Mary’s Gourmet Diner and its 15 Percent Prayer Discount

Heather Greene —  August 6, 2014 — 77 Comments

Before eating, do you stop and pray? If you do and you happen to be in Mary’s Gourmet Diner, you may be gifted a 15 percent discount on your total bill.

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Originally called, Breakfast, Of Course, Mary’s Gourmet Diner, a family-run operation, has always had the reputation of a warm, atmosphere with fresh, made-to-order, farm-to-table food. Its popularity eventually caused the restaurant to outgrow its small space. It moved to its current location in the “art district” of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2012, The Huffington Post described Mary’s as having a “A Bohemian cool atmosphere serving vegan/organic/locally sourced cuisine.”

Over the past week, Mary’s has received unprecedented attention due to a single Facebook post that went viral. On July 29, Jordan Smith dined at the Winston-Salem restaurant and was surprised when her bill included a “15 percent public prayer discount.” After snapping a photo of the bill, she posted it to her Facebook page and sent it to friends at an Orlando-based, Christian Radio Station. Z88.3FM posted the photo on its own Facebook timeline:

 

Since that initial posting, the story has gone viral, inciting both passionate praise and criticism. Opponents argue that the restaurant is violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states in Title II:

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin. 

Supporters are partially area-residents who have enjoyed the diner for years and know the owner and her family well. Additionally, support comes from advocates for public prayer, who are heralding the discount as a “win” in the battle for public displays of religion. As written by one Facebook commentor, “Thank you for keeping up the “good fight” against the liberals and democrats who have tried to undermine this great country by removing God from our lives!”

Due to this recent whirlwind of media hype, Owner Mary Haguland’s original intention has gotten completely lost or simply buried underneath the country’s on-going, very contentious, religious-freedom debate. The problem is illustrated by a Christian Post article entitled “Ring Up the Prayer Discount.” It reads:

Mary’s Gourmet Diner has an official policy of giving diners a special savings if they “pray publicly” before chowing down. The restaurant has reportedly offered patrons the holy discount for four years.

As Haguland has repeatedly said, the “prayer discount” is not an official policy; it is a gift given by the wait staff.  As quoted in the Huffington Post, Haguland says, “It’s [something] we only do when we’re moved to do it.”

Secondly, the restaurant has been granting the discount for four years, as noted by The Christian Post, but it is not a “holy” discount as suggested. In other words, the intent was never to encourage a specifically religious act. In an interview with The Blaze, Haguland says, “For me, every plate of food is a gift. And I never take that for granted and when I see someone in a restaurant honoring their gratefulness at my table … it touches my heart.”

Haguland was unavailable for an interview, but her daughter, Lily Pickett, spoke with us. Pickett reiterated that the intention of the discount is not at all religious. She says, “It is spiritual” and that they “honor everyone’s way of praying.” When creating the discount, her mother had hoped to encourage people to “take a break from their busy days and give thanks.” When asked if Pagans and Heathens could be gifted the 15 percent, Pickett said without hesitation, “Yes.”

In a recent Facebook post, Haguland reacts to the negative publicity by directly emphasizing all of these points:

 

Regardless of positive intent or the question of constitutional legality, the debates rage on with many other questions being asked. For example, one Facebook user posted: “How [does] she know when someone is simply having a moment of silence without bowing their heads? How can she claim to know when someone is meditating unless one looks like they are praying?” Others question the morality of rewarding the prayer act. Still others wonder: “What if I pray after the meal? Do I still get the discount?”

Due to recent legal battles over public prayer, it is not at all surprising that the restaurant’s actions have become the center of this media frenzy. The problem stems partly from the use of the word prayer itself, which has very specific cultural connotations. In addition, the bill reads, “15 percent discount for praying in public.” This is one of the phrases commonly used in that political debate.

Pickett acknowledged the issues with the word prayer but added, “We use the term to mean mindful meditation.” Despite the intent in meaning, public assumptions have been made. Compounding the problem is the diner’s location in a generally conservative southern state or the so-called “Bible Belt.”

