For the past four years, Mary’s Gourmet Diner has been giving customers who prayed over their meal a 15% discount. However, after a photo of a receipt with the discount went viral, the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded the restaurant discontinue its “discriminatory” practice, despite the fact the discount was not just given to Christians, but to anyone who gave thanks for their meal. On August 6, the restaurant posted a handwritten notice that both stated it was discontinuing the discount and apologized to anyone offended by the practice.
08/08/2014 United States (Christian News Network) – A restaurant in North Carolina has discontinued issuing random discounts for patrons who pray over their meals after a prominent atheist organization threatened to file a lawsuit over the matter.
Mary’s Gourmet Diner has been randomly issuing customers a 15 percent discount for “praying in public,” that is, praying over one’s meal, for the past four years.
“It’s a gift to us to watch them appreciate our food,” owner Mary Haglund told local television station WGHP, noting that the prayers do not have to be Christian. “We don’t tell the people they’re getting a discount. We’ve never promoted it. We just present the ticket.”
When a photograph of a receipt that included the “praying in public” discount recently was posted online, Mary’s Gourmet Diner was flooded with both positive and negative feedback.
“You are such a blessing and please continue to stand up for whats right,” one supporter named Jenny posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “God is going to give you favor and bless you through this storm. You are a role model for so many of us who love the Lord.”
“As an atheist if I don’t get a 15% discount, my waitress doesn’t get a 15% tip!” a critic named Ernest wrote. “I thought according to your mythology Jesus was against public prayer, calling those who did hypocrites.”
After learning of the matter, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Haglund, demanding that she discontinue the practice.
“Your restaurant’s restrictive promotional practice favors religious customers, and denies customers who do not pray and nonbelievers the right to ‘full and equal’ enjoyment of Mary’s Gourmet Diner,” FFRF attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote. “We urge you to discontinue this discriminatory discount.”