June 2018 Church & State Magazine - June 2018

Pro-Trump Hat Not Part Of Religion, New York Court Says

  Rokia Hassanein

A man arguing that a bar violated his religious freedom rights when it refused him service for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat lost his case in April when a New York judge ruled that the bar had the legal right to turn him away.

Greg Piatek sued The Happiest Hour bar after a bartender in January 2017 allegedly told him, “Anyone who sup­ports Trump – or believes what you believe – is not wel­come here.”

Piatek originally sued the bar for “offending his sense of being American.” New York law protects people from discrimination on the basis of race, religion and several other categories, but does not offer protection on the basis of political beliefs. This led Piatek to shift gears and argue that his decision to wear the hat was an expression of his religious beliefs.

“Rather than remove his hat, instead he held true to his spiritual belief and was forced from the bar,” Piatek’s lawyer Paul Liggieri said, reported The New York Post. (The bar denies that it refused service to Piatek and said he was asked to leave because he became abusive to staff.)

A court was not swayed by the argument. Judge David Cohen of the New York Supreme Court’s civil branch dismissed the case, calling it “petty.” Cohen added that Piatek had failed to “state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates.”

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The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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