‘That’s not fair!’ — a lesson in living in a free society
Religion & Liberty Online

‘That’s not fair!’ — a lesson in living in a free society

If you’re a Facebook fan of YogaFit Training Systems, you can get 15 percent off its conferences. If your kid gets good grades, he or she can score free nuggets at Chick-Fil-A.  Presenting your military ID will get you a discount at Advance Auto Parts. And many independently-owned Ace Hardware stores offer 10 percent discounts to senior citizens.

Does a business have the right to offer certain discounts to certain people in order to bolster business and offer a service to a segment of their customers, or is this inherently unfair?

John  Wolff, a retired electrical engineer in Pennsylvania, is crying “Unfair!” to just such a program. According to Todd Starnes’ Fox News Commentary, Wolff is decrying a restaurant’s right to offer a discount to folks who bring in a church bulletin:

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission confirmed there is an investigation against Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in the town of Columbia. The complaint was filed by John Wolff, a retired electrical engineer.

“I did this not out of spite, but out of a feeling against the prevailing self-righteousness that stems from religion, particular in Lancaster County,” Wolff told the York Daily Record. “I don’t consider it an earth-shaking affair, but in this area in particular, we seem to have so many self-righteous religious people, so it just annoys me.”

The investigation against the restaurant is apparently part of a campaign by Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based group whose website states, “The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion.”

Clearly, both the FFRF and Mr. Wolff are misinformed. The FFRF needs to brush up on history, and Mr. Wolff can ask any church he wants to for a bulletin to be mailed to his home every week. He needn’t attend the service, and he can get his discount. More importantly, they need to recognize that  private business owners have the right to run their business as they see fit – offering discounts to loyal customers, giving away free samples on a certain day or treating the 5,000 customer to a check for $5,000. If you’re not the 5,000 customer, do you deserve the same check? Mr. Wolff believes this type of treatment is an infringement of his civil rights.

Just as Prudhomme’s Restaurant is free to offer discounts to those bringing in a church bulletin, Mr. Wolff is free to eat elsewhere. That’s the great thing about living in a free society, where being a consumer means you have the choice to spend – or not spend – your money where you choose. Having just celebrated Independence Day, we should be mindful of our hard-won freedom and its relevance today. Here is Robert George:

If freedom and democracy are in fact defensible, then it’s not because there is no absolute truth. Rather it’s because that is the truth. The truth about man is that man has a special dignity that requires that his fundamental freedoms be respected and that he be entitled to participate as a full citizen in the affairs of the community.

Mr. Wolff, eat wherever you choose in your community. You’re free to do so.

Read the entire Fox News Commentary here.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.