N.C. Restaurant Stops Prayer Discounts after Threats of Violence, Lawsuit

by Andrew Johnson

Mary’s Gourmet Diner will no longer give some of its customers discounts for publicly praying over their meal after a prominent atheist group threatened to sue the local restaurant. Others threatened physical harm.

The Winston-Salem diner gained national attention last week when a customer posted a picture on Facebook of her receipt showing a 15 percent discount for praying. The photo quickly went viral.

But within days, an attorney from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to the restaurant warning that it would seek legal action if it did not stop supplying the discount. Elizabeth Cabell, the attorney, argued that the policy, which had been in place for years, violated the Civil Rights Act.

“As a place of ‘public accommodation,’ it is illegal for Mary’s Gourmet Diner to discriminate, or show favoritism, on the basis of religion,” Cabell wrote. “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.”

On Thursday, the restaurant put up a sign saying it would no longer offer the discount and apologized “for any offense this discount has incurred.”

Cabell said she and the FFRF were happy to hear Mary’s Gourmet Diner was halting the discount.

WUSA reports that complaints, hate mail, and threats of violence also came in since news spread of the restaurant’s discount.