Freethought Today gets ‘church discount’

FFRF helped one of its Pennsylvania members obtain a favorable ruling for nonbelievers from the state Human Relations Commission.

After John Wolff of Lancaster was unable to get the owners of Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia to stop discriminating against atheists and agnostics, he enlisted FFRF’s help. The restaurant was offering an illegal 10% discount for customers who brought in a church bulletin.

On April 11, 2011, FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote the first of three letters of complaint to owners Sharon and Dave and Sharon Prudhomme. Markert pointed out that the discount “violates the federal Civil Rights Act in addition to provisions of state civil rights statutes.

“The Civil Rights Act states in relevant part, ‘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 ground of race, color, religion, or national origin,’ ” wrote Markert, adding, “As a place of ‘public accommodation,’ it is illegal for Lost Cajun Kitchen to discriminate, or show favoritism, on the basis of religion.”

After getting no response, Wolff filed a complaint with the state Human Relations Commission. On Sept. 24, the commission approved the following terms of settlement:

“Respondent will continue to give a discount for any bulletin from any group oriented around the subject of religious faith[,] including publications from the Freedom From Religion Foundations[,] as long as they maintain the Sunday discount program.”

Wolff was notified Nov. 21 by letter of the disposition of his complaint.

Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor noted that FFRF publishes a monthly newspaper, Freethought Today, and several irreligious “nontracts” that apparently now qualify as church bulletins. “We have titles such as ‘Why Women Need Freedom From Religion,’ ‘Is America a Christian Nation?’ ‘What’s Wrong With the Ten Commandments?’ and ‘What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?’ ”

Congratulations to John for his persistence and activism!

Additional Info

  • deck: Pennsylvania commission settles discrimination case

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