The ‘religious freedom’ escape clause

DeWitt R. Thomas objected to a black bagger in a grocery store in the town of Big Sandy, Texas touching his groceries because it was “against his creed” for a “negroidal” person to touch his food.

This happened again two days later but this time the store owner Keith Langston was waiting for him. He called the police, filed a criminal trespass warning, and banned Thomas from coming to the store again. Thomas then filed a lawsuit that he was being discriminated against because of his religious beliefs.

And what religion might that be, that has rules about the allowable color of the skin of the people who bag your groceries? I’m glad you asked. Thomas said his religious beliefs are based on Vedism, “which encompasses Hinduism” which I am sure that will be of interest to scholars of Hinduism. Thomas added that, “Vedism translates into knowledge. I am not this way because I am ignorant. Ignorance is the enemy.”

And as for the basis of his lawsuit?

Thomas said he has not broken any laws and was exercising his religious freedom and the rights he has been given.

“White people are to be protected under the civil rights law just as anyone else,” Thomas said. “It would be the same as if you asked that a congoid (a person from west/central Africa) not touch your food.”

Thomas’ based his claim that his civil rights were violated on that criminal trespass order. He also said Langston is wrong for trying to tell him who can touch his groceries and refusing to serve him.

There are clearly people out there who have got the impression that ‘religious freedom’ allows them to be exempt from any and all laws, let alone common decency.

Religion is turning out to be the last refuge of bigotry.


  1. Kevin K says

    Yeah. I think “case dismissed” will be the first thing that happens, then sanctions against the lawyer dumb enough to file such a thing.

  2. Alverant says

    “Religion is turning out to be the last refuge of bigotry.”
    Hardly. I’m not sure if it’s the first, but it’s definitely in the top 5 given at how so much bigotry is “justified” by religion. Take gay marriage for example, religion has really been the only “excuse” to justify being against it.

  3. stonyground says

    Maybe everyone who comes into contact with him should state that it is against their conscience to interact with someone who has such a tiny brain.

  4. says

    Never having heard of Vedism is this in fact part of their creed or is this something the idiot just picked up at some white power meeting (he looks the part). I think he should have to explain his “creed” completely in the trial with plenty of memorized passages (wanna bet he can’t) Slavery and rape are part of xtian creed but I’ll bet that doesn’t work too well as a defense.

  5. newfie says

    How can NitWitt R. Thomas be sure that his food hasn’t been touched by people he’s bigotted against even before it gets on the store shelves? He can’t, and if he was the least bit honest, he’d be growing his own food and avoiding the grocery store all together so that he was completely sure who had touched his food. No, NitWitt wants to make his racism public to let the town to know that he’s the boss when it comes to people of colour. Period. Good on the store for banning his racist arse.

  6. vel says

    vedism? This strikes me as a rather sad attempt to hid Nazi Aryan nonsense under the guise of religion.

  7. left0ver1under says

    Religion is turning out to be the last refuge of bigotry.

    Turning out to be? It always was a basis for nonsense like “separating of the waters” in the the Loving v Virginia trial.

    It’s not hard to go from claiming to be “god’s chosen” to claiming others are inferior. And then claiming the others aren’t even human.

  8. Francisco Bacopa says

    I can assure you that it’s almost impossible to not have your food handled by a “congoid” in that part of Texas. I think Mr. Thomas is going to have to simply leave town.

    Things are pretty weird in Northeast Texas. Big Sandy has a Gothard Ministries training center and is just a few miles away from Gilmer, the site of the last major Satanic Panic outbreak.

    People are friendly up there and the food is excellent. The countryside is beautiful too. The movie The Apostle was filmed a little southeast of Big Sandy I think. Still, I don’t usually stray too far from the main roads in that area. You never know what you might get into. Lots of really bad cops up there. TxDPS and county sheriffs will be professional, but the towns sometimes use their police forces as a major source of revenue.

  9. says

    I was raised Hindu and have never heard of “Vedism”. It’s probably a white power movement appropriating the Hindu holy texts in the same way that the KKK uses Christian elements, and Nation of Islam used Islamic elements. The Vedas have long attracted Europeans with bigoted racial ideas because they are some of the earliest surviving examples of literature in an Indo-European language, thus making them ripe for claims of “superior Aryan culture” and similar nonsense.

    There is a food taboo in Hinduism similar to the kosher/halal laws forbidding people from eating “unclean” food. Among strict, traditional Hindus, this means that higher castes cannot eat food prepared by lower castes, because the food is “polluted” by their touch. A disgusting idea and one that most Hindus don’t care about. My family eat out at restaurants all the time and we don’t care who made our food as long as they washed their hands.

    “Negroidal” is bad enough. “Congoidal”? I’ve never heard of such a word. Putting the racist stupidity aside for a second, how does this arsehole even know that the black worker was not “congoidal”? Can he determine the ancestry of African Americans by looking at them?

    He needs to be reincarnated as a slug and stepped on.

  10. subbie says

    The article says the complaint was hand-written. That smacks of pro se to me.

    That’s not to say, of course, that there isn’t a lawyer sleazy enough to take this, but apparently Thomas either couldn’t find one or didn’t try.

