Who was being harmed?

Threat of a lawsuit has corrected a grievous societal injustice, apparently, when a local restaurant occasionally handed out a 15 percent discount to “Customers who pray, meditate, or simply say ‘thank you’ before eating.”

Owner Mary Haglund says she enjoys watching the moment of quietness some customers show before eating.

“It’s a gift to us to watch them appreciate our food,” Haglund said who co-owns the restaurant with her daughter.

Whether a bowed head or a few seconds of stillness, Haglund tries to notice all displays of gratitude.

She has been offering the discount for the past four years at the restaurant on North Trade Street.

“We don’t tell the people they’re getting a discount,” Haglund said. “We’ve never promoted it.  We just present the ticket.”

It’s a ticket presented to all customers no matter who or what they believe in.

“This is not a religious thing,” she said. “This is a thankful thing.”

It is also an … offensive thing? Really?

When grateful patrons posted this discount on Facebook, it went viral and became national news. Most people thought it was as it is, a nice gesture (“the three of us at the table talked about how wonderful that is and what a cool thing it is that they do”).

To a select few others, raised and inculcated to infer offense and disrespect other’s property and religious rights, it was an easy target. Haglund was inundated with criticism from such people. She responded on the restaurant’s Facebook page:

marys

Now the restaurant’s being threatened with a lawsuit. A Wisconsin-based organization styling itself the “Freedom from Religion Foundation” sent a threatening letter suggesting the random gifts violated the Civil Rights Act.

I happen to think Mary’s could win the lawsuit, but I also think the restaurant can’t afford to pay for the legal fight, and I suspect the attention-seeking foundation made the same calculation and realized it could claim an easy PR victory. Way to go (slow clap).

Mary’s customers are seeing this sign now:

marys sign

This why we can’t have nice things.

Haglund should be able to give discounts as she pleases. It’s her blessed store, after all.

Patrons had already consented to the menu prices when they came in. The gift discounts were a surprise. They weren’t even discounts handed out to customers bringing in coupons when other customers didn’t have them, or to senior citizens when other customers hadn’t lived long enough yet, or to birthday celebrants, etc.

As it is, from the accounts it does not appear that the discount was based on religion, let alone one religion. From the sounds of it, a hair-trigger atheist could have had access to the discount with a simple “thank you.”

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...