In a comical "Daily Show" segment that aired this week, comedian Jordan Klepper lambasted an atheist activist group and defended Mary's Gourmet Diner — the restaurant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that dropped its 15 percent discount for “praying in public” after the Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed discrimination and threatened to take action.
After sitting down for separate interviews with atheist leader Dan Barker and diner owner Mary Haglund, Klepper, who is also an atheist, concluded that secular activists protesting the prayer discount have been "petty ass***es" and that they need to "lighten the f*** up."
"Under the law Selma and a 15 percent discount are the same thing," Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation told a perplexed Klepper. "In one case it was race or skin color and in another case it's religion."
But while Barker charged that the discount discriminated against atheists, Haglund told the comedian that she felt it was simply an act to reward people for being thankful.
"We just felt that it was an act of rewarding people for being grateful," she said.
Klepper, who laughed at the claim that Mary's Gourmet Diner was somehow violating atheists' civil rights by offering the discount, got into an awkward back-and-forth with Barker over the issue, repeatedly questioning his logic.
"What atheist would pray to a non-entity. No one does that," Barker said after the comedian attempted to get him to realize that the discount wasn't egregious and that is was relatively simple to get.
Klepper responded, "One who doesn't want to pay full price for a BLT."
Barker, though, wasn't swayed and at one point invoked the topic of genocide to make a comparison — a word choice that clearly stunned Klepper.
"I have too much integrity as a rational person to pretend that I'm talking to a ghost in the sky," Barker added.
In the end, Klepper tried to get Haglund to agree that Barker and other atheists protesting the discount are "just being petty ass***es," though she declined to use such strong wording. She did, however, participate in a moment of silence with Klepper to observe that very point.
"Maybe we'd all be better off if Dan would just lighten the f*** up," the comedian quipped.
Watch the segment below (caution: strong language):
Read more about the prayer discount debate here.