Gov’t Gives PA Restaurant a Choice: Give 10% Sunday Church Bulletin Discount to Atheists Too or Discontinue it Entirely

Do you recall the furor surrounding Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen, a Pennsylvania-based restaurant, this past summer? The establishment has been offering a 10 percent discount for individuals who bring in a church bulletin on Sundays. Citing this action as discriminatory, John Wolff, a local atheist, filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). Now, the restaurant will be forced to offer discounts to any individual who brings in a pamphlet involving religious faith — including atheism.

To continue offering its discount, Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen must now honor literature that comes from any religious institution, The Christian Post reports. This includes secular bulletins from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist non-profit, and faith-based documents pertaining to Judaism, Islam and other religions on Sundays.

Photo Credit: Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen

A one-line statement from the state human relations commission summarized these ideals: “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.”

The ruling gave victory to Wolff, who argued that he was being discriminated against since he does not attend church. Shannon Powers, a spokesperson for PHRC, told the York Daily Record that the restaurant merely needs to remove the word “church” from the discount to comply with the new mandate.

“This simple language change was our recommendation from the beginning and was refused by Prudhomme’s,” Powers said.

The government representative made it clear, though, that the restaurant lost its battle and that Wolff’s religious complaint was upheld.

“The complaint was settled in a binding, enforceable legal agreement,” she added.

Despite losing their ability to discern the recipients of intended discounts, owners Sharon and David Prudhomme seem to be content with the settlement. Sharon claims that, from the beginning, the effort was a marketing ploy to bring in customers during slow times — particularly following church services on Sundays.

Randall Wenger, an attorney with the Independence Law Center who represents the Prudhomme family, heralded the decision as proof that society should not “treat religion as poison,” seeing as the ad is still permitted so long as it includes all peoples of faith.

“The settlement basically says we’ll continue to do what we’re doing,” Wenger said in an exchange with Lancaster Online. “Changing what was on the website was not part of the deal — and needlessly would tramp the Prudhommes’ freedom of speech.”

Screen shot from the Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen showing the “church bulletin” discount.

As of Friday morning, the word “church” still appears on the restaurant’s web site as part of the discount announcement. It’s unclear if this wording, like other promotional materials, will be altered. TheBlaze reached out to the Prudhomme family, but was unable to reach Sharon or David for comment.