Diner discontinues ‘praying in public’ discount following controversy

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The threat of a lawsuit from a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Wisconsin has pressured a North Carolina diner owner into ending a discount for patrons in the act of a prayer. Sister station WGHP reports that Mary Haglund said she didn't realize the discount violated the Civil Rights Act.

The foundation said the discount violates the act by denying "customers who do not pray and non-believers the right to full and equal enjoyment of Mary's Gourmet Diner." Haglund told WGHP last week that the discount wasn't rooted in religion. In fact, the discount was to be given at the server's discretion to those who prayed, meditated, or simply said "thank you."

"This is not a religious thing, this is a thankful thing. It's just an attitude of gratitude," she told WGHP.

However, armed with the knowledge that the foundation has filed suit before and won, WGHP reports she decided to discontinue the discount on Wednesday, and posted a note in a diner doorway explaining why. She also said she never meant to offend anyone. Some people who heard the news were disappointed.

"It's a shame that she tried to do something good for people, no matter what it be, and she gets pressure for it," customer Andrew Lazare told WGHP.

Supporters say even without the discount, they'll still continue to give thanks at the diner.

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