A Lincoln, Neb., coffee shop employee berated and asked a customer to leave due to her biblical beliefs about homosexuality last week, labeling her “bigoted trash” as other customers watched.
Marilyn Synek, communications specialist at the Nebraska Family Alliance – a Christian and socially conservative organization – wrote in a Facebook post that she is a regular customer at Cultiva Coffee, often starting her day there at 7 a.m. for breakfast.
But last Wednesday (Sept. 11), an employee approached her and told her to leave.
“Marilyn Synek! I didn’t recognize you until now, but I just realized who you are, what you stand for, and the work you do,” the employee said, according to Synek’s Facebook post. “You are f****** bigoted trash, and we do not want you in our restaurant. Over 80% of the people who work here are queer. You are not f****** wanted in our restaurant, so get out and don’t come back! If you do try to come back, we will all refuse any service to you.”
The Nebraska Family Alliance’s goal, according to its website, is to “advocate for marriage, the family, life, and religious freedom.” It requests prayer that it will be a “beacon of light, declaring the hope and truth of Jesus Christ as we stand for justice and strengthen families in Nebraska.” Its affiliations include Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom.
But Synek says she doesn’t discuss politics in the coffee shop.
“I’ve never broadcasted my political opinions in the shop before, and I have always treated the employees of Cultiva with respect and courtesy,” she wrote.
It is essential, Synek wrote, for society to learn to be charitable even when there are disagreements.
“While we, as Americans, can disagree politically, it is very important to maintain civility when interacting with people who hold different world views,” she wrote. “Tolerance goes both ways, and the division in our current political climate will perpetuate if we neglect basic civility.”
The employee, who identifies as transgender, was later fired, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. One of the coffee shop’s owners also contacted Synek to apologize.
“They said they did not condone the incident and told me I was welcome back to their business!” Synek wrote. “I’ve always enjoyed their coffee and crepes, and I accept their apology.”
The coffee shop underscored its welcoming message in a Facebook post.
“Whatever your race, religion, gender identity, or general political beliefs, we just want you to enjoy our food and coffee, and have a good time, and tell other people you had a good time,” the coffee shop’s owners wrote on Facebook. “We're sorry there was a moment when that didn't happen today.”
The employee, Natalie Weiss, confirmed the confrontation happened.
“What I did was unprofessional and I certainly would not want to be treated the way I treated that woman today,” Weiss told the Journal Star. “The fact of the matter is, that person and her political allies advocate for that type of behavior to be legal and they do it every single year in the Legislature.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash, this is a stock photo.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.