In response to continued public comment, Haguland posted a second message on Facebook:

This says it all: ‘Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough & more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. IT CAN TURN A MEAL INTO A FEAST, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.’ -M. Beattie

While Haguland herself is Christian, she continues to stress, over and over, that the owners and staff support the diversity of life, including religion. They encourage anyone visiting, including Pagans, Heathens, Atheists, Hindus and whomever, to thank their Gods, the Earth or just take a moment to be grateful for the gifts of abundance.  If you’re caught, you just might get the discount.

UPDATE (Aug. 7 2014): Mary’s announced that it has completely eliminated the 15 percent prayer discount. As reported by a local paper, Owner Mary Haguland made this decision after being contacted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She fears a lawsuit. Although FFRF says that it did not threaten to sue the restaurant, the FFRF President did inform reporters that they have won similar legal cases in the past.

 

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Heather Greene

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Heather is a freelance writer and Pagan spirit living in the Deep South. She is currently the National Public Information Officer for Covenant of the Goddess and has worked extensively with Lady Liberty League. Heather's work has been published in Circle Magazine and elsewhere. She has a masters degree in Film Theory, Criticism and History with a background in the performing and visual arts.
  • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

    I like their style.

  • Sam Webster

    Respect.

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Honestly hope it just blows over for them. I don’t really see a problem here. People get comped and discounted for random reasons all the time. Just because an owner has given employees permission to do so at their own discretion doesn’t mean it’s pushing the “Xtian agenda” (to turn a phrase on it’s head).

    • kenofken

      Let’s be realistic about this idea that it’s an employee-led initiative. That’s a legal fiction designed to shield the owners from a civil rights claim. “Policy? What policy”. Nobody give line employees the discretion to comp whoever the hell they want at their own discretion. I’ll believe it can be verified that any obviously non-Christian customers got the discount before all this hit the fan.

      • Keith Campbell

        Not necessarily. I’ve had a couple previous employers who gave retail employees the discretion to offer discounts or other bonuses in order to keep customers happy, and LOTS of restaurants have things like discounts for locals/regulars. (I know of one restaurant you can’t even get INTO unless you’re a local — they give you a keyfob and everything, tourists can’t get in unless a townie brings them. :-) So, in a restaurant of this type, I don’t find giving the servers the power to apply that sort of discount occasionally all that unusual.

        • Deborah Bender

          That keyfob restaurant, if it isn’t a membership club, is breaking Federal law. The Civil Rights act says that public accommodations must be open to the public.

  • Kali Quicksilver

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… people have had such a negative experience with Abrahamic religions in the past, that anything that can be even remotely linked to those religions (which is sad, considering how many spiritual/religious terms and phrases are common in those religions) becomes an enemy. Pray to your god or goddess (or ancestors, guardian spirits, whatever), worship them (as in, acknowledge they are awesomely bigger than you and ultimately beyond your understanding) and yes, be grateful and give thanks, even if it’s just for the fact you have the spare cash to eat at a farm-to-table, or live in an area that has one available. There’s so much to be thankful and grateful for in just our day to day lives, I really hope this can get spun to focus on that instead of it being a “prayer discount.”

  • Tauri1

    Here is an interesting article from Religious Tolerance about prayer and what Jesus said about praying in public: http://www.religioustolerance.org/prayer.htm

    • http://www.cernowain.com/ cernowain greenman

      So, I take it that Jesus might have said that the restaurant is rewarding hypocrisy, not true spirituality. Interesting! However, since Jesus was Jewish and Jewish tradition is to pray after the meal, Jesus probably wouldn’t get the discount.

      • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

        Technically, in Rabbinic Judaism one recites something both before and after eating, but the one after–Birkat HaMazon–is significantly longer, and is only recited following a meal where one has eaten bread/grain-based product (I think there’s a shorter text recited if the meal didn’t include bread). As I recall, the blessing prior to eating is derived from Rabbinic interpretation, whereas the blessing following the meal is an explicit commandment in the Torah (Deut. 8:10).

