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Denny’s Discrimination Update PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

It's been a few weeks since I wrote about discrimination at a Denny's in Euless, Texas, and I thought an update was in order.

I have not heard from either the corporate office or local franchise holder, either via e-mail or postal mail. I'm not too surprised by this, and I do expect a response at some time. I sent the letters via certified mail, and they were both received.

I do have an interesting follow-up though.

A few days after the original incident, I had occasion to be in Holbrook, Arizona. For breakfast, I decided to eat at - you guessed it - Denny's. The restaurant looked identical, but the experience was quite different. In fact, it was incredible.

I entered the restaurant with my Mac and inquired if there was a table that had an electrical outlet. Sure! was the answer, and I was led to a table dedicated to such purposes. Sadly, the table was occupied and I resigned myself to staying only as long as my batteries lasted. Not wanting to disappoint, the hostess with the suitable name of Angie, offered to rig the overhead light with and adapter so I could sit in any seat I'd like and still use my computer. I was touched at the effort she put into my rather selfish request, and thanked her as I settled in at a nice window seat.

I started typing and noticed that the little orange light on the charger wasn't on. I fiddled with the screw-in adapter a bit, but was unable to get any power from it. Figuring that the staff had already bent over backwards for me, I decided to leave the issue there and resigned myself to the whims of computing off the grid.

Enter Angie again. She came over to inquire what the problem was, and I explained. She looked over at the table with the dedicated outlet, and found it recently vacated. 10 seconds later, I was sitting in that booth, having had all my belongings and victuals moved by helpful staff.

I spent the next two and a half hours there, writing, taking care of e-mail and a few server problems, all the while enjoying a nearly constant supply orange juice, water and coffee supplied by Debra, another employee worthy of commendation. While the service at the Denny's in Euless, TX was perfectly sound, the Holbrook Denny's was stellar. My meal was just as I'd expected, no one bothered me about the length of my stay, and every need was attended to. I couldn't have had a better experience.

And then came the time to check out. I noticed there were not flyers indicating discounts of any sort, but as I paid my bill, I asked if they had a special church bulletin discount. It went like this:

ME: By the way, do you offer a discount if someone brings in a church bulletin?

ANGIE: Umm.. I don't think so. I'm not sure what you mean.

ME: Oh, I know that some Denny's will give a 10% discount if people bring in a church bulletin.

ANGIE: Oh, well, that's not something we offer. I've never heard of such a thing. Sorry!

ME: (explanation of entire story).

ANGIE: Huh, I've never heard of such a thing. Interesting!

I handed her a business card, took a picture of the franchise information for my records. I'll be sending them a note thanking them for the amazing service.

There's another aspect to this story that bears mention. What I considered to be an item of minor interest has proven to be one of the most popular articles to ever appear on Swift. In fact, I didn't even publish it as a regular Swift; it was just a mid-day extra.

The article has been copied to such sites as France24.com, The Daily KOS, the Friendly Atheist, and even pregnancy.org and paganwiccan.about.com. Even the UK's Christian Today ran a piece on it, though they chose not to link to my article. Europeans seem amazed that a restaurant could conceive of such a thing, and several have said in a disgusted voice "only in America."

I've been held up as a hero, scoffed at, and vilified by both the religious and non-religious alike. It's been called a non-issue, a call to arms, and even a hoax by those who think I created the flyer in Photoshop. I suspect this is due to the line "AND ENJOY 10% OFF UR BILL" which looks like it was added to the flyer after its original printing, possibly because the promotion wasn't appealing to people's charitable side so much as they'd hoped.

And I've learned a few things. Just as with many issues, skeptics are not of one mind when it comes to activism. A sizeable number of skeptics, particularly those who embrace Libertarian philosophies, are opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is a sense that "natural law" should prevail and that businesses should be free to serve or not serve whomever they want unencumbered by government interference. The CRA direct interferes with "natural law." Could be, but there's no question that the CRA is federal law, and there's at least an arguable case that this Denny's is in violation of it.

