Atheist Group Told to Remove Sign at Tavern Meeting November 19, 2009

Atheist Group Told to Remove Sign at Tavern Meeting

The Seal Beach Atheist Meetup Group (in California) recently met up at a place called Hennessy’s Tavern.

It wasn’t long before restaurant management asked the group to remove the sign advertising their group from their table.

Claire Weaver, an organizer of the atheist group, explained it this way:

The manager came over and told us to take the sign down. Flabbergasted, we asked why; she said she’d received several complaints (from who, she wouldn’t say – though the gray-haired man at the bar who kept giving us evil stares definitely aroused our suspicions), and the signs had to go.

What did the sign say that was so offensive?

You won’t believe it.

You may have to sit down for this.


Seal Beach Atheists Meeting

… That’s it.

I know. Full of evil.

Mojoey was there and he has contact information for the tavern, in case you’d like to send them a friendly little email.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ew. I hope they didn’t leave a tip.

  • I sent a rather scathing e-mail (in good taste though) to them. Maybe I’ll get a response – would make my day.

  • Richard Wade

    The post goes on to say,

    We asked the manager if she’d tell a Christian group to take their signs down, and, although she said she would, we doubt very much that she would ever be faced with that situation.

    Put it to the test. Once everyone is seated, put a sign on the table saying “Seal Beach Christian’s Meeting” and see what happens.

    Of course that would require patronizing the place one more time, so maybe just forget it. I guess the proprietor has too many customers, so she favors Mr. Grayhair over a whole group. The natural consequence of such treatment is loss of business. Bye.

  • Gabriel

    I hope they just left. You don’t want our business? Fine we will spend our money where it is welcome.

  • PrimeNumbers

    If bigoted businesses don’t want your business – take it elsewhere and tell your friends!

  • medussa

    Just sent them a nice little email, promising to shame every christian I find there next Sunday morning.

    Something about an eye for an eye.

    I also spoke a little about american freedoms, false advertisement, therapy, the law, and hypocrites…

    Hoping for a response, but not holding my breath.

  • The Other Tom

    I recommend that someone from the atheist group SHOULD go sit there at a table with a “Seal Beach Christians Meeting” sign and see what happens. If nothing happens, file a discrimination complaint with the state.

  • Parse

    Though I normally think you’re spot on with your comments, I disagree with what you propose. The ‘false flag’ operation you propose I would see as sour grapes and would reflect as poorly on the Meetup group as it would on the bar. If nothing else, with the amount of attention that is paid to this particular incident, I would expect the manager would also ask the ‘Seal Beach Christians Meeting’ to remove their sign if it were complained about.

    If nothing else, the reason for the sign is so that the people meeting there know where the group is sitting – the event was organized online, so it’s likely that people attending might not know the other members by face.

  • Richard Wade

    This is my email to the Hennessey’s Tavern proprietor:

    To the proprietor:
    If a customer complained to you that a group quietly meeting in your tavern had a sign on the table saying, “Seal Beach Jewish Meetup Group,” or “Seal Beach African American Meetup Group” would you have asked those groups to take down their sign? That is how ugly is the bigotry that you supported by conceding to your complaining customer’s intolerance. According to reports, the Seal Beach Atheist Meetup Group was behaving appropriately, and the only basis of the complaint was that they were indeed, atheists.

    Take a long hard look into your heart and rid yourself of bigotry against people who have done you no harm, and have the courage to stand up to people who ask you to go along with their bigotry.

  • Richard Wade

    Yeah you’re probably right.

  • Microbiologychick

    I am the president of the ETSU Atheist and Freethought Club. We posted fliers about a meeting that was to take place at a local German restaurant.

    One flier was taken down (that is extremely common) and was brought to the owner of the restaurant by a bigoted person. The owner took me aside when we had the meeting and asked me not to put their name on our fliers again. Last I heard, their sunday business had suffered due to this “association” with us.

    I have no idea why this never happens when we eat at Mexican restaurants or gather at bars.

  • stephanie

    I certainly hope all food and drink orders were curtailed immediately. No sense in giving more money to an institution that is obviously not interested in your business…

  • Edmond

    Could they all come in with t-shirts instead of a sign? Then they’d actually be asked to LEAVE, instead of just to take down a sign. Asking an entire group to leave on the above grounds would be a very ballsy move on the manager’s part, one she might not dare take. She might be more inclined to tell Mr Grayhair that “they’re not bothering anyone” rather than kick them out.

