Sharon Prudhomme and her husband operate Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia, PA. Over a year ago, they decided to offer a ten percent discount to those who present a bulletin to waitresses after church.
All went well until an 80-year-old atheist named John Wolff saw the discount listed on the restaurant’s website, and decided to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
“I did this not out of spite, but out of a feeling against the prevailing self-righteousness that stems from religion, particularly in Lancaster County,” he told the York Daily Record. “I don’t consider it an earthshaking affair, but in this area in particular, we seem to have so many self-righteous religious people, so it just annoys me.”
Wolff never ate at the restaurant.
Last year, Prudhomme received two letters from the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, which demanded that she stop offering the discount and showing favoritism to church-goers. She states that she ignored the letters and simply filed them away.
Prudhomme, who personally does not attend church, asserts that the discounts are no different than others that she has offered through the years, such as those to small children or senior citizens.
“I’m an American. This is an independent restaurant. I can do as I wish and I’m going to continue to offer the church bulletin discount,” she said.
Prudhomme and her attorney, Randall Wenger of the Independence Law Center in Lancaster, appeared on Fox and Friends this morning to discuss the case. Wenger asserted that the restaurant owner was offering “the best of American traditions” and that she has the right to give discounts to “whomever she wants.”
“It’s wrong to not serve,” he told Christian News Network following his appearance. “If you were to refuse someone at the lunch counter because they were a Presbyterian, that would be a violation. … What’s going on here is so different.”
“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re treating religion as poisonous in our society,” he added. “It could be a long, drawn out battle if the government is on the wrong side of this.”
The Human Rights Commission, which handles discrimination cases in the state, is currently investigating the matter. It is not known when a decision may be released. However, if found to be guilty of violating civil rights law, Prudhomme may be forced to stop offering the discounts.