The Atheist Assault On Public Prayer

prayerIn my previous post I detailed the assault on churches that the Freedom From Religion Foundation has undertaken with its lawsuit against the IRS.  The FFRF was upset that the IRS wasn’t investigating churches for allegedly violating the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits non-profits from endorsing political candidates or issues.  The FFRF settled the lawsuit and is apparently satisfied with the new procedures put in place by the IRS for dealing with churches, details of which both sides are declining to disclose.  And now the FFRF has decided to go after public prayer at restaurants.  No, they can’t stop people from praying over their food at a restaurant (not yet, anyway) but they apparently do have enough scare-power to put a stop to a restaurant in North Carolina giving random discounts to people for praying before dining. 

For several years now, Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, NC has been allowing servers to give 15% discounts at their discretion to customers who pray over their meal.  The owner, Mary Haglund, has told reporters that the prayers do not have to be Christian.  After some receipts were photographed by appreciative customers and posted to the internet, the FFRF learned of the discount and stepped in to save Haglund’s atheist customers from being offended.  The FFRF sent a letter to Haglund and demanded she stop giving the discount.

FFRF – I am writing on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to point out the serious civil rights concern with a Mary’s Gourmet Diner promotion that was reported to us by local residents, as well as widely reported in the media.  FFRF is a nationwide nonprofit organization with 21,000 supporters, including more than 500 members in North Carolina and a state chapter, Triangle Freethought Society.  Our purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation of state and church and to represent the rights and views of nonbelievers.

We understand that Mary’s Gourmet Diner offers a 15% discount to customers who pray over their meals.  According to reports, the discount appears on receipts as “-15% Praying in Public,” and was explained by Mary’s wait staff to one customer, “Just so you know, we gave you a 15 percent discount for praying.”

Offering this discount violates the Federal Civil Rights Act.  The Civil Rights Act states in relevant part, “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… without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”  42 U.S.C. §2000a(a).  As a place of “public accommodation,” it is illegal for Mary’s Gourmet Diner to discriminate, or show favoritism, on the basis of religion.  … It does not matter that the promotion is available to customers regardless of which god they pray to.  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.  Any promotions must be available to all customers regardless of religious preference or practice on a non-discriminatory basis.

We urge you to discontinue this discriminatory discount.  If you truly wish to reward gratitude in customers regardless of religion, you must do so in a way that does not single out customers who pray for favorable treatment.

On Wednesday last week, Haglund gave in and posted a sign in her restaurant.

“We at Mary’s value the support of all of our fellow Americans. While you may exercise your right of religious freedom at this restaurant by praying over your meal to any entity or non-entity, we must protect your freedom from religion in a public place.  We are no longer issuing the 15% praying in public discount. It is illegal and we are being threatened by lawsuit. We apologize to our community for any offense this discount has incurred.”

Whether or not the discount was a violation of the Civil Rights Act is a matter of debate and isn’t the point of my post.  Legal or not, I do think the prayer discount was a poor choice, as it essentially amounts to paying someone to pray.  While I completely agree with encouraging people to pray and I applaud Mary’s Gourmet Diner for doing so, I believe the discount is a poor application of that encouragement. 

What’s most noteworthy about this is the FFRF’s involvement.  Even if the discount is a violation of the Civil Rights Act, that the FFRF would take it upon themselves to stop a privately owned restaurant halfway across the country from offering a discount for praying is outrageous.  To my mind, legal discount or not, this is just one more assault on Christianity by atheists.  That an organization with a pitiful national membership level of 21,000 has the power to dispatch the IRS to investigate churches and stop a restaurant from giving a discount tells me that atheists have far too much influence in our society.  Make no mistake, this organization and those like it are not merely atheistic and seeking to stop any religious activity from being seen in public or having any public influence.  They are anti-Christian and seek to destroy Christianity.  

Has the FFRF sought to make the IRS investigate Islamic mosques for their political activities and ties to political and terrorist organizations?  Nope.  Does anyone actually believe that the FFRF would have sent a threatening letter to a Muslim owned restaurant for offering a discount to those who kneel on prayer rugs and pray to Allah?  No way.  Christianity is their only enemy and is the object of their continual assault.  An assault, I might add, that comes with the assistance of our own government.  And that is something for us to pray about.

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6 comments to The Atheist Assault On Public Prayer

  • LD Jackson

    It seems to me that FFRF is determined to stamp out Christianity. Or any other religion that offends its sensibilities. For the life of me, I can not understand why they would care if a place of business gave a discount to some of their customers who were praying over their food. It seems we Americans are always being offended by something, no matter how small or great.

    Of course, Christians aren’t allowed to be offended by activities that go against our beliefs. That would probably be classified as pushing our religion on someone else and Heaven forbid we do that.

    • The leftist’s right to not be offended is one that they all seem to think is in the Constitution. Christianity offends them because it tells them that their destination is eternal damnation. I can understand why people headed there don’t want to be continually reminded of it.

      I forgot to mention it in my post but I find it interesting that in their letter to Mary the FFRF said they must protect the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. Why is it so many atheists hang their hat on a phrase that isn’t even in the Constitution?

  • LD Jackson

    Try telling them the phrase isn’t in the Constitution and see how far you get. They’ve been told a lie for so many decades, they believe it’s the truth.

  • Freedom From Religion Foundation – How Far Will They Go In Their Attack On Christianity?

    […] civil rights. You see, the diner gave everyone who prayed over their food a 15% discount. It didn’t have to be a Christian prayer or a spoken prayer. Just a prayer. The FFRF threatened them with a lawsuit and the discount went away. It makes me […]

  • […] civil rights. You see, the diner gave everyone who prayed over their food a 15% discount. It didn’t have to be a Christian prayer or a spoken prayer. Just a prayer. The FFRF threatened them with a lawsuit and the discount went away. It makes me […]