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Florists Refuse to Deliver Flowers to Jessica Ahlquist

By January 23, 2012

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You may have heard that Jessica Ahlquist won her case to get a prayer banner removed from her high school. As you might expect, she's experiencing a lot of "love" from her Christian neighbors. In situations like this, "Christian Love" means threats and personal attacks. It's even come to the point where some local businesses are refusing to serve her - like local florists.

Three refused to deliver the flowers, said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group based in Madison, Wis.

"Our jaws dropped" after two florists refused to deliver the flowers and a third said the shop was closed, Gaylor said.

Source: Providence Journal

A complaint is going to be filed with the state Commission for Human Rights, which is good. These florists are getting a ton of negative attention all over the country because of this, which is even better. They are also getting horrible reviews on sites like Google, which is better still.

There is now a Facebook "fan page" created in defense of the bigoted florists. The excuses being offered are ridiculous in the extreme -- and sometimes contradictory. First they insist that they have a right to not to businesses with someone they don't want to do business with. They don't seem to understand that refusing to do business with someone because they are an atheist is illegal.

Then they complain that they refused to deliver flowers to Jessica Ahlquist "due to safety concerns and the possibility of negative impact to their businesses." Safety concerns? So, they admit that Christians in Cranston, Rhode Island, are a threatening, dangerous, and even violent group? That's very interesting. Why would they want to be associated with violent religious thugs? Why would they want to side with people like Peter G. Palumbo, Democrat in the RI House from the Cranston district, who has called Jessica Ahlquist an "evil little thing" who is "being coerced by evil people"

Next, they insist that the bigoted florists are just trying "to be neutral" by discriminating against atheists and not delivering flowers to Jessica Ahlquist. Now how is discrimination the same as neutrality? In fact these bigoted Cranston florists did just the opposite: they took sides be refusing to accept the flowers order. Even worse, they are blaming atheists for their problems.

I hope that their decision to give in to bigotry and engage in discrimination hurts their businesses badly and costs them money. It's all well and good to appeal to people's highest ideals when encouraging them to do what's right, but sometimes that doesn't work -- as demonstrated here. In such cases, it's necessary to ensure that people pay a heavy price for doing the wrong thing.

January 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm
(1) Grandpa_In_The_East says:

Regarding the florists who refused to deliver flowers to Jessica, if a court action is taken, I believe I have the perfect penalty for such behavior. At least in my imagination.

Were I the judge and had I the power: The florest in question would be forbidden from making ANY deliveries of ANY kind for a period of three months. This, of course would hurt business–a florest who doesn’t deliver? Oh My!

Now this florest’s bigotted friends could bail him out my making contributions to make up for the lost income. How much is it worth to teach a 16 year-old girl where to go? $75, 50, 30, 25. More like a couple of $5′s will do it. An excellent test of Christian resolve.

Either way, at least one bigot would have to pay.


January 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm
(2) David Jardine says:

Once the State Commission orders the florists to deliver the flowers the florists are off the christian hook aren’t they? Now it’s the government etc etc to blame. This is another example amongst many where our only effective course of action regarding human rights violations is the legal one. Great work Jessica and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

January 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm
(3) Borsia says:

I would think that she has a slander case against Palumbo he is certainly guilty of it! And the fact that she is being discriminated against shows “cause of loss & personal suffering”. How I would love to be on that jury!! He would not only not have a pot to piss in he wouldn’t even have any piss.

January 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm
(4) Tony Messina says:

This is typical in this evil christian country and it’s not getting any better. I was also refused business relations with a company because I pointed out that the scriptures posted at the bottom of their home page was very unprofessional. Christians are the worlds most ignorant and childish people on earth. And like I said, it’s not getting any better as time goes on. It will only get worse.

January 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm
(5) OZAtheist says:

I hope you are wrong Tony about things getting worse.

I think perhaps we are seeing the militant response from a few of the frightened Christians who used to be so comfortable and smug. As more and more people challenge the Christians right to impose their faith based standards on others they are getting desperate. Hateful acts and violence is the response we see.

In the meantime however, the secular movement grows stronger.

