Who Knew Schlotzsky’s Deli Was a Christian Franchise? February 18, 2010

Who Knew Schlotzsky’s Deli Was a Christian Franchise?

Kevin Stanford walked into a Schlotzsky’s Deli in San Angelo, TX recently and he was disturbed to hear what was being played on the store’s stereo system: Christian music. And lots of it.

He wrote to the restaurant’s website and explained why this bothered him:

… This was not instrumental music that I happened to recognize as religious, this was vocal with references to Jesus. I am not a Christian, and I was offended, as I am sure any other patron who wasn’t a Christian would be. Are you aware that playing Christian music in your eating establishments excludes any of your patrons who might be Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, and others? Even though I enjoy the food, I will not be patronizing your eating establishments until I have heard directly from your company that a more universally welcoming soundtrack will be played.

Is it an overreaction? I don’t think so. It wasn’t just one song and it is annoying to hear if you’re not a Christian (hell, it’s probably annoying even if you are).

Not only that, it’s bad for business if people think the restaurant is only catering to a certain kind of customer and they’re not among them. Surely the corporate offices would want to take quick action.

And they did.

Here’s the response from Corporate to this particular restaurant’s owner, CC’ed to Kevin:

We recognize the challenges of operating a restaurant and pleasing each and every customer. With that in mind, we are forwarding this information to you so that you may be aware of this customer’s perception. Please investigate the situation and take corrective action as needed.

Please respond within 24 hours and let us know of any actions or responses to the customer.

Sharon Adcox
Customer Service Representative

How did the restaurant owner respond?

Not like a man who knows how to run a successful franchise…:

This country was founded on freedom from religious persecution. Entering MY business, with the ambiance, excellent food and service, is a result of God allowing me to have this business to manage for Him. As thankful as I am for that gift I will continue to show my love by playing songs exalting Him. This is not ment to offed you, may I suggest you using the drive through in the future

Chuck Wood

I’m offended by his response… and poor grammar.

To summarize, Wood is going to continue to play Christian music whether it makes his customers happy or not. Their experience at his restaurant be damned.

But he’ll be glad to take their money.

Kevin wrote back to Wood as said as much, adding:

I find it hard to believe that Schlotzsky’s corporate approves of your ideology, but if that is the case … fair enough. I will not be frequenting your establishment, and I doubt that anyone else who realizes the way you feel about those who believe differently than you would care to, either.

Wood is allowed to play whatever music he wants to, but playing Jesus music all day long is certainly not the way to draw in more customers. Next thing you know, he’ll be giving discounts to people who bring in church bulletins.

I’d be surprised if the corporate offices didn’t take some sort of action.

Kevin does teach us a good lesson, though — if something like this happens, don’t be afraid to contact the corporate offices. Hopefully, they’ll be quick to take action.

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  • beckster

    I feel the same way about Fox News playing on every tv I see at fast food establishments. Seriously, put on some ESPN or something that isn’t going to offend half your customer base.

  • Siobhan in Vermont

    I hate TVs in restaurants (that aren’t sports bars or otherwise have some legitimate reason to be providing that sort of “entertainment”) no matter what is playing on them.

  • Miko

    I’d be surprised if the corporate office did take any action. Their response no doubt came from their standard “crank form letter.” Religion doesn’t enter into it. If he’d written complaining that they played too much polka, the response would have been exactly the same.

    @beckster: I’d bet that putting ESPN on would offend half their customer base too.

  • The Schlotzky’s Deli in Aurora,CO (eastern suburb of Denver) DOES offer 10% Sunday discounts with a church bullitin. I confronted the owner about it, and he was perfectly nice about it, saying this was his policy and that if a nontheist were to come in on a Sunday and say something to the effect of “I’m a good person, I’d like the 10% discount” he’d give it to them too.

  • Jason

    “Is it an overreaction?”
    I don’t know. Maybe a bit.

    I am an atheist, but it doesn’t bother me to hear christian music. Actually, there are some christian artists I discovered in my pre-atheist days whom I will still voluntarily listen to at times because I think they are talented musicians and/or singers. And, I will still eat at Chick-Fil-A because I absolutely love their chicken.

    I think business owners should play whatever music they want. No matter what they play, someone isn’t going to like it. I’m sure there are a lot of christians who would prefer if businesses didn’t play secular rock and roll. Hell, I would be offended if I walked into a store and heard Andrew Lloyd Weber, because I absolutely abhor most of his music. And I’m almost positive lovers of music everywhere cringe anytime they hear one of their favorite songs turned into muzak. If every business owner had to change what they played every time someone said they didn’t like it for whatever reason, soon business country wide would be silent. And, in my humble opinion, that would suck. I’m a big fan of background music. And bad music, for me, is better than nothing.

    Not to mention, (once again, in my humble opinion) if atheists complain or make a big to-do every time a private business hangs a sign, or plays some music, or did anything that doesn’t fit into our particular worldview, that makes us no better than “the other side” making the same sort of uproar. It is indeed a free country. They can play what they want. If an atheist doesn’t like it, he can get his sandwich somewhere else.

    All of that notwithstanding, I felt the business owner in question handled the situation in an extremely abhorrent manner. Even though I don’t think he should have been cowed and changed his music preference, I definitely think he should have handled it in a more diplomatic way, and I hope the corporate office lets him know as much.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Mr. Mehta, your headline implicates the entire franchise for what is, so far, the view of exactly one restaurant manager.

