Atheist files complaint over Penn. restaurant’s church-goer discount
An atheist in Manheim Township, Pennsylvania is suing a Columbia restaurant for offering a 10 percent discount to diners who bring in a Church bulletin on Sunday.
John Wolff told the Intelligencer Journal that he filed the complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission because Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen discriminated against him for not attending church services.
“I did this not out of spite, but out of a feeling against the prevailing self-righteousness that stems from religion, particularly in Lancaster County,” Wolff said. “It’s not a big deal in itself and I have no animosity toward Prudhomme’s, but I do bear a grudge against the religious right that seems to intrude on our civil rights, right and left, getting laws passed that favor religion. And this was one more nail and I wanted to do something about it.”
But restaurant co-owner Sharon Prudhomme insisted that she planned to ignore the complaint because the Sunday discount “marketing ploy” was perfectly legal.
“I did check with all churches that I know of and ministers and they have said anyone can grab and go,” she explained. “Come on in grab a bulletin, you don’t have to stay at church, you can take it in and still have a nice dining discount. So, everybody’s covered.”
“This is America, I’m an American, I have a business and I can advertise when and where I like to,” Prudhomme added. “We also offer a senior discount. What if someone comes in and says, ‘My goodness, I’m not 64, I’m only 35. I can’t get the discount.’ Or children on Tuesday, kids 12 and under eat free. Well, what if your kids aren’t under 12? Does that mean we’re discriminating? You know, if you start to peel the onion, there’s just too many problems.”
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is helping Wolff with his complaint, claims that discounts based on religion are illegal under the federal Civil Rights Act.
“As a place of ‘public accommodation,’ it is illegal for restaurants, grocery stores or other businesses to discriminate, or show favoritism, on the basis of religion,” the foundation wrote on its website. “Church bulletin discounts are restrictive promotional practices, which favor religious customers and deny customers who do not attend church, and nonbelievers, the right to ‘full and equal’ enjoyment of the restaurant, store or other business.”
Even without a church bulletin, Wolff is entitled to 1/2 price wings and $3.00 mimosas at Prudhomme’s on Sundays.
Watch this video from the Intelligencer Journal, broadcast July 2, 2012.