This Restaurant Is in Trouble – All Because They Support Prayer!

Mary Haglund loves good food, and so do her customers. At Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, diners can get southern style breakfast that is vegan, organic and local. Sounds like the dream of modern American progressive dieticians, no? There’s a problem, though, that the restaurant formerly known as Breakfast of Course has with progressives: Mary loves God, and supports prayer.

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See, on July 31st, Christian recording artist Dan Bremnes stopped for a bite with his manager. He prayed over his meal, talked business and music, and paid his bill. And on his bill was an interesting discount: 15% for “praying in public.” Blown away, Bremnes posted the photo to his Facebook page with a caption:

There's a first time for everything. Just got a 15% discount for praying over our meal in public! #OnlyInTheSouth #GodBlessAmerica

There’s a first time for everything. Just got a 15% discount for praying over our meal in public! #OnlyInTheSouth #GodBlessAmerica

As the photo went viral – garnering over 10,000 likes on the back of an Orlando radio station’s post – radio stations and TV news coverage started calling Mary. She explained to Fox 8 News:

“I want to be clear that my local people have done nothing but support me […] For people on the Internet who don’t know me, I have made very clear exactly what this is. People are just jumping to this conclusion that it is a Christian thing. It is not tied to Christianity. It could be something spiritual between you and your idea of what God is, or it could be you in a moment being grateful to the universe.”

That declaration wasn’t enough for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They’ve begun to take legal action against Haglund and her restaurant, claiming that the discount is religious discrimination – Mary couldn’t choose to discount prayer according to the FFRF. At Mary’s Gourmet Diner, unable to mount a defense of the magnitude required to face off with the FFRF, the discount is no longer available.

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Michael Harrell is a former staff member and current volunteer at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Federal Way, Washington. A blogger by hobby and social media manager by trade, he continues to teach the faith to ninth graders when he's not busy watching movies or theatre. He loves the Seattle Mariners, and his wife wants you to know he's married. You can follow him on Twitter.