear any rational relationship with them.

  • Mitchdibble

    I love this site, atheists, and our mutual causes for a secular world…. But this guy is a total dick with too much time on his hands IMO, and boo to ffrf for egging it on :-/

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      This. Dude needs to build a bridge and get over himself. He’s also ineligible for Lady’s Night drink specials, is he going to whine about that too? It’s just a ridiculous tantrum over a non-issue.

      • Isilzha

        Depends on the the state…

        • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

          As far as I know, PA isn’t one of them, so your point is…?

          • Isilzha

            That several states disagree with you.

            • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

              Good for them. Shall I bake them some cookies? The case in question is in PA. What other states agree or disagree with doesn’t much matter.

              So, again I ask: your point is…?

              • Isilzha

                Doubt anyone would want your gloom cookies. 

                Your point seems to be that the idea of Ladies’ Night being discrimatory is ridiculous.  Since several states have determined it is discrimatory that point is really invalid since it’s not at all a ridiculous idea.  That PA hasn’t done so is really NOT a valid point at all.

                Plus, it doesn’t matter if PA has determined Ladies’ Night to be discriminatory or not since that’s not the issue with this at all.  This is about religious discrimination.

                • Nordog

                   “Your point seems to be that the idea of Ladies’ Night being discrimatory
                  is ridiculous.  Since several states have determined it is discrimatory
                  that point is really invalid since it’s not at all a ridiculous idea. ”

                  Because everyone knows that no state law could be ridiculous.

                  And besides, who can argue with an appeal to authority?  Like Aquinas said, “The argument from authority is the weakest form of argument, according to Boethius.”

                • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

                  Keep white knighting for a melodramatic whiner. I’ll be doing something constructive with my life, like taking a nap or something. If you don’t get why this whole issue is a non-issue, well, it’s not my job to hold yor hand until you do. I find grown people throwing tantrums and hissy fits over stupid crap like this to be a ridiculous waste of time and oxygen. Sorry if that offends your delicate sensibilities.

                • Isilzha

                  Fine, go take a nap, the grownups are trying to talk.

                • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

                   Oh, so you’re leaving then?  I mean if the grown-ups are going to be talking, you should probably go cover your ears.  You might hear things that you disagree with or dislike!  Heavens, we can’t have that now can we?!

                  Oh and just for a fun fact, I don’t entirely disagree with you on the idea that Ladies’ Night drink specials are discriminatory, but your whole premise that just because other states say so makes it somehow truth is a joke.  Learn to argue better.

                  The bigger point here is that this guy is an attention whoring drama queen.  He’s fully able to walk his rear into a church on a Sunday morning and snag a bulletin if he just *has* to have the discount.  And don’t even start on the ridiculous BS you were trotting downthread about how church members would bar him from doing so because that’s just laughable.  He’s not being told that he’s not permitted to eat there, he’s just not qualifying for a particular discount.  I don’t qualify for a senior discount, do you see me crying and pounding my chest over it?  No, because I’m an adult and know how to act like it.

                  A lesson it seems both you AND Mr. Wolff could do well to learn.

                • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

                  Also, nice personal attack. Are we in high school again?

                • Isilzha

                   How is that a personal attack.  You offered cookies and gloom cookies sound nasty.

          • ortcutt

             PA doesn’t allow Ladies’ Night specials.  Bars can call a night “Ladies’ Night”, but they need to offer the same specials to men and women alike.  That’s the law in PA as in many other states.

  • Richard J Leyba

    I would like to see if it is different these ways…

    “10% off with church bulletin”
    “10% off with mention of blasphemy to the Holy Spirit”
    “10% off for people with mohawks”
    “10% off for women”
    “10% off for people who look muslim”
    “10% off for Vietnam veterans”
    “10% off for people who hate Barack Obama”
    “10% off if you wear a Lakers jersey”

    In some cases the very notion is awful. In orher cases it is incredibly benign. None of them are technically illegal, though a few most certainly can be challenged. Illegality would come if they required nonchristian, nonatheist, nonladies, etc, to pay more than the set price, which is not the case. General discounts to specific groups does not hinder the freedom of other groups from basic business interaction which was agreed upon the second they sit down and say they agree to the meal with the price next to it and by the waitress saying “you got it”.

    It may be offensive to atheists to see that christians are given preference, albeit the same benign preference ladies have at bars on ladies night, but this is still a country where a business can also offer a discount for people who blaspheme the holy spirit, and a country where both are still able to be protested by groups who find them offensive.

    While also being aware that it is important to act on all encroachment and discrimination, I think this is vastly different than being denied or having hindered service because of ones belief/hairstyle/jersey.

    • Isilzha

      And in some states “ladies’ night” has been challenged and have been ruled discriminatory. 

      • Richard J Leyba

        I find that odd, but facts is facts. Is there any access to the “why” of it?

        • Isilzha

           Discrimination based on gender.  Other people address it in the comments here. 

