The Daily Show Was Wrong to Imply That Addressing a Minor Act of Discrimination Was Petty

The Daily Show aired a segment the other night about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s response to the “prayer discount” offered by a diner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (We covered the story on this site yesterday.)

The gist of the segment was that it was wrong for atheists to interfere. While the punchline of the report was that FFRF co-President Dan Barker was a “dick,” Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper uncritically presented restaurant owner Mary Haglund‘s assertion that merely taking a quiet breath would have netted the same 15% discount.

To me, that seems to be a dubious claim for something that was termed a “prayer discount,” but I mention it less to quibble over the particular than to illustrate the general nature of the interview.

The segment conveyed the impression that FFRF’s interference was petty, unwarranted, and cruel.

While the piece got some good laughs at the expense of atheists, its message was wrong and, frankly, disappointing from a show that usually champions causes of fairness and equality.

Here’s why:

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Clear Channel Won’t Run “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” Billboard Out of Fear of Vandalism

Last year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation put up this billboard in Pitman, New Jersey:

It was a tongue-in-cheek rebuke to all those “Keep Christ in Christmas” banners and the expected response was probably some rolling eyes.

But the actual response was much worse.

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Sign That Says “Religion… Hardens Hearts and Enslaves Minds” Goes Up in Milwaukee County Courthouse

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s infamous Winter Solstice sign just went up in the Milwaukee County Courthouse:

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The Daily Show Mocks Atheist Group’s Challenge of Restaurant Owner’s Prayer Discount

In case you missed it, last night’s episode of The Daily Show featured a segment on a Freedom From Religion Foundation-inspired controversy. FFRF President Dan Barker argued against a prayer discount offered by the owner of Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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A Bible-Thumping High School Football Coach Allegedly Threw a Student Off the Team for Not Praying With Everyone

Back in April, we found out that Middletown High School football coach Chris Wells didn’t know how to separate his preaching from his job. The Freedom From Religion Foundation ended up sending a letter to administrators at the Ohio school district:

In the letter from [Freedom From Religion Foundation] staff attorney Rebecca S. Markert, that was obtained by the Journal-News, she wrote the group with 20,000 members, including 550 in Ohio, was contacted by a concerned parent of a football player. She said the group was told Wells tells his players to bow their heads and “leads” them in prayer before team meals. She wrote that Wells also has encouraged his players to attend his church, invited them to church events and offered them rides.

Markert said the group was informed Wells told his players they would be “saved” if they attended the church events.

At the time, it seemed like that was enough.

Superintendent Sam Ison said the district took the letter “seriously and acted upon it promptly” Wednesday afternoon by having MHS Principal Carmela Cotter and Athletic Director Gary Lebo discuss the situation with Wells. Ison said while the district wants its players to maintain “high morale values,” Wells needs to respect others’ religious beliefs.

Wells, 41, was told to quit talking to his players about religion and he agreed to follow the district’s rules, Ison said on Thursday morning.

Turns out it wasn’t enough. This September, Wells was right back to his old ways:

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