Personally, I can see both sides of this. While I agree that businesses should be allowed as much freedom as possible, I also see the need for government to step in when businesses band together to disaccommodate an entire group of people. I think memories of the South from the 1950's illustrate the need for this quite well.

At any rate, I think the Denny's incident is a clear if very minor example of a CRA violation. I never intended to stage sit-ins or protests, but I did feel that a letter was in order. I also don't think the intent was to discriminate. Given the numbers of church goers dining out on Sundays, I imagine competition is fierce, and this franchise simply decided to appeal to them. They never considered that they were ignoring a large segment of the population.

And that is the problem.  No one considers non-believers.

In an interesting experiment, the North Texas Church of Freethought went to that very same Denny's with a copy of their minutes. And guess what... after a few strange glances, they're received the discount! They promise to inform us if their organization actually receives the promised 10% donation. I'm sure they'll put that $3.00 to good use.

Denny's is also used by many Atheist and Free Thought groups for meetings. One notable example is the Tucson Atheist Meet-up. So I'll say again - I think Denny's is trying to support its own business any way it can, and I think this local franchise didn't apply much thought when they created this offer.

And that's it for now. I'll write again if Denny's ever gets back to me. Thanks for everyone for their interest in this article.

P.S. - I've just learned from a recent visitor that the flyers have been taken down.

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Comments (38)Add Comment
Sweet baby jesus on a bed of Romaine lettuce!
written by Human Person Jr, August 16, 2009
I'll certainly sleep better tonight.
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"only in America."
written by cdion321, August 16, 2009
or Canada smilies/angry.gif
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written by bigjohn756, August 16, 2009
Discount or not, I wouldn't eat in a Denny's again. I stopped in one on my drive home from TAM7 and ordered meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Starting with the sweet ice tea, nothing, but the dinner salad and rolls, had a flavor recognizable to me, and, I have eaten all kinds of stuff in restaurants around the world. To be fair, the staff and management were sympathetic and helpful. I was not charged for anything, even though I ate the salad and bread. Service; good: food; OMG awful!!

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written by Kuroyume, August 16, 2009
Waffle House, anyone? smilies/wink.gif

While this kind of business discrimination occurs frequently, it's small fish to fry. There are bigger fish like job discrimination for certain minorities (atheist, lgbt, ethnic, religious, and so on). Although we have the EEO, it does not always protect people from being 'driven' to quit, be fired, or be laid off. Even then, claims must be made and litigated. Avowed atheists have a rough deal holding any form of meaningful government office. We've seen the problems with being gay and similar circumstances (Barney Frank being one exception). In the "Land of the Free" where "all men are created equal" (men should equal humans but there you are), it took 200 years for Africans to achieve equality and women still struggle in equal salary. Let's not forget that religious organizations are not necessarily under the jurisdiction of EEO (EEOC COMPLIANCE MANUAL, 12-I, Section C.1 Exceptions.Religious Organizations).
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written by MadScientist, August 16, 2009
I don't see how that Az Denny's could be violating the CRA; they're not saying "we only serve godnagging people". Places *do* discriminate and only deal with people they want to, but since the basis of discrimination is not unlawful (for example clothes, size of wallet, social circles) the law doesn't care. I don't care for libertarianism; as people describe it it sounds like plain old anarchy and greed, and that can only lead to a feudal system with warring aristocrats and peons. The libertarian approach is what existed in pre-historic times because it is the natural state of things - it didn't work well at all then and I don't see how it can work now.

As a privately held branch of a franchise, what goes on in that one Denny's in Az is a matter between the franchisee and Denny's.
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@MadScientist
written by JeffWagg, August 16, 2009
Your comment confuses me. The AZ Denny's just served me a meal with excellent service. That's all. The Euless, TX Denny's was the one that offered a 10% discount and 10% donation to people who brought in a church bulletin.
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written by RobbieD, August 16, 2009
Jeff'
you are a mover and a shaker
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written by NewCoaster, August 16, 2009
Thanks for the update Jeff. I was very surprised at some of the criticism you got (and are still getting apparently) for the original posting...particularly that from within the skeptical community.
I think questioning/criticism of religious belief is well within the pervue of JREF, whether or not it is "officially" an atheist organization. Whenever someones delusional beliefs have an impact on another person...in this case offering financial incentives to people who attend church...I think that is something that skeptics, and JREF should be taking on. It is no different than Sylvia Browne or super duper stereo cables.

