Saying Grace by Norman Rockwell
Recently, Mary's Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, NC was in the news because the staff often offered a 15% discount to patrons who publicly offer a prayer before eating. Even a simple silent bow of the head before chowing down could earn the discount. It was just a feel good story.
Apparently, not everyone felt good about this practice. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has forced the restaurant to discontinue the discount on the allegation that it is illegal and discriminatory. Rather than become embroiled in a lawsuit, the restaurant has discontinued the discount.
Well, patrons may not get a discount, but they should still feel free to take time to bow their heads and thank God for the food in front of them. I say grace any time I sit down to a meal. It doesn't matter if I am by myself at the kitchen island, with my family around the table, or at a public restaurant. When we are in public we merely take a moment to bow our heads and quietly recite the classic Catholic grace, Bless Us O Lord and these thy gifts. If I am out with friends who do not usually say grace, I do not insist that they join in or even call attention to the fact that I say grace. I just pause before digging in and silently acknowledge my gratitude to God.
There should be no embarrassment or apologies for this pre-meal ritual. I am not offended by those who choose not to pray and they should not be offended if I opt to offer thanks for my meal. I do not know why the public display of religion is so offensive to some people that they feel the need to shut it down. I understand why Mary Haglund chose to discontinue the discounts for praying. It is asking a lot of a small business owner to endure the litigation of militant atheists. While the intolerant FFRF may have stopped the financial rewards earned by prayer, they cannot touch the spiritual rewards. And maybe folding your hands in public even when there is no tangible immediate gratification will serve as a witness to others that serving God is more valuable than a 15% discount on a meal.