      • Guest

        well, I bet that would change if ladies’ night is  followed by “gents night”  and “pick your gender night”

  • Pegk

    We have a local restaurant that gives discounts for what used to be “church bulletins” but is now “any bulletin.”  One can literally write the word “bulletin” on a piece of paper and get the discount.

    • revaaron

       !@$! Even worse! Now they’re guilty of abelism *and* discriminating against non-Christians! Maybe even discrimination based on national origin. Is it a coincidence that they’re excluding everyone who can’t write “bulletin” down on a piece of paper or are they just broadcasting “we don’t want your kind here!” to those with various mental and physical disabilities, those who don’t write in English, etc?

    • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

       And that’s the way it SHOULD be.

  • Annie

    After reading their facebook page, I have changed my stance on this.  At first I thought it was an honest mistake not recognized through their vision of Christian privilege, but now they are poking fun of a woman who is suing because they don’t have wheelchair access?  It doesn’t sound like they have any intention of rephrasing their discount to be inclusive for all, which kind of dispels their original stance that this was simply a marketing ploy.

    • Guest

      discounts are never inclusive. that’s the point of discounts like that. I don’t qualify for seniors discount nor military discount. 
      Anyway, my actual comment here: I find wheelchair access so much more important than 1/2 off wings. That’s real discrimination.

      • Isilzha

        What if the coupons were posted on a bulletin board out of reach of someone in a wheelchair?  What if the restaurant owner said that the coupons were freely available for anyone to take, they just may have make some extra effort to acquire them?

        (yes, the above is much more egregious, but the point is that while an atheist may be able to physically get to and enter a church, that morally, ethically, conscientiously, they may not be able to do such a thing)

  • Alexandra1973

    He’s old enough for a senior discount if they offer that.  I’m only 39 so I wouldn’t qualify.  But I’m not complaining….

  • http://atheistlogic.wordpress.com/ OmniZ

    I attended the Imagine No Religion 2 conference in Kamloops earlier this year and a local restaurant (don’t remember the name) offered a 10% discount to any conference attendees who showed their name badge.

    How is this any different?

    • Annie

      Many restaurants near convention centers will give a discount to people with conference or convention badges.  In that case, I don’t think they really care what you believe in, they just want your money (and they are competing for your money with other local businesses).  So, I think your example is a bit different.  Let’s say the next week there was a religious homeschooling convention in town.  I would guess the restaurants that offered you a discount would offer them one as well. 

    • corvelay

       If it’s different at all, it’s in that you generally have to pay to attend conferences and get a name badge, making that discount in fact much less accessible to the general population than a church bulletin would be.

      • Kodie

         If you have a badge from a conference 6 months ago and you revisit the same city for another reason, can you still get a discount for attending the conference? Do they discriminate certain conference attendees and not offer a discount? I think it’s not the same at all because it wasn’t that they were atheists, it’s that they were a large group that showed up in town and didn’t know a good place to eat. If they are open to all conferences at the time the conference occurs, and offer a blanket discount to anyone who attends any conference, sometimes the conferences will be kind of specific. Non-atheists are not going to be in that conference, but they also stayed home, so they’re not going to spend their money at that restaurant, are they?

    • Isilzha

      Could anyone attend?  Could the conference bar religious people from attending (as a class, not if they were disruptive)?  Granted, you have to purchase a ticket to attend, but wealth is not a protected class under the CRA, religion is.  (Of course, the wealthy are already a “protected” class).

      I think the key distinction is that in the US, religious establishments can discriminate and legally prevent people access based really broad criteria.   No one is actually FREE or has a right to just walk into a church and steal a bulletin.  People here seem to believe that churches are obliged to operate like most private business and must allow the general public access to their property.  However, that’s not true.  For instance, Mormons only allow full members in good standing to enter the church.  Further, would people be telling a muslim in a robe, turban and long beard to just walk into a Baptist church on Sunday morning to steal a bulletin?  No, because it’s very likely church members would bar the way and prevent it.  As far as I know it’s legal for a church to discriminate based on religion.

      • corvelay

        “No, because it’s very likely church members would bar the way”

        You seriously beleive that church members would physically keep a non-Christian out of a church just because they’re not a Christian?

        Have you ever been to a church? If you think that’s a compelling argument, much less one that would stand up in court in a discrimination case, then all I can say is good luck to you.

        • Isilzha

          Ah, your Christian privilege is starting to show.  You’re trying to present churches as something benign, open and friendly, welcoming to all and you’re expecting everyone to see them this way.  Some of them may be OK, but definitely not all of them.  I grew up attending Southern Baptist churches.  My parents even helped to found a church.  So, I’ve seen many different churches and been witness to all kinds of behavior, from generous to nasty, from the people there.  I’ve seen people kicked out or at the very least interrogated based on the way they were dressed. 

          • corvelay

            “Your Christian privilege is starting to show.”

            I’m not a Christian.