Another thing that has really become apparent is the rift between political points of view within the skeptical community. In particular, libertarians and liberals; there don't actually seem to be any conservative skeptics, if the show of hands at TAM7 is any indication. It is disgusting to me as a liberal that libertarians think that one human being has the right to discriminate against another human being and are seemingly OK with Denny's offering religious discounts.

As a Canadian, perhaps I see things a bit differently, but libertarianism does seem to be a particularly American ideology. The fear of government and the belief in the power of unrestricted free markets is shared with conservatives. The more I read of Libertarian literature, and the more I hear people like Michael Shermer or Penn talking...the more I feel they are the ones who are out of step.
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If this is descrimination,,,we are in trouble
written by JP, August 16, 2009
I know I am late to the party on this one but I have to say I really don't see how this is discrimination in any way shape or form. Though I do agree that the word "church" should have been changed to "house of worship", it is simply not discrimination for businesses to offer special discounts to members of specific organizations. (Notice I said "ORGANIZATIONS")

I live in a college town, and many local businesses offer student discounts, with an active student ID required to obtain the discount. Does this discriminate against me because I am no longer a college student? Does this discriminate against those who never attended college? Is this violating my civil rights. I think not...

I have been to many conferences where local restaurants offer package deals to conference attendees. Does this discriminate against everyone in town not attending the conference??

Lastly I have to ask Jeff if he would have been equally outraged if Denny's offered a discount to all members of the JREF.

With all due respect, I feel this is much ado about nothing. Denny's did not refuse to serve you, they did not ask you to proclaim your faith in Jesus Christ as you walked in the door, they simply offered a discount to members of local religious organizations.

We must be careful not to throw words like "discrimination" around lightly, as it cheapens instances of true discriminatory practice, which this, in my humble opinion, is most certainly not..
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written by JimQPublic, August 16, 2009
After thinking about everything you've said, I can't in all honesty get angry at Denny's. Or at least I can't get stay angry, even if this policy does "discriminate" against me as an atheist. If anything, it reminds me of just how good I have it, because no matter what Denny's or any other restaurant does, they can't take away my freedom or my right to choose where I spend my money. And that's a good feeling. A really good feeling. Thanks for the article Jeff, keep up the great work and keep fighting the good fight!
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written by Otara, August 16, 2009
The obvious difference is the significance attached to ones religious status vs ones student status, eg I dont hear a lot on the radio about being cast into hell due to not being a student any more. I could bang on, but this is probably an ideological divide rather than a matter of education as such.

Overall though I see it more as progress for our society when these more nuanced issues like these are a concern rather than more outright 'whites only' naked discrimination issues.

Otara
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written by MadScientist, August 16, 2009
@JP: The examples you give are in fact cases of descrimination, but it is not unlawful discrimination. Even discrimination based on gender can be lawful - for example, no man can be a wet nurse no matter how big his breasts are. The problem is that people always associate discrimination with breaking the law, and that notion is just plain nonsense. So I have no problem with people using the word "discrimination" indiscriminately, but people have got to get rid of that notion that all discrimination is somehow unjust or unlawful.
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written by MadScientist, August 16, 2009
@JeffWagg: Oops; I'm confusing all those Denny's' now - they all look the same to me.
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Response to Otara
written by JP, August 16, 2009
With respect to Otara, Denny's is not suggesting someone who does not come in with a church bulletin will burn in hell, they are simply offering a discount to those that do. They further do not specify exactly what church that person must belong to, (based on the article), but even if they did, that would be fine with me, so long as it was tied to membership in a particular organization.(again, note the word Organization, as opposed to faith or belief)

As I said before, I do feel they erred in using the word church, and that if they choose to offer such a discount it should be extended to members of all local religious organizations even those that do not refer to their house of worship as a "Church"

In short, I would have a problem with restaurant who gave a 10% discount to all Catholics, or all atheists. But that is very different than saying "10% discount to all members of Saint Peter's Church with church bulletin" or "10% discount to all members of the James Randi Educational Foundation with membership card" and in my opinion, it is folly to treat those situations the same.

