The North Carolina restaurant that recently came under fire for giving patrons a discount if they prayed at their table has decided to end it following the firestorm of scrutiny.
After the story of the prayer discount at Mary’s Gourmet Diner started to spread on the Internet, a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation decided to take action against what they say was a discriminatory promotion.
“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 attorney Elizabeth Cavell in a letter to restaurant owner Mary Haglund. “Any promotions must be available to all customers regardless of religious preference or practice on a non-discriminatory basis.”
Haglund defended the prayer discount and acknowledged that she never once promoted it.
“This is not a religious thing, this is a thankful thing,” Haglund told Fox 8 News. “It’s just an attitude of gratitude. We don’t tell the people they’re getting a discount. We’ve never promoted it. We just present the ticket.”
After the controversy surrounding the discount began to escalate, Haglund feared she may be faced with a lawsuit, so she decided to put an end to the promotion and posted a note on the front window of the building offering an explanation to patrons.
“We at Mary’s value the support of ALL our fellow Americans,” reads the note. “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.”