        • Wolfsbane

          Yeah. I’ve heard that prayer when eating with Jewish friends.

          “I can’t believe it! They actually serve dinner without bread! Oy! The Goyim, what can do?”

          • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

            What do observant Jews say over gluten-free bread?
            No, it’s not a joke, but I *could* see humour in such a situation.

          • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

            I believe that Birkat HaMazon is only recited following a meal which included bread made specifically from wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt, whereas I think that gluten-free bread is made from things like flour from almonds, rice, sorghum, corn, beans etc, so the shorter alternative blessing would be recited after the meal.

  • Erica

    I’m definitely ok with this! I think there can’t be anything wrong with encouraging people from any and all walks of life to take a moment to be grateful.

    For one thing, people who are often wage slaves, have most of their “pay” kept by their employers under the guise of “room and board”, under threat of deportation, at risk of harassment and rape, work in the fields to harvest the food we’re eating. If you’re eating meat (and I say this as someone who does), living creatures have given or lost their lives to nourish your body no matter where the meat came from, and factory-style slaughterhouse workers are subject to atrocious conditions and (oftentimes) emotional and mental trauma.

    Even when every bite of a meal has been ethically sourced (as it seems is the goal at this particular restaurant), much has been given up in the cycle of life to provide you with the gift of life and abundance. Gratitude for the great feast, and remembrance of everything from the soil and watershed right up to your cook and server, is so important. I’m ok with using this kind of discount as a gift to those who stop and remember, and maybe to encourage people to think about it when they hadn’t before.

  • Romany Rivers

    If they wish to continue the practice after the storm of negative feedback due to language, they should maybe consider renaming it the ‘Gratitude Gift’. Which would, in my opinion, describe exactly what they do for the reasons they do it in an inclusive fashion. People will get upset about all sorts of things; I do wish people were not getting upset about someone doing something nice for someone else when they feel moved to do so.

    • AnantaAndroscoggin

      ‘Gratitude Gift’ — isn’t that called “laniap” or something sounding like that?

      • Romany Rivers

        Hmm yes, that is a similar concept and would probably work in this instance, although it’s literal meaning is to add something physical not to subtract a discount. Lagniappe is when you are given a ‘little extra something’ at the time of a purchase, at the goodwill or gratitude of the seller. It would be a great word to use on the receipt though; it would certainly side step the extreme religious views on prayer.

        • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

          Most places (outside of Cajun & Creole establishments) who give lagniappe or its equivalent (seen much in the way of Baker’s Dozens lately?), do so to pleasant people, or as a matter of course–a small dessert or appetizer “on the house”. Makes you feel good about the place, and want to come back. Never shows up on any check–it just happens.

    • Wolfsbane

      So we can hear yet more whining and complaining about the war being waged on prayer and Christianity.

      I’d like to point out whomever is in charge of running this war on Christianity that there’s been an oversight. I haven’t been issued my rifle, ammunition and grenades yet. Can someone please rectify this?

  • Diotima Mantineia

    Restaurant margins are extremely narrow. My guess is they will discover soon enough that they simply can’t afford to continue this.

  • Tina Clark

    If they are honest about the discount being inclusive of all belief systems, and I get the feeling they are, then I think this is a wonderful thing. But I agree they should change the wording from “praying in public” to something else. If one is an atheist, for instance, and wants to “take a moment before their meal,” that is not praying.

    • Naya

      Why would an atheist take a moment before their meal? If rationality is what drives you, then you rationally wouldn’t waste time letting your food get cold when you could have taken your “moment” while waiting for the food to arrive.

      • Natalie Reed

        I am not sure that being an atheist precludes one from being grateful.

        • http://www.twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya

          No religion or lack thereof precludes one from being grateful, but some of us – myself included – choose to quietly and privately express our gratitude, as it manifests deep within our hearts.

