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Restaurant refuses to serve Christian group over stance on marriage, abortion

Owner claims restaurant prides itself on being 'an inclusive environment'

Restaurant, Food
Jay Wennington

The head of a Christian pro-family group in Virginia says a local restaurant refused service to the organization last week over its views on marriage and abortion.

Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation, said the staff at Metzger Bar and Butchery in Richmond refused to service the group's pre-reserved event last Wednesday, where they had planned to gather supporters for fellowship and updates on their work.

Cobb told The Christian Post that one of Metzger's owners contacted her team about 90 minutes before the event and said they needed to cancel.

At first, Cobb said that a team member was told that the wait staff had looked up our organization and refused to serve the group. 

But a short time later, the restaurant issued a statement "citing our views on traditional marriage and valuing unborn human life," she said.

That statement — which was posted on Metzger's social media pages — said the owners decided after they learned the group had donated to a "political organization that seeks to deprive women and LGTBTQ+ persons of their basic human rights in Virginia."

It wasn't immediately clear to which group the restaurant's statement was referring.

"We have always refused to serve anyone for making our staff uncomfortable or unsafe and this was the driving force behind our decision," the statement reads. 

After the cancellation, Cobb said the group was able to find another restaurant "who provided their service to us and whose waiter probably didn't mind getting a nice tip from us."

Cobb did not identify which of Metzger's co-owners — listed on the restaurant's website as Kjell Anderson, Brad Hemp, Nathan Conway, Brittanny Anderson before the page was taken down — made the decision to refuse service. Conway is currently listed as Metzger's manager on its Yelp page

In response to a CP request for comment, Conway reiterated that Metzger's "has always prided itself on being an inclusive environment for people to dine in" and said "many" of Metzger's staff are "women and/or members of the [LGBT] community."

"We respect our staff's established rights as humans and strive to create a work environment where they can do their jobs with dignity, comfort and safety," Conway wrote via email. "We hope you will understand our decision as we understand it is your choice to dine with us or not."

Conway did not answer whether Metzger's wait staff or ownership held discriminatory views against Christians or other religious groups. 

The "Staff" page on The Family Foundation website was also taken down. As of Wednesday morning, the page posted the following message: "Due to an increase in inappropriate messages being left for our staff, this page is temporarily unavailable."

Cobb said The Family Foundation isn't currently considering legal action.

"While cloaking his statement in false notions of a welcoming environment, this owner's actions were bigoted and hateful," said Cobb. "Metzger's is fortunate that, unlike the political left, our first reaction isn't to turn to the government to compel others to share our views."

Cobb said the U.S. Senate's passage of the "Respect for Marriage Act" is another sign that the culture is becoming increasingly hostile to traditional Christian values. The trend is one of the reasons The Family Foundation purchased its own building.

Cobb pointed to another recent experience with the refusal of service from another company, Every Action, which she said purchased The Family Foundation's database provider and then "immediately" discontinued them as a client. Cobb said the decision cost the group "tens of thousands of dollars."

"We believe most Virginians are happy to not only serve those with differing political or religious viewpoints but even dine with and engage in conversation with them as well," Cobb told CP. "However, more and more, we're seeing Christians being canceled for their convictions."

Founded in 1985 by conservative activists Walter Barbee and Anne Kincaid, The Family Foundation is associated with Family Policy Alliance and Focus on the Family.

In a blog post on the group's website, Cobb criticized what she considered a "double standard of the left." 

"[S]ome believe Jack Phillips must be forced to create a wedding cake as part of the celebration of a same-sex ceremony but any business should be able to deny basic goods and services to those who hold biblical values around marriage," she wrote. 

"At The Family Foundation, we believe individuals in private business should not have to violate their convictions, which for some Christians means not celebrating what God has declared sin (Roman 1:32). However, most, if not all, faiths not only allow for the provision of services, like food, to those with whom they disagree, but they also encourage it."

Focus on the Family saw its Colorado headquarters vandalized last month after a shooting at a local LGBT-friendly bar.

The Focus on the Family sign was defaced with the spray-painted phrases, "THEIR BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS" and "FIVE LIVES TAKEN," an apparent reference to the Club Q shooting on Nov. 22, in which a nonbinary gunman killed five people and wounded 18 others.

A group claiming responsibility for the vandalism later claimed the criminal act was in response to the Christian ministry's "hateful theology.

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ian.giatti@christianpost.com

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