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NC restaurant stops prayer discount after anti-religion group threatens lawsuit

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Courtesy WFMY

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Mary's Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem was offering discounts to some customers who prayed before eating their meal. After word of this got out, the restaurant has been getting national attention.

According to CNN's Headline News (HLN), this all started with a receipt posted to an Orlando radio station's website. Like most receipts, it showed the subtotal and then discounts. The discount listed was 15 percent for "praying in public."

Jordan Smith said she traveled to Winston-Salem for business and stopped for a meal there. She told HLN the group "prayed over our meal and the waitress came over at the end of the meal and said, 'Just so you know, we gave you a 15 percent discount for praying,' which I'd never seen before."

She posted it to her Facebook page and then a friend posted it to the radio station, where it took off.

In response to the wave of people reading the story, Mary's Diner posted an update on Facebook and said it's not a policy but is a "Gift we give at random to customers who take a moment before their meal. This could be prayer or just a moment to breathe and push the busyness of the world away. Who you talk to or meditate on etc. is your business."

Wednesday, the story took another turn. The restaurant owner has stopped offering the discounts because of the threat of a lawsuit. Some patrons disagree with the idea of this discount, even though it's not a standing policy. A person with the restaurant said they have received a large amount of complaints, hate mail and hateful messages on social networks, and even threats of violence.

With the criticism came waves of support.

"I think a business owner ought to be able to do what they'd like to in terms of promoting their values, promoting what's important to them, without being in fear of someone saying I'm going to sue you if you don't change your policies," said Ken Heater, Executive Director, Winston-Salem Rescue Mission.

"Sadly, it's indicative of the way so many people are thinking today, whereas if they don't like what you're thinking or what you do, they're going to try to make you change and it's, it's not right."

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