August 10, 2014 4:18 pm -

Mary’s Gourmet Diner in North Carolina, which offered a discount to patrons who prayed before meals, has withdrawn the offer because of a threatened lawsuit.

Obviously, not all of the feedback was positive, so diner owner Mary Haglund posted on Facebook in response, clearing things up about this supposed policy.

It’s a gift we give at random to customers who take a moment before their meal. This could be prayer or just a moment to breathe & push the busyness of the world away. Who you talk to or meditate on etc. is your business. I have lived in a 3rd world country, there are people starving. We live in a country with an abundance of beautiful food. I NEVER take that for granted. It warms my heart to see people with an attitude of gratitude. Prayer, meditation or just breathing while being grateful opens the heart chakra. It’s good for everyone!!!!

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to the diner, saying what they are doing is a violation of the Civil Rights Act, and threatened to sue them. The owner says her heart is broken.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

64 responses to Restaurant Ends ‘Praying In Public’ Diner Discount

  1. mea_mark August 10th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I think there should be freedom from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. You should not be forced to give up your religious beliefs because someone doesn’t like it. Praying or observing a moment of gratitude before a meal is not forcing religious beliefs on anyone and should be left alone. If someone wants to be an atheist, that’s great, just don’t force it on it anyone. Don’t force beliefs or lack of beliefs on anyone.

    • MiAtheistGal August 10th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      This wasn’t because someone was offended. Civil rights laws state you can’t charge one class of people (Christians) a lower price than another class of people (atheists, wiccans, etc).

      If she wants to give a blanket discount to all comers on, say, Sundays, she’s free to do so. She’s also free to discount a particular dish to everyone who orders that dish.

      But she can’t discriminate against a particular class. Could you imagine a ‘white’ discount?

      • mea_mark August 10th, 2014 at 4:51 pm

        From the article, it sounds like gratitude for the food was more important than anything else. No religion was defined as necessary to receive the discount. It didn’t exclude atheist either so there is no discrimination.

        • MiAtheistGal August 10th, 2014 at 5:14 pm

          I’ll let the receipt speak for itself. It said ‘praying in public discount’ not meditation, or whatever. I think that’s where she got into trouble, to be frank. I’m sure she’s a very nice lady, but she can’t offer a praying in public discount to one class of people. This civil rights law protects the religious every bit as much as it protects atheists.

          • mea_mark August 10th, 2014 at 5:27 pm

            She should change it to “observing thanks”.

          • MiAtheistGal August 10th, 2014 at 5:58 pm

            I prefer ‘random act of kindness’, myself, something we could all probably do more of. 🙂

          • granpa.usthai August 10th, 2014 at 7:17 pm

            She should keep it as is if it’s increasing her business. No grounds for any legal litigation that I can see.
            If there is, those who use coupons are as discriminating as this.
            but they’re not specifying a group (except you must be literate), but then again, under the law, neither is the #2 discount of ‘praying in public’ – unless you’re planning on conjecture being admissible as evidence?

          • CB August 10th, 2014 at 8:08 pm

            If she wanted to give a discount to people who thanked the person responsible for the meal, that would be fine, but that person is the cook, not anyone’s imaginary friend.

          • granpa.usthai August 10th, 2014 at 7:09 pm

            too bad no religion or belief was stated, huh? -or even the defining of their #2 discount of ‘praying in public’. Just because they may profess a religious faith (in this case, encouraging public rebellion against the teachings of the principal character) does not equate to discrimination. If 7/11 were to give a 5% off on a Big Slurp for saying “a drink fit for Zeus” – and someone doesn’t say it, are they being discriminated against by paying full price?

          • MIAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 6:42 am

            As atheists don’t pray, there’s zero chance an atheist would qualify for her discount. It would be similar to her offering a discount to anyone wearing a yarmulke. No religion but those wearing yarmulkes would qualify. That is discrimination based on religious belief.

      • granpa.usthai August 10th, 2014 at 6:55 pm

        Looks to me like anyone who was opting to put on a little show were the ones getting the discount. About like cutting out a coupon and handing it in. Want the discount, cut out and bring in the coupon – hold hands, bow heads and blurt out some mumbled noise, draw a five pointed star on the table and set a burning candle on the belly of a naked fake virgin, everyone stand up and do the hokey pokey around the table once, lots of ways to get a bit extra with a meal.