      • xJane

        My husband’s secular humanist tradition is to grasp hands with all present around the table before a meal, look at each person, and thank them—for their presence, for their part in the meal, for anything, really. I would say that the rationale is fellowship and gratitude, neither of which are religious but both of which are human.

        • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

          I like this! Quite a lot, actually.

  • Naya

    What if your religion demands that you don’t flaunt your beliefs in front of others, but hold them to silence and sacredness?

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      Then you are unlucky.

      • http://www.twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya

        Yes, very unlucky because I find their wielding their small amount of economic influence over their patrons to shape their behavior into their ideal of proper religiosity to be tawdry and distasteful.

        • http://www.cernowain.com/ cernowain greenman

          It seems you and Jesus have something in common then (See Tauri1’s comment and link above).

          • http://www.twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya

            Yes, I wonder how many holy rollers managed to miss that Bible verse on “let’s all pray at the flagpole day” and whatever other tacky ways they flaunt their holiness.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Then use your economic power as a consumer to not give them your patronage.

          Freedom works both ways.

          • http://www.twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya

            Thankfully, it has come to their attention that they cannot discriminate against those who are not their particular brand of religion.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            They weren’t. It stated quite clearly that they had no problem with various denominations, or none.

          • Genexs

            I agree with you, it was discriminatory against those of no religion, and just seems one more twist on the ‘prosperity gospel’.

          • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

            There are alas a growing number of Food Service Establishments (mostly chains) which I cannot patronize, some because of what they support, and some because of how they treat their staff.

            Then there are companies whose products I will never buy, unless something major happens to reverse their current policies.

            I write an increasing number of emails on Why My Money Will Not Be Spent at X.

    • Andrew Nelson

      Whether it does or not, you’re not entitled to a discount. That’s all the arguments against the restaurant are- entitlement. People are given discretionary discounts on a situational basis all the time at restaurants, for any number of reasons. The only reason to throw a fit about this is a belief that you’re entitled to any discount they might offer, any time you enter their establishment. This is not the case. If you don’t like their policy, “vote with your wallet,” so to speak. It’s deeply saddening that, even for trivial matters like this, people would rather abuse the legal system than simply walk out the door and not give an establishment their business.

  • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

    I read an article about this from the Daily Kos. Having read that she didn’t care “Who you talk to or meditate on etc. is your business”–that was enough to calm my worries. It became obvious that the expression of gratitude or mindfulness toward your meal, and perhaps those who had the making of it, from seed, tree, conception, preparation, and all the points in between–that was important to her.

    I’m told some people don’t notice much about what they eat–I am not one of them. I appreciate being able to afford food grown in healthy manners and places, and to eat what has been thoughtfully prepared in such a place as Mary’s. I *love* food, I relish the tastes, textures, scents, colors, seasonings, preparation, presentation, and the servers, cooks, and other staff that make that meal possible.

    Save in ritual, I don’t tend to specifically offer thanks for my food, but maybe it’s time I start doing that. I see, and hear about, enough people around the Bay Area who don’t have enough to eat.

    When I see a particular homeless man in Campbell, I will go off to Trader Joe’s to get him some food (I know what he likes!), which *he* shares with others. He’s sharp as a tack, but enough things went wrong in his life, some of them his own doing (he admits that), that he’s out on the streets. Turns out that while I can give him bread (healthy food), I can give him roses (in the form of books), too (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_Roses). Unlike some of the proselytizing (do you know how few of them know what the word means?) or pseudo-medical organizations which I see fundraising, I know everything he’s given goes where it’s intended. In general, only non-religious veterans’ organizations get money out of me.

    Haguland’s second FB post, about gratitude, is purely wonderful. I like her attitude very much. A short public gesture of gratitude is generally not self-aggrandizing. Street preachers, different matter, IME. Praying in community, in one’s home or place of worship, fine, but prayers before civic events really bug me. The fact that we all pay, through our taxes, for a Congressional chaplain, angers me. I don’t believe either of those honor the separation of Church and State, and they are only inclusive for Abrahamic religions, and not necessarily all of them–ask any Muslim. From middle school on out, graduations always have a “convocation”, which for non-Christians does not fit.