  11. davidevans says

    The Vedic religion originated in ancient India. From a quick look at wikipedia it appears that it had a caste system based on level of education, but with no implication that one caste was morally superior to another. It was emphatically not based on skin color, and no-one was “untouchable”. I think Mr. Thomas is making it up, or very ill-informed.

  12. Winterwind says

    Vedic religion is a real thing. I haven’t heard of “Vedism.” To use an analogy, most Westerners have heard of Biblical religion, but if someone said he followed “Bibleism, which is part of Christianity” most Christians would be confused as to which sect he belonged to.

    I can’t discuss the caste system in a single comment, but it’s more complicated than what you might read on Wikipedia. For one thing, to say that no caste was morally superior to each other may be true in theory, but is false in practice. In certain parts of India where Brahmins dominated the social structure, they were certainly considered purer, more noble and closer to God, rather like the priestly tribe of Levites in ancient Israel.

    As for whether caste depended on skin colour, that’s certainly not true, and you can find Indians of all colours in every caste. However, there are certainly stereotypes about higher caste people being paler and lower caste people being darker complexioned. This is a moot point, however, because the racist in question didn’t say that dark skinned people were forbidden from touching his food. He said that “negroid/congoloid” people were forbidden from touching his food.

    While there were a few travellers from Africa in parts of ancient India, there were nowhere near enough Africans for systematic discrimination against them to be a part of Indian religion or society. There is nothing about Africans in the Vedas. If this fool hates people of (relatively) recent African ancestry, he’s on his own.

  13. says

    slavery and rape are NOT part of the christian creed…they are in the Old testament as part of the history of God’s people, which gives an account of the good, bad and ugly parts of what happened. Just because there is an account of rape or murder in the bible does not make it part of what christians are supposed to follow.

    ..slavery is in the new testement because it was part of the culture of the Roman times…many sold themselves into slavery because they needed ways to support themselves…those slaves and slave owners who became christians in this time were told a better way to treat eachother now that they had new life in Jesus. Jesus came to save the people from their sins, not to change the political and social scene of the times.

    this guy who claims Vedism as his reason for being racist is just an idiot…i think the thing to do would be continue to allow him to come into the store and let only the blacks wait on him…then he himself would find another place to shop.

  14. says

    I wish some of the locals were more observant regarding their religious practice of walking behind stupid bigots and laughing and making farting noises. And perhaps a little ah hoc marinara making with the occasional rotten tomato.

  15. B-Lar says


    I thought the exact same thing!

    There is probably good money to be made by creating special shops and places for bigots to go where the can be properly ostracised. They favour segregation, right? It wouldnt even require legislation!

  16. Pierre says

    “Religion is turning out to be the last refuge of bigotry.”

    And second to last would be the GOP.

  17. ah58 says

    I would be very curious to have this person list out all the “types” of people that are allowed/not allowed to touch his food.

  18. says

    Loosely speaking, though, you could say there is such a thing as “Bibleism”, which is pretty close (but not identical) to the meaning of “People Of The Book” as used by Muslims. We’d know it better as “Abrahamic religions” though.

    But yeah, this is almost certainly some kind of white power thing — I looked it up and I couldn’t find much, but there seems to be just such a movement in Russia. I wouldn’t know if this is related, but I can guarantee you that a) this guy thinks that being a Vedic believer means he has some kind of claim on the term “Aryan” and b) he probably knows less Sanskrit than the average Christian does Greek.

  19. Art says

    Religious freedom allows DeWitt R. Thomas to seek a grocer that will comply with his religious doctrine. But religious freedom can’t compel the grocery store owner or the bagger to comply. His only option is to shop elsewhere.

    Of course there is the question of the grocery store owner and bagger’s religious or philosophical preferences. It may violate their conscience to give into such bigotry. Or, perhaps, they are of a more, go-along-to-get-along mindset and will make extra efforts to placate the customer’s eccentricities.

    I’m not big on smoothing a bigot’s path but a simple set of gloves might quickly get DeWitt R. Thomas out the door. Yes, if it was to make it to court, DeWitt R. Thomas will lose but court cases are seldom free. Even if subsidized, perhaps by the ACLU, they consume time and effort.

    Of course, if people could keep it clear in their head that being free to be a bigot doesn’t include people going along with your bigotry there wouldn’t be any need to settle it in court.

  20. Doug Little says

    Well they love the old testament when it comes to discrimination against gays, pick and choose… pick and choose.

  21. IB says

    Doesn’t Vedic/Vedas basicly mean wisedom, or knowledge?
    So basicly he’s invented a fake religion called ‘knowledgeism’ to justify being as thick as a brick.

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    If this fool hates people of (relatively) recent African ancestry, he’s on his own.

    Vedically, so it seems.

    In the early 21st-century US, he has lots of company.

  23. Joseph Brenner says

    I think he meant, “a practicing racist”, which he, as well as the rest of us, should know is illegal in this country.
    To make matters worse, he asked the store manager to participate in something that was obviously against HIS creed.
    Kudos to the store owner and his employee for standing against this kind of abuse.

  24. Joseph Brenner says

    Mr. Thomas, the President just called. He would like to discuss this with you over a beer, on the White House lawn. However, that would be against his religion.

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