(Note: Source links found at end of article)
Your business is no longer your final decision, even when you own it. That's the message one atheist group delivered to one Winston-Salem restaurant owner as they threatened a lawsuit over a decision of prayer before a thankful feast. Mary Haglund owns a restaurant in North Carolina. Land of discounts. But everywhere that Mary went, the Freedom From Religion Foundation was surely never to go. Mary received a letter.
The restaurant offered discounts to those praying before a meal. Just one way for religious folks to say, "Hey Jesus, I'm the coffee -- you're the beans. I'm thankful to be alive!"
Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Mary a letter threatening the business owner of possible action if she didn't cease running her business the way she'd like to. So I called the Freedom From Religion Foundation to see what they had to say.
And this is what they had to say...
"It's on our website. The letter (written by FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell) wasn't threatening." So I asked what their definition of 'threatening' was. They answered, "You can see the letter on our website." The receptionist, at that moment, at 10:15 a.m., all of the sudden 'had to go' and hung up.
So I went to the FFRF website...and read the second sentence of that letter found under the "news release" tab.
"FFRF is a nationwide organization with 21,000 supporters, including more than 500 members in North Carolina..."
With a population in 2013 estimated at 9,848,060 residents (that's 9,847,460 N.C. residents who just might support Mary's prayer discount), under 600 N.C. members is a drop in the bucket. So maybe the receptionist was right. That's not much of a threat -- in numbers. But then again, perhaps the Facebook numbers was a bigger threat to FFRF since they couldn't get freedom from Facebook.
FFRF is a non-profit organization who happened to be tipped off after someone posted the receipt on Facebook praising Mary's intentions. Yes, it didn't start with Z88.3 FM in Florida who praised the receipt's prayer discount on Facebook. Which happened to be reported by Fox News, who happened to get the numbers wrong by claiming the receipt reached over 7,400 likes.
I had to see the receipt myself. Would I find the face of Jesus somewhere between eggs and bacon?
Z88.3 FM borrowed the story from their Orlando brothers Fox 35 News. Where the link had 4,446 likes and 1,626 shares, 326 comments. Z88.3 FM has stats at 2,244 likes, 15 shares, 75 comments. Totaling 6690 likes, 1,641 shares and 401 comments.
But that's not all. It all started with one musician.
Dan Bremnes' Facebook may have picked up in popularity as the Christian musician posting the prayer receipt involving Mary's little lambs chopped. His "prayer" post reached 828 likes, 363 shares and 73 comments. Making it 7,518 likes, need we go further? Already the numbers are higher than what Fox News reports. I think Jesus won that round.
In the Florida sector on Facebook stands an image from El Paso of a prayer ticket -- far far away from North Carolina's hometown diner. It reads...
"Here is a (keyword) suggested Thanksgiving before meals or use your own words."
It's a mere suggestion. And it's not like Mary's hanging out on street corners with a cross on her back handing out Jesus comics. And Facebook shares images of disturbing heights such as Satan, evil drones, or puppy dogs riding on tread mills titled 'OMG'. Where's FFRF then? It's a dog eat dog world! But the power of suggestion seems to have more power than the 'block' button.
While the FFRF represents the "rights and views of non-believers" the rights and views of Mary mean nothing to them. She's a believer forced to accommodate their non-believer world. That's all they're asking for. Just the power of equality for those who can't stomach a two-minute prayer.
It's easy to sense an empowerment when the letter hits the main entree. Could it be the "42 U.S.C. 2,000a (a)" or the "42 U.S.C. 2,000a (b)" that changed Mary's discount to null and void? What nailed the prayer coupon to the coffin?
FFRF "urged" Mary to stop being so kind to believers and treat non-believers with the same prayer discount respect, without the prayer. Pretty much just a coupon at that point.
Readers may think Freedom From Religion Foundation should free themselves of Mary's business and focus on their own business -- unfortunately that is the business of shutting down prayer -- at Mary's Mary's Gourmet Diner. The foundation has one thing going for them. Civil Rights Act. The very act that protects the rights of others, other than Mary.
And that's the way the cross bounces for business owners offering public prayer in America.
It's not a sin to pray. But it is a sin to run to the courthouse when you don't get your way. If anything, perhaps FFRF could use a prayer. Because it must be hell for them to view all those pro-religion Facebook posts.
Then again, this is Earth. There's plenty of room to find a quiet corner to pray and click on unfriend.
As for Mary's intentions, whether you support it or not, it is Mary's own business. Not yours. Not mine. Now that she's faced with an internet bloodbath of Rights forming opinions that feel all wrong, it doesn't appear that civil after all. Just some people praying they don't have to pray to get that 15% discount.
The food must be THAT good! So, try it and see. And no worries, Mary no longer will offer the prayer discounts. We'll all have to pay in full. Which is relatively affordable to begin with.
Mary's Gourmet Diner is located on 723 Trade Street in Winston-Salem.
So, the next time Raleigh locals are headed to Greensboro follow this map. Mary's Gourmet Diner is in route westbound from the City of Oaks, 1 hour and 39 minutes.
Freedom From Religion Foundation Website Letter to Mary Haglund, written by FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell, http://ffrf.org/uploads/legal/marys_diner_letter.pdf
Facebook, Dan Bremnes, "Prayer Coupon", www.facebook.com/danbremnes/photos/a.10153140147025181.1073741825.346090...
Facebook, "Prayer Ticket", www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=561028150670652&set=p.561028150670652&ty...
Facebook, Z88.3 FM, "Prayer Discount", www.facebook.com/Z883FM?fref=nf
Fox News, "Prayer In Public", http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/08/01/north-carolina-restaurant-offe...
Mary's Gourmet Diner (MAP), https://www.google.com/maps/preview?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&channel=sb...