  • Pepe Silvia

    This really isn’t that big of a deal. Just don’t go there anymore.

  • Fett101

    What Reginald said. Reading the headline, I was worried I might have to stop visiting my favorite sandwich shop.

  • Andrew Morgan

    Honestly, I feel like this is the sort of thing that helps give atheists a bad name and a whiny image.

    Alright, so he went into a deli and he heard — oh noes! — music he didn’t like. Fine, we’re all allowed to be weirded out by Christian music.

    He wrote to the company’s website. I can’t know his motives for doing so, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he did so because he wanted to help them run a better, more inclusive business (but forgive me if I’m at least a little skeptical). In which case, Okay, fine.

    I think the letter is an overreaction if his purpose was merely to express his disapproval or having taken offense. In addition, I think the tone of the letter makes it clear that that was the point — “Hey, I was offended! I want a welcoming soundtrack!”

    But fine, we’re all allowed to tell business what we think of them.

    But to be “offended” by Wood’s response? Really? This sounds like the thin skin of the religious.

    Like was said, Wood can play whatever he wants to, and Yes, his customers be damned. Maybe that’s a successful business strategy for him, and maybe it’s not; it’s entirely possible that in Texas, Christian music is *exactly* what should be played. And of course he’ll take your money — if you don’t like it, don’t eat there.

    But to speculate from afar, feverishly bloggin that — horrors! — a business somewhere is playing Christian music and they should stop if they know what’s good for them…that sounds childish to me.

    It’s just music. We live in a society full of people and things we aren’t going to like. If you want to complain about it to a business, go right ahead, but personally, when “something like this happens”, I’ll just make a note to eat somewhere else, or if the food is good enough I’ll just overlook it.

    Just my $0.02.

  • Jose Diaz-Marin

    Let the market decide… If I don’t like a place where I am not feel welcome, I just go somewhere else. If he have enough christian customers or people that does not care at all, to maintain his business, good for him… Is not the only restaurant or deli in this world (A good one though)

  • e

    Yea, this seems sort of a waste of time to me, vote with your money and quit going there is it’s that big of a deal.

    Also, would this guy have complained if a loop of Christmas carols had been playing when he visited? Like, “I can’t believe how non-inclusive ‘Silent Night’ is to non-Christians! Cease and desist ASAP!” Pick your battles, dude.

    I personally think Jamba Juice plays its music way too loud, but if I want my Strawberry Surf Rider with immunity badly enough I’ll suffer through while they make my drink. Can someone fix this for me while we’re on the subject?

  • flawedprefect

    Yeah, I gotta third the “no big deal” thing. As non-believers we should be supporting freedom “of” religion and not “from” religion. This kind of attitude will ultimately lead to being offended in an exhibit on Islamic art (where they’d play music in reverence to Allah) or Gregorian chants, or monastic bells in Buddhist-owned cafes, or even Bollywood music where you might hear the odd mention of Chrishna or Vishnu. We have to break the stereotype that we are just anti-Christian. Let them play it; it’s their shop, their rules. Go get deli stuff elsewhere, like Pepe above said.

  • Jamie

    The owner deserves what he gets, and people should know what his response was. I take it by his use of the phrase “religious persecution” that he is one of those who thinks Christians are persecuted. Delusional yes, but well within his rights.

    If that’s his business plan, then go your own way. If Schlotsky’s is a franchise, then he’s large and in charge more than in a chain. Private business, his choice.

    Hardly whiny, though. I think you did well to complain and to respond that you won’t be shopping there. I would have done the same.

  • Bob

    There was no reason to have complained. I’s a private business doing what it wants. Don’t like it? Don’t go there. Should shops take down things that indicate science because a religious person would be offended?

  • Jeff Mark

    Talk about a can of worms. Because now if the corporate offices tell him to stop playing the music, that will be all over Fox News about how Christians are being persecuted and how Schlotzsky’s is attacking Christianity. (But isn’t that what Christians really want, to proudly claim they’re being persecuted? That’s what Jesus taught.)

    I generally agree that the owner has a right to play whatever music he wants; after all, it’s his business and his choice if he wants to chase off certain customers from his business. However, I’m sure that by licensing the Schlotzsky’s name as a franchise, he has certain obligations to them. It’ll be interesting to see what (if anything) happens next.

    But aside from all that, just reading his response, he sounds like a moron. (God’s allowing him to have a business to honor God? Whatever.)

  • Polly

    I’d get the food to go.

  • Franci

    I think writing the corporate office was a perfectly legitimate response. The franchise owner is certainly within his rights to play whatever music he wishes to (within the bounds his franchise contract). We are within our rights to express disapproval & take our business elsewhere.

    The owner’s response was rude and offensive in spite of the claim that “this is not ment to offed you.” I would also be surprised if corporate does not have a problem with this response.

  • J S Brown

    I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said by Andrew Morgan and others.

    Being a metalhead, I am unhappy with the music I hear most every place I go. Who includes me? Who plays the music of Bloodbath or Watain for me and my kind? No one; I don’t expect it.

    Is this about disliked music or disliked religious music? It’s not as if hearing Christian-themed music leaves the listeners powerless to resist conversion to the Jesus brand of superstition. If it did, THEN we’d have a problem.

