Florist Sued for Refusing to Deliver to Teen Atheist

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There's a new chapter in the legal battle that forced a Rhode Island high school to take down a prayer banner more than a year ago.

A Cranston, R.I., florist is now being sued for refusing to deliver flowers to the atheist teen who started the controversy.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation supported Jessica Ahlquist's case, which made it to a federal court in 2012. The court sided with Ahlquist and forced administrators to take down a prayer banner that was on display at Cranston High School West.

The FFRF is now waging a battle of its own against Twins Florist and its owner, Marina Plowman. Plowman refused to take an order from the group to deliver congratulatory roses to Ahlquist after her court victory.

"It's my freedom of speech. I refuse orders when I want and I take orders when I want," Plowman told a local television station.

Attorney Katherine Godin represents the FFRF in its civil lawsuit against the flower shop, which is not the only local business to refuse to take the order more than a year ago.

"It's my client's intention it was done in a discriminatory way," Godin said. "So they are standing up for their rights."

She said this case could have been avoided if Plowman had given another excuse.

Christopher Orton, Plowman's attorney, called the case "frivolous."

"It's a very unusual case. It's not very often you see an out-of-state entity come in and insert their authority against a small business owner," Orton said.

The small Rhode Island business owner has found extra support from people in the community, like Mary Mumford. Mumford drove 15 miles to give Plowman her business.

"To go against a small business owner who didn't want to get involved in a controversial sale just really crossed the line," Mumford said.

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