            And some conferences are ok and welcoming, but definitely not all of them. If you’re arguing that the bulletin discount is discriminatory but the conference example is not, then you’d have to hold all conferences to an even greater standard than that to hich you’re holding your unnamed southern baptist churches.

            Seriously, this is a terrible hill for atheist activists to die on. Find another.

            • Isilzha

              Why don’t you find another?  It’s idiotic to tell people on an atheist site that they aren’t being a “proper” activist and should find a cause more to YOUR liking.  Do you NOT see the hypocrisy there?  I actually think this is an interesting legal question.  You’re free not to think so, but do NOT try to tell me I shouldn’t.  I’m done with you.

          • Guest

            as a tourist you can go into any church that is open. I doubt anyone will recognize you as a non-christian unless you start talking about it. walk in, grab a bulletin, leave. I dare you ;)

  • Samantha Grover

    I haven’t read all the comments.  My first thought was ‘don’t complain’.  Really, I don’t qualify for AARP (yet and thank goodness) and I don’t say ‘hey, old people get a discount, why don’t I”.   There are quite a few discounts that I/we don’t qualify for and I don’t begrudge those that do (and in the case of free/reduced school lunches or other low-income discounts I kind of have sympathy for them).

    Our town has a ‘single mother’s oil change day’ on or about Mothers Day.  I don’t qualify because I’m not single.  My response is ‘good for them’.  I also hope they don’t only get it changed that one time a year.  And, yes, this is a sexist practice.  I do know how to change the oil and would if I had to, and I bet there are some single men that may not know how. 

    I know it is just a ‘one instance’, but we had someone here complain about getting reduced lunches when she hit 50 (our schools used to do that for seniors, they could get 2 or 3 reduced school lunches per week).  She made such a stink, that they took away reduced lunches for all
    the older people.  Now, seniors that are truly in need can’t get a $1 or $2 lunch.  She’s a huge/devout/judgmental christian. 

    Can he go in and say ‘hey, I’m not a church-goer, is there something I can supply to get the discount?’  I mean, if it was for drumming up business, wouldn’t they be happy to have a
    customer?  I would think you could at least ask.  Nothing ventured you know.  I’ve gotten discounts that way.

    Sam

  • emily

    There’s a tea room in Occoquan, VA that offers a similar discount w/church bulletin.  I went there once with my mother – we joked that we should bring a church of satan bulletin.  Didn’t even occur to me to complain…

  • Proud Atheist

    I think this makes us Atheists look like Whiners.  If they had turned him away OK but the owner is trying to get business.  This is still america.  All I know the food must be Really good to make an Atheist eat there with such a sign in place.

  • Anonymous

    What happens if I create a restaurant and offer a discount to anyone who brings in a copy of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins?

    • Renshia

       A few atheists  show up.

  • David

    Any lawsuit is DOA. She ask only for a Church bulletin, not a Baptism certificate. She could have asked for monopoly money or any other item that some might not have ready access to.  Frankly, I find senior discounts far more discriminatory, yet they remain perfectly legal.

    • Isilzha

      No, it’s not DOA.  This isn’t a test case, there have been plenty of these filled before.

  • Shifty

    I agree with your suggestion of bringing in a atheist flyer. I’d bet the restaurant would accept it.

    Above all else I think this I just an old grumpy man complaining about something

  • CoboWowbo

    I wonder if Mr. Wolff has received any death threats from religious people yet…

  • LesterBallard

    Well, at least this a atheism post . . .

  • Bagolaw

    Wow, just saw this today at my local Hallmark.  10% off on Sunday if you bring your worship bulletin in.  I commented to the clerk that I was not aware that Hallmark was a christian store.  Her initial response was, of course, we have some christian things but, but she didn’t get what I was saying.  I pointed to the flyer, to which she responded that she hadn’t seen that.  Really?  Doesn’t matter.  But I said what if you do not have a bulletin?  Isn’t that discriminatory?  She just smiled and said yeah.  I said I would steal one.  She didn’t laugh.  

  • amycas

    I stopped eating at the local Golden Chick because of a similar discount. I wouldn’t file a lawsuit though.

    • Isilzha

       Maybe you should.  Religious privilege is rampant in our society.  We need to push religion from our day-to-day secular live and back into the confines of the churches and private homes.  Why allow it to go unchallenged just because it seems benign.

      • amycas

         Come to think of it, I don’t eat at Spring Creek BBQ anymore for similar reasons.

  • GotSome

    Again, ANY church or religious bulletin would get you the DISCOUNT, if you happened to watch the interview this morning (christian, muslim, buddhist, pagan, lack of a god, etc.).

    Take your business elsewhere, as there is NO need for YOUR persecution. Different companies offer discounts based on policies of their choosing. I can get discounts being a military member. Are you going to INFRINGE upon my receiving a dincount somewhere because I am military?

    Throw thos ENTIRE discussion out, as it is so PETTY your oxygen shouldn’t even be used to perpetuate it! Enough said…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Schlicht/1566144898 Steve Schlicht

    Yes, Mr. Wolff should raise the issue with this restaurant owner as others have done to try to make positive change and raise awareness in the open marketplace of ideas.