To quote Forrest Gump: "That's all I have to say about that"
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Regaring Libertarianism
written by daijiyobu, August 16, 2009
J.W. stated:

"a sizable number of skeptics, particularly those who embrace Libertarian philosophies [etc.]."

I do remember, at the recent TAM 7, how Michael Shermer got rather uncomfortable when he polled the audience and L.s were QUITE rare.

I, myself categorize myself as a "radical". I do not embrace "ism"-ism. And I am quite in awe of Shermer, intellectually.

Yet, I do wonder about the L.s and the skeptic connection.

Is it a case of Benedek's "The Wild One" [1953]:

"what are you rebelling against? Well, whatta got?"

-r.c.
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written by monstrmac1, August 16, 2009
I think any business should be able to offer discounts to whomever it pleases. Across the board governing of business practices shouldn't be allowed. If I'm a business owner I'm offering anything I can to make more money in this financial climate.
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written by Andrew Wiggin, August 16, 2009
I haven't eaten at a denny's since they bought my town's 'sambo's'. They failed soon after, and haven't been back. I remember thinking at the time that it was just a name change to get away from racism controversy, but later found that sambo's was just closing outlets and selling them to other companies. As a company that's been the target of descrimination suits in the past, you'd think denny's would encourage their franchises to be more careful. I remember reading about them having to do manditory sensitivity training after some franchises refused service to blacks, required deposits on the bill for ethnic minorities, etc. Maybe they figure that if it's a difference that doesn't show, like belief, then they're less likely to get caught.
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Yes, exactly
written by Kuroyume, August 16, 2009
I think any business should be able to offer discounts to whomever it pleases. Across the board governing of business practices shouldn't be allowed. If I'm a business owner I'm offering anything I can to make more money in this financial climate.


This isn't blatant discrimination where one group is denied services or segregrated from other groups (such as having separate entrances or being disallowed service altogether). It is more of a misguided ploy to drum up business based upon a rather well-conceived understanding of the community at large.

But I think a more generalized charitable ideology might be a better ploy for business. Show that you have supported some charity and get a discount. Religious organizations, albethey ubiquitous, are not the only charitable institutions worthy of charity. But then we have all sorts of 'ploys' for breast cancer and such. So it becomes a bit muddled as to the best practice. That is my reason for being a bit standoffish about fully supporting or decrying Jeff's little crusade here (sorry for the connotations).

Personally, I'm more interested in discrimination against particular groups in malicious ways rather than omission of groups in particular cases of specific support. At some point, one wants to support a cause to the shagrin of others. I support the JREF to the shagrin of other charitable organizations (such as churches or those for specific medical conditions, for instance). Does that make me discriminatory? Hell, yes! I discriminate on the charitable distribution of my income based upon my personal preferences. Maybe the same can be said of this particular Denny's - for bad or good. The management decided to support religious institutions over other charitable causes. While I don't agree with it, I can hardly argue against their promotion and reasons.

There are plenty of more worthwhile causes to pursue out there imho. Let's pursue them.
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Discrimination by any other name...or degree
written by Kajabla61, August 16, 2009
There is a very simple solution to this situation. Restaurants wanting to lure extra customers, on any given day, need only offer 10 percent off of everything on their menu to EVERYONE! No discrimination is necessary and they would please more people in the process.

I am amazed at some of the nitpicking and poo-pooing of this incident.

At what level do we decide that discrimination is OK? Personally, I find all discrimination repulsive. Just because D's didn't limit their offer to one branch of religion it is still discriminatory to exclude those who are not religious. That is equivalent to saying all white races can have a discount by showing their faces at the counter but any other race cannot even think about taking this discount.