    I would have no problem if before civic meetings people heard, Now let us take a few moments to ponder mindfully what is before us today, and to consider the long-reaching effects of what we do today and always, that we might strive for the best possible outcome.

  • Erik

    To quote a somewhat overused internet meme, this is why we can’t have nice things… More power to them! Next time I’m in W-S I’ll definitely eat there.

  • http://www.twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya

    http://www.news-record.com/news/article_6369bc22-1e28-11e4-9ea6-001a4bcf6878.html Under threat of legal action, they’ve dropped the tacky attempt to penalize those who don’t participate in their ideal of religious behavior. Good.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      Well, that is a great shame.

      • http://www.twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya

        Because ending discrimination is a shame? That’s very interesting.

        • http://www.cernowain.com/ cernowain greenman

          I imagine they can discount people they approve of in other ways without referring to the “prayer” discount. For example, “desert is on the house… just because”.

          And I think this whole thing works better for them NOT being able to do this, as some Xians will start going there out of sympathy for Mary’s being “persecuted”!

          • http://www.twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya

            I’m sure they do, but I’m just glad it’s not official policy anymore. It’s very distasteful to use your influence to mold others’ religious behavior. I never pray before meals and I’m certainly not going to start because some restaurant is going to charge me more than those who do.

          • Genexs

            I wonder if our Moot would get a discount! I’m not buying (heh) their statements that this is not about any religion in particular.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          It isn’t discrimination. It is discretion.

          There was no nefarious plan (as far as I can tell). Just a desire to see people slow a little and pause to appreciate what they have.

          The fact that some people felt the need to involve the law in this just shows how pathetically petty and small minded they are.

          • kenofken

            I can’t recall if you live in the States or not. If you don’t, you need to realize that we’re living in a highly polarized atmosphere and a culture war between religious fundamentalism and secularism. Culturally, we have (at least) two different countries within the USA who hate each other, at least in the aggregate. The borders of those two nations are roughly divided North and South (and West), but also along lines of rural vs urban, generational etc.

            Are there some hypersensitive atheists etc. in the mix looking too hard for every fight? Yes, but it is the Christian dominionists who long ago decided to weaponize public prayer and expressions of belief. Since the early 60s, when the Supreme Court began taking the First Amendment seriously and ending state-sponsored compulsory prayer, they have been picking these battles in every venue. I don’t know if Haguland meant to do that. It’s entirely possible she is a well-meaning innocent bystander who caught flack in this culture war. It’s too bad if that’s the case, but until we come to some new consensus on the broader culture war, things like this will happen. In this atmosphere, telling people a discount is just a discount is rather akin to telling 1979 Catholic residents of Obins Road in Portadown that the Orange March was just a parade.

          • Anna H.

            What, so this well-meaning woman is “collateral damage” in the culture wars? That’s BS. She wasn’t practicing discrimination in any legal sense or even any real sense. Businesses give discounts all the time for age – does that make them ageist? For being military veterans – does that make them … whatever-ist? Bars give discounts to women wearing wet t-shirts, or for wearing “team colors” or whatever. Is that discrimination?

            I always thought non-discrimination in a private business meant they could not refuse service based on race/religion/etc. and that the spirit of this meant that they had to act professionally and treat everyone pretty decently. This business was treating people decently. Everyting they were doing was above-board and voluntary, just like self-identifying as military veterans, or wearing a wet t-shirt.

            As a small business owner myself, the implications of this case are a little scary.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I live in the UK, but am well aware of your north/south divide (I am of the opinion that the divide should be formalised) and your curiously religious form of secular government.

            Comparing this discount to the Orange Men marches is pretty distasteful. Unless there are people dying that I am unaware of.

            I support freedoms, including the freedom for private businesses to operate as they like.