  • Edmond makes a very good point. I also suspect that this decision has nothing to do with bigotry and simple economics combined with the understanding that atheists aren’t a very popular group. They should go back wearing pro-atheism t-shirts and see what happens.

  • Looks like an Unruh Act violation to me. See Cal. Civil Code § 51

    I’ve been to Hennessey’s in Long Beach and Hermosa Beach. It’s a fine pub, but now that I know this, I won’t be back. The Yard House isn’t that far away.

  • ckitching

    I’ve said it before, but it has never been the messages on the signs that have offended people. It’s the mere suggestion that atheists exist that offend these people. Of course, this is why those signs are actually important.

  • Paul Lin

    When a restaurant manager does that, it is time to play the “Do you want to lose sales?!” card. If I were you, I would say something that suggests he would lose sales and probably threaten to take the issue with the owner. Business owners typically don’t want anything happened to lose money especially during a recession. Restaurants in the US are not doing well right now during this stage of the economy.

    Since you are the customer, you can definitely raise your tones and show some aggression. This way you add more pressure psychologically on the manager. I’ve done similar things on a restaurant and on a rude idiotic librarian and got what I want. 😉

    There is always the lawyer card. You can threaten to suit the restaurant.

    Don’t let theists step on you.

  • I agree with ckitching. Like Hemant said once, they’d be offended by a sign that just says Atheism.

  • Hello from Phoenix! One of our members (Phoenix Atheist Meetup Group) posted this on our message board. We had a recent experience at an Einstein’s Bagels here when two of our members were discussing how much they enjoyed that morning’s meetup, but that it was still a bit warm to be outside (Phoenix in the summer…) when the manager said, “That’s nothing compared to where YOU’RE going!” Um…yeah, we never went back there again. Screw that place and screw Hennessey’s Tavern! We’re behind you all the way!

  • MaleficVTwin

    Oh boy. Anyone read the comments on the OC register articled linked above? And to think these people think they’re the good guys…….

  • Nicole C.

    People should keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the management has anything against atheists. It’s entirely possible that the business has a policy to have any signs that recieve complaints removed.

  • Jim

    The test, then, would be to do as suggested earlier and put up a Christian Meetup sign. If the manager doesn’t say something after a while, have someone else come in and complain to see what kind of reaction they get.

  • CybrgnX

    I have to have some sympathy with the business. Athiests are a very minor group. The business is there to make money thru service. Now look at the business crowd during a month period. How many atheists are there? How many religious? So the business will be prejudice against the minority that is not the major money source. So go ahead and email they will ignore them. Convince them that they will continue to make good profits after loosing the DARM customers and they will side with the atheists. Its just business. A DARM is a Dumb Ass Religious Male.

  • Paul Lin


    That’s not necessarily true during a recession. Restaurants need more sales right now. If they drive a bunch of atheists away, they lose sales, not just sales from atheists but also those who don’t like the restaurants policy. Atheists can always do something else to convince other people not to hold any meeting there. If atheists do that, then in the long run the restaurant will lose.

    Sometimes when a loyal customer who goes to the same restaurant often, a restaurant typically wouldn’t want to lose them. If that customer happens to be a rich atheist, the restaurant manager will listen. They would rather keep the atheist sign on and ignore the complaint.

  • JJR

    If you want some good news, the owner of the cafe where our Meetup is held came over once and said “I’m so glad your group is here; it’s about time we got somebody to balance out the bible bangers”.

  • Is the local economy so good that the place can turn away cash business? Is this establishment the only decent place in town? It’s not as if the Baptists are going to come in and drink the place dry, now is it?

  • DemetriusOfPharos

    This was at a tavern? Man, that makes me appreciate the coffee shop my atheist group meets at all the more. Not only do we put up a sign outside (right next to the sign for the coffee shop); we are also officially on their calendar. (There is a little room for events and art shows, you can get on the calendar for the room.) We get loud, vulgar, and sometimes downright hostile towards religion, and the employees never say a word, in fact, the employees and the owner seem to like us – perhaps because we spend a lot of money there and tip well.

  • I just spend some time reading the comments on the OC Register post. There is an amazing level of bigotry displayed by some of the people commenting. It really makes me wonder why people hate us so.

    And… thanks for the link.

  • muggle

    Take your business down the street. Let them enjoy the old, gray-haired guy then!

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