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.