Wherever there’s a case in the U.S. involving atheist activism, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is bound to get involved. While it was the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that defended teen atheist Jessica Ahlquist in her successful quest to have a prayer mural removed from her Rhode Island public high school, the FFRF is also rushing to the young girl’s defense. Citing discrimination, the organization is filing a civil rights complaint after numerous florists refused to deliver flowers to the girl.
The FFRF reportedly tried to have a dozen roses delivered to Ahlquist with the message, “Congratulations, and hang in there, with admiration from FFRF.” After being denied by three florists in the Cranston, Rhode Island, area, the group was eventually able to secure an order from a business located in Connecticut.
According to FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, Twins Florist, one of the businesses that refused to deliver, violated the Civil Rights Act when the business discriminated based on Ahlquist’s atheism. Gaylor released the receipt order from the florist, which reads, “I will not deliver to this person.”
See the image of the receipt, below:
“We have basic civil rights standards in our society. A business can’t shun you because you’re an atheist,” the atheist leader said. “You do not have the right to refuse to do business with someone based on categories and that includes religion. It’s as if they said ‘I will not deliver to a black person.'”
The florists, though, disagree with Gaylor’s stance on the matter. Turnto10.com reports that Raymond Santilli of Flowers by Santilli, one of the companies the FFRF attempted to order from, explains that a foundation representative told him that the person delivering the flowers might need police protection. Additionally, he was apparently told that the person would potentially need identification to enter the home.
“We refused the order because we really don’t want to cross lines,” Santilli said. “If I send flowers there, somebody may get upset with us and retaliate against us.”
He maintains that he has the right to deliver — or not — to whomever he chooses, because he owns the shop.
Twins Florist owner Marina Plowman echoed these sentiments.
“I just chose not to do it. Nothing personal, it was a choice that I made. It was my right, so I did that,” she said. “I’m an independent owner and I can chose whoever I want, whenever I want.”