    To address some of the points Hemant brings up and some of the more interesting posts in this thread:

    Mr. Wolff is 80 years old, so no, he doesn’t look like Brad Pitt, and no, the mere contention over this issue doesn’t make him a grumpy old man willing to die on this hill to the detriment of atheists everywhere and the atheist movement in general.

    Those are mere ad hominem and non-sequitur.

    He calmly and quite reasonably addresses his motives and the valid points he thought it would be worth bringing forth with the help of the FFRF by sending a letter.

    Who brought this into the public media arena and the motive for doing so is unclear.

    The fact is that no one should have to bring in an atheist flyer and wait to see if they’re rejected or not, when the offer (as stated by the owner) is specifically for religious folks on a Sunday to bring in a bulletin from their “church or synagogue”.

    A distinction that, by inference, rejects atheist flyers, or any such documents from Buddhist temples or Muslim mosques – do they even have bulletins?

    If the element of the special service and value only applies to those with church/synagogue bulletins, then it is discrimination against those who don’t abide by religious traditions that have such items and those who don’t abide by any religious tradition at all.
    Those outside do not receive equal service and value based upon the religious distinction.

    Humans will, at some point be children and senior citizens, so may receive a discount based upon age.

    Certain classes, like LGBT, race and atheists, should not have to change who they are and what their views are in order to receive equal service and value as a public accommodation.
    Note: this doesn’t apply to private groups who receive no public funding, we’re talking public businesses here and as the Civil Rights Act applies.

    In short, the fact that the owner specifies special service and value for religious folks in her community on Sunday to bring in their religious document (a “church or synagogue bulletin” is hardly secular) that promotes their religious itinerary and “messages” is the nuance that violates the Civil Rights act regarding public accommodation and the specifics of protected class.
    As for the business marketing tool the owner posits as her intent…wouldn’t “10% off all day for everyone” be even better?

    • Guest

      I disagree. If it says church and you happen to go to a synagogue, mosque or temple, bring whatever flyer they have there. 
      If the discount was for “bring a toke from your curling club” no one would bitch about it. And non-curlers would laugh and move on.

      • Isilzha

        Well, it can’t be a bulletin from a mosque or synagogue as they don’t meet on Sundays.  The discount also stipulated that the bulletin be dated THAT Sunday.  So, that also means you can’t bring in an atheist flyer from last month’s meeting.  Also, a “bulletin” usually implies more than just an ad or flyer for something; it’s a program, a schedule for the service.

    • BrendaK

      What if the restaurant owner an atheist and offered a discount for  people with a church bulletin. Maybe that is their target market base they wish to increase at their restaurant. We are still a free society. Stop trying to control everything. Again. Get a life.

  • Blanc_Slate

    I don’t thing Mr Wolff has a case. From the article, it seems the restaurant has offered other discounts and at various times, so it doesn’t make sense to say they’re set on discriminating against non-Christians. Of course, in cases where you get a coupon for being a certain way (e.g. over 65, under 12, etc), some people will undoubtedly be left out if they don’t fit the criteria. It’s like when you apply for scholarships but don’t meet certain requirements: no one sues in turn. That’s been the way businesses have been operating for some time now. It’s like me being someone who’s in his early 20s, asking for a senior citizen discount. Doesn’t make sense. 

    • Isilzha

      Again, this isn’t a test case.

  • Emb

    print out your own bulletin this is a ridiculous wast of the courts for sure.

    for me a bullentin from my church Babarambaba and my deity Ralph.

  • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

    Many people here mention “Ladies Night” promotions:
    In Pennsylvania, “Such promotions violate the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as
    unlawful gender discrimination where male patrons are charged an
    entrance fee or a greater charge for drinks and female patrons are not
    charged an identical entrance fee or the same charge for drinks as male
    patrons. In Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. Dobrinoff, the
    Commonwealth Court specifically found that where a female patron was
    exempt from a cover charge, a go-go bar engaged in unlawful gender
    discrimination.[17]
    The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has stated as recently as 2009
    that it will issue citations against establishments which charge patrons
    differing amounts based on gender.[18]” [Source: Wikipedia]

  • Jim Valentine

    No.  If they want the discount just go to the church, grab a bulletin then leave.  Then eat! WIN!  Or you could just dig through the coupon section of your newspaper and find a discount for a whole plethora of restaurants.

  • Isilzha

    For xians (and sadly, many atheists) to understand, we need to frame it as requiring them to enter a mosque or synagogue in order to acquire something to use as a discount for a secular purpose. Almost all of them would feel very uncomfortable having to enter such places without express invitation or, at least, honest intent (theft of church property is NOT honest intent].  There’s a very strong sense of religious privilege at work here, even among atheists, that churches are somehow special places that are always open, friendly, benign.  However, for many people, thinking about going to any religious institution outside of their faith would elicit some discomfort.  A mosque is perceived with wariness (at minimum) for most xians, just as a mostly white, Southern baptist church would generally be a place to avoid for a black muslim.  Some faiths even prohibit contact with people outside of the faith.  Those people too would not be able to take advantage of the discount.  While atheists are not under dogmatic prohibition to enter a church, doing so, especially under false pretext, could violate their conscience.