  • Colin

    I don’t think Kevin overreacted at all. He was displeased by an aspect of the service at this establishment, so he contacted the business. In doing so, he learned that this particular owner is unwilling to improve the experience at this restaurant, and that corporate is either unwilling or unable to stop individual owners from expressing their divisive views to patrons. I certainly hope that Kevin cc’d corporate on his final e-mail.

    Now he, and all of the rest of us who have heard this story, can make our sandwich decisions accordingly.

  • My workplace cafeteria when they first opened up played all Christian songs for about 1 week before someone complained. Then they stopped for awhile. They seem to have re-started though, not surprising because it’s a Christian chain (if 2 locations can be considered a chain). I don’t go in there often enough to complain though, the food is good but the prices are ridiculous and the coffee is lousy.

    I’m not going to say where I work but if you knew I think you’d be very surprised that there’s religious music playing on the grounds at all. Especially Christian religious music since the boss is Jewish.

    I’ve always wondered whether I should complain, but I don’t want to risk my job so haven’t gone any farther than considering it.

  • Claudia

    Awww cry me a river. I wonder what the opinion would be if a Christian had written a letter saying he would no longer go to a business because they had Tim Minchin and “Imagine” playing.

    It’s his business and he has a right to play what he wants. Likewise, a customer has a right to deny the owner his money. But being offended? Did the songs condemn non-believers? Doubt it. I find Christian music often bad, but mostly because its sooo sappy it gives me cavities. Has Mr. Stanford ever entered into a business with a Christmas tree?

    I don’t agree with this whole “Christian nation” silliness because it evidently contradicts historical fact, but I find the idea that the owner did something morally wrong by playing his religious music is quite a stretch.

  • Seriously? Kevin Stanford needs to grow the hell up. Hearing music about Jesus (or Allah, or Vishnu, or whomever) doesn’t “offend” me. Hearing bad music (which a lot of Christian music is) annoys me a bit, sure, but even that doesn’t really “offend” me. This is no different than religious crazies who get “offended” that a store says “Happy Holidays” in December instead of “Merry Christmas”. And, moreover, having Christian music playing doesn’t “exclude” non-Christians; at best, it makes them aware that the proprietor holds different religious beliefs, but for American non-Christians, that can usually be assumed anyway.

    In a private business, the proprietor runs it as he sees fit. The customer is free to take their business there or elsewhere, as they see fit. That’s how the system works, and whiny jerks with an unearned sense of entitlement acting like they deserve a vote in how a private business is run shouldn’t even enter the equation.

    Being offended by the manager’s response doesn’t even make sense: sure, he comes off a little uncaring, but I would be just as annoyed if somebody went over my head to complain about how I run my business. Would it make more business sense for him to try to be more accommodating? Sure. But if he values his religion more than his non-Christian customers (no doubt a minority) then that’s his choice, and he’s free to make it and live with the consequences. That’s what a free market is.

    Sorry, rant over. It just annoys me when people reinforce the stereotype of atheists as brittle, hyper-sensitive people who want to muzzle every expression of religious beliefs, in public or private.

  • Jeff Dale

    I have a few nontheist friends in Texas who say this kind of thing is fairly common there.

  • jen

    Taco Bell didn’t even bother to respond when I emailed them to complain about one of their Kentucky stores playing Christian music.

  • Jason

    I think its reasonable to complain to the corporate office. Perhaps they feel the same way the customer does and will pursue the matter further, maybe not. But, I dont see any harm in informing them of a franchise’s behavior.

  • Someone needs to tip off Westboro Baptist Church that this particular restaurant at this particular location has an employee that is somewhat tolerant of gays. (well, they might have such an employee). Then perhaps Westboro would send out “the family” to picket them. Just desserts.

  • noah

    As many people know, Southwest airlines encourages their flight attendants to show their personality. Recently, I took a SWA flight which started with a 5-6 minute stand-up comedy routine by one flight attendant (separate from the comedy inserted in the standard announcements — this was a stand alone performance), and another flight attendant singing two songs in their entirety.

    This annoyed me to no end, and I wrote a letter to SWA complaining. How is what I did any different from what Kevin Stanford did?

  • JD

    I think the title is pretty misleading to say the least, and should be changed.

    I would think that a franchiser would have rules on stuff like that, because a wayward franchisee can make the whole chain look bad. It is a business relationship, of which constitutional rights don’t don’t apply the way some people think they would, because it’s not an imposition of the government.

  • Richard P

    I think it would be great to watch what happens to this business. I think it is only a matter of time and no one will go there. I saw a great little coffee shop go under when it’s music format changed to xian with the new owners. People just slowly drifted away. Most everyone said it was the music. The person was closed in less than a year.

    Then see who gets blamed. The fateful day an atheist complained.

  • Hybrid

    Personally, I think it would take divine intervention for Schlotzsky’s to manage to make anything worth eating in the first place, so maybe that’s what they’re going for.

    In the end the best way to let your voice be heard is via the almighty dollar, and with the economy being what it is establishments like Schlotzsky’s are already under the gun to make customers happy. (Witness the proliferation of dollar menus, value packs, and cheap pizzas.)

  • You were offended? So what?

    There is, in fact, no law prohibiting people from offending each other.

    I would go further and say it is rude of YOU to assume that anyone has some ethical responsibility to refrain from offending you.

