This isn’t just PR-speak. I think he genuinely feels bad about what he did and wants to make things right. You can decide if he accomplishes that:
To the World:
Hello, my name is Andy and I’m the owner of Gelato Mio, a gelato shop located in Springfield, Missouri. There has been quite a lot of buzz and discussion concerning a picture of the sign I briefly posted in my front window Saturday evening. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell my story and offer a heartfelt apology to your community. I messed up, plain and simple. This is NOT an excuse, but how it happened from my perspective.
I decided to welcome the convention downtown by offering the attendees 10% off their purchases at my store. A lot of the group from the convention were stopping by, being very polite and enjoying my Gelato. Saturday night started out as a great night. Once the store slowed down, I decided to walk down the street to learn more about the convention, fully thinking it was something involving UFOs (“skeptics”). What I saw instead was a man conducting a mock sermon, reading the bible and cursing it. Instead of saying “Amen”, the phrase was “god damn”. Being a Christian, and expecting flying saucers, I was not only totally surprised but totally offended. I took it very personally and quickly decided in the heat of the moment that I had to take matters into my own hands and let people know how I felt at that moment in time.
So, I went quickly back to my business, grabbed the first piece of paper I could find, wrote the note and taped it in my front window. This was an impulsive response, which I fully acknowledge was completely wrong and unacceptable. The sign was posted for about 10 minutes or so before I calmed down, came to my senses, and took it down. For what it’s worth, nobody was turned away. I strongly believe that everybody is entitled to their beliefs. I’m not apologizing for my beliefs, but rather for my inexcusable actions. I was wrong.
Guys, I really don’t know what else I can do to express my apologies. I’ve received dozens of calls and hundreds of emails since the incident, and have done my best to reply to each and every one and express my regret for what happened. For the thousands of you whom I’ve offended, I sincerely apologize. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. This is me as a human being sincerely apologizing for my actions.
To those of you who accept my apology, Thank You; it means a lot. To those of you who haven’t, I hope you will. I’m just a 28 year old small business owner who made a big mistake. I hope you see that I have not made any excuses, I’ve owned up to what I did, and I apologize.
For what it’s worth, an Atheist reached out to me to help me work through all of this and contact your community directly. I graciously accepted his offer.
I will give everyone who comes to my store this week 10% off as a token of my apology. Really, what’s more universal than ice cream?
I appreciate that. It’s actually unfortunate because it sounds like he walked in on a performance by “Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist,” who was giving a fake sermon designed to offend religious sensibilities. Had Andy seen virtually *any* of the other talks, including mine, he would’ve seen that the tone was almost overwhelmingly positive (and far from anti-Christian) at the event.
Anyway, Andy made an impulsive mistake, but he’s been quick to rectify it. That’s exactly the type of response we want from people who may not agree with us. I don’t know what more we could ask from a Christian. I forgive him. Hell, next time I’m in Springfield, I might even buy some gelato from him.
Let’s show him that we don’t hold grudges, especially not against people who admit they made a mistake.
***Update***: PZ Myers doesn’t accept the apology:
That’s the problem with being a contrarian. You have to voice dissent even when it’s completely uncalled for.
No one’s letting Andy off the hook for being a bigot. He still disapproves of atheism. Who cares. The point is that he (now) knows that his act of discrimination was wrong. We ought to show some appreciation when someone admits they made a mistake, even if the person isn’t completely on our side of the big picture. The next step is to get him to realize why there’s nothing wrong with what was said at Skepticon in the first place, but that’s a separate battle.
This was a sincere apology from Andy for what he did. You can act like it’s not important, but you’re giving off the impression that tiny steps don’t make a difference. They do. Now, he can begin to take more of them.