January 28, 2012 at 12:08 am
(6) morgan says:

This story reminds me of the filth I’m seeing slung in Repub. debates, character assassination, etc.,by purported christians?? SO, I’m getting that rabid folks like the christians in this story and the ones on TV right now are doomed to shame and disgrace WHEN mature people, not prone to hysteria, use critical thinking to understand where this kind of attack and immature, deviant behavior stems from- the basest, most primitive of human emotions. What kind of mind do these right wing christians have, to do these ignorant things: TN state Rep. Floyd promises to “stomp a mudhole” in trans people, if near his family in changing rooms, Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal, who emailed collegues, saying he could finally pray for Obama, with Bible verses hoping your target dies and family is ruined…, and the florists. I will from now on call right wing fundies “the primitives”, referring to their state of mind and emotional maturity. I am a pagan of 30 years and even I know their precious ‘Jesus’ would be ashamed of them.

January 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm
(7) Marilyn LaCourt says:

Check this out

The American Cancer Society refused a large donation from an atheist organization – why?

January 29, 2012 at 3:59 am
(8) P Smith says:

It is no surprise to hear in recent days that Ahlquist has been receiving threats of violence. Even money says the christians will claim the abuse was perpetrated by atheists. Their argument has no logical, legal or moral strength, so they resort to physical strength of violence because it’s all they have left.

There’s nothing wrong with the t-shirts repeating the words on the sign because that’s an individual’s own statement. The problem is the sign being in a school, by which the school is actively promoting a religious belief. If the principal were a buddhist put up a sign, the hypochristians would be raising a stink.


January 29, 2012 at 9:43 am
(9) Grandpa_In_The_East says:

Morgan, Morgan, Morgan,

Please quit fostering the notion that “primitive people” were, well, not so “good.” I feel sure that primitive people were far superior to anything that Christianity (a newfangled thing) has to offer.

Your school teachers taught you that ‘civilization’ was a grand accomplishment. On what grounds? It was only necessary as populations grew so large we could not possibly know each other. A price we paid for this ‘survival,’ I think, was that humankind lost some of its humanity. So lay off my ancestors!

Other than that, I really liked your comment.



January 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm
(10) retiredwheezer says:

In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Masque of the Red Death,” the prince and his courtiers sealed themselves in the palace to escape death by plague. They entertained themselves with many diversions, stopping only when a large clock tolled each hour. Finally, Death arrived and claimed them all.

Christians try to escape thinking about death by walling themselves in with fairy tales about a supernatural place where they will live forever. No wonder they abuse and threaten a 16 year-old girl! Like the large clock in the palace, atheists regularly remind Christians about their delusions of transcending death.

February 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm
(11) Jerry says:

I feel sorry for Jessica Ahlquist and I feel sorry for her parents as well. To threaten the girl is wrong. Pray for her and her family. May God Bless them all and help them.

May 18, 2013 at 5:09 am
(12) retiredwheezer says:

from FREEDOM from RELIGION FOUNDATION, Jan. 29, 2013:

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing a Rhode Island florist in Superior Court in Providence for refusing to deliver FFRF’s order of a dozen red roses to Cranston teen Jessica Ahlquist after she won a court case in January 2012.

The complaint, filed Jan. 25, 2013, alleges Marina Plowman, owner-operator of Twins Florist in Cranston, denied FFRF “full and equal access to public accommodations by refusing to fulfill a flower order on the basis of religion (non-belief), in violation of Rhode Island General Laws.”

FFRF filed a previous complaint in January 2012 with the state Commission for Human Rights. A preliminary investigating commissioner determined in October that “probable cause” existed to believe that Plowman violated state law.

The parties could have engaged in more conciliation with the commission, but the defendant chose to move the matter to Superior Court. FFRF has asked for a jury trial.

The defendant told a TV reporter at the time, “It’s my freedom of speech. I refuse orders when I want and I take orders when I want.”

FFRF filed a similar complaint with the commission about Flowers by Santilli’s refusal to fulfill the order. Flowers by Santilli chose pursue mediation through the commission. A hearing is set in March.

Attorney Katherine Godin of Warwick is FFRF’s local counsel in the lawsuit.”

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