Following a discrimination investigation by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, a Cajun restaurant in the state has agreed to accept atheist publications toward its Sunday church bulletin discount.
As previously reported, Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia, Pennsylvania first came under fire in July of this year after an 80-year-old atheist named John Wolff filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, stating that the restaurant was being bias toward religion. For over a year, Sharon Prudhomme and her husband had been offering a ten percent discount to customers who present a church bulletin to their waitress on Sundays.
Wolff, who has never visited the restaurant, said that he found out about the discount online as he was checking out Prudhomme’s website. Thinking that the offer was unfair and discriminatory to persons like himself who do not attend church, he contacted the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, which began an official investigation.
“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.”
However, Prudhomme, who does not attend church either, said that she felt she had a right to offer the Sunday discount, just like she offers special price cuts for children and senior citizens.
“I’m an American. This is an independent restaurant,” she said. “I can do as I wish and I’m going to continue to offer the church bulletin discount.”
Prudhomme told reporters that she would be willing to give the discount to atheists as long as they presented a bulletin, and explained that they did not need to attend services, just obtain the handout.
This week, Prudhomme agreed to settle the matter with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, who said that she could continue to offer the discount as long as she included atheists in the religious price cut by permitting them to present an atheist publication to their waitress.
“Respondent will continue to give a discount for any bulletin from any group oriented around the subject of religious faith, including publications from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, as long as they maintain the Sunday discount program,” read the settlement issued by the Commission on Wednesday.
“The settlement requires Prudhomme’s to include any religiously-oriented organization, including atheist organizations, in their Sunday discount program,” representative Shannon Powers told the York Daily Record. “The complaint was settled in a binding, enforceable legal agreement.”
Prudhomme’s attorney, Randall Wenger of Independence Law Center in Lancaster, told Christian News Network that he is satisfied with the agreement because Prudhomme has been willing to give the discount all along.
“She’s stated numerous times that she was willing to give out the discount to others,” he stated. “She didn’t want to put an entire legal disclaimer on her website.”
Wenger said, however, that he finds it sad that atheists work so vigorously to fight against Christianity.
“So often, we’re treating religion as if its poison in our society, and so often we have groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation that want to take religion out of any part of society,” he explained. “The American people are tired of having religion treated as something that needs to be hidden from public life or apologized for.”
Wenger stated in a press release following the agreement that Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination laws were blown out of proportion in the matter.
“This law was designed to prohibit the mean-hearted refusal to serve someone at a lunch counter on account of their race or religion—not the kind-hearted desire to honor a public good like church attendance,” he said. “Had this case gone forward, it would have confused the language we use to talk about civil rights. If everything is as egregious as not serving an African American at a lunch counter, we lose the ability to understand and express what’s wrong and what’s not.”
The Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission said that it still wants Prudhomme to remove the word “church” from her website in the section where she outlines the bulletin discount, but Wenger said that it is not going to happen.
“This simple language change was our recommendation from the beginning and was refused by Prudhomme’s,” Powers acknowledged.