    Most people who view this issue as petty seem to have failed to look beyond the surface and see the larger, deeper implications this has for the place of religious privilege in secular society.

    • BrendaF

      It is a discount. There is not a larger, deeper agenda. You don’t have to eat there. Go to a different restaurant and get off your soap box. As someone stated above, there are children’s discount to entice parents to eat there, a ladies night out to get more people (men) coming or the elderly to get a discount just because. Not everyone runs around disecting every word spoken or written from a restaurant owner. They are just trying to drum up some business with a special. That is why it is called a SPECIAL. It IS for a specified group of people and not for every customer. I don’t eat out with judgement on my mind as to if the restaurant is POTICALLY CORRECT.  They are privately owned and should have the right to define a discount. I don’t whine when I’m under 65 and ALL those older people get a discount. I just can’t believe I’m even responding to this except for it feels like walking away from a train wreck and not looking for survivors. If we CAN walk away and can live with ourselves, it is not breaking the law. If the world would be as you would have it, people that pull out all the non trapped people and left the trapped people you would be able to scream discrimination because the man under the train happened to be Jewish.  Get a life!

      • http://elf.dreamwidth.org/ Elf

         Specials, just like any other business transaction, are not allowed to discriminate by certain classes of people.

        They can say “we only hire college graduates.” They can’t say “we only hire men.”

        They could have a special that gives, for example, preferential seating. They can say “schoolkids with A’s on their report cards get window seats” or “our winning baseball team & their families get the front seats this week.”  They’re not allowed to say “only seat white people get the front seats” nor “people with visible disabilities can’t be in view of the windows”–and they’re not allowed to say “Christians get a discount.”

        Currently, they don’t say “Christians get a discount” directly. However, if they are *trying* to give a discount to Christians, that’s illegal.

        They probably weren’t thinking that religious affiliation as a protected category is broader than “we don’t discriminate against Catholics or Jews.” However, as business owners, they should be able to gracefully admit that they messed up, and come up with a different discount coupon when told the one they had showed a kind of discrimination that’s not legal.

  • Isilzha

    Definitely not the first time this issue has come up:

     http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2009/07/27/dennys-discount-for-churchgoers-only/

  • Lewies Vander

    I hope that every church in the area would go and support them – not just on Sundays – and tell them they’re praying for them too!

  • Sooner_wagon

    So, maybe I should start filing a lawsuit against all those restaurants that have a children’s menus, because they are discriminating against my age…oh yeah, senior menus too! Retail stores everywhere have coupons for specific items…you don’t get the discount without the coupon. Is that discriminating against the guy who doesn’t get the newspaper for coupons? The church bulletin in this case is nothing more than a form of coupon…if you want the coupon, go into a church on Sunday morning, let the greeter hand you a bulletin and walk out! Or, if you want the $2 off the ham at the store, go to the convenience store and grab a newspaper to ge the coupon….SAME DIFFERENCE. You have to go out of your way for both. In this case, however, you are required to pay for the newspaper, but you don’t have to give money, attend or owe the church you grab your bulletin a cent!

    • Kodie

      Because it’s not about getting the discount. It’s about the restaurant stating a preference for customers of a religious belief – continuing a policy that’s illegal. Why is everyone so stuck on how easy it is to get the discount? 

      • BrendaK

        No it is the restaurant offering a discount for a limited to people with a church bulletin.  I doesn’t state you have to be a Christian, it doesn’t state you have to attend any particular church. It states if you have a bulletin it would be treated as a discount coupon.  

        I am so sick of people trying to run somebody else’s business.  Do you have nothing better to do than to nitpick about anything that doesn’t happen to pertain to YOU?  YOU are not the center of the universe. We as restaurant owners are permitted to make specials.

        I for one have chosen to  not be standing on the  PC wagon at all times. If your feels get hurt or you don’t like things, remember, LIFE IS NOT FAIR. IT DOESN’T OWE YOU ANYTHING. Things are never going to be equal in a free society. We are still a free society are we not? If they want a discount, produce a bulletin. If you don’t have one wait until your turn comes up. Suck it up and stop stomping your feet like a 3 year old.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AO26OIUBOPS3RE5EWZJRLJGJT4 Berto

         “….continuing a policy that’s illegal…”

        You are an idiot. Private businesses giving discounts is no more illegal than it is for you to post your lunacy publicly. Although, come to think of it, perhaps your comments should be illegal.

      • conservative

        That still does not answer the question about the seniors discount. Is that a preference towards the elderly and not the middle aged? Why do you say that it is illegal to offer a discount to someone that brings in a church bulletin? And do not try to say seperation of church and state because you do not even know what that means.