I want the offered discount, if I happen to be at any business that offers one, and telling me I CANNOT have an offered discount because of the color of my skin or because I cannot honestly bring them a slip of paper from an organization I do not or can not join is tremendously discriminatory.

Jeff is a true folk hero in this situation. We will only end discrimination by pointing it out and fighting it, otherwise it becomes entrenched and grows - as history clearly demonstrates.
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Hmmm...
written by Kuroyume, August 16, 2009
If I go to my local Safeway grocery store and pick up some printed cardboard thingies, I get a discount on the annual Renaissance Fair (in Larkspur, CO for those interested) whereas those who don't don't get the discount. Discriminatory I tell you! Those darned cardboard thingies discriminating between those who use them and those who don't!

Such offers are about opportunistic advantage and not discrimination. If they had done the same for people with pink Breast Cancer bracelets, would there be such an uproar? Really?
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written by Otara, August 16, 2009
"With respect to Otara, Denny's is not suggesting someone who does not come in with a church bulletin will burn in hell, they are simply offering a discount to those that do."

Wee bit overliteral there methinks.

Im simply saying religious affiliation and students are not equivalent groups and not particularly useful as comparison points. Religious affiliation has come to be more viewed in the same area as race and the like, ie fundamental aspects of identity in a way that doesnt really work when compared to other kinds of groupings. In an ideal world perhaps they would be 'just an organisation', but we dont have that.
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Response to Kuroyume
written by Kajabla61, August 16, 2009
You made my point exactly while missing it yourself.

Everyone, regardless of belief or unbelief, can pick up a 'cardboard thingie' and get a discount. There is no pre-existing condition of religious affiliation attached.

Yes, sometimes business owners get together to offer discounts between their businesses, as you described, and that is purely opportunistic and acceptable. That is because they are tax paying businesses, something the churches are not and we all pay more in taxes so the churches can have a free ride.
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@Kajabla61
written by BMN, August 16, 2009
Everyone, regardless of belief or unbelief, can pick up a 'cardboard thingie' and get a discount. There is no pre-existing condition of religious affiliation attached.
So? Anyone can also walk into a church and pickup a church bulletin without bursting into flame. What's the difference?
It's hardly comparable with racial discrimination, because you can't simply go somewhere and pick up another skin color. That would require an inordinate amount of plastic surgery.
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written by redwench, August 17, 2009
One salient point is that student status, conference attendee status, and jewelry wearing status (amongst others) are not protected criteria listed under federal law; religion is. One can discriminate against ugly people, as many industries do, but one cannot discriminate against people of African descent. You don't have to segregate or refuse service to discriminate. Different pricing would certainly count.
Does the discount for church bulletin count as religious discrimination is the relevant question, not is it discriminatory on other (legal) counts.
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written by One Skunk Todd, August 17, 2009
I handed her a business card, took a picture of the franchise information for my records. I'll be sending them a note thanking them for the amazing service.

I hope you left a nice tip too. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Michelle, August 17, 2009
@cdion321
""only in America."

or Canada smilies/angry.gif "
I live in Quebec and I can't say I ever saw such a discriminatory policy. I guess it depends from what province you're from.

It's my thinking though that any business should be able to do whatever they want. And if I'd see them do that, I'd take my business elsewhere. Or create my own church of myself with my own bulletin. That could be funny.

But facts are that the law is the law and they were against them. Good job.

PS: Man, that could've gone on consumerist.com too, don't cha think?
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Offering discounts is standard business practice
written by AICHinEdmonton, August 18, 2009
I really do not see what all this fuss is about. Identifying a block of people in your local and offering that block of people a discount for patronising your business is a standard business practice. As has been pointed out, businesses frequently offer discounts to students and seniors. Some gas stations offer discounts to automobile assocation members. Membership in my professional association gets entitles me to discounts at various businesses around town; from rental cars, to house insureance, to blue jeans. JREF members received a discount on their TAM7 registration fees. TAM7 attendees received a sizable discount on their room rates. A varation on this theme are the Loyalty Cards offered by many businesses. In this case, patrons receive discounts for allowing the company to data mine their purchasing habits.

