Church Bulletin Discount Illegally Discriminates

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Is it legal for a business to turn a church bulletin into a discount cou?pon?

In a word, no.

But that’s what Poblano’s Mexican Bar and Grill offered at its three locations in Greensboro, N.C., until the Freedom From Religion Foundation intervened when alerted by Greensboro residents.

Poblano’s gave customers 15% off their bill on Sundays if they brought in a church bulletin.

The discount violates the federal Civil Rights Act and a Greensboro city ordinance, said Rebecca Kratz, FFRF attorney.

By telephone and letter, Kratz made the restaurants’ ownership aware of the federal law: “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 . . . without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

The city ordinance has similar provisions, Kratz said. “Poblano’s restrictive promotional practice favors religious customers and denies customers who do not attend church and nonbelievers the right to ‘full and equal’ enjoyment of Poblano’s.”

Kratz said Poblano’s co-owner David Romero agreed to stop the promotion and to no longer mail coupons in bulk to churches unless they’re made similarly available to secular groups in the community. Romero was apologetic and cooperative when told the practice was discriminatory.

Romero was concerned about discounts that Poblano’s offers firefighters and police officers, Kratz said. Those are legal because those groups are not protected classes under the Civil Rights Act.

Freedom From Religion Foundation