An atheist activist is claiming that a notary at a TD Bank branch in New Jersey refused her request to authenticate documents, because she’s a nonbeliever — but a spokeswoman for the bank has an entirely different story.
“I was just refused service — because I am an atheist,” American Atheists managing director Amanda Knief wrote on the organization’s Facebook page Tuesday. “It was embarrassing, humiliating, and pissed me off.”
Knief said that she went to her local TD Bank to have documents notarized, but that the notary asked for an explanation of the papers in question.
“The documents were charitable organizations registrations for American Atheists in several states. So I told her what AA is about,” Knief explained. “She looked down, then looked at me and [American Atheists President] Dave Silverman and said she couldn’t sign the documents because of ‘personal reasons’ and went to find another notary who was eating his lunch to come do the authentications.”
But a spokeswoman for TD Bank had a different account of what unfolded. Rather than overt discrimination, the representative said that the situation was merely a miscommunication.
“We treat all consumers fairly and with respect, and this instance was no different,” spokeswoman Rebecca Acevedo told the Washington Times. “Our employee did not understand how to process this particular paperwork and needed help that, unfortunately, led to the miscommunication.”
Knief, who said that she has been mistreated in the past over her atheist activism, claimed that the “slight” was the worst she has ever experienced.
While notaries are legally allowed to refuse service for “personal reasons,” Knief said it is “time to write legislation that won’t let this happen to anyone else” (the American Civil Liberties Union, though, has a different view on the legality of this purported refusal).
“F*** this,” she concluded in her Facebook post.
American Atheists president David Silverman, who accompanied Knief to the bank, backed up her account of what unfolded in an interview with New Jersey’s the Star-Ledger.
“It’s sad, because this is New Jersey, and it’s 2014, and we’re supposed to be beyond all this stuff,” Silverman told the outlet. “And TD Bank is supposed to be beyond all this stuff, they’re supposed to be a pro-diversity bank.”
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