Arkansas Restaurant Owner Defends Church Bulletin Discount by Saying Atheists Can Just Download One Online August 23, 2014

Arkansas Restaurant Owner Defends Church Bulletin Discount by Saying Atheists Can Just Download One Online

I don’t understand why business owners can’t grasp a simple concept: They have to treat their customers equally. Just as bakers can’t say they won’t make you a wedding cake because you’re gay, restaurant owners can’t say that Christians get to pay less than everyone else. But we’ve seen that sort of thing happen time and time again.

The latest brouhaha involves Bailey’s Pizza in Searcy, Arkansas, where owner Stephen Rose will take 10% off your meal if you bring in a church bulletin (see above sign). But since that discriminates against non-Christians, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent him a warning letter (on behalf of a local resident).

Rose says he’s not discriminating at all… because even atheists can bring in a church bulletin:

“I didn’t say you had to go to church. I said come in with a church bulletin,” he said, noting that some churches publish their Sunday bulletins on their websites. “[Atheists] can download it and bring it in.”

You would think Christians like this would have acquired the skill by now to put themselves in the other person’s shoes… If they had to print out a brochure promoting, say, Satanism in order to get 10% off dinner, they wouldn’t just calmly nod their heads and say, “Yep. Totally fair!”

Rose went on to criticize FFRF for being FFRF:

“I really wonder if this is the best use of their resources. What are they doing about ISIS, what are they doing about joblessness?,” he said. “My 45-cent discount — that’s a battle they should [wage]?

Yeah, FFRF, why haven’t you solved the ISIS crisis yet? And why haven’t you built homes for everyone? How dare you do the very thing you were created to do?!

It’s not about a $0.45 discount. It’s about allowing a public business to give discounts to customers if they promote one particular religion. It also wouldn’t be okay, by the way, to give discounts to customers who said “God is dead” when they walked through the doors.

If Rose really wants to help out his customers, there are plenty of easy fixes: He could just give the discount to everybody. He could give the discount to anyone who brings in a bulletin from *any* religious or non-religious service. He could also just calm down and stop acting like he’s the victim of some atheist “attack” — that’s the actual word used in the New York Daily News headline.

In case you’re curious, what Rose is doing is very different from senior citizens discounts (which are legal because it’s not actually about age discrimination) and ladies’ nights (which are legal in most states for reasons that have nothing to do with gender discrimination). Rose says he also offers discounts to police officers, military personnel, etc. All of those things are fine. What he can’t do is charge atheist cops a higher price than Christian cops — and that’s effectively what he’s doing with his current discount.

His Christian lawyers are playing the victim card, too:

Jesse Randolph, Senior Legal Counsel to Advocates for Faith & Freedom, said, “This is another unfortunate example of the white-collar persecution faced by Christians in America in our day. People of faith increasingly are being marginalized in the business world, in the courts, in government, and in academia, and we are committed to doing our part to reverse this trend.”

White-collar persecution. Yeah, Christian business owners really have it rough in this country… (And can someone explain to me how you can be marginalized when you’re overwhelmingly in the majority?)

Here’s the bottom line: Rose may be a Christian, but his restaurant can’t give discounts to customers just for promoting his faith. He says he won’t drop the discount unless a judge tells him to. That’s just delaying the inevitable. His intentions may be good, but he’d be better off serving all of his customers equally, not some of them better than others on the basis of what they believe.

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