Politics & Policy

Did Groupon Discriminate against a Faith-Based Company?

Online deals site won't explain why it refused business from a Christian preschool.

Online deals website Groupon appears to discriminate against Christian companies, according to a recent report.

Arizona’s KTVK-3TV reports that Groupon refused to allow Munchkin’s Preschool to advertise on the site.

Its reason? The pre-school is faith-based.

When Munchkin’s Preschool opened in August, enrollment was lacking. The school was built for 120 students but only 30 enrolled. So the owners decided to advertise a deal on Groupon — $200 worth of tuition for $20. Many business owners create interest and awareness in their business through Groupon, which provides a market for companies to offer reduced prices to consumers willing to buy an online certificate or “groupon.”

“We were expecting, from what we saw of other preschools running Groupons, it could be 50 percent or 60 percent of our business,” Tracy Tingue, a partner in the school, told KTVK.

But imagine the preschool’s owners’ surprise when they received an e-mail from Groupon denying their request and stating: “We are not able to work with your faith-based business as of right now.”

Despite requests, Groupon has refused to explain its position.

Activists and local authorities around the country have recently been targeting service providers who refuse to work with clients or on events (such as same-sex weddings) that they feel compromise their beliefs.  The media has been mostly supportive of these efforts, and of the overarching idea that businesses making distinctions on the basis of color, gender, or sexual orientation are in the wrong. What happens, though, when that discrimination is against a Christian, based on his or her religion? Will the media and society feign the same outrage for the faithful?

Surely, Groupon is a private company. Surely, Groupon is free to act as bigots and refuse to allow a faith-based preschool to advertise on its site.

Surely, the American public has a right to refuse Groupon.

Update: Groupon representative “Bill” sent the following statement to National Review Online after publication time: “We have no policy prohibiting faith-based businesses on Groupon. We’ve run many. That said, we don’t work with every group that contacts us, just like we don’t run every restaurant that contacts us. Regardless, we don’t share conversations with individual merchants.”

— A. J. Delgado is a conservative writer and lawyer. She writes about politics and culture.

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