Fighting discrimination is part of their doctrine. As is being a good person, having fun and, of course, praising bacon.
The United Church of Bacon, a five-year-old congregation of atheists and skeptics, wants nothing more than to be given the same privileges as traditional religious institutions, which is why founder John Whiteside and other Church of Bacon supporters have organized protests against Wells Fargo, accusing the bank of discrimination.
The incident happened about a year ago, when Whiteside went into the bank to have a church document, which ordained a church member as a wedding officiant, notarized.
Whiteside said he spent 20 minutes trying to convince the customer service manager that his church was legitimate.
"She chuckled and that's fine, but from that point on I was stonewalled," Whiteside said. "At this point, I really do believe this is discrimination."
By the time he left, Whiteside said he had withdrawn all of his money and closed the accounts.
Whiteside and supporters aren’t seeking a lawsuit, he said, rather than they want an apology and a change of stance on discrimination policies.
"They have to change their policy where people that walk into the bank aren't judged," Whiteside said.
Wells Fargo, however, issued a statement disagreeing with Whiteside’s claims. The statement read as follows:
“Wells Fargo believes discrimination of any kind and against any group or customer base is wrong and we categorically deny the claims brought forth by Mr. Whiteside. We have a long history of supporting and serving the needs of a widely diverse customer base in Nevada and throughout the country. We regret that this organization and Mr. Whiteside have decided to target Wells Fargo as a means to further their agenda.”
Wells Fargo was not available for an interview.
The United Church of Bacon has more than 4,000 members worldwide, with more than 500 of them in Las Vegas. The organization does not accept donations, and chooses to instead donate to certain charities.
It also pays taxes, unlike most religions which are tax exempt.
"Our goals at the Church of Bacon... are equalization of the rights of atheists and skeptics. We are not immoral people. We are not unAmerica and that's what needs to be brought out in this," Whiteside said.
John Whiteside, founder, United Church of Bacon
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