Diner drops illegal prayer discount

Mary’s Gourmet Diner agreed with FFRF that all of its customers should be treated equally instead of some being rewarded for praying in the restaurant in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote an Aug. 4 letter of complaint after FFRF learned that the diner had long been offering a 15% discount for “praying in public.”

Co-owner Mary Haglund emailed Cavell Aug. 6: “I am notifying you & the FFRF that as of today we are no longer offering the 15% discount for Praying in Public.”

A news story in the Greensboro News & Record included a photo of a sign in the restaurant 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.”

Cavell’s letter noted that according to the federal Civil Rights Act, as a place of public accommodation, “Mary’s Gourmet Diner may not lawfully offer a discount only to customers who pray,”

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor added, “We have found that most restaurant owners, who, after all, are in business to please all customers, are gracious and drop illegal discounts that selectively reward customer piety.”

FFRF is currently involved in a discount-related lawsuit in Rhode Island and took successful action before a human rights agency in Milwaukee in another case.

Freedom From Religion Foundation