Prayer Discount Is No More

by Daniel Schere

Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, the restaurantthat has made national news recently, has discontinued its 15 percent discountfor praying in public due to a legal threat.

Shama Blalock, the daughter of owner MaryHaglund, said she was notified by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that shewas in violation of the Civil Rights Act by not upholding the separation ofchurch and state.

We crossed the line, because there is afreedom of religion that our patrons have, but there is a freedom from religionthat I am supposed to uphold in a public place, Blalock said.

A letter dated August 4 written by FFRF staffattorney Elizabeth Cavell states: Your restaurant’s restrictivepromotional practice favors religious customers, and denies customers who do notpray and nonbelievers the right to full and equal enjoyment ofMary’s Gourmet Diner. Any promotions must be available to all customersregardless of religious preference or practice on a non-discriminatorybasis.

Blalock, who started the discount herself fouryears ago, said she had no choice but to comply with the request because shecannot afford to take legal action. She hopes others hear her story and helpher in her fight to reinstitute the policy.

My next step personally, is to let theAmericans who are threatening me how heartbroken I am over my loss. My personalloss. Something that I was able to give to my customers and they in turn bybeing here were giving to me. I need proof that I can move forward and knowthat I am not breaking any laws.