Prayer discount dropped by North Carolina restaurant

Students enrolled in cooking school online who intend to open a restaurant might take interest in a recent development out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Mary’s Gourmet Diner, a restaurant local to the area that features traditional American fare, has recently decided to drop a 15 percent discount. They’d been offering the savings to parties who publicly prayed in their establishment, citing threats of a lawsuit made by dissenting parties.

The discount first came to light in the mainstream news via a posting on social media. Z88.3, a Christian radio station based in Florida, posted a picture of a receipt from the North Carolina restaurant that had been posted on a listeners’ Facebook page. The image of the receipt showed a line in the itemized charges that read “-15% Praying in Public.” Z88 posted the image out of approval for the gesture, but widespread reaction to the discount was much more varied.

In several days the photo had received over 5,000 shares across multiple social media platforms, predominantly Facebook. While drawing praise from some encouraging prayer before meals, many reacted quite negatively, citing the discount as an unfair form of discrimination. The restaurant, in response, posted a message on its Facebook page on August 1, elucidating their rationale for the discount.

“There’s a lot of craziness going on in regard to the 15% discount…,” the message read. “…I will say that it is not a ‘policy’, it’s a gift we give at random to customers who take a moment before their meal. Who you talk to or meditate on etc. is your business.”

Still, after receiving written disapproval from groups such as the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Institute citing violations of the Civil Rights Act, as well as threats of a lawsuit, Mary’s Gourmet Diner removed the discount.

The case poses an interesting question for those who hope to enter the restaurant industry. Does owning an establishment give you the right to alter service or offer special treatment to certain demographics? Considering the case at Mary’s, it may be better not to find out.

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