    My opinion, sir, is that you should concern yourself with bolstering your rather fragile ego, and not what music is playing in a privately owned business establishment.

  • Jagyr

    I disagree with those who think Kevin overreacted. The overt religious message made him uncomfortable, and he assumed (correctly) that it wasn’t corporate policy to play Christian music, so he let the company know about his experience.

    It turned out that the manager was a stubborn religionut, and insisted on fostering an environment of worship in his store. So, Kevin informed the company of why he wouldn’t be shopping there anymore, and then he took his business elsewhere.

    Many of you guys upthread suggest just leaving and not coming back. I can tell you from experience on the other side of things that service businesses like feedback, and that if you’re going to stop going there, they’d at least like to know why.

    This is how I saw this exchange:
    “This aspect of my experience was unpleasant – can you change it?”
    “Nope. I love Jesus more than my customers.”
    “Okay, I won’t be giving you my custom in that case.”

    That seems perfectly acceptable to me (though I may have worded my emails differently were I in that situation).

  • Richard Wade

    “Offend, offend, offend.” Oh grow up. There’s a difference between being offended and being annoyed.

    At my local supermarket they loudly play really bad pop music that appeals to gum-popping teenagers or anyone with an IQ of less than 75. It’s annoying but not offensive. If I happen to see the store mangager, I suggest that he turn the volume down because I can’t hear myself think about what I’m trying to buy, but I don’t tell him that I’m “offended” because I’m smart and not a teen.

    It would have made more sense for Mr. Stanford to send the local Schlotzky’s manager a note saying that the music is annoying, and so that’s why he won’t be patronizing. All this stuff about the type of music being “exclusionary” is silly.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Like jynnan_tonnyx, this reminds me a lot of that “Oh no, I heard someone say Happy Holidays” nonsense. In both cases, my feeling is that if you find it so unpalatable to hear Christian music, or “Happy Holidays,” then you stike me as oversensitive, but fine, just stop going there. If you get so offended that you have to lodge complaints, make a big case out of it, loudly explain to them why they’ve lost your business, and encourage other people not to go to that business, then I think “Wow, this person gets really shocked and upset to find other people are not just like him/her.”

    This is how I saw this exchange: . . . “This aspect of my experience was unpleasant – can you change it?”

    Wow, that reasonable and mild request does not look like Stanford’s letter to me at all. Asking if a business will consider making a change is reasonable. Acting offended, annoucing that all non-Christians will be offended, and triumphantly threatening that they’ve lost your business until they do what you want is a little different. This aspect of American culture where “The customer is always right” = “The customer should feel free to act like the world revolves around him/her” annoys the hell out of me.

  • He didn’t like the music and complained, no problem with that if you aren’t happy with a business you can complain. The chain responded reasonably and professionally so no problem with that.

    The owner of that restaurant however is a terrible businessman, you don’t write to customers like that. You spell check, leave out the persecution complex, and implied ‘f— off’ of saying to use the drive through. What you do is say that you appreciate his concern but that he runs his business based on his convictions and most customers are not offended. Customer Service 101 fail.

    I wonder what the responsibilities of a franchise owner for Schlotsky’s is? He could be violating his agreement by doing something that doesn’t fit the image of the chain. Many chain restaurants have pretty strict rules about how your restaurant must look, dress codes, etc.

  • Carlie

    I’m really surprised at the people saying “Don’t complain, just don’t go there”. Why not? Every restaurant worker/manager/owner I know lives by the philosophy that they want and need to know what is bothering the customer. I had a bad dish once at a fairly downscale place and didn’t want to complain, but didn’t eat it either. The server picked up on the fact that I hadn’t eaten it, asked what was wrong, I said nothing really, and he brought over the manager. The manager explained that he’d much rather find out what was wrong and do whatever he could to make it right than for me to just walk out without saying anything, but then not go there again and tell all my friends what a crummy place it was.
    It’s doing them a service to tell them what’s driving away their customers. Sure, they don’t have to listen or do anything for you, but they at least ought to know that they’re losing business and why.

  • christopher

    I think we can opt to speak up if we so chose and it is fine if they wish to continue with their music. My dry cleaning/tailor started with xtian music and I said nothing and just stopped using them. I thought at the time they are delusional Fundies and that made me feel awkward. I think they are happily listening to their music without a thought to my missing business, if it came down to losing 50% I doubt they would change.

  • Neon Genesis

    I can understand complaining to the restaruant if you didn’t like the experience but in the case of musical tastes, where do we draw the line? If you just broke up with your date and you go into a restaruant that plays a lot of cheesy pop music, should the restaruant stop playing pop music because it offends you after having broken up? What about country music? Country music is typically very religious so are we going to ban all country music from resturants? Is John Lennon or Bad Religion banned as well for their anti-religious music? On the flip side, I think the owner also overreacted claiming he was being persecuted. The customer may have been annoyed by the music but being annoyed by bad music is not the same as persecution anymore than playing Bad Religion in a nation where most people are religious is “persecution.” Likewise, a customer complaining to the owner about how bad they thought their business is not “persecution” and I think there’s an over-reaction on both ends. The owner should have responded in a more professional manner than that.

  • JJR

    I used to eat at a place called Boomer Jacks in Denton, Texas. It’s a North Texas chain, and I remember them playing Christian rock over the sound system…the music was ok, until I actually listened to the words and then rolled my eyes. It seemed like the music selection was up to the bartender, so they sometimes played “secular” rock, too.

