A blind woman says that she and her service dog were told to sit in the back of a church in College Park, Georgia (video below).
"They just left me no choice," Cynthia Coleman told WXIA. "It was either you move to that back pew or you leave their church."
However, sitting in the back pew was not a good option for the 58-year-old Coleman, who cannot see out of her right eye and does not have peripheral vision in her left eye.
"We don't choose to be blind and we don't choose to be disabled," Coleman stated. "I almost felt like the leper in the church."
Coleman recalled calling the church before the religious service and asking about bringing her service dog, Hook, who has been her companion for three years.
According to Coleman, the church told her that she could bring her dog, and she was welcomed in the church when she first walked in.
Coleman and Hook found a seat near the front, but she says it wasn't long before problems began.
"Sitting down for about five or 10 minutes and then about four or five deacons approached me in a way that made me feel very uncomfortable," Coleman said. "Somewhat aggressive."
According to Coleman, the church officials told her that she had to move to the back pews with her dog.
"I explained to them that if I sat in the back pew then it was just really not an option because I wouldn't be able to see anything. I could only hear," Coleman told the news station.
The church did not comment on this story, but reportedly told Coleman that members were concerned that her dog might get agitated or would not know how to act.
Coleman told WXIA that she was discriminated against: "It was discrimination. It was discrimination. I had never in my life been discriminated against. Never. And to be discriminated against for the first time, as a disabled person in a church is disgusting."
WXIA said it chose not to name the church because religious institutions are exempt from laws that protect people with service dogs.
WLTX posted the story on its Facebook page, where comments were mixed:
People with service dogs must realize that not everyone is comfortable around these big intimidating dogs, some people have allergies, others fear them. I don't think they should take it personally if the facility makes accommodations for them in a location that considers others comfort as well. Go get your praise on sista!
I just feel they handled the situation poorly. If she called before hand and they didn't go over any guide lines. It falls on them. So yes it turned into discrimination. But you know the root to prejudice and discrimination is ignorance.
"ATTENTION SEEKER!"...... EVERYbody don't like dogs....and with everyone focusing on the dog....(cause you know they WILL) it wouldn't be appropriate for that kind of distraction for church. And another thing....WOULD THE DOG BE HAPPY AMONGST all that.....Yes We are all sorry that she is Blind but I think they made a good decision. She can still hear it.
It's quite obvious religion is losing the essence of what it stands for. Keep seeing stories about how people are being mistreated in different churches and in different religions, people cannot even worship their own God anymore without problems from one thing or another.