Bruce Chapman/Winston-Salem Journal

On Thursday (Aug. 6), a handwritten board near the front door of Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, N.C., announced that the restaurant would no longer offer a prayer discount. Photo by Bruce Chapman/Winston-Salem Journal *Note to editors: This photo may not be republished without permission from the Winston-Salem Journal.

(RNS) A Winston-Salem, N.C., diner will no longer dish out discounts along with dinner to praying customers.

Mary’s Gourmet Diner had been offering a 15 percent discount for customers seen offering grace before meals during the past four years.

The practice went under the radar until a Christian music radio station in Orlando, Fla., uploaded a photo of a receipt with the discount to Facebook on  July 30. Then it went viral.

The restaurant said the discount was given to customers at the discretion of the wait staff and was open to people of all religious beliefs. But that left out discounts for the nonreligious.

Elizabeth Cavell, staff attorney at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, began hearing complaints about the discount from state and national members. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the largest national association of freethinkers, or people of no religious beliefs.

She then wrote a letter to the diner’s owner, Mary Haglund, on Aug. 4, asking her to stop offering the discount.

“As a place of ‘public accommodation,’ it is illegal for Mary’s Gourmet Diner to discriminate, or show favoritism, on the basis of religion,” the letter said. “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.”

On Thursday (Aug. 6),  a handwritten board near the front door announced that the restaurant would no longer offer the prayer discount.

“While you may exercise your right of religious freedom at this restaurant by praying over your meal to any entity or non-entity. We must protect your freedom from religion in a public place,” the sign said.

The restaurant declined to comment.

Cavell was happy with the response and said the foundation first looks to resolve legal complaints through education. It has no plans to take legal action.

This is not the first such restaurant promotion.

In 2012, Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen, a Pennsylvania-based restaurant, was offering discounts to individuals who brought in a church bulletin on Sundays. After complaints, the restaurant was forced to give the discount to anyone with a bulletin from any congregation, including atheist ones.

YS/MG END ADAMS

31 Comments

  1. What a bunch if whiney baby heathens.

    Like I’ve said a million times before. The american heathens absolutley need a massive gov. You are it biggest advocate. As such, you are also the worthless group poised most directly against individual freedom.

    See you need a supra-social power to protect your lesser, base way of life. No honest person would willingly choose it. In a honest organic society, people realize there is a god and they subsequently choose their associations based on that preference. That means thd heathens get excluded.

    So the heathens and othewise base people of america get excluded, as in the case here, and the whiney “we all deserve a trophy” twits have to run off to a supra social power to protect them and make them feel good about themselves. Lets face it, you got nothing intrinsically to feel good about.

    Figures. Figures that you have to force people to accept you and the lifestyle lies you live, and that you have to strip others of their freedom to make association preferences.

    Its time to split the country into those who need statist power to survive with their broke ideaology, and those who are not afraid of real freedom and don’t want to be protected from the social consequences of their owm choices.

    • FairnessforEVERYONE

      Of course, if people were charged an additional 15% for praying in public (as an inconvenience to the wait staff and restaurant owners and a delay in service resulting in them not turning tables as quickly and making as much money), you would be the person up in arms, screaming discrimination and defending your whining. How about you step back and try to see things from others’ POV?

      • I’ve been reading Yahoo News all day. Its all I can access at work. This is the dumbest idea I have read today.

        Start charging “inconvenience” fees for all the things you don’t like and…inconveniently….you’ll be outta business.

        If the “other POV” includes the terrible emotional damage a heathen suffers upon briefly viewing a family praying before a meal, let them suffer. Or grow up. One of the two.

        • Shouldn’t you be working while at work, instead of reading Yahoo news all day? Unless your job title is “proof reader” your employer may go out of business if your work ethic is the norm in your place of employment.

  2. That’s okay, Ms. Mary. You did your best to stand up for God while you could. You’ll get your rewards in the afterlife.

    By the way, the FFRF will ALSO get its rewards in the afterlife. They better bring lots o’ ice water !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. The Great God Pan

    Give me a break. They are using this is as an excuse not to offer a discount that clearly would have gotten out of control. They were already trying to get away from this story when it first broke, telling Glenn Beck’s site The Blaze that the discount was not a policy and that they only offered it “sporadically” when they “felt moved” to do so.

    So how can they blame lawsuits from Those Mean Atheists for abandoning a non-policy that was rarely in effect, anyway?

    As for it being illegal: Businesses that operate as public accommodations are not allowed to discriminate based on age, yet they can still offer discounts to senior citizens. Discounts aren’t discriminatory. This was not a legal issue. This was an, “Oh, crap. Everyone’s going to pray and try to get a discount” issue.

      • To be scared if islamic thought is an american propoganda issue. Thats the genesis of islamophobia, for lack of a better word.

        The middle east didn’t hate the US until we got stewardship of israel….and interfered in all their governements to make life safe for the zionist dream to come true. Holding all judgement aside from that, as its in the past, islamic people are no different from anyone else. Thru want what we want. They don’t “hate us for our freedom”…our relative level of freedom is laughable.

        • Given your recent indifference to the massacre of Iraqi ethnic minorities at the hands of Islamic Fundamentalists one can easily conclude that you are their shill. First waving the flag for Hamas, now for ISIS. Maybe the Christianity thing for you is just a sham.

          • Yes.

            Much like Christianity, Islam subsumed and appropriated an existing empire for its structure and spread by military conquest. (The Persian Empire is to Islam what the Roman Empire is to Christianity).

            It is also intertwined with the history of colonialism, a bevy of mongol invasions, and a compelling argument why giant unified empires were really a bad thing in the ancient/medieval world when it came to progress.

  4. The real angle here is an anti-religion group threatening to sue a well-meaning restaurant into the ground. It’s a well-funded bully that should get bullied itself.

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