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Members of a Christian hate-group are outraged after their reservation was canceled at Metzger Bar and Butchery in Richmond, Virginia.

Last Wednesday night, members of The Family Foundation, a Christian non-profit that essentially acts as a right-wing faith-based lobbying group (without that designation), planned to host a reception for 15-20 people at the restaurant for some of its donors. But hours before the event was set to begin, they received a phone call turning them away. The restaurant’s staff found out that they were people who fight against civil rights for LGBTQ people, deny the existence of trans people, and want women to give birth against their will, and refused to serve them.

The owners explained the decision in an Instagram post:

Metzger Bar and Butchery has always prided itself on being an inclusive environment for people to dine in, In eight years of service we have very rarely refused service to anyone who wished to dine with us. Recently we refused service to a group that had booked an event with us after the owners of Metzger found out it was a group of donors to a political organization that seeks to deprive women and LGBTQ+ persons of their basic human rights in Virginia. We have always refused service to anyone for making our staff uncomfortable or unsafe and this was the driving force behind our decision. Many of our staff are women and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community. All of our staff are people with rights who deserve dignity and a safe work environment. We respect our staff’s established rights as humans and strive to create a work environment where they can do their jobs with dignity, comfort and safety.

It’s hardly unreasonable. Restaurants have every right to kick out rude customers, and by the same logic, they’re not obligated to serve people who wish to deny basic rights to the staff. The real question is why more restaurants aren’t doing the same damn thing. Bigotry shouldn’t be rewarded with service.

None of that sat well with the group’s president, Victoria Cobb, who wrote a response treating all of this as religious discrimination, comparable to the racism of the pre-Civil Rights era, and claiming “We’ve Been Canceled!”

Welcome to the 21st century, where people who likely consider themselves “progressives” attempt to recreate an environment from the 1950s and early 60s, when people were denied food service due to their race

Welcome to the double standard of the left, where some believe Jack Phillips must be forced to create a wedding cake as part of the celebration of a same-sex ceremony but any business should be able to deny basic goods and services to those who hold biblical values around marriage.

Cobb’s analogies make no sense.

The Family Foundation didn’t have its reservation canceled because its Christian; it had its reservation canceled because it’s a hate group that cloaks itself in Bible verses. The group’s existence literally threatens the health and safety of the Metzger Bar and Butchery staff. The staff isn’t legally obligated to serve people who wish to do them harm.

The color of your skin can’t be changed. Your sexual orientation can’t be changed. But members of her group choose to be bigots. (Plenty of Christians reject their form of hate.)

The Jack Phillips reference doesn’t work either. Even setting aside the specifics of his case, the argument Cobb is making is that both situations are the same and the restaurant’s staffers are hypocrites. But they’re not the same. Phillips refused to bake cakes for all gay couples (even though he’d sell the same cakes to straight couples). The restaurant is not refusing to serve all Christians.

But since she’s already using broken logic, I would love to know if Cobb thinks all public establishments should be allowed to pick and choose their customers. If she thinks bakers and florists and website designers can freely discriminate against others in the name of Jesus, why is she so upset when she’s on the receiving end of what she believes is similar behavior? She should be celebrating their freedom of conscience.

At the very least, she should be submitting her application to lead the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.

It turns out this isn’t even the first time people have refused to work with Cobb’s group:

Cobb added that a website design company declined to design her foundation’s website for political reasons, and the former provider of its customer relationship management software, EveryAction, which became part of new parent company Bonterra in March, canceled the foundation’s contract, forcing the foundation to move its databases to a different system. 

For what it’s worth, Metzger Bar and Butchery can refuse to serve hate groups for the same reason other establishments have been on firm legal ground (gift article) when kicking out MAGA cultists:

Sarah Sanders, then the White House press secretary and now the governor-elect of Arkansas, was asked to leave the Red Hen in Lexington, Va., in 2018. The owner of the restaurant, Stephanie Wilkinson, wrote that she thought Sanders was “a person whose actions in the service of our country we felt violated basic standards of humanity.” And a judge in 2018 sided with a New York bar that ejected a customer for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in support of President Donald Trump.

Here’s where the restaurant may be on shaky grounds, though. While their actions here may be perfectly fine, what will they do when, say, members of a Southern Baptist or Catholic group decide to visit (and make it known that they’re part of those institutions)? Their beliefs are no less toxic or public. Would the restaurant say no to them, too?

Should they?

For now, as the restaurant is dealing with predictable backlash, it raised money for Equality Virginia through sales of a specific cocktail:

The Christian hate group won’t stop trying to hurt other people. But at least this restaurant is using a tough situation to help those who are marginalized.

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.