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Restaurants in hot water over religion-related discounts

Can restaurants provide a discount to customers who pray or bring in a church bulletin?
Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News Modified: August 4, 2014 at 7:10 pm •  Published: August 5, 2014
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Mary's Gourmet Diner is now famous for more than stone-ground grits and its Apple Butter Baby. The North Carolina restaurant made the national news over the weekend after a picture of a receipt showing the diner's prayer discount went viral.

In an interview with The Blaze, owner Mary Haglund described the discount as an opportunity to recognize the moments of gratefulness that "touch (her) heart."

"Haglund, 60, said that the gift she gives customers has nothing to do with a specific religious perspective, that she never advertises the discount and that it's something staffers sporadically offer only when they feel compelled to do so," The Blaze reported.

But customers and commentators were quick to point out the potential legal pitfalls of a religion-based restaurant policy.

"Prayer discounts? Do you give prayer discounts to people who aren't of your religion ... like Sikhs or Hindus or Muslims or Jews?" wrote Dave Moore on the diner's Facebook page.

"The Department of Justice says that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion in a public accommodation, such as a restaurant. Whether the diner is in violation isn't immediately clear," NPR reported.

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