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More on the Skate Rink in Upstate NY

John on June 26, 2006 at 11:11 am

The other day I posted some sketchy info about a Skate Rink in upstate New York which was being warned by the New York Division of Civil Rights that they may be in violation of the law for advertising a “Christian Skate” on Sunday afternoons.

I contacted the owners via e-mail and asked for any further information about the situation, including what they know about how this whole thing started. I reproduce the complete response below:

Hi John,

We do not know who filed the complaint with the Division of Human Rights. We, like many other roller skating rinks across the USA (just google “Christian Skate” [I have done so and added a link - John]) advertised that we have a session where we play Christian Music. In the newspaper it was abbreviated to “Christian Skate” for space purposes. The content is the same, no matter what you call it. On the website it always read Christian Music.

On May 19 we changed the ad in the paper to “Spiritual Skate” because of input from the community that it might be “better received” if we changed the name. We received a letter dated June 15 was sent to us by the Division of Human Rights saying that we have “apparently denied or at the very least discouraged non-Christians from coming into our facility”. It is not true. We have never denied or discouraged entry to anyone. We just had our Grand Opening April 27 and want nothing more than to fill the place with skaters. Christian Music is a very popular genre of music as listed on the Billboard charts, and we feel that we have the right to play it. We feel that it is only proper to disclose to our patrons what sort of music will be played at a session so that people do not feel that we are “baiting and switching”.

At this point we feel that the point from the Div of Human Rights regarding us and the Ulster County Press who allegedly “aided and abetted us” by publishing the ad is moot because the ad no longer exists as “complained about”.

Thanks for your inquiry.

Here’s my question for any legal eagles that want to weigh in: Even if they had advertised a “Christian Skate” and even if that ad implicitly discouraged non-Christians from attending, so what? Shouldn’t a private business owner be able to target whatever audience they choose with their services? So long as there’s no one asking people to recite the Nicene Creed at the door, how can the state interfere?

In any case, it seems clear that nothing of the sort has happened. As I noted in the update to my earlier post, the website simply lists what type of music they will be playing Sunday afternoon. There is nothing discouraging anyone from coming. The current version of the website specifically says “All are welcome.” How much more clear can you get?

So what happened here? It seems likely that some tolerant liberal (someone like our friend Roger the Happy Heretic perhaps) decided to sic the state government on a business that dared to make their facility welcoming to Christians. Such things just aren’t acceptable in fashionable, upstate New York. And you can bet that when atheists like Roger run the world they won’t be acceptable anywhere. One day, pesky problems like freedom of religion and assembly which allow it to happen will be strongly discouraged if not altogether eliminated.

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