  • Sean

    In the words of Stephen Fry – “I never understand offence. People say: ‘Oh that offends me.’ Well? So f-ning what?”

    I find pop music and death metal annoying as all hell, but I’d never try to get people to stop playing it because it “offends” me. I’d get them to stop doing it because it’s rubbish. Yup, throwing my hat in the “overreaction” bin here.

  • Nothing wrong with a private business playing religious music. But as a business owner, would you like to know why a customer isn’t coming back for more? Or should the customer just not go back. Just as it’s the owners right to play his music, it’s the customers right to not shop there and to tell his friends why.

    For me, I’d just not go back. But either way, it’s reasonable to complain. Hell, for me if it was “country” music I’d complain a lot more, especially if it was a place where I liked the food. No excuse for that kind of music ever… 🙂

  • Angela

    How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could Chuck Wood?

  • Cafeeine

    If the franchise owner was, instead of Christian music, playing gut-rotting death metal ( here’s a very **NSFW sound & imagery** sample,for those unaware of it.) and someone had Kevin Stanford’s reaction, would anyone have called it over the top?

    Personally, I wouldn’t care in either case if it was an isolated incident or a part-time thing, but I can that someone may be offended by them and take his complaint to the corporation. As for ‘just walking away’ that is in fact what Stanford did in the end. Walking away is fine, as log as you let the guy know what his choice of music cost him. You know what would be the reaction of on oversensitive person? To picket the store, start some sort of campaign to force the guy somehow to change the music.

  • Derek

    Wow, I’m surprised that you’re so easily offended. Personally, I hear songs in places all the time that are either not Christian, or clearly go against Christian values. It’s just music. Why let it bother you so much? Did they maliciously begin to play said music when Kevin walked in…did they start to point at him and call him names or something? I don’t really think that the owner responded in the best way that he could have, however I also didn’t really see much of anything that expressed a strong negative viewpoint towards people with differing beliefs as Kevin seems to imply.

    I see this rant/whine as being no better than the idiotic Christians that believe that atheistic billboards and other information should not be allowed to displayed publicly.

    It seems that people in general are too easily offended today. I’m guessing that it’s one of the reasons we can’t seem to get rid of the us/them mentality. It’s my great hope that someday we’ll drop this habit of letting ourselves feel offended over every little thing, and get just a little closer to just being humans together.

    Cheers and Excelsior!

  • ATL-Apostate

    That Schlotzky’s Deli branch will probably wear this as a badge of honor. Depending on which part of the country he lives in, he might actually INCREASE his business by promoting this attack from a godless atheist.

    Personally, I think Schlotzky’s is shit. Never liked it.

  • Arlo

    Being offended is for insecure people.

  • brad

    “Kevin Stanford walked into a Schlotzsky’s Deli in San Angelo, TX recently and he was disturbed to hear what was being played on the store’s stereo system: Christian music. And lots of it.”

    Damn bastards!

    “This is no different than religious crazies who get “offended” that a store says “Happy Holidays” in December instead of “Merry Christmas”.”

    What he said.

  • muggle

    I wouldn’t even had hung around to order. Just turned around and walked out the door. I really, really could not see being bothered to write a letter of complaint about it.

    I’m sorry but that was way over-reactive.

    The owner was too but, frankly, I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t because of the demand that he not play the music he likes. I’m really not convinced by the context that he always sounds religionutty. Maybe yes, maybe no. Sounds more like he got defensive because someone told him what to do with his business.

    Can’t say I blame him.

  • stephanie

    I find this whole thing funny because until I read this article I always assumed Schlotzky’s was a Jewish chain. Eh, live and learn.

    But I’m just buying a sandwich or whatever- not going to services with these people. Most of the time I don’t care about this type of thing and when I do I simply vote with my wallet. Why does this have to be a production?

  • Well I think that the deli should play Christian music. It makes me laugh (in a condescending way) and it sends a clear signal to potential customers as to the kind of person that the store owner\manager is. All this nonsense about shops creating a pleasant ambiance for customers should end. We want to know if the shop supports Jesus and if so what flavour of Jesus are they selling. Do they give away complimentary Jesus flesh crackers and little bottles of Jesus blood or do you have to buy your cannibal meat? Do you get an unlimited supply of fish and loaves? is the holy water still or sparkling?

  • Betsy

    Forgive me if this might have already been said, but, Hemant, are you attacking the entire company for the actions of one franchise owner, who, by virtue of owning his own business has the right to play whatever type of music he damn well pleases? If he chooses to lose business over his music, so be it. Plenty of other businesses lose Christian customers over their music or other practices… it is the business owner’s right to run their business as they choose and the customer’s right to choose whether or not to patronize that establishment. You’re starting to sound like Chicken Little here.

  • Betsy (and others) — I didn’t mean to attack the entire company, though I can see how it came off that way. I still think it sets a bad example for the entire franchise and corporate should take some sort of action. It doesn’t speak well of the brand name.

  • There is this one restaurant in my town (so I’m told) that has these stages with poles where guys will approach the stages, linger for a while, and then return to their seats. Sometimes they will go to these private rooms for a few minutes and then return. The local Christians are always trying to get this restaurant closed down. I wonder what kind of music is played in this restaurant?

