Atheist group decries discrimination against Ark Encounter protesters by local businesses

Atheist group decries discrimination against Ark Encounter protesters by local businesses July 14, 2016

For those who are not aware, at the Ark Encounter protest on July 7, in Kentucky, two separate porta-potty companies refused to deliver their toilets, after agreeing to do so, when they learned they were delivering to the Ark Encounter Protest.

In response, The Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose co-president Dan Barker was on site, issued the following press release.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and a regional freethinkers’ group are decrying the discriminatory denial of services during their protest against a religious theme park.

On June 30, Five Star Septic and Portable Toilet Rentals agreed to send portable toilets to a July 7 demonstration against the Ark Encounter park put on by the Tri-State Freethinkers, a group made up of nonbelievers from Kentucky, southern Ohio and southern Indiana, the area the firm serves. It agreed to deliver the toilets on the morning of July 7.

The company’s office reportedly called Tri-State Freethinkers at 9:13 a.m. that day to get directions to the site. During this conversation, it asked the organization representative whether the portable toilets were for the protest. Upon learning that they were, the office denied service, indicating that this was partially because it did not want its name associated with the atheists’ protest.

With such short notice, Tri-State Freethinkers very obviously did not have time to make alternative arrangements. Instead, it had to hastily organize a shuttle caravan to a nearby gas station for the nearly 200 attendees needing to use toilets. This entailed a major time expense for volunteer organizers and individuals needing the ride, as well as financial outlay for gas and mileage. For some individuals, the inconvenience caused by the breach of contract meant missing parts of the protest.

Tri-State Freethinkers provided a lot of water for participants. As the day heated up, those in the open sun by the highway were drinking copious quantities. The denial of convenient toilets produced inevitable discomfort. To those affected, the denial of service felt like a punishment for their views.

It is unlawful for legitimate businesses to discriminate on the basis of religion. In addition, Tri-State Freethinkers relied on the promise of Five Star Septic to deliver a service, and it reneged on that promise because of the protesters’ reasonable message.

The nonreligious population in this country is the fastest growing segment by religious identification, with fully 23 percent of Americans identifying as nonreligious. Nationally, about 35 percent of millennials—those born after 1981—are nonreligious. That would be a lot of individuals for Five Star Septic to refuse to serve on discriminatory grounds.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with almost 24,000 nonreligious members across the country, including members in Kentucky who were present at the protest. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker also participated.

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