          • Genexs

            Leoht, the problem is, at least in the ‘states, private businesses must sometimes comply with Federal and State policies. In most states, a restaurant above a certain size *must* provide access for wheelchairs. In addition, they can’t openly discriminate. The thing is, we’ve seen this sort of thing trotted out a number of times here, and at the end of the day it tends to ultimately boil down to “non-Christians need not apply”.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            The same problem exists in the UK – private businesses have to comply with UK “Equality” laws.

            Until such a time as the Hagulands show themselves to be bigots, I will give them the same benefit of the doubt I give everyone else.

            If it turns out that they were bigots and it was a “Christians-only” perk, then I would still support their right to behave in such a manner. It’s their business, after all.

            If the practice was unpopular, people would vote with their wallets.

          • Genexs

            Interesting you’d support them if they were bigots. Regardless of what you believe, a business such as their own is not just “their own”. They have to comply with regulations, just like any other biz does. If someone wants to serve broiled human brains as a lunch special, you may pat yourself on the back that you support them–and may vote with your wallet. However, they’d be arrested and carted off to jail–in no regard to anyone’s vote.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I support equality and freedom. It’s pretty simple, really.

            Freedom includes the right to be an asshole.

          • Genexs

            Well said. But there are so many arseholes here in the US, they don’t need my support.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I am not suggesting that you support them, just let them be.

          • kenofken

            That’s a libertarian way of looking at it, but we have a very ugly history here of various kinds of discrimination. About 50 years ago, we came to a solid consensus that no American should ever have to face the humiliation of being told “your money doesn’t spend here.” That baseline guarantee of dignity means a hell of a lot more to me than does the freedom of business owners in that regard. The other problem with voting with the wallet is that in most cases, practices of bigotry are quite popular with the majority. Back in the heydey of white-only restaurants and real estate practices, black patrons were in no position to change that with a vote of their wallets.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            My views vary depending on topic. I don’t fit any part of the political spectrum.

            That said, I don’t see an issue with liberty.

            America is not alone in having issues with discrimination. It has happened (and still is happening) everywhere. But legislation has to be careful how it operates, otherwise all that is done is a shifting in discrimination, rather than the minimising of it (it will never be eradicated, human nature just doesn’t work that way).

          • CBrachyrhynchos

            Urban/suburban/rural usually trumps region though. Aggregate trends basted on gerymandered electoral maps are highly misleading.

          • kenofken

            The legal dimension of this case is a little hazy as far as I’m concerned. If it was a taxpayer sponsored institution favoring prayer, it would be open and shut illegal. A private business? It’s a cultural minefield, as we’ve seen. Legally speaking, a restaurant owner can be personally and flagrantly sectarian in their religious belief (or any other belief). At the same time, we have civil rights law in which mandate equal public accommodation. The the question would have become was it a discount that was liberally sprinkled around to anyone who said something nice? Or was it effectively a 15% surcharge to those who didn’t profess religious faith?

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Well, if we are to take things at face value (or, as they say, “on faith”), then the important part, to me was not the enforcing of religion but the increasing of enjoyment and gratitude of the food.

            You do not need to be at all religious to be grateful for your food. If nothing else, there is a chain of effort to bring the food from source to table. Each link involving a person working so that you can eat.

            At this time of year, that would seem to be especially noteworthy.

        • Diomedes

          It’s not discrimination.

      • http://www.cernowain.com/ cernowain greenman

        Regardless, they have gotten incredible publicity from this.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Yes, unfortunately it has caused needless division over what was quite a lovely gesture.

          It seems some people just like to find fault.

    • Jeff Johnson

      Your view is too narrow and your understanding incomplete. Prayer of any kind was accepted for discount. Yes, even prayers to Satan I assume, you should be ok with that, right?

      • kenofken

        I don’t think it was ever established that prayer of any kind was accepted for discount. We have an owner saying that after the fact while at the same time trying to deny any direct responsibility for any discounts which may be randomly doled out by people who just happen to work there.

