Author Emily Dietle
My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks
If you’ve been keeping up with Skepticon this weekend, you may have seen this image. In Springfield, Missouri, the owner of Gelato Mio took the time to write this sign and place it in the store’s window.
I want you to look at this sign. Read the words aloud. “Skepticon is NOT Welcomed to my Christian Business.” Why aren’t they welcomed? Well, the underlining of ‘Christian Business’ may give you a hint, and knowing that the audience of Skepticon consists largely of a variety of non-theists may also clue you in. It appears that Gelato Mio doesn’t want non-theists in their midst.
Let’s examine the sign, scratched boldly in red ink. First, ‘Skepticon’ is on its own line. An attempt to ensure Skepticon attendants notice the sign before entering? Next, look at ‘NOT’. It is written in all caps, the text version of shouting. Note the quantity of strokes needed to create such a bold font. This looks like it was written in anger, and it is underscored with two aggressive lines.
We move on to the last two words ‘Christian Business’, also both underlined for impact. The word ‘Business’ is barely squeezed onto the sign. Evidence of the haste and an eagerness to get the message out before the ‘others’ got in?
What would anger a person enough to make such a sign? Hundreds of extra visitors to your place of business, wanting tasty gelato? Critically thinking individuals entering your place of business? Or is it that the patrons were non-theists? By the underlining of ‘Christian Business’, my bets would be on the latter.
Andy, the owner of Gelato Mio, removed the sign and today issued an apology. I doubt the sincerity of his note and assume that someone pointed out his illegal action to refuse service based on his Christian criteria. Take note of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
We cannot idly stand by and allow any bigotry to be allowed. By letting him slide with an apology, it makes his actions acceptable. It doesn’t matter if the sign was up for minutes, hours, or days. It is a fair estimation that the intent of this sign was to restrict patronage based on religious affiliation. The most effective way to ensure that business owners will not repeat/mimic such actions is through their wallet, and I support boycotting of this and any business that acts in a bigoted manner.
Here are three organizations working to protect our rights and keep the wall between Church & State: Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and American Atheists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
See ‘Gelatogate (2/2)‘ for the reaction to Andy’s third apology >>>
See the Springfield News-Leader for another view
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