Well, as often happens, no good deed (or intention) goes unpunished.
Last week, I wrote about Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, N.C., which was giving a 15 percent discount to diners who, grateful for their meals, prayed before eating. A diner, surprised at the discount, had posted her receipt on Facebook.
The praise poured in.
But so did the criticism.
The restaurant, under what it considered the threat of a lawsuit, decided to drop the discount, reported Wesley Young for the Winston-Salem Journal.
A handwritten note in the window of the restaurant said, in part, “We must protect your freedom from religion in a public place. It is illegal and we are being threatened by lawsuit. We apologize to our community for any offense this discount has incurred.”
Wrote Hannah Bae for Newsday: “The discontinued discount at Mary’s appeared to be prompted by a letter from the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, which sent a letter to the restaurant earlier this week that urged them to stop.” (You can read a copy of the letter uploaded by Newsday here.)
In an interview with Young, diner co-owner Mary Haglund said the “discount was never meant to promote any particular religion — or lack of religion — but was meant to show appreciation for people who had what she called ‘an attitude of gratitude.’ She said that calling it a discount for prayer may have been ‘a bad choice of words.’ ”
For the Color of Money question for last week I asked: Do you think it’s fair for people to get a discount for praying?
The overwhelming majority of readers, who e-mailed before the diner dropped the discount, didn’t think the restaurant was doing anything wrong.
“Since when does the owner of a company (or anyone for that matter) have to explain or be told to whom and for what they want to give a gift (whether it be merchandise or whatever?” wrote Dianne C. Kirven of Houston. “I am a firm believer that if you don’t like what is being offered, don’t participate/accept it — geeze!”
“My hackles are raised,” wrote Larry Almasy of Firestone, Colo. “Fairness is subjective. Is it fair to offer discounts to seniors and the military? Is it fair that CEOs make millions while the rank-and-file lives paycheck to paycheck? This is not about fairness. This is not about public prayer. This is about a private sector business decision. If a business owner decides to provide unpublished discounts based on the color of a customer’s clothes just to make life interesting, is that fair? I say the customers are fortunate to have selected a business (restaurant) where the owner is willing to share life’s bounty.”
But Kevin Sanchez-Cherry of Ellicott City, Md., wrote: “If any business is allowed to run the way they want, especially based on religious affiliation/beliefs, there will be those who are left out because of following a different religion or no religion.”
Although, as a society, we do have to make sure people aren’t discriminated against, I don’t think the intent here was to exclude but recognize those grateful for what they have.
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