  • Segomâros Widugeni

    Easy enough to test: show up and pray in Gaulish/Irish/Anglo-Saxon/Norse/Latin/Attic Greek/Ugaritic/(insert language here) to the deity of your choice. Then see if you get the discount. This would also work for Wiccans calling on the Wiccan Lord and Lady. We should thank the Gods for our food more, anyway. Don’t make a scene or be too dramatic; just be exactly as noticeable as some Christians praying “in Jesus’ name, amen”. Be very nice to the wait staff. They work hard, and if they are going to discriminate, why give them your own behavior as the excuse?

    We will quickly see if they’re sincere. My guess is they probably are, actually. But how can we know until the test is made?

    Anybody in Winston-Salem able to do this?

    • Wolfsbane

      Could we get some of our local Santeria brethren to go there and lop the head off a chicken. To see how that goes over for their equality of prayer.

      • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

        I don’t think any Santeria would want to do this–wrong ritual venue. Their sacrificing, and even most Jewish/Roman/Greek/Western etc sacrifices *fed* people, usually members of the priesthood etc. Not sure about indigenous religions where humans were sacrificed–don’t think they were eaten by humans.

  • Deborah Bender

    I suppose the reason why the restaurant employees were offering discounts was to give an incentive to people to have a moment of mindfulness about their food. But this is fairly pointless, because people who make a regular practice of doing this are doing it for reasons that have nothing to do with the price of the meal, and people who don’t do it weren’t aware of the discount before it got media coverage.

  • Jeff Johnson

    Wow FFFF is a very misguided organization. I suppose they couldn’t bow their heads to pray to their freedom or they just didn’t need a discount like some people do. That wasn’t enough however, they feel that everyone should be denied the kindness that Mary’s Gourmet Diner showed.
    Joyful that Mary was generous, not so much that FFFF is miserly.

  • Anna H.

    You know what? This blows. This was not a pushy or discriminatory thing at all. An atheist could sit there and put her hands over her food and say, “For what I am about to receive, I am grateful” — completely non-theistic, and get the discount.

    I am going to write this owner, ID myself as a priestess, and suggest she reinstates the discount.

    • Anna H.

      I wrote on her Facebook wall, and also sent a message to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

      Again, businesses can give all kinds of discounts without being discriminatory. Local bars routinely give discounts to young women wearing wet t-shirts, or to military veterans, or to people over 55. Are they being sexist/ageist, etc. in these cases?

      She is not saying, hey, atheists, or Pagans, or Hindus, or Muslims, don’t come here, I won’t serve you and I won’t give you a discount. I think the Freedom From Religion Foundation has gone too far.

      • kenofken

        The examples of the wet t-shirts and senior discounts may well be sexist or ageist, but they are legally different from this situation. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in public accommodation based on “race, color, religion or national origin.”

        The FFFF could have argued (not necessarily successfully), that this discount system created a two-tier pricing system for the religious and non-religious.

        Was it? I think the facts are far from clear. After the fact, the owner and many of you who sympathize with her say it was never a religious thing at all and anyone at all could receive the discount. We don’t know that any did. Those publicly identified as having received it were Christian, and performing a Christian prayer when they got comped. It was listed out on the receipt as a “Praying in Public” discount, presumably for the four years it had been going on. Even if it was not intentionally Christian only, it seems clear that you had to be offering grattitude in the style of a pre-meal prayer for a server to notice and potentially discount you. That can be discriminatory not just to atheists and secularist, but in fact many Christians themselves,whose tradition forbids showy obsequious prayer for the purpose of being seen.

        What if businesses just gave us excellent products and service and we paid them a fair price for it? Everyone would be grateful.

      • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

        Well, except for the wet T-shirt thing, those reasons are fine–brings in business in otherwise slow times, and honors elders and national service.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Nothing wrong with the wet t-shirt, either.

          That honours sexuality and beauty. ;)

  • Andrew Nelson

    More evidence for my “the FFRF is a blight on mankind” thesis.

    • kenofken

      A blight on mankind? Oh dear. As you save humanity from this group I hope nothing trivial distracts your attention, like ISIS, Ebola or poverty.