      • R.J. Carter August 11th, 2014 at 9:24 am

        So… military discounts to soldiers in uniform is a no-no in your book?

        • MIAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 10:09 am

          Soldiers are not a protected class. Or maybe I should say non soldiers. Really, is there a link someone can post to the civil rights act

      • R.J. Carter August 11th, 2014 at 10:29 am

        Color is what you are, passively.
        Prayer is what you do, actively. Choice is involved.

    • Dwendt44 August 10th, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      No one is forced to give up their religious beliefs. The F.F.R. F. doesn’t care a bit what you believe. They just want you to keep your religious beliefs to yourself, much as Jesus said. And the laws of this country wish you to do as well. It’s not the praying before a meal, it’s the discrimination that comes when only those that pray are qualified to get said discount.

      • mea_mark August 10th, 2014 at 5:35 pm

        I just don’t see the discrimination. Everyone is eligible if they give what seems to be thanks for the food they are about to consume. Giving thanks and expressing gratitude is not a religion. The only thing she might of done wrong is commit a semantic error. This sure looks like overreach to me.

        • Anomaly 100 August 10th, 2014 at 5:42 pm

          I’m with you on this one.

          • granpa.usthai August 10th, 2014 at 6:33 pm

            me too. While it use to be an irritation to try to be polite to religious showboaters in a public venue, I’ve come to expect such, just as surely as someone will be talking a bit louder than most, or carrying on a phone conversation. Don’t see how my civil rights are being offended though, as I’ve always got the option to up and leave, unless one of them 3 year olds has me under their eye spell to where I can’t do anything but watch them sit in my lap and eat what they want of my meal!
            I kinda figure with the others, their main objective is to be noticed (seeing as to how they are opting to be the focused point of attention). Best response is to IGNORE them, much like you do a little one when they opt to throw a tantrum. Then again, if you really do get bent out of shape, you can always look for another place to eat, or make up your own blessings to Goddess Adephagia – or your own Chevy Chase style God or Goddess. Nothing like putting on a good show before over consumption.

          • CB August 10th, 2014 at 8:25 pm

            The discrimination, of course, is against true Christians, who understand Jesus instructed them never to pray in public.

      • granpa.usthai August 10th, 2014 at 6:43 pm

        Not seeing the discrimination anymore than a discount coupon, Dwendtt.
        You can go through the act of cutting out the coupon and delivering it to wherever -or-show the management your own ‘cut out’. If it really gets to you, ask the management (out loud if you wish) to find you a better location – or simply get up and walk out. Sometimes you can have a lot of fun out showboating a showboater, ‘specially if you’re not that hungry to begin with and just feel like stirring the pot.

        • MiAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 6:57 am

          In this case, everyone would have equal access to the coupon. Not everyone prays. Anyone in a tradition that doesn’t pray, or won’t pray in public, is not eligible for this discount.

          • mea_mark August 11th, 2014 at 8:13 am

            Observing a moment of thanks requires no deities or religion. Gratitude requires no religion. Everyone should have the ability to give thanks and gratitude. If you can’t give thanks or express gratitude and enjoy a good meal after unwinding then maybe you don’t deserve a discount. It is not religion, it is rewarding good behavior which should be encouraged not discouraged. As I said earlier the only thing she is really guilty of, is a semantic error.

          • MIAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 10:08 am

            The problem is she defined giving thanks as praying and that’s not always true.

  2. labman57 August 10th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Would the restaurant management vigorously defend a Muslim’s right to prayer in a public venue?
    Would they support the contention that people of ALL faiths be eligible for a discount on meals that are preceded with a verbal prayer?

    Or are they among those self-righteous folks who vigorous defend public prayer … but only so long as it is to God as defined by Christians?

    • MiAtheistGal August 10th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      I suspect the Praying in a Public discount was for exactly that and not meditation or whatever she wants to say now. And, yes, Christian prayer, at that.

      • mea_mark August 10th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

        I doubt that, Christians don’t talk about opening up their heart chakra. It sounds a lot more like a spiritually aware person wanting to share with other people who like to express gratitude for what comes their way.

