[guest post by Dana]
A Virginia-based conservative Christian advocacy group was turned away from a local restaurant just an hour before their reservation last week.
A representative of the Family Foundation said he was frustrated after the group was turned away from Metzger Bar and Butchery last Wednesday. The group claims the refusal had to do with their religious beliefs.
According to *Todd Gathje, Director of Government Relations for the Family Foundation, one of the owners of Metzger called a representative of the Family Foundation about an hour before the reservation time, saying that the group would not be dining in the restaurant.
“We’ve had events at restaurants all over the city and never encountered a situation like this,” Gathje said. “It’s no secret that we are very much engaged in the public policy debate on a number of controversial issues. But we never expected that we would be denied service at a restaurant based on our religious values or political beliefs.”
The following day, Metzger posted an explanation on Facebook about why they refused to serve the group. It’s more than a bit ironic that their opening statement touts their proud history of being an inclusive environment for patrons. Well, at least some patrons.
All of the comments left at the post applauded the decision to exclude the Family Foundation group from Metzger’s inclusive environment. Of course, there is a note on the post stating that Metzger Bar and Butchery limited who can comment on this post. One lone comment which was allowed to be published asked the owners a more general question about being open to those with whom we disagree:
I’m not challenging your right as owners to serve who you want but in what way did this group make anyone feel unsafe or uncomfortable? And how can we all, moving forward, not have used this as a time to be open to fellowship and service while also holding a difference of opinions? You “discovered” something about the group but they must’ve also known that members of LGBTQ community work at your establishment and they wanted to dine with you. I’m asking this with a journalist’s brain so please y’all don’t come at me.
Virginia Cobb, the head of the Family Foundation of Virginia, posted about the incident. In part:
I think most people assume that food service is something that we can all agree on…’It’s stunning, and it does feel a bit like ‘no Christians can eat here.’ Because if you go to our website, you’ll find that we are a faith-based organization…’So it absolutely does feel that there is religious discrimination going on here.’…In a blog post, Cobb likened her group’s experience of being refused service to eateries that refused to serve black customers before the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Not letting the opportunity go to waste, Cobb’s post concluded with a fundraising plea:
Not even 24 hours before our event was canceled, the U.S. Senate passed the “(Dis)Respect for Marriage Act” with the help of 12 Republicans who assured us that, even with this federal codification of same-sex marriage, the language in the act asserting that beliefs on marriage between a man and a woman are “based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises” and those that hold such beliefs “are due proper respect” would preserve, not diminish, religious liberty. It took less than a day for us to see how worthless that empty rhetoric is.
Our witness will not be diminished, and we will not be silenced. We will speak out when we see this type of religious discrimination occurring in Virginia. As we stand on the front lines of this fight to protect and advance religious freedom for all Virginians, we invite you to stand with us. Will you consider a donation today to support our efforts to ensure that no Virginian will ever have to worry about being refused a simple meal because of his or her religious beliefs?
*If Todd Gathje’s name rings a bell, here’s why: He “has previously written for the Family Foundation about a stalled effort in 2021 to remove an unenforceable provision of the Virginia Constitution — invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 — that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, saying that removing it would open the door to “polygamous, incestuous, kinship or even child marriages.”