        • Kodie

          For the 80th time in this thread, Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – pertains to race, color, religion, and national origin as protected classes as regards public accommodations. Age and sex are not protected classes within this section. It has nothing to do with separation of church and state, I do know what that means, it’s the first clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. It is about how a public accommodation cannot discriminate the service they provide with regard to a customer’s race, color, religion, and national origin. If you open your doors to the public, you have no private religious rights to discriminate against serving any of those people. This does not take away your private religious rights or impose anything on your religious freedom to believe. And if YOU don’t like it, don’t make a business in which only part of the public is accommodated.

          • Haraldg

             Kodie, who is not being served, or discriminated against?  Anyone can walk into that restaurant and be served.  If you have gotten a discount coupon out of a newspaper and use that and I don’t have one, is that discrimination against me?  If you have a ticket stub from some event that you can use as a discount coupon offered by the restaurant, am I being discriminated against?  If you want the church bulletin discount, get off your butt, get a church bulletin and get the discount, ANYONE who has one can be served, no one is being discriminated against!

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          And do not try to say seperation of church and state because you do not even know what that means.

          As Kodie says, it doesn’t apply here.  But when you say “you do not even know what that means”, what I think you mean is “I want that to mean something other than what you and the courts and most legal scholars think it means”.  You want it to be a one-way thing, protect religion from government, but not protect government from religion-”freedom of, but not from, religion”.  Amawrong?

          Just because you don’t like what it means doesn’t mean we don’t know what it means.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          And do not try to say seperation of church and state because you do not even know what that means.

          As Kodie says, it doesn’t apply here.  But when you say “you do not even know what that means”, what I think you mean is “I want that to mean something other than what you and the courts and most legal scholars think it means”.  You want it to be a one-way thing, protect religion from government, but not protect government from religion-”freedom of, but not from, religion”.  Amawrong?

          Just because you don’t like what it means doesn’t mean we don’t know what it means.

  • http://elf.dreamwidth.org/ Elf

    On the one hand: anyone can (theoretically) use any church bulletin, which requires no statement of belief or attendance-of-church. So by that logic, the owners aren’t providing special bonuses to people with religious beliefs; they’re providing a bonus to anyone who hands over a piece of paper distributed by a church. On the surface, this seems no more discriminatory than “show a birth certificate for 10% discount”–birth certificates mention race and sex, but requiring proof that you’ve been assigned one of each doesn’t imply discrimination.

    On the other, acquiring a church bulletin seems to imply *some* kind of positive connection with whatever church is involved, a tacit endorsement or at least tolerance of the beliefs of the church. Atheists should not have to handle religious materials they disagree with in order to get a discount. Or rather: there should not be bonuses for declaring an affiliation with a religious group, even if that affiliation is very thin. (If the advert said, “quote a verse of the Koran to get a discount,” I’m pretty sure plenty of Christians would get upset, even though quoting a verse doesn’t mean following a religion.)

    The real test of discrimination would be bringing in an atheist meeting flyer or similar, and seeing if the owners insisted on some kind of legal church status, or if any spiritual-themed group notification paper would do. Of course, once a lawsuit’s been filed, that’s moot; the owners will be advised to say, “of COURSE we would’ve honored an atheist organization meeting schedule!”

    Since that’s not possible now, I suppose it depends on whether the judge (and/or jury) believes that acquiring and using a church bulletin is a declaration of religious affiliation. This may, in part, depend on the owners’ reactions; if they are very clear that they meant to hand out discounts to anyone who waved a paper at them that indicated “I read your ad and attempted to comply” (including people who print out the most recent blog post or upcoming events list from the FSM church), it’s more likely to be acceptable than if the owners indicate they meant “local Christian organizations that publish weekly bulletins.”

    In either case, I’d expect the actual penalties to be fairly small, mostly a small fine and some finger-waving “and don’t do that again!” declarations, unless the owners are complete jerks about it, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

    • Kodie

       They would still grant the discount, brush off the incident (trying to keep good PR), but keep the ad which says “church flyer.” If the owner doesn’t see what the big deal is, why would she not take it down or re-word it or think of a new promotion?

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        She said a representative from the state suggested that she should compromise and sign an agreement that she would offer discounts to any civic organization in the town.
        “I said, ‘Wait a minute – you’re asking my husband and I to give anybody coming through my door a discount?’” she recounted. “They said yes.”
        “I said, ‘Are you crazy?’”
        “We have taxes to pay,” she said. “We have utility bills, payroll, mortgages and they’re expecting me to give everyone a discount?”
        Prudhomme said that’s just not going to happen.
        “This is our business,” she said. “We’re the ones paying the taxes. We need the people coming in. Our life is in this — and then to have someone come along and tell me what I can do and what I can’t do?”

        http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/restaurant-faces-investigation-for-offering-church-discount.html 

        but on their FB page they say

        Of course we told him he and his group are more than welcome to enter any church and pick up a bullitin to bring to our restaurant for a 10% discount! He doesn’t have to spend a moment inside a church-just grab & go! Just an FYI for all of our friends and customers! 

