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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Good question! Yes, I avoid religious businesses like the plague. I recently made a purchase, and then found out it too late it is from a "christian" manufacturing firm that likes to brag about it. I almost returned it, but it is a good product, but still... I will not buy anything else from them!

I will not buy anything else from them!

Do you think it would make a difference to business owners if they knew why they were losing your business?

I'd be greatly surprised; rather they'd just whine about how hard it is to be Christian these days.  Smugly satisfied that they are spiritually with the martyrs of the 1st. 2nd and 3rd centuries, they'd carry on.

So true.

Imagine that gas station owner gets a dozen letters a month from consumers who complain and promise not to buy gas there. How much would your profits have to shrink before you decided it's better for business to keep your religion to yourself? 

It depends where it is.  People might drive out of their way to get gas from god.  If we are absolutely honest, wouldn't we frequent a gas station sporting the big red atheist A?  If he attracts more than he repels, it's good business.

I know I probably would, assuming it wasn't too far out, and assuming the price wasn't a major problem.

If he attracts more than he repels, it's good business.

Of course. But how likely is that? The religiously-motivated anti-LGBT policy of Chick-Fil-A resulted in simultaneous public boycotts and public support. The Boycotters ended up with a slight edge. In the end Chick-Fil-A backed down and stopped donating to anti-LGBT causes.

Overall is there enough symmetry between business gains and business losses to make religious discrimination a worthwhile selling point? Chick-Fil-A didn't think so and they're based primarily in the Bible belt.

That won't be the case in every situation, but would it be in most? I don't know but I find the outcome of the Chick-Fil-A case especially encouraging.

Because they are based primarily in the bible belt, they thought that they would attract more than they would repel.  And didn't they get it spectacularly wrong - because they have branches all over America, perhaps.  Also, they sell junk food, the staple diet of the youngsters, who are now armed with Facebook and a rapidly eroding sense of religious-driven bigotry.

But a gas station only has to concern themselves with local customers.  It's a different business model.  I'm not saying I like it, I'm just pointing it out :)

The religious mind doesn't work that way. The pragmatic, business mind would drop the behavior in a split second if he even thought it might eat into his profits, but a sufficiently religious mind would watch his business burn, and then blame the godless heathens, and not the hateful messages.

To be fair, they might also blame God with "It's God's will," "It's part of God's plan for me," "He works in mysterious ways."

Economics 101 is one of these mysterious ways, am I right?


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