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New York State Asked to Ban Biased Resort Advertisement

December 23, 1952
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, today announced that it has submitted a brief to the New York State Commission Against Discrimination urging the banning by the State of such phrases as “churches nearby” in resort advertisements.

The League’s brief asserted that such advertisements violated the New York State law against discrimination and pointed out that they first began to appear in 1943 after the New York County District Attorney held that the use of such phrases as “selected clientele and “restricted clientele” were illegal.

As verification of “what many Americans know from personal experience,” the League presented S. C. A. D. with the results of an intensive study it had made of resort hotel advertising in two leading New York newspapers. In this test, identical letters requesting reservations — one signed with an obviously Jewish name and one with a non-Jewish name — were sent to 185 different resorts which operated in 16 different states and in Canada, and whose ade included the phrase “churches nearby” or a variant thereof.

An analysis of the replies, the League reported, showed that “when the name of a prospective guest revealed that he might be Jewish,” his chance of obtaining accommodations at the resort of his choice was 27% if he selected it from the ads in one newspaper and 48.1% from advertisements in the other. “If from his name he appeared to be non-Jewish,” however, “he had an 88% to a 90.7% of success.”

The results of the study, the League contended, were “conclusive proof that these polite phrases, apparently offering special facilities, such as ‘Catholic and Protestant Churches nearby ” were “simply devices for discrimination in guest selection on the basis of religion.”

The League also drew S. C.A.D. ‘s attention to a statement made by the non-sectarian Travel Agents Committee to Combat Discrimination, which charged that resort owners who use “churches nearby” ads do so “in order to avoid the more obvious references which are prohibited by law.” As far as the general public was concerned, the Travel Agents Committee reported, “the majority of persons so interpret these phrases as indicating the established practice of limiting the acceptance of guests to those of the Christian faith and thereby exclude members of other religions.”

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