PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) - A local atheist group says a theater is discriminating against them -- not for what's on the big screen -- but what's not being played before the movie starts.
Zachary Moore says he is deeply disappointed by the Angelika Movie Theater in Plano's Legacy Shops.
Moore says, "we should be treated fairly. This is America in the 21st Century."
He says the theater signed a six month contract with the atheist group, DFW Coalition of Reason, to advertise a billboard on the big screen before the movies begin.
It is part of their spring campaign called "Our Families Are Great Without Religion."
But one day before the ads were supposed to begin, Moore says the theater pulled the plug.
Moore says he was told, "there were Christians in the community that were upset that atheists were able to advertise in the movie theaters and the business decided to cancel our contract simply on the basis of our religious beliefs."
This week, an attorney with the American Humanist Association sent this letter to the manager here claiming the theater is violating Title II of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The letter says the law "...prohibits a business establishment such as a theater from discriminating on the basis of religious views (such as atheism)..." and that "...as a place of public accommodation, the theater cannot lawfully refuse to do business with the Coalition on this discriminatory basis."
Moore says, "it's my understanding they allow churches to advertise there, and if they allow churches to advertise there, they should allow our organization to advertise there."
Stewart Thomas is an attorney in Dallas. He says, "it's a very interesting case."
Thomas questions whether the movie theater is really violating the law.
He says, "it seems to me the public accommodation is to attend the theater and watch the movie everyone has the right to watch the movie. I'm not sure the theater has to sell to anyone that wants to buy advertising."
So what does the Angelika have to say? A manager referred us to corporate headquarters. But after two days of trying, we still have not received a response.
Zachary Moore still hopes to get their message across. "if the community at large was so accepting of atheists, we wouldn't need to advertise," he says.
His group's attorney is giving the theater until Tuesday to respond to his letter.
If not, the attorney says he may file a lawsuit against them.
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