Skip to content

The Parable of the Kosher Deli: Bishop Lori Before Congress Defending Religious Liberty

By Deacon Keith Fournier
2/21/2012 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Will our nation continue to be one committed to religious liberty and diversity?

We can learn from this brilliant testimony as we undertake the struggle to defend the Church against this unjust Edict. We call upon all of our readers around the globe to pray for his Excellency - and for all of our Bishops. We pledge to stand in unwavering solidarity with them.

P>WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday February 16, 2012, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, the Bishop of Bridgeport and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty, gave testimony before Congress. He appeared before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives.

Bishop Lori spoke on behalf of all of the Catholic Bishops of the United States. They are unanimous in their effort to have the HHS Edict which seeks to compel Catholic institutions and organizations to distribute contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs as well as offer sterilization rescinded. Now is not the time for Catholics to be critical of the US Catholic Bishops. Now is the time for all of us to stand with them.

The Bishop's testimony was brilliant. We want all of our readers to learn from it as we all undertake the struggle to defend the Church against this unjust Edict and a New Catholic Action. We call upon all of our readers around the globe to pray for his Excellency - and for all of our Bishops. We pledge to stand in unwavering solidarity with them. Here is Bishop Lori's complete testimony:

****
Bishop William Lori

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Committee, for the opportunity to testify today. For my testimony today, I would like to tell a story. Let's call it "The Parable of the Kosher Deli."

Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

The Orthodox Jewish community-whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides-expresses its outrage at the new government mandate. And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork-not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths-because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty.

They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle. They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced-under threat of severe government sanction -to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.

Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond "But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat." Other supporters add "So many Jews eat pork, and those who don't should just get with the times." Still others say "Those Orthodox are  just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else."

But in our hypothetical, those arguments fail in the public debate, because people widely recognize the following.

First, although people may reasonably debate whether pork is good for you, that's not the question posed by the nationwide pork mandate. Instead, the mandate generates the question whether people who believe-even if they believe in error-that pork is not good for you, should be forced by government to serve pork within their very own institutions. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Second, the fact that some (or even most) Jews eat pork is simply irrelevant. The fact remains that some Jews do not-and they do not out of their most deeply held religious convictions. Does the fact that large majorities in society-even large majorities within the protesting religious community-reject a particular religious belief make it permissible for the government to weigh in on one side of that dispute? Does it allow government to punish that minority belief with its coercive power? In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Third, the charge that the Orthodox Jews are imposing their beliefs on others has it exactly backwards. Again, the question generated by a government mandate is whether the government will impose its belief that eating pork is good on objecting Orthodox Jews. Meanwhile, there is no imposition at all on the freedom of those who want to eat pork.

That is, they are subject to no government interference at all in their choice to eat pork, and pork is ubiquitous and cheap, available at the overwhelming majority of restaurants and grocers. Indeed,
some pork producers and retailers, and even the government itself, are so eager to promote the eating of pork, that they sometimes give pork away for free.

In this context, the question is this: can a customer come to a kosher deli, demand to be served a ham sandwich, and if refused, bring down severe government sanction on the deli. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

So in our hypothetical story, because the hypothetical nation is indeed committed to religious liberty and diversity, these arguments carry the day. In response, those proposing the new law claim to hear and understand the concerns of kosher deli owners, and offer them a new "accommodation."

You are free to call yourself a kosher deli; you are free not to place ham sandwiches on your menu; you are free not to be the person to prepare the sandwich and hand it over the counter to the customer. But we will force your meat supplier to set up a kiosk on your premises, and to offer, prepare, and serve ham sandwiches to all of your customers, free of charge to them. And when you get your monthly bill from your meat supplier, it will include the cost of any of the "free" ham sandwiches that your customers may accept. And you will, of course, be required to pay that bill.

Some who supported the deli owners initially began to celebrate the fact that ham sandwiches didn't need to be on the menu, and didn't need to be prepared or served by the deli itself. But on closer examination, they noticed three troubling things. First, all kosher delis will still be forced to pay for the ham sandwiches.

Second, many of the kosher delis' meat suppliers, themselves, are forbidden in conscience from offering, preparing, or serving pork to anyone. Third, there are many kosher delis that are their own meat supplier, so the mandate to offer, prepare, and serve the ham sandwich still falls on them.

This story has a happy ending. The government recognized that it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich; that it is beyond absurd for that private demand to be backed with the coercive power of the state; that it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down.

The question before the United States government-right now-is whether the story of our own Church institutions that serve the public, and that are threatened by the HHS mandate, will end happily too. Will our nation continue to be one committed to religious liberty and diversity? We urge, in the strongest possible terms, that the answer must be yes. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to answer the same way.

Thank you for your attention.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for OCTOBER 2017
Workers and the Unemployed.
That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.


Comments


More U.S.

Pope Francis prays for California and victims of the fires Watch

Image of We pray for the victims of these terrible fires. Hundreds remain missing.

With more than 30 deaths caused by the various wildfires devouring swaths of California, Pope Francis on Friday sent a message voicing his ... continue reading


No more kneeling? NFL Commissioner says 'players should stand' Watch

Image of Players have also been divided on the protests, with some joining, and other standing.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has asked league owners to have their players stand for the national anthem. The lamented in a letter to all ... continue reading


America's fatal obsession with guns Watch

Image of An Illinois man traveled across the country with homemade crosses for the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.

"It's the worst mass shooting in modern American history." The above opening sentence is the exact lead sentence I used in a column last ... continue reading


JUST AS EVIL: Internet pornography is the 'neon coliseum' of the modern age Watch

Image of Pornography is just as destructive as watching people die for entertainment.

It's well-known that in ancient Rome hundreds of thousands of people would pile into the stacked layers of stone seating in the Colosseum ... continue reading


Genocide survivor asks USA to protect Christian, Yazidi minorities Watch

Image of A Yazidi refugee woman with her child. ISIS slaughtered thousands of Yazidi and Christian minorities during their rampage though Syria and Iraq.

A Yazidi survivor of the ISIS genocide urged members of Congress on Tuesday to help recover young girls and boys who were enslaved and sold ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.