FAYETTE COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WTAE) — Emily Smaniotto said she was disqualified and discriminated against during an event at Bethel Baptist Church in North Union Township, Fayette County because she is a woman.
“They pretty much scolded us for being female,” Smaniotto said.
Smaniotto was attending a Wild Game Dinner with her father at the Fayette County church on Saturday.
She said one of the raffles offered was for a bow fishing trip.
Smaniotto said the organizer announced it was for men only but she thought it was a joke and when she saw another female enter, she did, too.
“She was the first name to be called,” Smaniotto said of the other woman. “As soon as they called her name the pastor immediately shut her down. He said, ‘Absolutely not. This is a male-only trip. Females are unable to attend so we’re just gonna keep drawing names until we get a male.’ So, surprisingly enough my name was the second one to be drawn and I got the same letdown.”
In a statement, Bethel Baptist Church Rev. Bryan Kelley wrote:
“The church gives away door prizes every year which are available to all in attendance so long as they are of legal age and no criminal record in the case of a firearm.
“Aside from what the church offered, the speaker on his own offered separate gifts apart from the church for men only and made it clear that was the stipulation. Living in the days of sexual scandals and accusations many pastors including myself, take the personal position that we will not put ourselves in a position that could bring about a false accusation and thus bring a multitude of problems, hence why he personally offered them for men only. It was a matter of personal standards and protection and there was no intent of discrimination. So when the cards for those particular prizes were collected, it was once again announced that the stipulation on behalf of the donor was for men only. Unfortunately, at least two ladies, for whatever reason, put their cards in that container although the stipulations were given twice and their names were drawn and declined because of the stipulations that were announced.
“I learned yesterday that the young lady was offended and tried reaching out to her dad today, who has always done the communicating for the event, unfortunately, there was no answer. I would like to sit and talk with them both to express a sincere apology and to assure her it was a lack of communication on our part to explain all the information more clearly and a lesson learned to think things through more clearly so we do not make the same mistake again.
“I spoke with the gentleman that offered the prize and he is more than willing to arrange a time for her and her dad to go out together and fish together.
“The church highly respects all women and would by no means do anything intentional to make one feel they were discriminated against and once again express our deepest apologies to the young lady and will exercise greater caution moving forward.
Emily Smaniotto replied:
“I absolutely will not partake in any fishing trips with anyone from that church. I was denied once and don’t want a pity prize. I want equal rights.
“As a response to his statement: They’re implying that women will always accuse them of sexual scandals. If they were afraid of this, maybe they should have made it a rule that more than 1 woman has to attend the trip, to even the numbers so to speak, to prevent this, but they didn’t. They strictly kept it to only men and that was their “personal choice.” It was not even an option to discuss the trip details if a female would have won. I would do anything possible to attend a trip like this.”
“It was very very wrong,” Smaniotto said. “I’m sorry I had to sit through that.”
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