Office Depot is being accused of refusing to print a flyer for an Illinois woman because of its Christian content.
"We suggest that you consider what your position would be if our client were black and your employees refused service because of her race," said a letter to Office Depot Chairman Roland C. Smith from Thomas Olp of the Thomas More Society, which is representing the woman.
"In that case it would not be hard to see how unreasonable that refusal of service would be. The public accommodation laws do not give any greater leeway for refusal of service when a customer's religious expression motivates the refusal. … Our laws welcome religion and religious expression, treat it fairly and equally, and do not permit its marginalization or silencing."
Multiple WND telephone calls and emails to Office Depot headquarters were not returned.
Thomas More said the dispute arose when Maria Goldstein placed an order last month for a print job at the Office Depot in Schaumburg, Illinois.
It included details of videos revealing Planned Parenthood's baby body-parts trade.
She was told, however, by an Office Depot employee that the printing of her flyer was "restricted by corporate policy" and that her order would not be filled.
When she contacted the office of the chairman multiple times to discuss the company's refusal to fill her order, staffer Diane Demma defended the refusal and offered no alternatives, the letter said.
"Office Depot is discriminating against me based on my religion," Goldstein said in a statement released by her lawyers. "If the store can pick and choose what orders it fills based on religious content, it is refusing to treat people of faith equally. In America where we value freedom of religion, this is simply unacceptable."
Olp told WND the company has not responded to him. An Office Depot representative told the local newspaper that the prayer advocated "persecution" of people who support Planned Parenthood.
He said if there is an employee with some sort of religious objection to the Christian statements, the company should accommodate that employee and find someone else to do the print job.
"That's the enlightened way of doing things," he said.
The flyer she had prepared noted that during fiscal year 2013-2014 "Planned Parenthood received more than $1,400,000 per day in the form of government grants, contracts and Medicaid reimbursements."
It also said Planned Parenthood committed 327,653 abortions in 2013 and there "are 9,170 federally qualified health centers who provide health services (but NOT abortions) to low-income populations, compared to about 700 Planned Parenthood clinics."
The refers to the series of undercover videos revealing Planned Parenthood executives and others negotiating over the prices for the body parts of aborted babies. There are companies that salvage the body parts and resell them for research.
One of the videos revealed a California Planned Parenthood executive negotiating over the prices, fretting about being "low-balled" and then stating, "I want a Lamborghini."
Besides the statistics about Planned Parenthood and a link to the website with the videos, the flyer featured a "Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood."
"Lord for whom all things are possible, We are confronted once again today with the evil of the abortion industry and the corruption found in the world's largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood," it started.
"We stand against the evil that has been exposed in Planned Parenthood and in the entire abortion industry," it includes. "We stand today for the triumph of truth over falsehood, of light over darkness, and of life over death."
"Anyone can order printing at Office Depot," said Olp, a special counsel attorney. "But because Ms. Goldstein's flyers had religious content – namely calling for prayer for Planned Parenthood – Office Depot refused to complete her order. This is a blatant violation of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance, which forbids public businesses from discriminating based on religion."
Demma told Goldstein that "if it makes employees feel uncomfortable they don't have to print something."
"We take exception to your position," the letter said. "Your store, in our view, is a public accommodation within … the meaning of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance."
With that status, the letter said, workers cannot discriminate based on "religion."
"Ms. Goldstein's flyer unmistakably expresses her Christian religious convictions. It contains a prayer by Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, a national Catholic pro-life organization, seeking divine assistance to end abortion and the pernicious practices of Planned Parenthood.
"We believe that by allowing and ratifying your employees' refusal to serve Ms. Goldstein because of their hostility to and disagreement with her flyer, you have unlawfully discriminated against Ms. Goldstein because of her religion and religious expression within the meaning of the Cook County Human rights ordinance and the Illinois Human Rights Act.
"We do hope this matter can be resolved short of legal action," Olp wrote.
The case is in sharp juxtaposition to numerous other cases in which Christian business operators have been ordered to fulfill orders or be penalized, even when they specifically violate the business owners' faith.
Among the cases is a pizza place that was targeted because the owner answered a hypothetical question about catering a "gay wedding."
Bakery owners in Oregon and Colorado now facing huge penalties for refusing to endorse "same-sex marriage."
And a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed last week by a federal judge, David Bunning, for refusing to violate her faith by issuing licenses to same-sex couples.