  • The former customer overreacted. Just simply stop going to the restaurant and tell your friends not to go there. Contacting corporate like he did only labels him a whiner.

    I will say that Mr. Wood’s response was very pompous, though. He runs a professional business, his response could have been more professional. Instead he comes off as it being ok to shove his beliefs down every customers throat.

    As for the title of this post, it’s a bit overstated and misleading. A single location was at issue, not the entire chain.

  • I agree with jason. It is, after all, a private business. If this would be playing in a public area or building. . . that is another matter altogether.

    Hell, I went to a Thunder NBA game the other day and before the anthem was played they said a prayer. It felt like crap, obviously the people in charge do not take into account the beliefs of others (or lack thereof). We need to pick our battles. We can’t fight all.

    Life’s a bitch and then we die. Might as well make the best of it while we can.

  • Justin

    A lot of people are saying that the business owner has the right to play whatever music he wants. I would not disagree with that.

    But. I don’t see why a patron can’t tell the owner (or the corp) that the music offends him, and that he will no longer be spending money at the deli as long as it plays music that bothers him. At this point, I agree that the business owner is still free to do as he pleases, but with the knowledge that he is losing at least one customer if he continues to play Christian music.

    A good business owner would want to know how the environment in the restaurant would influence sales. It is very unprofessional to lash out like some fundie jackass just because someone provides you with free information on how to keep a customer.

  • Nolan

    There used to be a Grandy’s in Decatur, Tx (long since burned down from a grease fire) that played nothing but Christian music. I asked the manager, a friend of mine, why he played it because I knew he was an atheist. He said so many patrons commented so much on how much they loved it! It helped his bottom line so he endured the horror.

  • The franchise owner’s response was quite typical of fundamentalists. However, I tend to defend his right to play whatever the heck he wants to play.

    I think that freethinkers shouldn’t have as low of an “offense theshold” as the non-freethinkers do. If I go into a cafe and I don’t like the music and am offended by it, I’ll leave and not come back. Maybe, I’ll write about it on my blog, but I do not suggest complaining too much. It’s the religious that are offended by things that are not really offensive, not me.

  • everettattebury

    The customers can always just go somewhere else. My sympathies are with the employees who have to work in that kind of environment. I would go postal if I had to listen to Christian music all day.

  • brad

    I wonder what Kevin Stanford would do if he ever went to an In N Out Burger? They print Bible verses on a lot of their packaging.

  • Collin

    What about someone like me, a professional classical musician, who can’t go anywhere without being forced to listen to music of any kind? Every restaurant, store, waiting room, gym, bus, train, elevator etc. We are so used to tuning out music throughout our days that it is not surprising that many are no longer able to sit still and listen for an hour or two. Even in concert halls and theaters one encounters people for whom just “audio” is too difficult a concept. Why are we so in need of constant noise?

  • Religious music sucks, especially when I’m trying to eat. It’s worth saying something, to me anyway, because I was forced to be a Christian during my youth. I’ll be damned if they’re going to keep me silent still.

    Of course if this is the result of only one restaurant manager, we shouldn’t aim this at the whole company. It’s important for that reason, to find out what corporate has to say, officially.

    Chick-Fil-A can kiss my ass though. I’m NEVER going there.

  • Sue

    I think what bothers me about Kevin’s letter is his claim that Christian music offends and excludes all non-Christians. As we can see from the comments, there are many non-Christians who don’t find it offensive.

    I think he’s justified in sending his own complaints to the company, but I don’t like him presuming to know what offends me or any other non-Christian.

  • Michael

    I am appalled that he even complained about the music this gives all atheists a bad name. There is really nothing offensive about christian music. Should all religious people complain to corporate offices about secular music offending them?

    Offended by Christian music? Seriously?

    This is a private business in no way shape or form associated with the government. The franchise owner has the right to play whatever music he wants. If you don’t like it, don’t go (which is your right). However, how could it possibly be offensive?

    Sorry about the rambling I am just so shocked that this person was offended and further shocked about Hemat’s support of this person that I am having trouble articulating anything beyond rambling:-)

  • trikepilot

    Just laugh at them next time you go into their establishment. When you order your sandwich ask them what kind of crap is playing on the radio.

    I have a local Taco Bell that has specials on one side of their marquee and the word jesus on the other side. Every time I go there I ask, “What is the jesus special?” If I feel especially witty that day I can go on and on for about 5 minutes and the counter person usually winds up calling the manager to come take my order.

    I just love screwing with anyone who wants to put their religion in everyone’s face. If they were to keep it private like their bible commands them to do then I have no problem with that.

    Wear a graphic T-shirt proclaiming jesus this or god that near me and the questions will start flying. Sometimes they leave skid marks trying to get away.

  • Polly

    I have a local Taco Bell that has specials on one side of their marquee and the word jesus on the other side. Every time I go there I ask, “What is the jesus special?”

    Dude, it’s pronounced “Hey-soos.” He’s the employee of the month. 🙂

    btw, they have unlimited fish tacos!

    Don’t tell ’em I told you, but don’t bother paying for drinks. Just order water and it’ll turn into Pepsi.

  • plutosdad

    You think that’s bad, i can’t go to one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants because my girlfriend can’t stand the music. Granted it is a bunch of young hipsters playing awful thrashy something, but I just ignore it. She cannot.

  • Colin Day


    Have you tried the Schlotzky’s at Colorado and Yale? I haven’t encountered any religion there, though I haven’t been there on a Sunday morning.

