Mary’s Gourmet Diner, N.C., for drops “praying in public” promotion

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from Freedom From Religion Foundation,

FFRF had a substantive victory last week, when the owner of a North Carolina diner that offered a 15% “praying in public” discount to diners dropped the discriminatory offer.

News stories went viral, prompting many complaints about the discount to FFRF. Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell sent Mary Haglund a letter explaining the meaning of the Civil Rights Act and noting, “Mary’s Gourmet Diner may not lawfully offer a discount only to customers who pray. Any promotions must be available to all customers regardless of religious preference or practice on a non-discriminatory basis.”

Since the owner announced she was dropping the promotion last week, the Christian Right noise machine went into full gear. Several online news stories are irresponsibly claiming without documentation that there were “threats” of violence, and are trying to smear FFRF and atheists.

Haglund had defended the discount saying she approves of people being “thankful . . . It’s just an attitude of gratitude.” So please let her know how grateful you are that she is honoring the Civil Rights Act! The Civil Rights Act, which is enjoying its 50th anniversary this year, requires “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation . . . without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.” Without the Civil Rights Act, a black person could be denied the right to buy groceries or a house. An ill atheist could be turned away by a pharmacist. The Civil Rights Act does not allow a restaurant to offer believers a 15% discount at the expense of nonbelievers and is an integral part of America’s guaranteed equality under the law.

Mainstream media is also getting into the act, such as this column by Fayette Observer writer Myron Pitts, “What’s wrong with prayer,” which tries to frame this as “atheists just don’t like to see people pray.” FFRF’s complaint isn’t about diners praying; it’s about a category of diners receiving a financial reward from the restaurant for their religious beliefs, which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

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