Freethought Today · March 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

No more pizza topped with extra Christianity

The Pizza Ranch restaurant in Kentwood, Mich., was offering a discriminatory Sunday special, giving $2 off an adult buffet for customers who brought in that weekend's church bulletin. That kind of discount is a violation of the federal Civil Rights Act and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

On Feb. 2, FFRF Legal Fellow Madeline Ziegler wrote to the owner, Jay Bell, explaining that Pizza Ranch's promotion favored religious customers and denied customers who do not attend church "full and equal" enjoyment of Pizza Ranch.

Bell responded to FFRF on Feb. 4, expressing the restaurant's thanks for being educated on the matter by FFRF. He also wrote that he had shared the information about Pizza Ranch's civil rights violation with the corporate office and that changes were being made across the chain.

Lunch bribery ends

A religious ministry will no longer be allowed to evangelize at an Oklahoma middle and high school by baiting students with pizza after FFRF got involved.

FFRF was informed that every Wednesday, representatives from an area church were permitted to enter Crooked Oak Public District property to host a religious lunch event. The ministry's promotional pizza lunches were hosted either in the school's cafeteria or the auditorium.

In exchange for the pizza, students were proselytized by adults from the church during the school day. At these lunches, church volunteers would ask students for their phone numbers and social media contact information. FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover informed Superintendent Bradley Richards that allowing church representatives access during school hours to recruit students for religious activities is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

"The district cannot grant non-school persons unique access to students or to treat schools as a recruiting ground for their religious mission," wrote Grover on Nov. 22, 2016. "It demonstrates an unlawful preference not only for religion over non-religion, but also Christianity over all other faiths."

Richards responded on Jan. 27 that he agreed that the lunchtime meetings violated law and that the school district had put an end to the unconstitutional events.

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