Pa. Newspaper Calls Atheist Lawsuit Against Restaurant 'Small and Petty'

A Pennsylvania newspaper has denounced the efforts of an atheist activist who filed a discrimination complaint against a restaurant that offered a 10 percent discount for customers who brought in a church bulletin.

The editorial board of the York Daily Record referred to the complaint filed by John Wolff against the Lost Cajun Restaurant of Columbia, Pa. as "small and petty."

"This filing of a discrimination complaint against a modest Cajun restaurant in Columbia…just seems so small and petty," reads the article. "It seems, like so many atheist complaints, designed more to draw attention to oneself than to right a serious constitutional wrong."

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Classified as an "Our Take" article, the editorial argued that the chief purpose of the complaint was to draw attention to atheism and that the 10 percent discount is a non-issue.

"So church folks can come on a Sunday and get a 10 percent discount on their mess of crawfish if they hand over a church bulletin. Big deal," reads the editorial. "Restaurants offer all sorts of discounts based on debatable criteria – to senior citizens, to youth sports teams, to people who buy the newspaper and clip out the coupons. They all sort of discriminate against someone – non-seniors, non-sports players, non-coupon clippers."

Earlier this month, John Wolff filed a complaint against Lost Cajun to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission over what he considered to be discrimination on the basis of religious creed.

According to Wolff, he had looked into going to Lost Cajun for a meal when while looking online he noticed that the restaurant had a 10 percent discount for patrons who brought in a church bulletin on Sundays.

Wolff argued that the discount discriminated against those who are not Christian, as they would not attend church and therefore could not benefit from the discount.

Wolff has been involved in an organization known as Pennsylvanian Nonbelievers (PAN). Brian Fields, president of PAN, told The Christian Post that his organization supports Wolff's efforts.

Wolff also has support from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nationwide organization that sent letters to Lost Cajun in opposition to their church bulletin discount.

In response to the complaint filed, Lost Cajun received support from across the country, including lawyers who offered to do pro bono work for the restaurant's defense.

"There are many legitimate and important church/state separation and religious discrimination issues out there that deserve debate and even lawyering – but this isn't one of them," read the YDR editorial.

"Mr. Wolff, who reportedly hadn't even eaten at the restaurant, should drop the complaint, stop in for a plate of shrimp and gator, have a beer and chill out. We're pretty sure the restaurant wouldn't refuse to serve him based on his non-religion."

According to Shannon Powers of the Pa. Human Relations Commission, with Wolff's complaint filed Lost Cajun has 30 days to formally respond. Although Powers could not comment to CP on the present status of the complaint, she explained that mediation and settlement between the two sides will be pursued throughout the process.

If the complaint is considered valid, it will go before a public hearing and a panel of commission members where both sides will present their arguments.

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