Nontheists get apology for denial of service at Ark protest

PRESS RELEASE:

A regional freethinkers group has received an apology for discriminatory denial of services during a recent protest at a religious theme park.

On June 30, Five Star Septic and Portable Toilet Rentals agreed to send portable toilets to a July 7 demonstration against the Ark Encounter park put on by the Tri-State Freethinkers, a group made up of nonbelievers from Kentucky, southern Ohio and southern Indiana, the area the firm serves. But on that morning, when the company’s offilinkffrf_300x140ce called Tri-State Freethinkers to get directions to the site, it asked the organization representative whether the portable toilets were for the protest. Upon learning that they were, the office denied service, indicating that this was partially because it did not want its name associated with the atheists’ protest.

It is unlawful for legitimate businesses to discriminate on the basis of religion, the Freedom From Religion Foundation contended in a formal letter of complaint. In addition, Tri-State Freethinkers relied on the promise of Five Star Septic to deliver a service, and it reneged on that promise because of the protesters’ reasonable message.

With such short notice, Tri-State Freethinkers had to hastily organize a shuttle caravan to a nearby gas station for the nearly 200 attendees needing to use toilets. This entailed a major time expense for volunteer organizers and individuals needing the ride, as well as financial outlay for gas and mileage. For some individuals, the inconvenience caused by the breach of contract meant missing parts of the protest.

FFRF’s complaint was taken seriously. Arwood Waste & Demolition, with which Five Star Septic has been a subcontractor, said sorry to Tri-State Freethinkers and made a pledge that the inappropriate behavior will not recur.

“Sir, I do apologize for services having been refused to your organization by our affiliate company (Five Star Septic),” Michael Nancarrow, Arwood’s associate director of communications, emailed Jim Helton, the president of Tri-State Freethinkers. “I want you to know that this does not in any way reflect the values of Arwood Waste and, as such, certain measures will be taken to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again. There will be no charges made to the MasterCard provided to Arwood Waste.”

Helton was also assured by another company official that Arwood would not be using Five Star Septic as a subcontractor in the future.

FFRF is grateful for Arwood’s response.

“The denial of such a service is a serious matter, as I can personally attest to,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, who was on hand at the all-day July 7 protest at a hot time of the year. “We’re glad that Arwood realized our rights were violated and quickly took decisive steps to redress the situation.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with almost 24,000 nonreligious members across the country, including members in Kentucky who were present at the protest.

FFRF decries business discrimination against nonbelievers at Ark Park Protest

PRESS RELEASE:

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation and a regional freethinkers’ group are decrying the discriminatory denial of services during their protest against a religious theme park.

On June 30, Five Star Septic and Portable Toilet Rentals agreed to send portable toilets to a July 7 demonstration against the Ark Encounter park put on by the Tri-State Freethinkers, a group made up of nonbelievers from Kentucky, southern Ohio and southern Indiana, the area the firm serves. It agreed to deliver the toilets on the morning of July 7.

The company’s office reportedly called Tri-State Freethinkers at 9:13 a.m. that day to get directions to the site. During this conversation, it asked the organization representative whether the portable toilets were for the protest. Upon learning that they were, the office denied service, indicating that this was partially because it did not want its name associated with the atheists’ protest.

With such short notice, Tri-State Freethinkers very obviously did not have time to make alternative arrangements. Instead, it had to hastily organize a shuttle caravan to a nearby gas station for the nearly 200 attendees needing to use toilets. This entailed a major time expense for volunteer organizers and individuals needing the ride, as well as financial outlay for gas and mileage. For some individuals, the inconvenience caused by the breach of contract meant missing parts of the protest.

Tri-State Freethinkers provided a lot of water for participants. As the day heated up, those in the open sun by the highway were drinking copious quantities. The denial of convenient toilets produced inevitable discomfort. To those affected, the denial of service felt like a punishment for their views.

It is unlawful for legitimate businesses to discriminate on the basis of religion. In addition, Tri-State Freethinkers relied on the promise of Five Star Septic to deliver a service, and it reneged on that promise because of the protesters’ reasonable message.

The nonreligious population in this country is the fastest growing segment by religious identification, with fully 23 percent Americans identifying as nonreligious.  Nationally, about 35 percent of millennials—those born after 1981—are nonreligious. That would be a lot of individuals for Five Star Septic to refuse to serve on discriminatory grounds.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with almost 24,000 nonreligious members across the country, including members in Kentucky who were present at the protest. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker also participated.


 

For additional information regarding this release or the Ark Encounter Protest please contact Jim G. Helton (tsfreethinkers@gmail.com)

First Amendment Defense Act relegates LGBT communities to second class citizens

 

Tri-State Freethinkers object to proposed bill H.R.2802 First Amendment Defense Act, which “Prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

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While the title of the bill suggests that it champions the protections outlined in the First Amendment, a read through the bill’s text reveals that it does anything but. To put it simply, proponents of this bill do not want to be “discriminated” against for discriminating against same-sex couples or individuals who have sexual relations outside of marriage. This bill would effectively tie the government’s hands behind its back, preventing it from taking legal action against any individual or organization, employed by the government or receiving federal grants, that chooses to discriminate against the aforementioned groups.