  • Polly

    And why is Chuck breaking the 4th commandment with the business god gave him?


  • TheLoneIguana

    Sounds like the owner of that particular franchise is just being a doucheski.

  • mikespeir

    This kind of thing never bothers me. There’s often Christian music playing at our local United while I’m shopping. I usually notice, give it a little inward smirk, and carry on.

  • These comments are great! I laughed all through them. The offense at Mr. Stanford’s offense, the over-reaction to the perceived over-reaction – funny stuff, indeed.

    Carlie’s got it right – Schlotsky’s wants to hear from it’s customers. Every service business does. Mr. Stanford did them a favor by giving them information about how their brand is perceived. Since Schlotsky’s is a franchiser that brand is all they’re selling to the public, and that information is precious. What they do with it is up to them; they may have hundreds of complaints about the lack of xtian music in their other stores, but it is important that they get the information.

    Those who would put down Mr. Stanford for doing a good thing and those who would leave quietly and then complain loudly behind a businessman’s back are invited to stay away from any business I am running.

  • Offended? That’s going a bit too far. Miffed, maybe?

    If you don’t like it, don’t go there. Who listens to the music at restaurants anyway? You go there to eat and talk, and the music is just in the background.

  • Discovery

    Forget religion – you screwed up.

    You attempted to jeopardize a person’s livelihood and tarnish his business name by going over his head without ever first allowing him a chance to respond or resolve the situation.

    It could have been a deli cutter playing the sound track, not the owner – and you went past the manager, the owner and straight to corporate. It may well have been inadvertent or a station change on satellite.

    Once you disrespected the owner, his or his employees beliefs and attempted to tarnish his private business – how could you possibly expect him to be open and courteous to you? That’s just arrogant.

    You wont achieve much at all with this approach in life.

    And I say forget religion – because if you are possibly that “offended” by the 90% of America that has a counter belief to you when they express it in their own private establishment – then you have a long and painful road ahead of you.

    He didn’t push his beliefs on to you – you entered his private area. You pushed your beliefs on to him and demanded he change his behavior in his private area. I certainly hope that you don’t expect the world to cater to your every need and demand.

    Your at fault here in all ways.

  • Demonhype

    There is nothing at all wrong with complaining about a problem with service and it is absolutely wrong to consider Mr Stanford at fault in any way. He disliked an aspect of his experience and he made the company aware of that. That is a lot more considerate than just “not going there”, and nothing he did even approaches “tarnishing” his business–did he go the the local papers or set up a picket? No! He just wrote a damn e-mail making the relevant parties aware of his issue. Neither the business owner nor the franchise has to do a damn thing or change anything just because Stanford doesn’t like it, but there is nothing at all wrong with opening one’s mouth if one does not appreciate something in one’s experience as a customer. If a christian dislikes something about a store, they never seem to hesitate to make their displeasure known, and they do have the right to say something. And the business has the right to ignore the christian complaints just as they have the right to ignore Mr Stanford’s complaint. There is nothing inherently harmful in making a business aware of any shortcomings in your experience. It’s when you organize a campaign that we start down that road, which doesn’t seem to be happening.

    And even if the franchise cracks down on this, you can’t blame Stanford. It’s a FRANCHISE, and if the individual business-owner’s choices either reflect badly on the franchise or violate the terms of using the franchise, then the fault lies 100% with the business owner and not with the person who clued them in.

    You know what would be a much more effective way of tarnishing a business? Disliking some aspect of your experience, keeping your mouth shut about it, then leaving and spreading it all over town that such-and-such a business is a bad business and discouraging others from going there.

    Seriously, if you have a problem with a business, it’s fair to complain so that perhaps the problem can be resolved and so that the owner has a chance to avoid losing customers. If that business wants to ignore your complaint and says “F– you, I’m doing things my way”, you can say “fair enough, I won’t be back”. Which is what has happened here. But there is nothing whiny, evil, or “at fault” for simply speaking up to a business about a bad experience.

    And if the business owner loses some business over this, it’s his own fault once again for ignoring the will of the customer, because in that case it is apparent that he has made an unwise decision and driven off his customers. Sure, you can keep going on about how it’s a “PRIVATE BUSINESS”, but in reality no business is private in the same way that your home is private–business, by its very nature, is public. You want the public to enter your facility and purchase your wares, but you’re going to cry me a river because one of your customers had the decency to tell you what was preventing him from wanting to purchase your wares? I don’t see how giving an opinion as a customer infringes on the sanctity of the “PRIVATE BUSINESS”–don’t those non-discrimination laws infringe on privacy even more, since you can’t bar the door to customers for whatever BS prejudice you might have–like a white supremacist business owner perhaps wanting to avoid anyone black from entering his store? (Not that I think there is anything at all wrong with non-discrimination laws, but I get tired of the caterwauling that somehow a private business is exactly the same as a private citizen or a private home. Or that you want the money from the public, but if anyone dislikes your service and makes you aware of it, that it suddenly becomes a PRIVATE BUSINESS and you are somehow “hurting” him and infringing on his “rights”–because we all know that only the PRIVATE BUSINESS has rights to do business the way it pleases, and no part of the paying public has the right to express displeasure or disagreement. That would be a violation of the rights of BUSINESS, wheras the individual has no rights at all–except, perhaps, the right to shut the hell up.)