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prudhommes-Lost-Cajun-Kitchen/242429195781105 

        So they freak out at the idea of giving the discount to any civic organization, but happily suggest people can just pop into any old church and pick up a bulletin.

        Something doesn’t equate here.  But I think they are getting enough support as the poor oppressed Mom&Pop that they’re not hurting for business.  And probably someone coming in without a ‘genuine’ church bulletin and asking for a discount would be told off, to the cheers of the customers.

        I didn’t see anything about wheelchairs anywhere.  Maybe that was taken down?

        • Kodie

           There’s a difference between the advertised discount and the secret discount. Restaurants will commonly* provide a discount if a customer is being petty about it, but the customer has to be impolite enough to ask, and most people just let it go. I’ve also done this at grocery or department stores, where two different types of the same item had only one printed price, or a shelf had the wrong tag on it. I’m not a professional cheat, but hey. In both instances that I recall, the receipt then reflected an increased price for another item or the cashier charged me for a slightly different, more expensive vegetable to make up the difference. That’s neither here nor there, but customer service only wants the customer to have the illusion of being accommodated, so they may grant a discount, but still not change the ad to reflect accepting a different type of bulletin for a discount.

          *It depends on the owner’s or corporate policy. Corporation will probably be more lenient and less law-breaking in the first place. Independent owners will be regular people with no background in law who take for granted that starting one’s own business means that they can set any policies they like. I had seen once on the news about a landlord who was discriminating and instead of making up some likely excuse why he didn’t allow certain people (they didn’t have a good credit history, or I didn’t do it on purpose, or they came after the other people, so too late to get the apartment, etc.), right on camera, he kept on with the rights he has as a landlord to keep certain people out of his building. That goes back to being against the law, but small-business owners dealing with the public can be pretty ignorant of the law. A restaurant usually gives in if you ask for an equivalent discount just to buy your mouth shut, but you have to be bold enough to ask.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            A restaurant usually gives in if you ask for an equivalent discount just to buy your mouth shut, but you have to be bold enough to ask.

            That was essentially my initial thought, as documented somewhere in the nearly 300 comments previous.  What I just wrote was a retraction of that thought based quotes from the owner.  Maybe before the kerfuffle she would have given the ‘secret discount’.  At this point they’re milking the victim hood, and it would be in their best financial interest to make a big deal out of some atheist expecting to get a discount without bringing in a bulletin.  “Hey, look at this everyone, one of those amoral atheists thinks they should get a discount just for asking for it!”  They’re not Olive Garden, they’re the American Underdog.  And they’ll do whatever they can to keep that image.

  • matt2624

    So, let this  privately owned restaurant “discriminate” by giving someone THEY choose a discount, then.  No crime there!  Who owns this restaurant – the people who put their labor and money into it, not the government.  Yet it’s okay for national chain restaurants to only offer appetizer discounts in the “bar area”?  Let them run their business!  

    • Kodie

      So you’d be ok eating somewhere with a ‘whites only’ and a ‘blacks only’ section, or ‘No Blacks Allowed’? Kind of makes me wonder if they ask illegal questions during job interviews too. 

      • matt2624

        Oh please…  We’re not talking “race” or equality  here, we’re talking about giving someone a discount – which hardly equates to segregation issues.  In fact, I think most blacks would cringe at your thought of minimizing their segregation ordeals of the past into an atheistic rant of missing a discount on some Jambalaya.  

        • Kodie

           It’s the same law that applies and this is how they are getting around it, since they don’t seem to actually ban anyone. Would you eat somewhere if you get a discount if you’re white? If you were black, would it be about the discount? Would you eat there if you could “pass” for white so you could get the discount?

  • aplacetotalk.net

    I’m a follower of Jesus but I don’t like bulletins – so that discount doesn’t work for me either.  Ask for the discount without a bulletin, I bet you get it.  

  • Joe

    Are the churches excluding anyone from attending and getting a Bulliten?

  • Pdavew

    Get real if you business you do have a right to have coupons for just about anything you want.  Does a store discriminate when they have a Sunday morning sale when most got to church?  What about ladies night do you file against the business then?  What about the 55 plus discount does not it discriminate against younger people?  Why not just get over it!!!! Go to a differrent place to eat.     Grow up start your own business discount to who ever you want.
     

  • Np Rutter

    Our local video store is also in violation of this???  The kids that bring their “A” report cards recieved free movie rentals, thus discriminating against those with lesser grades!!  C’mon, when is the madness ever going to end!

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Errm, no. That’s rewarding hard work — totally different thing, man.

  • Frank Brown

    The FFRF is the culprit here. They should have the good sense and character to tell the atheist to simply “get a life.” Some things you just have to live with. People like that simply are contentious and looking for something to gripe about.
    Frank Brown

  • Lynn Garrett

    It’s a discount offered one day per week – which happens to be traditionally a day that people who DO worship go to church and may go out to eat afterwards.  No different than baseball tickets that give you a free appetizer at a restaurant on game day with your ticket stub!  Get over yourselves – if I want to worship, I don’t say you have to!  If I want to target Sunday after church business, I should be able to!!

