Earlier this week, we learned that Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina gave customers a 15% discount if they were seen praying before a meal:
Even though the discount was supposedly open to people of all faiths, it was clearly geared toward Christians and offered no alternatives for atheists.
Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Liz Cavell wrote a letter to the diner’s owner Mary Haglund a few days ago warning her of the legal repercussions of her actions:
It does not matter that the promotion is available to customers regardless of which god they pray to. 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. Any promotions must be available to all customers regardless of religious preference or practice on a non-discriminatory basis.
We urge you to discontinue this discriminatory discount. If you truly wish to reward gratitude in customers regardless of religion, you must do so in a way that does not single out customers who pray for favorable treatment.
That letter did the trick. Haglund announced late last night that the diner would be putting an end to the prayer discount, courtesy of a hand-written note in the window:
We at Mary’s value the support of ALL our fellow Americans. 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. We are no longer issuing the 15% praying in public discount. It is illegal and we are being threatened by lawsuit. We apologize to our community for ANY offense this discount has incurred.
You can almost see the rage seeping through that note… in any case, it’s the right thing to do. If they can’t offer the discount to everyone, then they can’t offer it to anyone. I’m sure some Christians will complain at the supposed “injustice,” but the owners are still welcome to give that 15% discount to everyone if they choose. They just can’t single out religious customers.