If you’re not religious, you’re not welcome at Denny’s

Image: Bee Racasa on Flickr.

A Texas branch of American diner chain Denny's has come under fire for offering a 10% discount to church-going customers. Web user Jeff Wagg came across the following poster in a Denny's restaurant in Texas, photographed it and posted the image online, condemning the company for religious discrimination.

There are over 2,500 branches of Denny's worldwide, including in Canada, Jamaica and New Zealand. The fast food chain has been operating since the first branch opened in California in 1953. In the early 1990s the company was involved in several lawsuits following accusations from racial minorities who suffered discriminatory service.


“This kind of thing only happens in certain areas in the south where people would never consider that someone doesn’t go to church”

Blogger Jeff Wagg writes for the James Randi Educational Foundation, which promotes critical thinking and addresses paranormal and supernatural issues.  

I found myself in Euless, Texas, a few weeks ago, and decided to have breakfast at Denny's. As I approached, I saw this flyer affixed to the door. I was a bit taken aback, as I knew there had been controversies about this practice in the past, and I had naively thought such promotions were a matter of history. But this was even worse... not only were folks who attended church given a 10% discount, their church received a donation as well.

This flyer says to the millions of Americans who do not attend church that we are not welcome, and in fact, we will be required to pay more in order to enjoy Denny's. Also, by donating money only to churches through this promotion, Denny's is directly promoting religious organisations over the secular charities that benefit everyone.

I believe the promotion may violate Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states:

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.'

This kind of thing only happens in certain areas in the south where people would never consider that someone doesn't go to church. In those areas, the concept of having no religion is so frowned upon that non-believers have to hide that fact. We're one of the last groups in the United States that it's ok to discriminate against. You'd never see a similar initiative discriminating so openly against any other group.

Incidentally I went into a Denny's in Arizona [southwest US], and as an experiment, asked if I could take advantage of the 10% discount for church-goers. They looked at me like I had three heads..." 

Read Jeff's full account, along with the subsequent letter he wrote to Denny's, here.

The poster was also posted on the counter. Both photos taken by Jeff Wagg.


Mr. Wagg's comments

Mr Wagg, you strike me as the type of person who runs around the country looking for reasons to feel insulted. I shall not disappoint you then, as it appears to me that you obviously suffer personal insecurity issues. I don't care if the private owner of a franchise wants to encourage support for his church/mosque/temple, the Boy Scouts, the ACLU, the DAV, or Greenpeace. If I want a Grand Slam Breakfast I'm eating at Denny's.

It's their business, Mr Wagg, so please feel free to go somewhere else to eat if you don't want to be around God-fearing people. It doesn't take a whole lot of "critical thinking" to decide where to eat.

By the way, in most communities in the Southern U.S. it is virtually tradition for a family to go out to brunch after church. I'm sure the manager of this Denny's was just trying to outbid his competition for the weekly surge of diners. Now that is critical thinking.

I like the idea of

I like the idea of supporting what you believe in. Put your wallet where your mouth is.

OWNER of the Denny's have

OWNER of the Denny's have right to GIVE A DISCOUNTS to every person he wants, no matter what other people would LIKE TO...

Nothing racist or discriminating at all, that mr Jeff is some kind of idiot, Im certainly sure he's.

Only in the US.. (and maybe in Saudi Arabia)

Cool, so if I bring a Satanic Bible, I'm also welcome?

And there I am thinking your bible teaches respect and tolerance.

This is most likely legal

The US Supreme Court has decided (within the last 2 years I believe) that bars and nightclubs are allowed to have "ladies night" (or even men's night) and charge reduced or nothing for drinks to those and full price to others. Therefore, although I disagree with this policy, it is most likely legal, based upon the theory that a private business is allowed to charge whatever it wants for its services.

so what

Sometimes discounts are offered to students, should restaurants be condemned for discriominating against non students as well. Get a life.

Discounts are offered to

Discounts are offered to students because they have less money than workers while in education. Get a brain.

Discount are offered

No dis-respect but discounts are offered when ever the company see’s fit. So if they want to give church going people a discount because they attend then I don’t see a problem with it. People are just mad that they are not getting the same discount because they don’t go to church or don't have a church in which they attend regularly. For instance I can say that I haven’t been to church for at least two years but I wouldn’t be mad at Denny’s for not giving me a discount. That just means that I would have to pay the regular price. It’s not like they are saying that they are going to charge you extra for not going to church. Just saying

yeah, so what...

if you don't like the way Denny's does business, go eat somewhere else or start going to church.
I've been there before, had terrible service and never returned. End of story.

Whaddya mean, so what?

Heathen2, you have missed the point entirely. Businesses like restaurants cannot discriminate based on religious belief. It is neither rational nor ethical to financially reward people who subscribe to one particular religion whilst excluding those of other faiths or none, unless your business is a church. Would you recommend the same "put up or shut up" policy to a restaurant which offered discounts only to whites?