2012-08-09 / Local & State

Eatery Says Business Up After Religion Flap

COLUMBIA, Pa. (AP) – The proprietor of a central Pennsylvania restaurant that made national headlines when its Sunday discount to anyone showing a church bulletin was challenged by a member of an atheist’s group says the controversy hasn’t hurt business.

In fact, Sharon Prudhomme says business is up at Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia, Lancaster County due to the publicity, and she’s received thousands of supportive emails as well as phone calls and social media postings.

“It definitely has picked up,’’ she told the York Daily Record/ Sunday News. “Everybody that comes in (offers) a lot of handshakes, hugs, everybody is offering a lot of support.’’

About a year ago, the restaurant started offering 10 percent discounts to diners who bring in a current church bulletin on Sundays. Prudhomme, who owns the establishment with husband David, said the promotion was designed to boost business on a traditionally slow business day.

Last month, John Wolff of Lancaster County filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission against the discount. Wolff, who is an atheist and member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, said Prudhomme’s should not give out discounts based on faith.

“I bear them no ill will, but they shouldn’t be pushing religion,’’ Wolff said.

Prudhomme said she is working with attorneys, including Randall Wenger of the Independence Law Center in Harrisburg, who said he doesn’t think the case has merit.

“It’s so different than the theory behind the non-discrimination laws,’’ he said. “Those laws were set up because of hatefulness on the part of folks because of color of skin or religion.’’

Shannon Powers of the state’s Human Relations Commission said an investigation will determine if there is probable cause to support the complaint.

Prudhomme said the restaurant continues to stand by the Sunday promotion and wasn’t admitting any wrongdoing “because we have done nothing wrong.’’

She said, however, that she changed the promotion’s language to read “faith bulletin’’ rather than “church bulletin.’’ She said she’s always stressed that diners of all religious backgrounds were welcome to pick up bulletins at any church and bring them in for the discount.

And Prudhomme told The (Harrisburg) Patriot- News that she also plans to sell a T-shirt at the restaurant that will read “Your Faith Bulletin. Wear this for your Sunday dining discount (at) Prudhomme’s’’ along with the word “Co-exist’’ and several religious symbols – including one representing atheism.

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