Some businesses readily demonstrate a preference for religiosity or have overtly religious management teams. One example is Chick-fil-A which cites religion as reasons for closing on Sunday and opposing gay marriage.

1. Are you, as a consumer, less likely to spend at a business that is overtly religious? Why or why not?

2. Do you keep track of which businesses bill themselves as religious, which have taken no public stance, and which are run by atheists? Do you know of any resources for keeping track?

3. Say you pulled into a gas station and read this message on the pump. Would you still buy gas there? Say you have a choice between a Catholic hospital and a secular hospital. Do you avoid the Catholic hospital because it is Catholic?

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I'd agree that at the point the behavior of the store proprietor is becoming offensive I would walk away, after a polite and friendly word to the manager and owner.  Polite and friendly because the goal is to change hearts and minds, not feel all self-righteous myself.

The times I can remember doing that mostly involved businesses that refused to serve fellow customers because of their skin color or age.  Though around these parts I find myself doing it a lot with older people who seem to believe that children skateboarding is a crime.

If the Catholic hospital had a more competent physician then it would be prudent to go there -your health is nothing to gamble with.

I try to avoid those who are psychotic, religious people can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy and are thus psychotic.

I patronize businesses I'm pretty sure are run by religious people. For example, I love Indian food and I bet most or perhaps all of the Indians running those restaurants are Hindus. Do they impose their religious positions on me? Well, yes, in the sense that there won't be any beef on the menu. Likewise for a Jewish delicatessen where there may be no pork products on the menu. Of course, Jewish people tend to be more practical and may have pork, ham, or bacon on the menu. They won't eat it themselves, perhaps, and may have it prepared and served by goyim.

I do avoid Christian businesses which tend to bring their religion into the transaction gratuitously. If they can't be avoided, I just "Uh huh" my way through the transaction and go on my way.

I most certainly wouldn't buy petroleum distillates from this establishment. Quite apart from the far right overtones, the message is in all caps and there shouldn't be a full stop there.

Genereally though I base my buying decisions on the behaviour of a business and its employees, rather than their  beliefs. I am an atheist and a secularist, which means I think people should be free to hold the beliefs they hold, and to practice any religion along as they repect human rights. I therefore differ from the position held by many religious establishements, who do not agree people should hold such freedoms.

Depending on my mood, I would walk away and never use the machine… or this would have been the last straw on the camel's back and knock shit out of the machine to make a point, but overall, I would refuse their services in the future.

Only if they are blatantly offensive about it.

Some religious people may choose not to do businesses with atheists, though they would seem to be ignoring the inclusiveness and nonjudgmentalism Jesus seemed to be promoting in the parable of The Good Samaritan.

I have yet to meet an evangelical who passes that test. On average the evangelicals are among the most racist and hateful people I have encountered. Never, ever work for one! I learned that lesson the hard way!

As a business owner myself, I wouldn't want people to avoid my business just because they disagree with my lack of belief. Which is why we don't advertise ourselves in such a way. It's certainly no big secret, but in business it's important that everyone feel welcome.

Why any business would go out of their way to do the opposite is beyond logic, but many do. I try to base my choices on quality of service but I often wonder; if they are missing this basic component of business skill, what else are they doing wrong?

Answering your questions directly:

1. I live in PA's Amish country. Many businesses advertise themselves as Christian. It would be impossible to avoid even if I wanted to. I am however, more likely to support a business that is outwardly non-religious.

2. I don't make it a priority. Though when I do hear of a business doing something particularly awful (i.e. Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood) I will remember it and avoid them. I know of no particular resource for better tracking, this could be a useful tool.

3. Gas station: I would make it a point to tell the owner that I disagree with his statement and am leaving to give the Sikhs down the street my money, as he requested.

Catholic vs. secular hospital: I know of no reason to believe the level of care is different at either type of facility.

Personally, I think tolerance is the key. Christians are SUPPOSED to be tolerant, but often are not. Being intolerant of their proselytizing or witnessing won't make any of them think harder about atheism, it will simply reinforce their prejudices.

I had surgery in a Catholic hospital and other than a priest stopping by to ask if I was OK and if there was anything he could do for me, I wouldn't have even known I was in a hospital run by a Christian religion.

In fact, a huge percentage of the hospitals in the US are associated with religions. At the same time, one wonders how often conflicts arise, such has whether to save a mother by terminating a pregnancy.

I agree 100% on all points. Particularly that being intolerant of their proselytizing won't change their views.

I will say this though. People don't often know they're doing something wrong unless they're told. In the case of the gas pump for example, I would want to ensure that that person knows specifically that they were about to receive my money but because of that statement (telling me to leave) they won't. That direct correlation may hit home when it comes time to make payroll.

One of the things that keeps people in a religion is the fear of being an outcast. Being surrounded by statements like that only adds to that fear. If pointing out the financial negatives might make that business owner remove the message, I see it as an overall positive because it might make for a more generally secular environment. The business owner will hate me, but a Mennonite girl who is doubting her religion might benefit from one less reminder of her fear of leaving it behind.


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