An article in the Christian Post causes me to ask some questions. I’m not sure of the legal standing of such a complaint, but for me this does not seem like a case of illegal discrimination. The full CP article can be found here: Pa. Atheist Files Complaint Against Restaurant Over Church Bulletin Discount.
Imagine that a prominent atheist like Richard Dawkins wants to sponsor a contest where the winner gets a million dollars for the best essay entitled “Why I am an Atheist.” This contest would exclude me because I am a theist and I would not be willing to pretend that I am an atheist. Is this discrimination against me? In a sense it is, but in my mind, the person putting up the money has the right to place whatever stipulations he wants on where and how he gives his money away.
Every day there are contests which require certain behaviors to earn entry into the contest. Tweet this, like that, write a comment, etc. etc. etc. Are these discrimination? Yes, but I can make a choice as to whether I would like to participate. To participate, I must follow the instructions and perform the prescribed actions to qualify for the contest.
Many businesses use coupons or advertisements which offer discounts to customers when the coupon or ad is brought into the store. The business owner makes a business decision to discount his product to lure in more customers.
In addition, every business owner needs to determine his target market. No business can be all things to all people. A restaurant, in particular, must determine what type of customer they want to attract. Hooters is working to draw in a very different customer than Chuck E Cheese. This is business 101.
For a restaurant to make a choice that they would like to attract church attenders to come for Sunday dinner is a legitimate business strategy. What better way to do this than to use the church bulletin discount. In my mind this is no more discriminatory than a grocery store refusing to give me the discount if I do not have the coupon or my store discount card.
I’d like to make a suggestion to my atheist friend who filed this complaint. When I go to the store and there is a sale item, often the customer service agent or another shopper will have an extra coupon. I’m sure if you asked a few of the “church going” people if they had an extra bulletin, one could easily be produced. On any given Sunday we could probably find 3 or 4 in our various Bibles.
Also, after filing such a complaint, you better leave a big tip.