Ponca City Group Sparks Controversy

Tuesday, July 7th 2009, 7:42 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

PONCA CITY -- A Ponca City business owner has caught some criticism for a group he formed.

The Daily Grind has been in business in Ponca City for 10 years, but lately it has become better known for the people who meet inside rather than the coffee and sandwiches.

David Broome is the organizer of the Free Thinkers Group and the owner of The Daily Grind where the group meets.

"A free thinker is a person who bases their world view or life philosophy on reason, evidence and logic not on authority or dogma," Broome said.

But not everyone in the town agrees with the groups beliefs.

A local teen, Kate Lee, wrote a letter to the local newspaper saying the group was a threat to the community. Some in the religious community urged residents to boycott the business, but many patrons are not heeding their words.

"I think it's bad anytime you try to boycott a business," said The Daily Grind patron Carl Renfro.

Renfro said boycotting the business is not a good idea especially at a time when Ponca City is struggling to keep Main Street alive.

But Broome said he's worries the construction out front may have more of an impact on the restaurant then the letter.

"We had a few calls from people saying they might not be comfortable coming back to The Grind. We had people say for sure they wouldn't be back, but since then the community has been very supportive," Broome said.

Lee said her intentions of the letter were to make residents aware that the agnostic, atheist group was meeting at the restaurant and eating food paid for by restaurant patrons. She said she was not asking for a boycott.

"I would like to say it's not a religious debate. I've never wanted to wage war on the free thinkers. In fact I said many times in my letter to the editor that this is America. Everyone has a right to meet and discuss whatever they choose, but the community has been supportive of me many of the churches, family and friends," Lee said.

In response, Broome agreed not to feed the Free Thinkers Group members anymore. Instead, he said they'll go potluck.