When a Muslim family paid a visit to Long John Silver's last month and purchased a kid's meal for their toddler, they got a little Jesus love along with their popcorn shrimp
. The free toy provided with the meal was a "Build with Jesus" notepad featuring a Bible verse. When the family asked for an alternative, nothing was provided.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) filed a complaint
against Long John Silver's parent company, Yum! Brands
, asking the company to look into claims that religious literature was distributed with a children's meal.
On Wednesday, CAIR announced an apology from the Long John Silver's restaurant owner.
More from CAIR's release:
Following intervention by CAIR-MN, the restaurant investigated the matter and found that the "families' request was not handled in a manner consistent with company policy."
In a letter to CAIR-MN, the Long John Silver's franchisee owner Steve Oborn wrote: "In an attempt to support and respect a multitude of diverse needs and preferences, it is our policy to have an optional toy(s) available per request. Recognizing the needs of younger children, those with allergies, or disabilities, varying religious affiliation, or their parents that prefer treats containing no sugar, are amongst those sensitivities we hope to always accommodate and respectively respond to...Please extend our sincere apologies to this family."
Oborn also wrote that the toy distribution policy has been reviewed with current management and staff to ensure that "proper procedure will be followed in the future and eliminate further occurrences of this sort."
In addition to a written apology, the company will send the family a gift certificate to any Yum! Brands location and a replacement, non-religious toy for their 3-year-old child.
"We commend Long John Silvers for its prompt and professional handling of this case," said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam. "This positive outcome highlights both the desire of the company to respond to customer concerns and the inappropriateness of distributing religious material in a commercial setting."
also spoke to Oborn by phone this week, where he explained what happened:
Yum! had nothing to do with the free toy promotion, according to Oborn. It was his own initiative at his own store.
"My wife and I both feel that the Bible promotes good, wholesome values," he said. "We just felt this was a wholesome thing to hand out."
But he always intended to have alternatives for non-Christian customers, he said.