Monday, March 30, 2015

Heading into Holy Week, but first, on religious freedom...

I’ll be signing off for Holy Week soon, but before I do, I want to share an email exchange I had with someone at Angie’s List.

I had read about Angie’s List deciding to halt expansion in Indiana due to Indiana’s new RFRA law (which is pretty much the same as the federal RFRA law and the law in twenty or so other states).  So, having used Angie’s List in the past (we were given a gift subscription), I decided to send an email to the company.

I got a reply.

I am posting both my original email and the reply, leaving out only the name of the employee who emailed me because I’m sure the employee had no particular say in what was sent.  There are a lot of things I could say about this underwhelming reply, but I thought, it being Holy Week, that perhaps those of my readers who didn’t give up commenting on blogs for Lent might like to weigh in instead.

So here’s the exchange--first, my email:
I just read in the news that your company is harassing the state of Indiana over their adoption of an RFRA law similar to the federal law that is already on the books. Laws like these do not create new rights; they merely spell out the constitutional protections of religious freedom for believers of all faiths.
As a Roman Catholic, I am deeply concerned that in the near future I will be forced either to deny my Church’s 2,000 year old teachings on the nature and purpose of marriage or else face discrimination in housing, employment, business transactions and the like. It is seriously disappointing to learn that Angie’s List is siding with people who want the law to call me a “bigot” and marginalize and exclude me from the public square due to my deeply held religious beliefs. 
Erin Manning

and second, the reply from Angie’s List:

Hi Erin,
 Thanks for contacting us at Angie's List.

To further clarify, Angie’s List does not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our workplace, and we also expect service providers to treat our members with respect. Our members have the right to post reviews of businesses who they feel have discriminated against them. A pattern of poor consumer service of this nature could result in an “unfriendly consumer practice” note being placed on the company’s profile and being excluded from search results.

However, we are always looking for ways to improve our service, so feedback like yours helps us to get a perspective on things we can do better and I apologize for any frustration this may have caused.

You can reach us toll-free at 1-866-783-2980. Our live representatives are happy to help with any other questions or concerns. Call center hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am-9:00 pm Eastern Time or Saturday 8:00 am-5:00 pm ET.
 Thanks again for contacting us, Erin, and have a wonderful week.

The one thing I will say is this: did some kind of “email robot” write that reply?  Because I’m darned if I can make sense of it.

Perhaps those who are speculating that the real reason Angie’s List won’t be expanding any time soon is because their business just isn’t doing so well are correct...


Unknown said...

Why not both reasons? They get to show their creds and also delay a major expense.

And not so much an email robot, but a corporate release that took various parts of pre-existing policy and mashed them up into a word salad.

Also, have you read Ms. Scalia's post on the subject over at Patheos? Worth a read.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Its boiler plate for sure. Probably handled by an employee who wasn't authorized to think about the matter at all.

Reminds me of when I wrote to my senator about why I didn't consider Ms. Kagan to be qualified for confirmation to the Supreme Court, and got back a letter about why the senator was firmly committed to confirming her.