frankieleon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

frankieleon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Portable toilet service apologizes for denying service to atheist protesters at Ark Encounter Theme Park.

Ark Encounter, a $100 million Biblical theme park in Grant County, Kentucky, built by the religious fundamentalist organization Answers in Genesis, was officially opened to the public on July 7th, 2016. Thousands of Christians attended the opening of the park whose centerpiece is a full-scale model of Noah's Ark, which is, as of now, the largest timber-frame structure in the world. The event also attracted more than 150 protesters, including the Tri-State Freethinkers, an atheist group with members from Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.

Prior to the demonstration against the theme park, the atheist group made arrangements with the Five Star Septic and Portable Toilet Rentals company to supply them with portable toilets on the Ark Encounter opening day. However, on July 7, the company refused to provide the group with the portable toilets after learning that the units were for the protest, citing the reason that the company did not want its name associated with the protest against the theme park. The group then had to quickly arrange a caravan to a nearby gas station for its members to use the restroom facilities on the extremely hot day.

A week later, Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), an American non-profit organization advocating for non-theists, sent a letter to the portable toilet company complaining about their breach of contract with the Tri-State Freethinkers. The letter emphasized the fact that the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in “places of public accommodation.” Arwood Waste and Demolition, the company with which Five Star Septic and Portable Toilet Rentals has been a subcontractor, immediately got back to FFRF offering an apology for the inconvenience caused, and assured that there will be no charges made to the MasterCard provided to them by the group.

The e-mail that the president of Tri-State Freethinkers, Jim Helton, received from the associate director of communications of Arwood, Michael Nancarrow, stated that what happened in no way reflects the values of their company and that measures would be taken to ensure that incidents like this would not happen in the future.

“Sir, I do apologize for services having been refused to your organization by our affiliate company (Five Star Septic),” Michael Nancarrow, Arwood’s associate director of communications, emailed Jim Helton, the president of Tri-State Freethinkers. “I want you to know that this does not in any way reflect the values of Arwood Waste and, as such, certain measures will be taken to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again. There will be no charges made to the MasterCard provided to Arwood Waste.”

Another company official assured Helton that in the future, Arwood would not be using Five Star Septic and Portable Toilet Rentals as a subcontractor.

Dan Barker, the co-president of FFRF, said that the denial of services to an atheist group is a serious matter. It is a violation of fundamental rights. FFRF is glad that Arwood realized their mistake, and immediately took the necessary steps to rectify the situation.

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