So if you choose not to be a member of the automobile association, do you then complain to the gas station about not receiving the AAA discount? I really do not see the difference.
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Puppy School 101
written by AICHinEdmonton, August 18, 2009
And now for a different take on this subject. Having recently completed puppy school, (Now did I graduate from puppy school or did my puppy graduate?) it seems to me that one can draw an analogy between puppy training and this offer by Denny's in Euless Tx. Current practice in puppy training involves rewarding behaviour that you want to encourage, and simply ignoring behaviour that you do not want to encourage. So, if the puppy engages in the behaviour that you are trying to teach (promote), puppy gets a reward. If puppy choses not engage in that behaviour, he simply gets no reward. So with this particulay Denny's, one might infer that they are trying to encourage church attendance by offering a reward to church goers. As in Puppy School 101, folks who choose not to attend church simply do not get the rerward.

Now to push this analogy to the limit. Since Jeff did not report that the staff at that Denny's turned their backs on him and stared at the cieling, while waiting for Jeff to settle down, we may infer that Jeff was well behaved while in the restaruent. smilies/wink.gif

You can also draw an analogy with governments and their income tax acts. Governments are continually trying to modify the behaviour of their citizens by offering tax incentives. If you choose to engage in the behaviour that the government is trying to promote, then you get a tax break. If you choose not to engage in that behaviour, then you do not get a tax break.

So I think that this comes down to one of two things. Either this is a marketing ploy, by Denny's in Euless Tx, or this is a blatent attempt at behaviour modification. smilies/wink.gif
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And now for the alternate view from Edmonton
written by Northernskeptic, August 18, 2009
AICHinEdmonton you made more than a few errors in your evaluation of the situation.

First, the JREF organized and paid for the events at TAM, registration fees were payable to the JREF and as such the discount for members was comparable to upselling on their own product. The Hotel was in a business arraignment with the JREF and the better they did to promote the event the more money the attendees would spend at the casino/restaurants/bars.

Your behavior modification argument is quite a bit of a stretch. The point of the original complaint was that it was blatant discrimination against non-believers and so far you've failed to show how it wasn't.

Second, so called store club memberships directly benefit the stores by providing the contact info of customers for everything from promotional ads to inducing greater spending by the belief that the customer is saving more.

Third, AAA is in business with the repair shops, when a member is in trouble and they call for roadside assistance then it is their partners who get the call. again there are business perks either way for offering members discounts since the business likely gets preferred treatment themselves for being in such a partnership.

As for your behavior modification argument,
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written by monstrmac1, August 18, 2009
The point of the original complaint was that it was blatant discrimination against non-believers and so far you've failed to show how it wasn't.


I agree that it wasn't blatant against non-believers. From what I understand the discount was offered because of participation in an organization. It didn't say if you believe in god you get the discount. There are people who go to church for reasons other than their belief. Especially wives, husbands, and children who go out of respect to their families other than religious conviction. So Denny's should be able to allow discounts legally to church groups. Whether its offensive to Jeff Wagg or not probably doesn't factor into their equation.
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written by Northernskeptic, August 18, 2009
monstrmac1 by forcing non-believers to attend services to receive equal treatment their fundamental rights are being denied. as one of those who in the process of deconverting was coerced into attending services I didn't believe in I can assure you it was a stifling experience. Are you arguing that since some people force their family members into attending that it is right? If somebody doesn't believe then they shouldn't be expected to subject themselves to such.
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@northernskeptic Did you even read my comment before responding?
written by monstrmac1, August 18, 2009
Are you arguing that since some people force their family members into attending that it is right? If somebody doesn't believe then they shouldn't be expected to subject themselves to such.
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I said nothing about forcing anybody to do anything. I said people attend for reasons other than their belief. Denny's requires that you be an attendee and not a believer thus there is no bias based on constitutional status (i.e. religion).
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Get a grip on reality
written by JP, August 19, 2009
I truly intended for my last post to be my last say on this matter....but I have to say this:

In all this arguing back and forth lets not lose sight of one thing: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A 10% DISCOUNT AT DENNY'S.