The proposed bill takes one element of religion and elevates it to secular law. It singles out for special protection only a person who believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of two individuals of the opposite sex; or extramarital relations are improper. By providing special rights and benefits for a narrow type of speech, the bill violates the Free Speech Clause requirement that government regulations of private speech be viewpoint-neutral.

The First Amendment Defense Act is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause and the Free Speech Clause of the Bill of Rights. It would allow one’s religious belief or moral conviction to blatantly relegate LGBT communities to the status of second class citizens. Congress should instead work to protect the rights of all citizens, including nontheists and those in the LGBT community.

Full text of the bill can be found here:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2802

TAKE ACTION

Contact your representative now to voice your opposition to this bill FADA (H.R. 2802) http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Tri-State Freethinkers is a social, academic, and activist group with over 1600 members in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. They are advocates for equal rights and the separation of church and state. They empower members to make positive change by giving back to the community. They encourage critical thinking and decisions based on facts, logic and reason, not superstitions, myths, or dogma. Tri-State Freethinkers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

PRESS RELEASE: Tri-State Freethinkers to Protest Ark Encounter and Rally for Science and Reason Afterwards

July 1, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jim G. Helton
tsfreethinkers@gmail.com

Tri-State Freethinkers to Protest Ark Encounter and Rally for Science and Reason Afterwards

Tri-State Freethinkers will protest the grand opening of the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, KY on July 7 at 10am.  Joining them will be American Atheists, Secular Coalition of America, Freedom from Religion, United Coalition of Reason, Secular Student Alliance, Kentucky Secular Coalition, and Young Skeptics.  Their controversial “Genocide and Incest Park” billboard will be displayed for one day at the protest on July 7th. https://goo.gl/MAq8nI

 

“Their mission is anti-science, the story is immoral, and they practice discriminatory hiring practices while receiving up to $18 M in state tax incentives. We are making a stand for equal rights and the separation of church and state” said Jim G. Helton, President of the Tri-State Freethinkers.  

 

Following the protest, Tri-State Freethinkers will host a Rally for Science and Reason at the University of Cincinnati at 7pm. The Rally will feature national speakers to celebrate the importance of science education, freethought, critical thinking, and the importance of challenging religious fundamentalism.  The event is free but seating is limited. Please RSVP in advance http://goo.gl/mBxOPj .

 

Tri-State Freethinkers launched a successful crowdfunding campaign and raised over $10,000 to put up a billboard which depicts the Noah’s Ark based theme park as a “Genocide and Incest Park”. They have been unable to find a company willing to put up the billboard.

 

The Ark Encounter is a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark that Ken Ham will use as an “evangelical tool” to expand on Answers in Genesis’ mission to teach and promote creationism as an alternative to evolution.  


Full details on the protest, rally and information about Tri-State Freethinkers is available at www.tri-statefreethinkers.com.


About the Tri-State Freethinkers
Tri-State Freethinkers is a social, academic, and activist group with over 1500 members in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. They are advocates for equal rights and the separation of church and state. They empower members to make positive change by giving back to the community. They encourage critical thinking and decisions based on facts, logic and reason, not superstitions, myths, or dogma.

Confirmed: Larry Decker

Tri-State Freethinkers are excited to announce that Larry Decker, Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America, will join us on the front lines at the Ark Encounter Protest in Williamstown, KY and afterwards for the free Rally for Science & Reason at the University
of Cincinnati on July 7th.IMG_20160625_232958

Even if you cannot join us to protest, please join us at UC at 7pm for our FREE Rally for Science and Reason for an incredible g
roup of speakers.

Don’t forget to RSVP!

Ark Encounter Protest
Rally for Science & Reason

Confirmed: Kevin Davis

Tri-State Freethinkers are excited to announce that Kevin IMG_20160625_233039Davis, Executive Director of Young Skeptics, will join us on the front lines at the Ark Encounter Protest in Williamstown, KY and afterwards for the free Rally for Science & Reason at the University
of Cincinnati on July 7th.

Even if you cannot join us to protest, please join us at UC at 7pm for our FREE Rally for Science and Reason for an incredible group of speakers.

Don’t forget to RSVP!

Ark Encounter Protest
Rally for Science & Reason

Confirmed: Dan Arel

Tri-State Freethinkers are excited to announce that Dan Arel will join us on the front lines at the Ark Encounter PrIMG_20160625_232859otest in Williamstown, KY and afterwards for the free Rally for Science & Reason at the University of Cincinnati on July 7th.

Even if you cannot join us to protest, please join us at UC at 7pm for our FREE Rally for Science and Reason for an incredible group of speakers.

Don’t forget to RSVP and join us!

Ark Encounter Protest
Rally for Science & Reason

The main obstacle to equality is religion.

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