    BTW, the situation doesn’t even come close to the “happy holidays/merry christmas” debate–do you see Mr Stanford organizing a movement or fighting to legislate against public displays of Christian music? That argument sounds a lot like the biased definitions of militancy for believers and atheists–I can’t remember who said it (I think it was on Pharyngula?), but for a believer to be considered militant he has to actually kill someone, but for an atheist to be considered militant he has only to write a book (or otherwise express himself). Sounds like the same thing here–for a believer to be considered whiny, she actually has to set up a picket line and organize a movement and push for legislation to destroy whatever she has found offense wtih, but for an atheist to be considered whiny she has only to open her mouth to express displeasure.

    But then, I’m not an accomodationist, so it’s not as obvious to me how a consumer complaint equates to infringing on someone’s rights and ruining a business.

  • not offended, just annoyed

    If I were offened every time I heard x-ian music I’d never go shopping or eat anywhere, listen to the radio or watch tv. Does anyone remember, Oct.25 to Jan.1? All I heard was x-mas music everywhere. So learn to tune it out.
    Don’t like that place anyway.

  • Elizabeth

    I think that an atheist complaining that a private deli is playing Christian music is as ridiculous as a Christian complaining about a business playing music with a secular message. I’ve heard songs like Don’t Fear the Reaper or My Sweet Lord played with similar music in restaurants or bars, both of which have a message that Christians would strongly disagree with. If I heard that a Christian didn’t like that kind of music, my first reaction would be to say that the responsibility is on the Christian to avoid those restaurants. If I heard that he was complaining to the management about “un-Christian” songs, I’d probably ridicule him.

    I frequent Chinese and Indian restaurants that play their own music. How many people would think it was ok to complain to an Indian restaurant manager if they learned that the music contained references to Hindu beliefs?

  • @demonhype — I found myself looking for the star or ‘like’ button (I’m too used to Google RSS!) after reading your comment. Instead, let me just say I agree with the points you made, and your “BTW” paragraph was spot on.

  • Gibbon

    Oh joy. When conservative Christians complain about bus ads and billboards promoting atheism in public they are told to get over it, but when an atheist complains about the display of Christian music in a semi-public place they are said to be raising something of legitimate concern. Ain’t hypocrisy grand? Or is that double standards?

  • lori

    I did not read all the comments so dont know if anyone mentioned this one: I live in the mountains of Colorado and there is an A&W franchise here. They periodically make news because they display their beliefs on a giant marquee that is seen by thousands of tourists each day. The franchisees regularly battle the coporation over the issue. the hilarious part is that they are “jews for jesus” which is as weird as it sounds. you probably know about that outfit, but you can google it or just stop by the A&W in frisco, co where they will give a pamphlet along with your burger. i am never offended because I find it all so absurd.

  • I actually grew up in that town! I am not surprised at all. Was the person who complained an atheist or just non-Christian?

  • David

    Maybe you should just ignore it and eat somewhere else. I don’t think one complaint is going to overturn the whole business so just forget about it! If your feelings are hurt I’m sorry.

  • Elliott776

    I am also from San Angelo, TX. And I think my fellow Atheist is overreacting. 
    First off, this is a free country and the owner and proprietor can run his business how he wants.
    Second, this is part of the bible belt. You can count that this music draws much more customers than it turns away. 
    Third, Mr Stanford is trying to impose his personal taste, veiled by his inclusion of non-Christians, upon the store owner. This does nothing to advance Atheist acceptance.

  • John Pena

    Are you serious? Wow! How childish are you to complain about a song that you don’t like? You sound like a kid in the car asking it’s parents to change the station. Nobody made you eat there. Just grow up and accept the fact that people are going to think differently than you, including Schlotzsky’s Deli. It doesn’t mean that they don’t accept people who aren’t Christian. They are just proudly showing their belief. Just as you are. This is taking it too far. There was no need for you to contact this man on such a childish problem. You’re lucky that he even bothered to reply to you.

  •  John Pena,

    How is one to express their displeasure with a situation? Pray about it?

    What is you actually want something to happen to make a difference. The point is, who is really the childish one in this situation?

    The one that points out a possible error in the business practice or the one that defends it in spite of the negative impact it will have on his business.


    That is why most music played in businesses sucks. It is bland and not meant to have much of a message.

    Pay attention next time you are in a shopping or business situation where some music is being played, provided it is’t a location designed for playing music, aka with a juke box, it more than likely will be playing bland old music .

  •  If it was simply music, Andrew, then why would the business owner have reacted in such a manor?

    Your argument is weak and fails.

  • This makes me laugh.  If I walked into an Indian establishment or Muslim business and freaked out because they are playing music from their culture or religeous background.  I’d probly be laughed at.  You dont like the music don’t go there.  If you walk into a church and the you don’t like the music you don’t have to return, it’s that simple.  It’s really sad that a guy like you comes onto the airwaves offended at a persons way of life.  I don’t like football but I don’t freak out when I walk into a bar and grill and their playing football on the television.  There’s an old saying where I come from, It goes like this: “Get over it”.  This is still America right? 

  • I love the way you approach this.  Right on!  No matter if your a man of faith or not it’s getting old, the idea that adults are walking around getting their feelings hurt all the time.  

  • Just another whiner who doesnt want to be accountable to GOD…

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