  • hardtackblue

    The only discrimination is against ‘stupid people”.  I am sure if an atheist really is concerned that thenuse or non-use of a coupon, he will be able to find a ‘stupid people’ lawyer as well, and end up wasting court time on yet one more non-issue. Get a life people! 

  • Bob

    A judge in Florida has decided the following IN A COURT CASE brought by an atheist.  The atheist was complaining that atheists were discriminated against as they “had no special day of recognition.”  The judge dismissed the case stating that “atheists Do have a special day for them on the calander.”  He continued by stating that The bible says “the fool has said in his heart there is no GOD.”  Since atheists deny the existence of GOD, their special day is April Fool’s Day.” 

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/atheist.asp

      “The fool doesn’t check snopes”
      - Rich 1:1

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        +1 just for Snopes. I’d give you more, but Disqus only allows me one “like” per comment.

  • Moose82

    I have a message for the FFRF:  FU

  • Inhisrein

    It’s real simple…the person or persons or company that own the restaurant and pay the taxes,buy the licenses, pay the help, and work their tail off, ought to be able to give a discount to anyone they want too!  This is America and the constitution also states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF”.  Wow!  So many simply throw this aside, including judges!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AO26OIUBOPS3RE5EWZJRLJGJT4 Berto

    This hater atheist is dumber than a rock. The restaurant is privately owned. They can offer discounts to whomever they wish. To make an issue of this just shows how inanely petty, stupid, disingenuous,  and mean-spirited this person is. And then to call church goers ‘self-righteous’ is the crowning touch. Perhaps this hater-atheist doesn’t approve of military discounts, senior discounts, children’s menus, etc.  I wish I knew who this atheist is; I would love to serve a slap up the side of their head to try to, as my mama would have said, ‘slap some sense’ into them.  Oh please!

  • PastorCTL

    It’s not even a church-state issue. The restaurant is a privately owned business. They can offer any kind of discount they want. You don’t have to eat there.

  • Matt Friend

    He likely has never eaten there, nor did he ever intend to. Atheists seem to whine about Christians with every opportunity. Just deny God’s existence all you want without being so offended by those who recognize He exists. Rally the little kids against senior discounts. Discounts for exclusive groups are everywhere. Get over it.

  • James

    Has anyone thought about how trivial all of this is?  When I take my family of four out for Sunday dinner, the restaurant usually gets me for about $45.  A 10% discount amounts to less than $5.  It’s not enough for me to turn around and go home when I realize I left my bulletin on the kitchen table.  If a restaurant in town offered “discounts for atheists,” I just wouldn’t eat there.  Is common sense lost in this society?

  • David

    So what happened to the freedom in this country to run your own business the way you want to? If you want to cast your vote against them, do so by taking your business elsewhere and maybe let the restaurant know that personally. Why  hide behind and unnecessarily use the court system to get what they want in life? That is not what the court system is for. 

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Ya, unfortunately in 1964 some activist judges decided that a private business didn’t have the right to refuse service to black people.  Go figure.

  • Haraldg

    This is such total nonsense.  A church bulletin is no different than a ticket stub from a car race, or music concert, or a flyer from other social event!   Someone with a church bulletin can be anyone, it does discriminate against anyone!  If someone chooses not to got to an event that gives out something that enables a discount, makes that decisions themselves, the service or goods provider does not discriminate against anyone!

  • Dave

    I’d agree with the whiny quality of this complaint.  I don’t like sports but have seen restaurant discounts for showing ticket stubs for local sporting events.  Sure, it tells me something about the business’s priorities but I don’t think that this sort of thing  is where the fight should be at the present moment.

  • Jessica

    Reading these comments is more entertaining then the actual article.  I am thankful for free speech; that goes for everyone writing comments as well as for the business owner in their advertisement concerning the church bulletin.  Too much complaining and contention in the world.  I like the quote, “You are a fool when you take offense when offense is not meant.”  Broaden your shoulders, put a smile on your face, and choose to be happy; it’s too easy to be angered in life, happiness is the true test of character and shows that you have real strength and heart. 

  • Jen

    Well no one is perfect and no one should be the judge of another. I say just let this whole thing go and let’s get back to work or get back to our lives. The whole church bulletin thing is blown way too big and we should show more kindness to each other and just turn the other cheek. Now to really get to what is important… I want to make sure I leave a good future for my newborn son. This nation is hurting economically and this is what really scares me. Big government scares me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dezi.christensen Desiree Christensen

    Atheists save a lot of income by not tithing or offering. Its nice to get a discount for going to church. THANKS. Atheists can still benefit from ticket stubs discounts. Like at the movies. Go there, sit 2 hours, get discount. Don’t be jealous. It’s unbecoming. No big deal.


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