A Winston-Salem, North Carolina restaurant is facing intense criticism for giving customers who prayed over their meals a 15 percent discount, and now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking action against them.
Mary’s Gourmet Diner owner Mary Haglund says that the reports started to spread after Christian recording artist Dan Bremnes ate at the restaurant and, after praying over his meal with a record label promoter, was given a 15 percent discount. Bremmes decided to post the receipt to his Facebook page, and it quickly went viral.
“I put it on my Facebook artist page and almost overnight it got 1,000 likes,” Bremnes told Fox 8 News. “Then a radio station in Orlando put it up and it got 10,000 likes. Then CNN called – Fox, Today…”
Haglund said she was unaware that the receipt was ever posted online until she got a message from someone asking if the discount was real.
“That was the first time I knew it was on the Internet,” Haglund said. “Then a few days later all the craziness started. All of a sudden it was just everywhere. I’ve done a million phone interviews on radio stations.”
Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has begun to take action against the restaurant for what they say is a civil rights violation. Attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote a letter to Haglund saying that it is “it is illegal for Mary’s Gourmet Diner to discriminate, or show favoritism, on the basis of religion.”
“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,” wrote Cavell. “Any promotions must be available to all customers regardless of religious preference or practice on a non-discriminatory basis.”
Haglund continues to defend the discount and says that she has never offered it to solely Christians.
“I want to be clear that my local people have done nothing but support me,” Haglund said. “They know me and have been in my restaurant. For people on the Internet who don’t know me, I have made very clear exactly what this is. People are just jumping to this conclusion that it is a Christian thing. It is not tied to Christianity. It could be something spiritual between you and your idea of what God is, or it could be you in a moment being grateful to the universe.”