Thursday, August 14, 2008

After complaints from atheists, Tenn. county fair says they can get 'God and Country Day' discount

The Wilson County Fair in Tennessee has agreed to extend its "God and Country Day" discount to atheists after they complained, reports J.R. Lind of the Lebanon Democrat.

"God and Country Day, by tradition the first Sunday of the fair, is designed to honor military veterans, while at the same time giving a $2 discount to fairgoers who bring a church bulletin to the James E. Ward Agricultural Center," Lind writes for the daily paper. "Wilson County Promotions, which runs the fair, is non-governmental, though the Ag Center is owned by Wilson County government. The fair catalog entry for God and Country Day does not mention Christianity and specifically notes that the bulletin must be "from the weekend" of God and Country Day, ostensibly allowing anyone who attended a religious service between Friday and Sunday the opportunity to get the discount."

The complaint came from American Atheists Inc., which contended the discount was unconstitutional and discriminatory. Its press release said members of its group and others would bring printouts of their Web sites to qualify for the discount, and Wilson County Promotions said it would honor them, Lind reports. (Read more)

Wilson County, which borders Nashville, has long been in transition from rural to suburban, and its residents are now more the latter than the former. Its estimated population in 2006 was about 104,000, and the average commuting time of its residents was 27.5 minutes; the national average was 25 minutes. Local officials and developers have proposed it as the site for a Bible theme park; here's a story from Clay Carey of The Tennessean. Here is Lind's latest report on the proposal.

UPDATE, Aug. 16: The Democrat really covers the fair and horse show, expected to draw 400,000. Read about vendors. New this year: FairCam (source of photo).

UPDATE, Aug. 20: Lind reports, "Sunday, around 30 atheists and other non-theists came to the James E. Ward Agriculture Center and were admitted, along with churchgoers, at the lower price. Many of the atheists wore t-shirts saying they supported 'Foxhole Atheists,' a project that provides care packages for servicemembers who do not believe in God. Likewise, many churchgoers wore t-shirts proclaiming their beliefs." (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think having discounts is ok as long as they don't discriminate based on religion, race, or other criteria that have been used to oppress. Having a "white person's" discount or a "Non-Jewish" discount is the same as a "Church goer's" discount.