This is NOT A CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION no matter how much Jeff or anyone else wants it to be, for the simple fact that no one is granted the right by law to receive a 10% discount at Denny's

Let us never forget that the people who fought and died (YES DIED) in the fight for civil rights were fighting for the right to vote, the right to use public restrooms, the right to sit at a lunch counter.

To compare this situation in any way shape or form to their fight is an insult to all who made the CRA a reality.

Once again:

THEY DID NOT REFUSE TO SERVE YOU

THEY DID NOT ASK YOU TO SIGN A STATEMENT ATTESTING THAT YOU BELIEVED IN GOD

THEY OFFERED A 10% DISCOUNT OFF A GRAND SLAM BREAKFAST TO ANYONE WHO BELONGED TO A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION

GET OVER IT JEFF and lets get on with the real business of the JREF
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Lets look at this from a different angle.
written by AICHinEdmonton, August 19, 2009
Allow me to rephrase my argument. Think in terms of clubs. People just love to join clubs. Clubs are great; they allow like minded people to get together for socialization and to participate in common activities. Clubs are entirely self organising and to marketers, they represent a pre-packaged group of individuals to which they can pitch their products. This marketing pitch to members of various “clubs” can be seen everywhere; and for the most part members of one “club” do not get upset when the see a discount being offered to members of a different “club”.

It would appear that Denny's in Euless Tx, identified a number of religious “clubs” in their area, and decided to make a marketing pitch directly to them by offering a discount. Now, instead of identifying religious “clubs” to make their pitch to, say that they identified a bowling alley down the street. The manager has a great idea and posts this sign in his window: “Come to Denny’s wearing your bowling shirts and receive a 10% discount.” Does this constitute blatant discrimination? Would anybody get upset by this?
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Seek and ye shall find..
written by Iceman, August 19, 2009
A bit tongue in cheek with the title, but the truth is if you look for discrimination, you will find it. I'm curious if Mr. Randi has ever availed himself of the discounts provided to senior citizens?

I have been to any number of stores, restaurants, and other establishments that offer discounts to teachers, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement personnel, students, etc, all with the appropriate ID of course. Are they discriminating against people who have chosen different professions, or the unemployed? Much the way one might choose to be of a particular religion, or of no religion at all?


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re: Michelle
written by mikekoz68, August 21, 2009
No discrimination in Quebec?! Maybe so but then the sign would have to be either french only, or predominately french with english in tiny, tiny letters at the bottom of the flyer.
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written by latsot, August 21, 2009
I'm not sure it matters whether we call this discrimination or not. The important point, as Jeff points out, is that all too often unbelievers are just not considered as a group and religion gets a free ride. This situation is unquestioned even by the majority of atheists. The Denny's example is a fairly minor one but it's part of a much greater and more pernicious problem. Churches get tax breaks, priests of all varieties are sought out by the media to comment on social and political issues, as though they have some special insight that the rest of us do not. Religious groups are notoriously effective at committing blithering acts, such as forcing the teaching of creationism as science, putting stickers on books stating that evolution is 'only' a theory and killing abortionists, proponents of free speech and publishers of Danish cartoons. We're allowed to offend anyone except the religious. Ridicule someone on their political views or their ideas about the economy by all means, but question someone about their personal opinion on the origin of the universe and suddenly that's offensive.

We as a society let this happen. We're so used to the idea that religion is a pervasive influence that we don't always notice the special privileged and unearned position religion tends to have.

It's entirely appropriate to point out issues like the Denny's discount because it raises people's consciousness. It reminds us that we don’t have to afford special respect to religion and that lack of belief is not just the sensible and only intellectual defensible position, but one which must not be discriminated against.

The poster who felt this is not an educational activity is unfathomable. What greater goal could there be for education than raising consciousness?
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