Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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Shelley Segal, Now at Doyle’s Public House

Doyle'sLet us get the facts out of the way, right away:  Shelley Segal will be playing at Doyle’s Public House this weekend, Sunday April 14th.  We’ll be meeting up at 5:00 PM, there’s no cover now, and it’s a 21+ show.   Be there for good music and good times!

(TL;DR: Go to this show. We need to show Tacoma that the atheist community matters.)

And now, the hard part:

You’ll notice that this is a change from what we announced on yesterday’s show.  We had originally booked a coffee and ale shop called Anthem in the middle of downtown Tacoma.  It was a new venue (for us), the staff was incredibly friendly, and it looked like the perfect all ages venue for a show like this.   We discussed doing the event there, and they were on board.

That fell apart this morning, when I received an email from the booking folks.  It was a polite, professional email, but the intent was very clear.   I’ll quote the relevant part:

 This isn’t something that we feel comfortable promoting or hosting because it doesn’t align with what we believe and stand for.
Anthem Beverage & Bistro, Tacoma

Additionally, the CC field included an address at “Eternity Bible College,” something that wasn’t in the original thread.  So, we we’ve been booted from the venue, and they wanted us to know why.

We’d been working with Anthem  for a couple weeks by this point.  The fact that we’re an atheist radio show and that our musical act was also an atheist activist was not hidden from the management or the staff in our communications.   We told them about the radio show and the website.    We encouraged them to look into it.   Even our email addresses come from “” when we book events, and our signatures reflect that.

When booking events, we do this intentionally.  We believe that businesses have the right to say no and to choose what sort of groups and people they do business with.   If a business says no (and many have) we do not inquire why– we respect their wishes and move on.   But that’s not what happened here.   We contacted the venue, told them who we were and what we wanted to do.   They agreed, booked the event, and started talking about details.   Then, out of the blue, we were booted with only six days to go.

If I silently changed the venue from Anthem to Doyle’s, many of you would ask why and assume the worst.   After all, this is something we’ve experienced before.

I would be remiss in my duties as an activist if I did not inform the community.   That said, I would love to give Anthem a chance to change their minds, but the show is only six days away and I must have something booked and ready to go when Shelley arrives on Sunday.  Booking a venue in Tacoma can be difficult with even weeks advance.

So, what now?

Clearly, if the shop doesn’t want to truck with the atheism community, we should not do business with them.  Not for shows, not for anything.   That said, nothing has been taken from us– they haven’t taken any money from us, and fortunately we’ve got a friendly venue to fill in the gap.

Should we let Anthem know how we feel about it?   I don’t know, so I leave that to you.   I feel like we’ve been treated unfairly (if professionally) by the venue, but I’m too close to it.    This is nothing like Washington United for Marriage, but it certainly feels like religious privilege on the move.

What I would like to do is pack the house.   If you’re in or near the Tacoma area this Sunday, go to this show.   We’ve filled venues before, and I’d like to do it again.   I’d like to see as many people as I can at the Doyle’s show, take some photos, and show Tacoma what Anthem missed, and how the atheism community can be an asset even if you don’t agree with them.


It’s a free show from now on.   But kick in anyway.

Because of the new venue, there are some changes.   First, there’s no cover, as Doyle’s as a no cover charge policy that I’m not going to challenge.   That said, we’ll be passing the hat around for Shelley: she’s travelling the country on tour right now, and expenses are expenses. We’re lucky to have her in town, and I want to show our appreciation.   So please, kick $5 in the pot when you come by, and maybe buy some of her music while you’re at it.

Secondly, the show is no longer all-ages.   We’re looking to find another all-ages venue for a different show, but we’re days away and beggars can’t be choosers.


Thank You, Doyle’s Public House!

Doyle’s Public House has been a constant friend to Ask an Atheist, Tacoma Atheists, and the atheism community in general since we got underway here a few years ago.   When I stopped in today, I told them of my plight, and their response was: “What, they don’t like the 1st Amendment?”

I have no idea of the religious or philosophical beliefs of anyone at Doyle’s.   When we talk, we talk about other things; sports, trivia nights on Wednesday, politics, and other random stuff.   And you know what?  It’s great.   They’ve been around seven years, and it’s one of the best bars I’ve been to anywhere.  As a thank you, I’ll be running our Doyle’s ad for Season 12.   Not just for this weekend, but for everything else, too.

So, when you’re in Tacoma, stop at Doyle’s for a drink, and tell them why.

About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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Mike Gillis

If you feel so moved, here is their Yelp page:

Steve Jones

Wow. They’re yelp ratings just took a nose dive. Maybe that will wake them up a bit.

Steve Jones

oops… I meant “their”


most of the negative reviews got filtered

Tracie Harris

Well Doggies. How do you think this would fly if it were a Jewish act? Not too well, would be my guess…?

Becky Friedman

Funny enough, Shelley does come from a religious Jewish family…

Tracie Harris

That IS funny. Maybe *that’s* what their beef is? LOL


I don’t quite see how this can be considered “professional”–committing to a show, then backing out less than a week in advance? That is seriously shitty behavior.


That said, nothing has been taken from us.

Not true. You were denied your equal protection rights under the Constitution. I’d say that’s quite valuable thing to have taken away. This case is very similar to one involving Richard Dawkins, in which the venue was forced to pay a settlement:

[…] Of course, throughout their email correspondence, the Ask An Atheist folks made it clear that they were the ones who would be hosting this event. They never hid who they were and what kind of event they wanted to host. But Monday’s email made it clear that things had changed: […]


Hey guys and gals love the show. I think what happens sucked, however, I disagree with your comment ” We believe that businesses have the right to say no and to choose what sort of groups and people they do business with.” First, they do not have the right to discriminate. I am not American, but don’t you guys have civil rights? How is their treatment of you any different from the treatment of Jessica Alquist by local florists? Second, there is an important propaganda and legal point to be made by filing a civil rights complaint. You should do… Read more »

[…] also keep tabs on what happened in Tacoma recently, that would be good, too: an atheist singer was denied a gig at a bar, because […]


Actually, businesses don’t necessarily have the right to say “no”. Most states have public accommodation laws that prohibit this sort of discrimination. Some action should be taken on this. Contact Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and/or ACLU and they may be able to help draft a letter or something to Anthem. In the meantime, keep up the pressure on Yelp and other social media!

[…] at a coffee shop in Tacoma called Anthem.  However, the people who run Anthem love the Lord and decided to uninvite her after she traveled from […]

[…] Tacoma Coffee Shop Kicks out Atheist Talk Show at the Last Minute Because God […]


FYI, Yelp has removed all of the reviews referencing this incident. I got the following email from Yelp. It’s interesting that they did not even inquire as to whether I had been to Anthem. . . Hi there, We’re writing to let you know that we’ve removed your review of Anthem Coffee & Tea. Though we understand this business has recently received media attention and that users may have strong opinions, we hope you’ll understand that Yelp reviews are not the place for matters outside of your own consumer experience. Our Content Guidelines ( make clear that reviews should focus… Read more »

[…] talented atheist singer Shelley Segal recently faced atheist discrimination when she was booted from the venue where she was supposed to perform. There are plenty of more cases of atheist […]


I adore Shelley Segal. She is, without a doubt, the most sincere individual I have ever met.
Thank you, Doyle’s!

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