      • Larry Schmitt August 10th, 2014 at 6:14 pm

        But since they didn’t have to pray aloud, no one would know what the prayer consists of. “Who you talk to or meditate on etc. is your business.”
        Nowhere in the original story did I see mention of Christian prayer.

        • MiAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 6:56 am

          Except atheists never pray, therefore would never be eligible for this discount.

          • mea_mark August 11th, 2014 at 8:14 am

            Do atheist never give thanks or express gratitude, or observe moments of silence?

          • MIAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 10:07 am

            Yes, to the people who deserve our thanks, usually aloud.

            I’d be interested to know if anyone has received the discount for anything other than praying. Shouldn’t be hard for someone to step forward with a receipt showing ‘thanking the chef’ discount.

          • Larry Schmitt August 11th, 2014 at 8:23 am

            They never said it had to be a prayer. “It’s a gift we give at random to customers who take a moment before their meal. This could be prayer or just a moment to breathe & push the busyness of the world away.” You’re reading things into it that aren’t there.

          • R.J. Carter August 11th, 2014 at 9:22 am

            Thus, people who are opposed to clipping and carrying coupons should get the exact same discount as the people who do carry and use them.

          • MIAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 10:05 am

            Coupon clippers aren’t a protected class under the civil rights act.

    • bhil August 10th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Consider Matthew 6:6, But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

  3. bhil August 10th, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Her heart is broken, OK I do hope she has adequate medical to cover such a mishap.

  4. KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker August 10th, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Being a devote pastafarian, I always pause before adding the parmesan cheese.

  5. John David Peer August 10th, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    What are we supposed to be “thankful” for? That some imaginary magical being chose to allow us to stuff our faces, while half a billion children go to bed hungry tonight? And tomorrow 30,000 more will be dead of starvation or malnutrition?

    I tell you what, even if there WAS a God(s) I wouldn’t feel the desire to thank OR worship it…I don’t care who your “god” is, or are, if they exist they are spiteful, cruel and unforgivably petty, and I don’t want to hear you mumbling your thanks that you weren’t born into the ghettoes of Dehli – because the accident of our birth is all that separates “us” from ‘them”…and so that’s the only prayer I would even begin to find acceptable.

    Give “thanks to God”, indeed.
    Thank a farmer, or a trucker. Or whoever did the cooking.

    • Yeah way August 10th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      I agree with THIS guy!

      One of my friends

      • mea_mark August 10th, 2014 at 6:41 pm

        So you agree with yourself, how quaint.

    • burqa August 10th, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Other than the government, who is feeding the hungry where you live, Mr. Peer?
      Google some of the churches in your area and see what you can find. I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’ll find mission statements that list numerous efforts to tend to those in need that those churches support.
      I bet they’ll even be pleased for you to pitch in, Mr. Peer!

      Sorry you get so upset about people near you in a restaurant praying, but you’ll just have to find a way to carry on in spite of the burden being placed upon you. We have freedom of speech and religion in this country. No really, and it’s been going on for quite some time.
      So, even though you don’t like it, you don’t have the authority to order them around.
      I hope you find the strength to carry on, somehow.

      • DogsRgoodpeople August 10th, 2014 at 9:55 pm

        Your points are well taken. I’d bet those good church people could do all the praying they want at the church they have chosen to worship and in their homes as well as many other places. There is no need to intentionally discriminate against those that do not share their beliefs.
        I want the discount too !

        • mea_mark August 11th, 2014 at 8:18 am

          Then give thanks, express gratitude, maybe observe a moment of silence before chowing down. It really isn’t that hard, you don’t have to worship a deity to do those things.

          • DogsRgoodpeople August 11th, 2014 at 9:03 am

            I didn’t say it was hard to do. I said non believers should not be discriminated against .

            Do you enjoy praying in public ?

          • mea_mark August 11th, 2014 at 10:45 am

            That depends on how you define praying. Praying means different things to different people. That is the real problem this woman is having. People are trying to say this woman is saying something she isn’t saying. They are using their definition of prayer and not hers.

            I give thanks and express gratitude to the universe constantly in public. If you think that is prayer, than yes, I enjoy praying in public. I think expressing positive thoughts in public is a very good thing and in a small way makes the world a better place. It is something I try to do to counter all the hate I see the world.

