An Arkansas pizza restaurant will continue to give special privileges to churchgoers, despite warnings from atheist groups that the discriminatory practice was against the law.
In August, Bailey’s Pizza took a page from a restaurant that offers a 15% discount for praying in public (in direct violation of explicit instructions in Matthew 6:5 not to pray in public), and offered a discount to churchgoers who brought a bulletin from their chosen house of worship.
“The law requires places of public accommodation to offer their services to customers without regard to race, color, religion or national origin,” Elizabeth Cavell, an attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told KTHV-TV.
The owner, Steven Rose, argued that the requirement that customers bring a church bulletin to obtain the discount was not in any way discriminatory — because it’s just like giving discounts to the elderly!
“I offer discounts to others, too, like college students, teachers, military, police, and senior citizens. It was just like giving a discount to the Boy Scouts or the military and they made it an ugly thing. From their argument, if I’m giving a discount to the elderly, it’s agism. If I give one to police offers, I’m prejudiced against people who aren’t police officers.”
He, of course, ignored that none of those things are religions.
To clear things up for Mr. Rose, it would be more like giving discounts to white people — because race, like religion, is protected under the Constitution he undoubtedly claims to have read.
The pizza shop, which features a “scripture wall” where customers can record their favorite Bible verses, refuses to back down, short of a court order.
Christian legal organization Advocates for Faith and Freedom is defending the pizza shop. In a letter to the FRFF, it claimed the restaurant has every right to discriminate.
According to their letter:
“Bailey’s does not turn any customers away, or provide inferior service to customers who do not hold the same Christian beliefs and worldview as its owner. What Bailey’s does do, however, is implement different promotions to attract customers to the restaurant. There is no violation of either federal or state anti-discrimination laws covering public accommodations under these circumstances.”
This could lead to a long legal battle — the sort that we recently saw resolved positively for a lesbian couple denied equal use of a public business in New York. The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm regularly hosts weddings, but refused to accommodate a couple seeking to be married there. In protest of the judgment against them, the owners have ceased to offer weddings.