Judge Rules that Hagerstown Suns are Permitted to Give Discounts for Church Bulletins

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Administrative Law Judge Georgia Brady in Baltimore, Maryland, rules against Carl Silverman in his complaint against The Hagerstown Suns. Silverman filed a complaint over the practice of giving a discount to people who bring a church bulletin to the game, arguing that this discriminates against atheists and in favor of Christians.

The Maryland Commission on Human Relations had earlier agreed with Carl Silverman and sought a court order to end the six-year-old discount for church bulletins.

According to Judge Brady:

"I conclude that Maryland's public accommodation law, unlike that of many other jurisdictions, prohibits only the discriminatory application of a promotion. In the absence of a discriminatory effect, the promotion is not per se illegal."

So the baseball team is free to advertise a discount for church bulletins and that is not discriminatory; but they will have to provide the discount regardless of whether people have a church bulletin. If they don't, that will create a discriminatory effect and that is prohibited.

Michael Berman, the attorney for Silverman, disagrees with this conclusion:

"The judge said it's OK to advertise, it's simply not OK to do it. We feel, especially on the facts presented, that advertising such a policy is also prohibited by the statute."

Joseph A. Schwartz, the attorney for the Hagerstown Suns, attacks Carl Silverman, the ACLU, and the Maryland Commission on Human Relations for objecting to advertisements that favor Christians over everyone else:

"The ACLU and the commission should spend their energies going after real cases of discrimination and not false ones."
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