      • Dwendt44 August 11th, 2014 at 12:30 am

        But that’s people doing the feeding, not an all powerful deity.
        So that feeding could just as easily be done without the preaching and praying. And what about the thousands of others that are being feed by these good people?
        Many ‘church pantries’ are ‘members only’.

      • MiAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 6:54 am

        We have quite a few secular food banks and charities where I live. Those are the ones I donate to.

      • eaglesfanintn August 11th, 2014 at 12:52 pm

        Drive around where I live and see the gigantic churches with acres and acres of tax free land – marble everywhere, state of the art electronics, etc. Millions and millions of dollars spent to build magnificent buildings, sports fields, and so on. How much of that money could have been spent doing good things for others instead of glorifying themselves? I’m pretty sure whatever supreme being you pray do doesn’t care the size of the building you worship from, but the good works you do.

  6. burqa August 10th, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Alan, please keep an eye on this diner, especially if they change the menu or offer specials that offend Christian-hating bigots.

    • Liban Freckleton August 10th, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      I know right athiests always blame Christians for being so intolerant but they are just as bad

      • MiAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 6:53 am

        I know, the nerve of some atheists not to want to be discriminated against. For shame!

        • R.J. Carter August 11th, 2014 at 9:20 am

          Why can’t the diner give a discount to whomever they please for whatever reason they choose?

          • MIAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 10:03 am

            The civil rights act states that you can’t discriminate based on religion. This protects the religious every bit as much as atheists. In this case, atheists were being discriminated against, per the civil rights act.

          • mea_mark August 11th, 2014 at 10:50 am

            They can. What they can’t do is charge more to a class of people. If they gave discounts to every person that prayed a certain way or to a certain deity it would be discrimination. That is not what is happening here. People are reading way too much into this because of emotional triggers.

    • Jaz August 11th, 2014 at 12:06 am

      Jeez Burqa, what happened to:
      Jewish-hating bigots…?
      Muslim-hating bigots…?
      Buddha-hating bigots…?

      BTW, why would you ask Alan to keep an eye on your personal pet peeve? Seriously dude! The world doesn’t revolve around your little brain farts.

  7. Liban Freckleton August 10th, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I support her move prayer is something we don’t see to often in anymore its a crying shame

    • MiAtheistGal August 11th, 2014 at 6:53 am

      People are still allowed to pray. No prayer has been banned.

      • R.J. Carter August 11th, 2014 at 10:32 am

        She’s just not allowed to recognize prayer in the fashion she wants to recognize it.

        • mea_mark August 11th, 2014 at 10:53 am

          That is censorship and goes against the first amendment. You can’t just throw away one amendment for another one when it is convenient. A balance must be achieved taking the whole into account.

          • R.J. Carter August 11th, 2014 at 11:10 am

            Just to be sure I understand: Are you saying that the restaurant owner has a First Amendment right to give a discount to someone as a recognition of witnessing them praying?

          • mea_mark August 11th, 2014 at 11:27 am

            As a random act I think it can be interpreted that way. It is basically a reverse tip and tips are not unconstitutional. A tip is a way of saying thank you for good service, is that not freely speaking. If it was applied categorically to certain segments of customers and used to discriminate it would not. Intent is important here and can be subjective. I think a lot is being made about this when there really isn’t anything here. The intent was to randomly reward some customers who showed thanks, gratitude and really enjoyed their meal and were able to unwind and connect with their positive side. At least that is what I perceive as her intent.

  8. R.J. Carter August 11th, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Where is the Freedom From Country Music Organization when I need them to stop discrimination against me? All those people who get a 10% discount when they say “Kickin’ Country 106 is my favorite radio station!” to the server really torque me off!

  9. mdram August 11th, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I would have just prayed to the one true God…The Flying Spaghetti Monster!

  10. Ol Blue August 11th, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I would just pray for a discount and shout “Thank you Jesus!” when I got it. Win/Win

  11. peacedreamer August 24th, 2014 at 1:50 am

    In the scheme of things happening in our world it seems so petty to view this as a problem.
    Maybe a discount to people who act kindly would be an alternative solution. If she sees someone open the door for an elderly person, pickup a wallet that has fallen out of someone’s pocket & return it, etc., then offer a discount? Kindness is universal with or without religion. “You will know them by their works.”
    Kindness inspires more kindness. Pass it forward.