Atheist Denied Discount at Baseball Game Without Church Bulletin

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Carl Silverman is denied a $6 family discount at a Hagerstown Suns' baseball game because he doesn't have a church bulletin. The Hagerstown Suns is a minor league baseball team which is running a promotional program where people get discounts in exchange for church bulletins.

Carl Silverman will sue the baseball team, arguing that the program is showing preference to and providing benefits for Christians exclusively. It also communicates to the community that Christians and Christian churches are preferred.

Suns owner Winston Blenckstone disagrees that there is anything discriminatory about offering discounts exclusively in exchange for church bulletins:

"We are simply using the community's assets, which are the houses of faith in this area, as a symbol of family support, which is tied directly into people who come out to our ballgames."

Lawyers for the Hagerstown Suns will argue that people can simply go to church and grab a bulletin without actually attending church services. They don't understand that not everyone from every religion will agree that going into a church like that is acceptable.

They also don't understand that this is akin to only giving discounts to bulletins from Baptist or Catholic churches, a practice that everyone would immediately recognize as unacceptable because of the preference being shown for one particular Christian denomination.

Carl Silverman says:

"What if they had a half-off night only for white people? This is no different. There are laws against discriminating based on religion, and that extends to people who don't believe."

The Maryland Human Relations Commission agrees with Silverman, finding that there is "probable cause" to think the Suns are violating state law and the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the end a judge will find in favor of the Suns — but only so long as the "church bulletin" discount program doesn't genuinely exist. The Suns can advertise a discount for church bulletins only if no one has to show a church bulletin in order to get the discount.

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